Freedom to be Indian

Have you ever heard the argument that life in India brings you closer to our original nature thanks to the extremes in our society? I’ve lived here for the better part of my life and I think I can safely say that the first part just isn’t true. Yes, we do have extremes. Problems that really can rip right through the fabric of what makes us human. But a consistent exposure to those extremes grows our insensitivity. It becomes routine to ignore what’s broken and refuse to outgrow what we’ve been good at in the hope that the other problems will solve themselves. It is in this very struggle that we rediscover our original nature and show ourselves.

This post is about two short stories of a passion like none other.

Life is hardest here for our poor. When they’re sick, they won’t find options for better treatment. Not because of the lack of money, but because they lack the ability to read and write. All Indian private hospitals have provisions and perhaps the compassion for the economically challenged. However, getting past the admissions process is daunting, requires forms to be filled and explanations to be made. I imagine if you’re sick you’ll want to simply avoid the stress and accept the state-sponsored care you can get by default.

Ravi Saxena of Ghazipur on the other hand has found a way to fix this. As a tea vendor, he makes Rs. 8,000 working for 20 days in a month. The remaining 10 days Ravi invests in helping the poor get past the admissions process in private hospitals and claim the benefits. Ravi says that his family and friends encourage him to concentrate on his business but he prefers to put the poor first. I learned about Ravi’s story first in the Times of India*.

The next story is about Myshkin Ingawale and about his invention that makes it possible to test for anemia in the field. As Myshkin explains in this talk, anemia is a solvable condition that goes largely undiagnosed. An anemic expecting mother is at very high risk at childbirth, especially if her condition is unknown to those attending on her. Myshkin was inspired by one such case he learned of through a friend and doctor who attended on a mother who died at childbirth. Myshkin aims to equip health workers with his invention at scale making it possible for next steps in treatment.

Ravi and Myshkin are integrating our country in their own ways. Their stories deserve to be a part of our collective consciousness. Their daily effort grants them a freedom that has always been uniquely Indian – to be yourself. A freedom that comes from the self-knowledge that we all can listen to. The knowledge that we’re doing our bit.

Wish you all a Happy Independence Day 2013!

india gate

Advertisements