Opinion

Modiji, you need to speak your mind on the future of pluralism: Carnatic singer TM Krishna

This is not the time for platitudes but for a ringing condemnation of Hindutva hardliners, the acclaimed musician says in a letter to the prime minister.

Honourable Narendra Modi-ji

As I penned this piece, I heard of your words at a rally in Bihar, instead of deterring me from writing to you, it has only further strengthened my resolve that this needs to be said.

Over the last week or more we have witnessed what can only be described as the molestation of a human tragedy, the perpetrators of this crime being politicians coloured green, saffron and the various shades of every other colour, all no less sullied. As individuals, partymen, members of the ruling class and the opposition benches they have vulgarised the very soul of compassion and empathy. This is for certain not a new phenomenon and only another sign of who we are, or may be we have always been this way!

But with all due respect, Pradhan Mantri-ji what has astonished me is not just your silence, but the spoken and written words with which we citizens have been abused, ridiculed and trivialised for asking for the elected leader of this country to respond. This is not a request from a political outfit, but from people, just normal people belonging to the various parts that make up the sum that is India. Is this really such an unfair request? Don't we have the right to ask, if not demand that you speak your mind? Why are we being made to feel like offenders only because we want you to say something direct and substantial on something that is for certain of socio-cultural importance? With all due respect, I have the right to not vote for you, yet to want from you, as Prime Minister, a response.

 The future of pluralism

You know what has been agitating the minds of millions of us, Indians – the future of our pluralism. You have stated your position in terms of sabka sath, sabka vikas. And this is quoted and cited on your behalf repeatedly as a mantra.  But, Pradhan Mantriji, this is certainly not adequate. We need to hear you, our prime minister, directly and clearly and with an urgent reference to the context of the present situation, which is nothing less than a tragedy. Over the last few months we have had more than one tragedy. Can we really not see the connections between the so-called stray incidences all over the country, from the murders of Dabholkar Pansare and Kalburgi to that of Mohammad Akhlaq. Your direct voice needs to be heard now, unless you do not consider this an event of significance. And now, the ambiguity of what you said yesterday [Thursday, October 8] only makes me send you this appeal for your truthful intervention. This is not the time for platitudes, Pradhan Mantriji, but for a ringing condemnation from you, a kind of condemnation which will leave no one in doubt that the Indian state is not going to tolerate anyone being killed for his views, his faith, his food.

Was the Dadri tragedy not the result of the overt and aggressive imposition of a beef ban by certain state governments with leaders from numerous parties further exploiting the situation? Sir, are you not disturbed – infuriated would be more appropriate – by  the cost we are and will continue to pay for this mindlessness ?  Hearing Hindu hardliners bring about counter examples of Hindus being targets of violent crimes is tiresome. The fact that those are as condemnable and must be stopped cannot be used to make Dadri a small or stray incident. And to accuse the media of over-playing this is downright despicable.

Today many in this country and elsewhere  see you as an American presidential style Prime Minister and you too seem to wear that notion with great style. That being so, you must respond like the American President does whenever there is any violence that is connected to race, ethnicity, religion or directly a result of American laws and policy, irrespective of where it took place, who were the targets and number of people affected. The citizens may not agree with him, but at least they hear his thoughts. From you we hear only generalities. The president of India is a symbol and his words guide us in spirit. You Sir, the prime minister are the reality dealing with actual action, reaction, reconciliation, betterment and strength.

Muddled minds

You have said so many times that your government is one of difference and a conscious effort of your government has been to erase everything that you see as the evils of the Congress past. Then unlike them, speak, appeal, be forceful and clear those muddled minds. Please don't play to the electoral gallery. You seem to be doing exactly that.

And Mr Prime Minister, unlike your immediate predecessor you are not a mute spectator, you love to address and impress. We have heard you from Lal Qila, Madison Square Garden, Dubai and Silicon Valley, at the home of Google and Facebook. We have seen you being moved by the memory of the hardships faced by your mother. Words, strong and emotional words come to you easily. So why do we need to shout and scream for a few sentences about a man who was lynched for allegedly consuming beef?

Even after the lynching your senior minister and members of your party are on record making the most inhuman statements. Today the culture minister says you spoke to him. But Modi-ji this is not a private matter between the two of you! This is a matter of and for Indians and we need to hear you condemn your minister. You are fearless and free with your assault on opposition parties; can we please witness the same eloquence when it comes to your ministers and party members?

The RSS and affiliates of the Sangh Parivar are constantly alienating people. Modi-ji, you are both the prime minister and the colossus that controls the BJP, therefore you are responsible for both establishments. Not only them, but also for the vulgarities spouted by members of the Sangh Parivar. You are a self-proclaimed proud Swayamsevak and it is clear that the Parivar is indeed a family. Therefore you cannot choose when to celebrate your Sangh identity and when to distance yourself from it. This is double speak.

Extreme actions

Your party spokesmen in their own inimitable style have been saying that it is your right to decide whether to speak, where to do so and in what form. They are absolutely correct, but if you don’t feel you need to say something that will shut all these extreme actions that drain the happiness out of people, even a non-believer will seek divine intervention.

This is not about secularism; this is about us being a humane, real and sensitive, a non-accusatory nation. You use social media widely, something you happily flaunted in the presence of Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and hence I am certain you have seen all the vitriolic comments that are swarming Indian cyber space. Don’t you think you need to confront it directly?

Finally Sir, you have said that Hindus and Muslims must decide what they want to fight, each other or poverty. To me this is nothing but another empty slogan because poverty is inextricably connected to religion, caste and class. Unless we face up to these challenges with greater honesty and courage, not just our poverty but our backwardness will remain indeed incurable.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

At the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, visitors don’t have to worry about navigating their way across the complex hospital premises. All they need to do is download wayfinding tools from the installed digital signage onto their smartphone and get step by step directions. Other hospitals have digital signage in surgical waiting rooms that share surgery updates with the anxious families waiting outside, or offer general information to visitors in waiting rooms. Many others use digital registration tools to reduce check-in time or have Smart TVs in patient rooms that serve educational and anxiety alleviating content.

Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.