ISSUE: DEATH OF CHILDREN IN KOTA
WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN KOTA?
More than 100 children have died in the month of December at the J K Lon Government Hospital in Kota, Rajasthan.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has sought to shift the blame on to his predecessor, Vasundhara Raje, insisting that the issue must not be politicised.
The hospital authorities have claimed that the high rate of mortality is because J K Lon, being the only public referral hospital for children in Kota division, receives a large number of critical cases from a vast area. But that is also good reason for the hospital authorities to have been alert to the evidently deteriorating conditions at the hospital.
PROBLEMS IN THE HOSPITAL
Improper maintenance of equipment and shortage of oxygen lines.
The hospital has also reported a 30 per cent shortage of nursing staff. Anecdotal evidence has pointed to the callousness and insensitivity of the hospital staff to the concerns of the patients.
Every single death in a hospital ought to be seen as a failure that needs to be addressed urgently. Governments need to make public health a priority. Better supervisory systems to fix accountability also need to be in place. The Kota tragedy must be a wake-up call.
ISSUE: ESCALATION OF US-IRAN TENSION
WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
The killing of a top Iranian military commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, by the US forces is breathtaking and forebodes the escalation of the US-Iran confrontation.
WHAT COULD BE ITS IMPACT?
As Washington and Tehran move from a proxy conflict to open confrontation, the entire Middle East is in danger of being consumed. Gen Soleimani was no ordinary soldier. He headed the much-feared Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was the face of Iran’s expanding regional strategic footprint. Soleimani was widely seen as the most consequential figure in Tehran’s political hierarchy after the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Soleimani’s aggressive political and military tactics continuously challenged America’s regional primacy. His hybrid warfare compensated for the weakness of Iran’s conventional military forces. His successful intervention in the domestic politics of various countries in the Middle East — from Iraq and Syria to Yemen and Libya — made him a formidable opponent to the US and its regional allies.
Unlike Osama, Gen Soleimani is a high-level functionary of an important state in the world. In a furious reaction, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that the US will bear “responsibility for all consequences” of its adventurism. There is no doubt that Tehran will respond at a place and time of its choosing. Having raised the ante in the confrontation with Iran, Trump has little room to back down.
Although the elimination of Soleimani and other militia leaders is a big setback, Iran is fully capable of widening and escalating the asymmetric war against America. This, in turn, puts the entire Gulf region, the world’s largest supplier of hydrocarbons, at risk.
IMPACT ON INDIA
As a major importer of oil, India is especially vulnerable to the deepening crisis next door. Delhi will also be under pressure to take a fresh look at its regional policy that sought to overcome the multiple contradictions in the Gulf by trying to be friends with all. The sharpening conflict will certainly make India’s navigation of the Gulf that much harder.
ISSUE: SAVITRI BAI PHULE
Savitribai Phule, the social reformer who is considered to be one of India’s first modern feminists, was born on January 3, 1831. Among her accomplishments, she is especially remembered for being India’s first female teacher who worked for the upliftment of women and untouchables in the field of education and literacy.
Who was Savitribai Phule?
Phule was born in Naigaon, Maharashtra in 1831 and married activist and social-reformer Jyotirao Phule when she was nine years old. After marriage, with her husband’s support, Phule learned to read and write and both of them eventually went on to found India’s first school for girls called Bhide Wada in Pune in 1948.
Significantly, it was not easy for the Phule’s to advocate for the education of women and the untouchables since in Maharashtra a nationalist discourse was playing out between 1881-1920 led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. These nationalists including Tilak opposed the setting up of schools for girls and non-Brahmins citing loss of nationality.
Even though her poems, which were written in Marathi, she advocated values such as humanism, liberty, equality, brotherhood, rationalism and the importance of education among others. In her poem titled, “Go, Get Education” she wrote:
“Be self-reliant, be industrious
Work, gather wisdom and riches,
All gets lost without knowledge
We become animal without wisdom,
Sit idle no more, go, get education
End misery of the oppressed and forsaken,
You’ve got a golden chance to learn
So learn and break the chains of caste.
Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast.”
Her books of poems “Kavya Phule” and “Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar” were published in 1934 and 1982.