The AMRI mishap in Kolkata is really tragic. It shakes up the very core of our belief system — our trust in doctors and institutions that have been set up to improve and save our lives. There is public outrage at this negligence and one manifestation of this was the Alipore Bar Association deciding that none of its memers would plead for bail on behalf the AMRI brass (read here). However, while all the outrage and indignation is justified, a couple of points, that seem to be getting obscured by the groundswell of public ire, need to be made.
One, while the AMRI shareholders, directors and the top officials of the administration deserve the punishment that is due to them (because it should serve as an example for all other private investors in the healthcare industry), why is no one talking about the punishment that should also be meted out to the municipal authorities or the state government mandarins who were happy to take a small stake in the hospital venture? The hospital adminsitration would never have been able to get away with its record of negligence had the municipal authorities or the state government been regular with inspections or not turned a blind eye at the short-cuts adopted by the hospital authorities. They seemed to be in cahoots with the promoters and are now acting self-righteous about it all.
It also points to the insidious influence of crony capitalism. No wonder, the government has been reluctant to introduce independent regulators across all sectors. An independent regulator with proper credentials would probably not allowed this to happen.
Another point comes through very strongly. In current management literature and some dubious books, much has been made of native ingenuity, which is now been bandied about as “innovation”. This point has also been made in the latest instalment of Sidin Vadukut’s Saturday column (read here), which concludes that this “jugaad” mentality has much to do with the AMRI tragedy.
But, above all, please also punish the municipal chaps and government guys who were responsible for supervising the state of affairs at AMRI and did not take timely action.