The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: By unjustly favouring Hindi, the Union government is stirring a hornet’s nest

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Lingui-stick

Among the factors that led to the creation of modern standard Hindi in the nineteenth century, were the large numbers of Bengali bureaucrats who served in north India under the Raj. Historian Alok Rai writes that the then nascent Hindi language looked up to Bengali – already used extensively for literary purposes – for how to develop into a literary language.

It was, therefore, more than a bit ironic that President Pranab Mukherjee, a Bengali, on Monday signed a presidential order that made it compulsory for all government dignitaries, himself included, to compulsorily deliver public speeches in Hindi. The president was accepting suggestions from the Committee of Parliament on Official Languages. Other suggestions from the committee include incorporating Hindi into airline tickets and in-flight reading material. Mukherjee also granted his “in-principle approval” to making Hindi a compulsory subject from Class 8 to Class 10 in all Central Board of Secondary Education and Kendriya Vidyalya schools. Moreover, the committee also suggested that universities in non-Hindi-speaking states offer students an option to answer examinations and interviews in Hindi.

All in all, this flurry of activity left little doubt in anyone’s mind that the Union government preferred Hindi to the other languages of the Indian Union and was prepared to impose it incrementally on non-Hindi states.

This is nothing new. The Union government has followed this policy since 1947 . Hindi along with English are the only languages used by the Union government for its business. Given that only 26% of Indians speak Hindi, the majority of Indians are unable to access the workings of their own federal government. This push towards Hindi, however, has only become stronger with the Modi government taking power, given that the Bharatiya Janata Party – and earlier, its predecessor the Jan Sangh – has a long time policy that advocates for Hindi as a national language for all of India.

New Delhi’s push towards Hindi follows standard models of nationalism, given that almost every country in the world is organised around a language. In that, however, it must be recognised that Indian nationalism is different. Given that India’s many regions have rarely been united politically, they have their own linguistic traditions that have histories and roots that are much deeper than Hindi. While monolingualism might underpin most nationalisms, imposing Hindi will, on the contrary, severely fracture Indian nationalism.

If any reminders are required, the example of India’s twin Pakistan is stark. The country split along linguistic lines in 1971, giving rise to Bangladesh after West Pakistan imposed Urdu on East Pakistan.

Already in India, there is disquiet over the Modi government’s Hindi push. Referring to the CBSE order, West Bengal MP Saugata Roy said, “The Centre should have been more cautious before implementing the decision in non-Hindi speaking states.” MK Stalin, leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also voiced his disapproval. Earlier in March, Stalin had warned the Modi government of “Hindi hegemony” given that it was using Hindi on road signage even within Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu has seen violent protests against Hindi in the 1960s, after it was made compulsory by the Union government. As a result, in 1967, the Indira Gandhi-led Union government adopted a policy of indefinite bilingualism that enshrined both English and Hindi as official languages of the Union government. State languages were to be left alone.

Given this history, the Union government’s imposition of Hindi is unwise and also pointless. On Tuesday, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu backed this policy up by arguing that “programmes such as Make in India and Digital India will become successful only when we use more Hindi in implementing them”. This is a curious argument given that all the big manufacturing and software industry states are non-Hindi speaking. The Hindi states lag behind in terms of economic development and industrialisation. What practical use, then, does Hindi imposition serve?

Far from Hind imposition helping, India’s policy of promoting linguistic states and giving them as much freedom has worked well. Linguistic states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra have managed to do well for themselves socially and economically. Destroying this careful arrangement by imposing Hindi would be a disaster for India.

The Big Scroll

  1. It is time for the government to stop spreading the lie that Hindi is India’s “national language”, argues Garga Chatterjee. He also points out that imposing Hindi on all is as bad an idea as insisting that India is a Hindu country.
  2. Stop outraging over Marathi, says Shoaib Daniyal. Hindi and English chauvinism is much worse in India.
  3. Did you know: Hindi is the mother tongue of only 26% of Indians.

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Political Picks

  1. The Union government used “adverse” Intelligence Bureau reports to reject the names of six former judges for tribunals and commissions.
  2. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in order to work out a united Opposition candidate for the upcoming election of the president.
  3. Panama Papers: a court rejects calls to oust the Pakistani prime minister over claims of corruption.
  4. A day after pro-Kannada activists intensified their stand against Tamil actor Sathyaraj for his allegedly insulting remarks against Kannadigas by calling for a Bengaluru bandh, the director of the movie sought support from Kannada audiences for his film.

Punditry

  1. The freewheeling use of Article 142 is raising questions about judicial diktats inattentive to consequences, argues Kapil Sibal in the Indian Express.
  2. There is no case for water privatisation. In pushing for it, we are ignoring the key issue, which is better governance, write Himanshu Thakkar, Arun Lakhani and Mihir Shah in the Hindu.
  3. Indian society deludes itself that caste discrimination is a thing of the past, yet it suffuses the nation, top to bottom, argues Prayaag Akbar in Aeon.

Giggle

Don’t Miss

“The image of youth tied to jeep doesn’t define the Army’s approach to Kashmir”: Saikat Datta interviews former Indian Army commander DS Hooda on the Army’s approach to the human shield incident.

“Insurgency-related incidents have certainly come down from the peak levels of the early 2000s. The nature of the problem has morphed into a form of hybrid conflict where we are seeing the visible involvement of the local population in clashes with security forces. Social media is being used as a powerful tool to radicalise and inflame passions. This does require a slightly different approach where the police are at the forefront of tackling protestors. And this is what is largely happening. The Army does not really get involved in tackling mobs unless they are directly attacked. This is a clear operational principle.”

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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.

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Getting the best from collaborations

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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.