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Friday, July 5, 2013

One year on, legacy of Dr Govinda K C survives at TUTH

(Recent posts on the issue:

पानी धमिल्याउने कोशिस गर्दै डा शशि शर्मा

Host of bodies at TUTH come formally in solidarity of Dr. Govinda K C

डा गोविन्द के सी को आमरण अनशनः भ्रम र यथार्थ

'IOM an institute, not prostitute'; Dr Govinda K C declares war against the corrupt TU officials and their political patrons

भविष्य कसाइको हातमा कि डाक्टरको?


Recapitulating the developments in TUTH over past year in relation to the two fasts by Dr. Govinda K C, I realize that the fight to ensure better accountability in the institution has not been an easy one. And if it were not for the daring challenge by Dr K C, the status quoits would have won the fight long back. An overview:
Last year this day, Dr. Govinda K C started his first fast-onto-death. The CA had just collapsed after monumental failure to draft constitution in the country and TUTH also appeared to be at the brink, ready to sink at any time.

It was a not-exactly-bright summer day, just like today when he gave his justification for the fast and ventured into the uncharted territory. The number of people in the institution siding with him in his drive against institutionalization of corruption was impressive. The TUTH seminar hall soon became the rallying point for all those who wanted transparency and better accountability in the institution.

Looking back after one year, Dr K C has been by and large successful in the mission. But that has not come at a small price. The hidden aspects of the saga were far more decisive than the apparent ones in determining the outcome. Here I will scrutinize three crucial moments over the past year when Dr. K C's unwavering instance saved the institution from outright plunder.

Moment one: first fast onto death

During the first fast, Baburam Bhattarai had been a thoroughly discredited leader after letting the CA collapse during his term as PM and still sticking to the post. He was largely powerless and more so in the face of TU officials all of whom had got the posts for their political affiliations. In particular the Jhalanath-appointed VC Hira Bahadur Maharjan appeared ready to go to any length to ensure that the plunder continued in the institution and his part of the cut kept flowing to him. The vested interests were so intense that not even the Chancellor of the university, the PM, could do anything.
Dr. K C during the first fast onto death

As a result, the fast stretched for four long days. There was a widespread hue and cry, national media also covered the developments well. Finally, the TU officials had to relent and they appointed a senior Pharmacology professor Dr. KK Kafle as TUTH Dean apparently in the basis of seniority as demanded by Dr. K C. For the time being, the crisis was over.

Moment two: the second fast onto death

Barely a month had passed and the new Dean retired. In the meantime, the TU officials had been applying all their might to restore the old system of patronage and plunder. They neither made the appointments in junior posts in the institution as recommended by Dr Kafle nor showed any willingness to appoint new Dean on the basis of merit or seniority.

Within six weeks of first fast, the situation became what it had been before: TU officials were again scrambling to get their party's man to the post of Dean at TUTH. The promise of seniority-based appointment had been duly abandoned.

Thus Dr. K C was forced to his second fast onto death on a rather disappointing and frustrating environment in the institution, barely a month and half from first fast. This time, the sycophants of politicians in the hospital did everything to discredit him and went on to even stage a farcical relay fasting in the premises of the hospital.

At the end however, after Dr. K C had undergone a arduous 5-day long fasting, authorities were forced to yield to his demand and they appointed Dr. Prakash Sayami as Dean in seniority basis.

Moment three: the fast that was avoided

The crisis again came haunting the institution when Dr. Sayami was forced to resign by the TU authorities who were unwilling to mend their ways and scrambled to get their men (read the sycophants of politicians) in positions inside IOM and TUTH at any cost.

As the matter lingered for days and TU authorities drew a lot of negative publicity for forcing a seniority-based appointee to resign, nothing appeared to really change.

It was at this moment that Dr K C played most crucial and decisive role in the whole saga. Reportedly, the politicians on the right and the left of the spectrum and their representatives in the institution were about to make merry arrangement by dividing important posts in the institutions in a truce (for a surrogate war was going on between the two camps for long and especially with the fasts of Dr. K C). Dr. Sayami's imminent departure had set the ground for that and a compromise solution would be acceptable to either side. Understandably, the scheme had no regard for virtues like seniority, merit or incorruptibility and in all likelihood, those with strongest blessings from the political parties would have got the berths.

But that plan eventually failed and Dr. Sayami was placated into taking back the resignation. The reason behind this was the ferocious opposition of Dr. K C to the scheme. Whatever the incentives of such an arrangement, forcing Dr. K C into another fast and taking responsibility for that was something the left-right collusion wanted to avoid.

The aftermath

Though not where it should have been as the prime educational and health institution of Nepal, TUTH now is in much better position than last year. The expansion of various services can be easily seen by anyone who visits the hospital. Financial health of the hospital is showing an improving trend. The credit for this should go to Dr. K C as well as Dr. Bhagawan Koirala who was subsequently appointed Executive Director of TUTH with the recommendation from Dr. Sayami.

Now comes a little riddle. Dr K C in a column in a daily had expressed his displeasure towards the working style of Dr. Koirala months back when the resignation of Dr. Koirala had triggered a nasty word of war between those who wanted him back and those who wanted the opposite. There, he had rebuked Dr. Koirala (without naming, of course) for being unnecessarily derisive of his colleagues in the hospital.

While I am in no position to substantiate or question stance of either of the two respected gentlemen, my understanding is that neither of the two is a perfect human being and contribution of each of them in bringing the institution back from the brink is greater than that of any other individual(s) in the institution, at least over the past year. While different in nature and magnitude, their contributions to the institution had their own importance. While ascetic and incorruptible image of Dr. K C was decisive in breaking the trend of plundering the institution by the collusion of politicians and their proxies in the institution, a ruthlessly efficient management of Dr. Koirala was essential for micro-management of the institution.

To conclude, we should not forget the contribution made by Dr. K C to the institution for which he put his health and life itself in jeopardy. After all, in a country where every other public institution is hollowed by the blatant interference and plunder of politicians, it is important to keep at least some of them beyond their reach. Without the sacrifice of Dr, K C, it would have been impossible at TUTH.

Read the complete coverage of the fasts here and about the developments around Dr. Bhagawan Koirala's resignation here.

You may also be interested in: 

In favor of PG doctors for districts

The Gurkha Legacy: Nepal's National Shame

Combating stress and seeking happiness: A monologue 

गाउँमा बाल्यकालः केही स्मृतिहरु–१ 


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