Ranjona Banerji: Welcome to Hell

20 Aug,2019

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The “Indian Medical Association” has “withdrawn” the “esteem” it had for Lancet, the well-respected medical journal. I don’t know how Lancet has reacted, but really? “Withdrawn esteem”? Is that an official thing which you can “withdraw”? The esteemed docs should have got someone with a better understanding of outrage and language to write that letter. Almost makes you want to “withdraw esteem” for doctors.

So, you scratch your head, what has the once-esteemed Lancet done that made it so “unesteemable”? Horrors! It wrote an editorial about the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and referenced a United Nations report as well as one from Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) discussing the deep mental health issues which years of violence in Kashmir have caused.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)31939-7/fulltext

The Indian Medical Association, which might like to change its name to “Indian Medical Publicity Agents for BJP Governments” did not put together delegation to rush to Kashmir to help its population with its medical issues. It did not even rush to Kashmir to try and prove the UN and Medicins Sans Frontieres wrong. No, it wrote a letter to Lancet withdrawing esteem. I can only hope that no doctor in India ever again tries to get anything published in Lancet ever again. That would be so anti-national. I’m not even going to mention joining Doctors Without Borders because that sounds much harder than writing a pointless letter.

The Indian media, which is also part of the BJP’s enormous publicity machine, quickly jumped into action. Most of these BJP journalists may never have heard of Lancet so Wikipedia to the rescue. Does Wiki read “Anti-patriotic Indian British medical journal”?

And yet, am I being unfair? The IMA after all did put up a fight against the government’s decision to push through its controversial NMC bill (now Act) on the grounds that it legitimises quackery. So having been so brave earlier this year, why has the IMA now decided to fight on behalf of the government against Lancet?

Are the two quoted reports wrong? Is India’s chief association of doctors not concerned that people in Kashmir have severe mental health issues caused by decades of violence? Or was there a price to be paid for fighting the NMC bill?

One would hope that some Indian journalists might be interested in the story behind this absurd letter. Instead, Indian “journalists” are overjoyed at this grand courageous stand for “Defence of the BJP against Evil Foreign Medical Journal” by the IMA.

https://qz.com/india/1690677/why-indians-are-upset-about-the-lancets-editorial-on-kashmir/

We must never forget those of our esteemed colleagues whose main job description is “attack everyone who is opposed to the BJP and its actions, especially those of the Two Men at the Helm, Narendra Bhai and Amit Bhai”.

(Apart from the dudes at India Today whose main concern is to support Ajay Singh Bisht against all odds, murders, rapes, lynchings and the rest of whatever happens on a daily basis in UP. His cows love him you see, so how could India Today not?)

So apart from Lancet, student leader Shehla Rashid is now their main target. How dare this 31-year-old female from that well-known anti-national university named after Jawaharlal Nehru claim that excessive force has been used against Kashmiris during the current lockdown? Has any Indian in a position of power ever been accused of excessive force before? How can she say such a thing when India’s record for being perfect at everything ever since Narendra Modi came to power is famous worldwide (except by Lancet sadly)? Also, any criticism of a person in uniform is tantamount to treason. This of course does not include those people in uniforms, past and present, who somehow find the misplaced courage to criticise either the BJP or Narendra Modi or Amit Bhai.

Basically, the job of the Indian media has now become to ask questions of anyone who asks questions of the government.

Welcome to hell.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. Her views here are personal.

 

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