Millennium Post

Doctor should be above suspicion

In ancient Rome, Julius Caesar was the chief priest of state religion. His wife was suspected of having an affair with a nobleman who was arrested and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar, instead of giving evidence against accused Clodius decided to divorce his wife Pompeia, saying, ‘My wife ought to not even be under suspicion.’ This gave rise to the proverb ‘Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,’ meaning the public personalities and their associates should not be suspected of any wrong doing.

Some of the recent decisions of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) have brought its Minister Dr Harshvardhan under public scrutiny. The affable doctor has been in public life for two decades and has enjoyed impeccable reputation as politician with unimpeachable integrity. Therefore some of the moves like taking the Medical Council of India to task for derecognising medical colleges in private sector for not meeting the regulator’s standard or shifting out the chief vigilance officer of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Sanjeev Chaturvedi, who in the past two years has unearthed many a scams in the premier health institute, has put him under scrutiny.

The orders replacing Chaturvedi categorically mentioned that it had the approval of the Health Minister. The order however did not specify reasons for shifting Chaturvedi out leaving people to speculate that he has been made to pay a price for taking on senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Jagat Prakash Nadda. The move sent shockwaves as it came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that corruption was a disease bigger than cancer.

In removing the officer, the minister ignored standing orders from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) - passed under the previous government - the Central Services Board and commitments made by Health ministry to Parliament. Vardhan also ignored the recommendations made against such a move by his ministry as late as May this year. According approval to such shenanigans has put the functioning of the Minister in poor light.

Vardhan’s recent actions show that either he is not in control of his Ministry and or he is not able to stand up to his party colleagues who may be advocating a cause for reasons best known to them. If such a situation does exist in a major ministry of the government, it’s disturbing news.

Vardhan is a capable doctor and has a vision for improving health infrastructure. However, so far he has failed to show the spunk to take on corruption; rather his actions have looked like patronizing corrupt. This trait proved to the ‘infirmitas’ of another honest politician – Dr Manmohan Singh, who incidentally had first famously used the Caesarean proverb way back in 1996.
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