Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Bare Necessities of Life

There is actually a movie on this.
It stars (well, for the want of a better word) the son of Anupam and Kirron Kher, Sikander Kher (remember him?), Gul Panag, Yuvika Chaudhary and some other B-Town newbies as the leads. It even features the highly talented Ashutosh Rana and Divya Dutta is some supporting roles.

In 2008, the Union Health Ministry, under the very energetic Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss (this isn't his only claim to fame, he was quite media savvy, Google him), came up with a rule requiring every MBBS graduate in this country to put in a whole year of rural service before they can apply for a post-graduate program in India. In that stint it would be mandatory for them to spend four months each in primary health care, community health centres and district hospitals. During this period, they will receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 10,000 (approximately $205).

Now, there are several points over which this issue can be debated. And I'm not saying if this rule is fair or not. But to make a point in favor of those who protested against this rule, rural India is hardly a place to live in. Despite nearly two-thirds of the country's population living in rural areas, India's villages are poorly developed and lack access to the basics. They are poorly connected to power starved electricity grids, have insufficient access to clean water, lack communication channels like telephony and internet and are barely accessible through those badly built roads. Even essential systems like sanitation and health care (one arguments for the Union Health Ministry then) are inadequately set up. Clearly, it comes as no surprise that a large amount of our rural population is excluded from our nations economic growth.

So the movie in question is titled "Summer 2007". The movie deals with a bunch of carefree and urban (presumably, I haven't seen this movie, but only then does the rest of the story make sense) med school graduates who are sent to rural Maharashtra to do an internship. It follows their lives as they undergo an awakening of sorts when they are exposed to life in rural India. Interestingly, this movie released before the Health Ministry's ruling came out and is set in a period two whole years before the rule came into force.

Visionary, maybe not. Worth a see, perhaps.

Now med school graduates are still under the Health Ministry diktat but engineering graduates are not. So you would think Indian engineers are mostly groomed in an urban atmosphere with sophisticated infrastructure so as to inculcate a world class thinking ability in them, right? But there is this college which is subjecting those enrolled (you (mostly), me, and everybody) to a rural environment. Even though technically Zuarinagar is classified Industrial and physical access is above the national par and the sanitation infrastructure is decently in place, it would seem, based on the "current" situation, that almost two thousand students are living in a rural environment.

Perhaps it is an experiment. Or maybe a set up, in a hope that one (or some) student(s) will rise above the prevailing despair and establish a system that would lead their fellow students towards a better standard of living.

Clearly, I chose to be the one who commentates on it.


  1. good read. Love the way you have put it...maintaining the brevity of the whole thing!

  2. Nice piece. We could also eventually descend into a Lord of the Flies scenario. Just my two cents.