ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Sujit K DasSubscribe to Sujit K Das

WEST BENGAL-Engineers Agitation Some Larger Issues

November 1-8, 1986 WEST BENGAL Engineers' Agitation: Some Larger Issues Sujit K Das THE Federation of Associations of Engineers and Technical Officers (FAETO) have been agitating for the fulfilment of certain demands and the Left Front government, committed to pursuing established democratic norms, has persistently refused even to negotiate with the striking engineers since August 6. Meanwhile, not only the development works but the routine maintenance works have come to a standstill all over the State. Even many hospital wards had to be closed due to breakdown of water supply.

ICs in Mass Programme Risks Abound

ICs in Mass Programme: Risks Abound Sujit K Das Pijus Kanti Sarkar IRIS KAPIL1 once again stands up for injectable contraceptives (IC) but ignores the questions raised by us2 as regards the safety and feasibility. Surprisingly, Kapil has taken us to task for raising "basic questions about the validity of family planning programmes generally and the integrity of Indian programmes specifically". This is unfair. It was Kapil3 who endeavoured to buttress her advocacy of IC by asserting that FP programme in India was a people's programme. We contested this argument by exposing the class bias and imperialist connection behind the programme and suggested that the question of IC can be debated "on purely medical and administrative grounds". This time Kapil once again raises the issue by arguing that IC belongs to "Family Planning Programme" whereas sterilisation is a part of "Population Control Programme". Observing that few poeple understand the meaning of and the difference between these two programmes, Kapil continues that, for reducing birth rate, non-terminal contraception like IC is far more effective than sterilisation. We find this argument irrelevant and not germane to the issue under debate for the simple reason that IC and sterilisation are not competitive programmes; that target groups for them are quite different

BHOPAL A YEAR AFTER-The Worse Aftermath

BHOPAL: A YEAR AFTER The Worse Aftermath UNDENIABLY, official pronouncements on technical matters, particularly when reinforced with scientists' observations, influence a great many people and an attitude of reliance on the scientists often blunts our common sense responses. Such is the situation prevailing in almost all technical issues. The Bhopal disaster has not only eroded the basis of such attitude but also exposed the scientific community to an unprecedented disadvantage. This is particularly conspicuous in the medical and health situation which is not only still problematic but perhaps will remain so for a long time to come. Hence, a review of all that had happened.

BHOPAL GAS DISASTER-Mockery of Relief and Rehabilitation

BHOPAL GAS DISASTER Mockery of Relief and Rehabilitation Sujit K Das VERY few have noticed the extraordinary nature of the Supreme Court's interim order on the petition of the 'Janasasthya Samity' of Bhopal on August 13, when the Court directed the Government of Madhya Pradesh to submit a scheme for the distribution of Sodium Thiosulphate (NaTS) for the detoxification of the poisoned citizens of BhopaJ. The Court said, "the scheme should also contain a provision for the distribution of this medicine through voluntary agencies" and "may also contain whether a health card should be issued to the victims to whom this medicine is being administered, either by the agency of the government or by the voluntary agencies". Issuing specific order to supply NaTS to the Janasasthya Samity, the Court further said on August 26, "We would like the state government to inform the Court as to what time-bound programme the state government proposes to set up for the purposes of administration of Sodium Thiosulphate injection, with a view to detoxification of persons who are the victims of the gas ... We hope and trust the state government will indent the necessary quantity of Sodium Thiosulphate injections so as to meet the needs of all the persons who are affected by the gas tragedy!' CYANIDE STORY NaTS is the only safe and effective antidote to chronic cyanide poisoning. Within a week of the gas disaster, Dr Heeresh Chandra, Head of the Department of Forensic and State Medicine, Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, detected evidence of cyanide poisoning in the dead bodies. His findings were corroborated by the German Clinical Ibxicologist, Dr Max Daunderer and on their advice NaTS were given to the hospital patients. But for undisclosed reasons, it was stopped after a few days and Dr Daunderer was persuaded to leave Bhopal. Dr Daunderer, before leaving India, met the officials of the Union Health Ministry and placed all the evidence before them. A Joint Secretary of the Ministry wrote to the Government of MP for consideration of this evidence and keeping the Ministry informed about the course of action the government decided to take. But things did not move. Thereafter Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), after a double-blind control trial on the gas victims, reported, "In conclusion, the lexicological studies carried out so far have ruled out the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. They have clearly shown that at least in the survivors there is evidence of chronic cyanide poisoning operating as a result of either inhalation of hydrocyanic acid or more probably subsequent generation of cyanide radical from the cyanogen pool in gas afflicted victims. The changes in urinary thiocyanate and in blood gas before and after thiosulphate treatment substantiated the above findings." The ICMR recommended measures for mass detoxification of the gas-affected people living within two kilometres of the factory with NaTS and published a precise schedule for such treatment. Again nothing happened.

Case for Injectible Contraceptives

Case for Injectible Contraceptives? Sujit K Das Pijus Kanti Sarkar IRIS KAPIL's advocacy of the "Case for Injectible Contraceptives" (EPW, May 11) for Indian women and her opposition to Padma Prakash's position on Depoprovera (EPW, December 8,1984) calls for a rejoinder, Kapil may have unwittingly ventured to tread on risky territory when, in order to build up her case for injectible contraceptives (IC), she puts forward the premise that "most people in India would agree that a well planned, well managed family planning programme is essential to the nation's socio-economic development" Who are these 'most peopled Our teaming millions? If sa, why don't they practise It and speed up socio-economic development? They do not, because, according to Kapil, the safest, most reliable, most convenient contraceptive, the IC, is not available to them.


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