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Aug 17, 2014

Dalit Reality - Poverty and Health

Dalit (दलित) =  untouchable (अछुत )

Watching this video on Dalit reality, I am angry to what goes around us.

Yes, "anger" can be natural response to protect yourselves or even your family from  "outside" dangers or can be a plethora of emotional expressions that explodes out of an individual or a community !! Here, my "anger" is a symbolic representation of what is prevalent in our society as of this year 2014. I know, anger is said to be negative energy but how can you justify not to be angry, when some souls are treated less than animals !!  I am angry at this caste system, which has pushed certain segment of your community to the bottom pit of the socio - economic ladder. In this bottom pit of the social ladder, they have forgotten to even dream or even utter a word to express their pain and sufferings, because their mental process is so clouded with fear, everything seems impossible !!

Before proceeding further, let me be very clear upfront, the purpose of this 'anger" is not to point finger or muscle flex at anybody. This is simply to turn the negative energy (that boils in your psyche) to a positive outcome that benefits all of us. So, the best way is to write what comes in your mind and what you have seen in your community. This is what I am going to do. After all, writing is so powerful !!

Today, it is gloomy outside and is raining, so I have decided to write on this (un)social, unjust or even barbaric act that exist and still goes unnoticed in our South Asian society especially India and Nepal, where millions of socially marginalized people live in abject poverty to this day. To be a bit balanced or fair to all those social activists and government agencies, who are working or advocating  tirelessly in this area,  some of these practices may go noticed and treated lawfully but this is just a "centimeter" of journey, when we need to travel "kilometers" of proverbial rough road to eradicate such social practices. Therefore, I am pretty sure that i will not be overstating when I say, "The practice of untouchability is still rampant all over the country." This is what I can say of Nepal !! 

Photo - Anuj Bhattachan (verbal consent +)
As an example, let me share a story I usually come across in various parts of Nepal. Here, I would like to share an anecdote of a Dalit family (as shown in the picture above) that I had to come across in Sankhuwasabha in Eastern part of the country. This was in the year 2008, the month of rain. I had to visit one remote village since there was a report of measles like illness outbreak, so I had to travel all the way on foot for 2 whole days. Sometime, we had to walk for hours uphill and sometime, walk downhill for hours straight to river between a gorge. We had to cross the river in an old leaky boat. 

Once we reached the village and responded to the outbreak with necessary preventive measures including samples collected to confirm the diagnosis. The local office aid from the health post advised her to consult with me. The health professionals who were supposed to be serving this unfortunate people were on long leave, and the health care delivery was the mercy of the health aid. Utilizing his knowledge and experience, he did what was supposed to be done for any kind of illnesses. At least, he was there to be beside these people in their sickness. 

Photo - Anuj Bhattachan (verbal consent +)
On that day, I came across a young girl with a worried face in a dirty clothes covering her whole body (shown in above picture). From my cursory assessment, she was in a terrible situation and top of it, being a girl from a Dalit family. She was taken to local health post after everything done to cure this skin lesion failed. Her parent told me they applied all kind of herbal ointment suggested by locals. In the health post, there was not enough medication and trained health personal. The health aid was the only guy to dispense whatever medicine was there in their cubicle. When I asked them, " What is the white ointment applied in her weeping sore?" To my surprise, it was paracetamol (anti fever drug) applied in its powder form (after they grinded the tablet) !! No comment further, I carefully examined her and came in a conclusion that she was infested with scabies.  Once the disease was recognized, the girl including family members were advised what needs to be done. I knew, if i prescribe the anti scabies drug, it would be difficult for them to purchase it. So we arranged a way that she gets the drugs and all the members also gets necessary precautions.

Photo - Anuj Bhattachan (verbal consent +) 

What stands out from this story is social ills that keeps people perennially poor & illiterate. In this environment, we are bound to suffer from every kind of exploitation, so women suffers the most. If women suffer, their children also suffer. This is where every kind of diseases take root like scabies, tuberculosis, worm infestation, skin diseases, and many others - you name it and you will find it. Therefore, I am of the opinion, it is only through healthy dialogue and discourse that we can bring change in the society. The change that accommodates people's aspiration for equal opportunity and treatment. This is one of initiative to start dialogue and discourse in this area of social justice, which is root to any kind of disease dynamics. This is one of my realization over the years. Now, i think, i have matured enough to justify my graying of hair. May Wisdom Prevail !!

17 Aug, 2014

Anuj in Himalayas

Hi i am connecting disqus with my blog for healthy interaction and open dialogue