Action and inaction
Posted on November 29th, 2019

Laksiri Warnakula

The election is over and the country’s helm is now in the hands of a new skipper. Therefore isn’t it time to forget the polling booths and look beyond them to see what else could be happening in this ‘Land like no other’? By the way anyone looking at the above title might think that I got it wrong: Shouldn’t it be ‘Action and reaction’? No. Believe me. It’s no mistake!

Ours is a nation, where action and inaction are engaged in a race and for almost seventy years on now, it has always been a case of later being placed ahead with the former lagging behind, panting, puffing and it has never been seen to be in possession of enough stamina and strength to catch up. To make matters worse, the lead seems to be increasing and not one bit decreasing.

Now here is just one case in point, which no doubt is amongst probably many such others that speaks of our inaction. My daily routine includes spending sometime on Facebook, which in fact has now become more ritual than routine. And about a week before (22-11-19) a post on it caught my attention.

It was about a pathetic state of affairs (this may have been fixed by now) at our National Hospital in relation to the dialysis units that became nonoperational due to the non-availability of necessary air conditioning equipment. The new equipment was there, waiting for installation. The post carried some photos too and the writer, who himself is a dialysis patient planned to take serious action to bring this situation to the attention and notice of all concerned.

It is unbelievable. A hospital of such importance and immensity must be having a fairly long list of administrators ranging from directors, their deputies down to the superintendents. Then there are medical professionals of specialist and professorial standing all the way down to the interns. Then there is the nursing staff and other medical laboratory technicians, so on and so forth. Finally we have the minister of health looking down from above, sitting in his luxurious ministerial abode.

Still those a/c equipment lay neglected causing many a patient to suffer. And none seemed to care. How would one explain such inaction, apathy and negligence?  And who is to take the responsibility and who in authority is asking that question, anyway?

It is a pity that the sincere most feelings of concern, empathy and sympathy (not pretentious) towards a fellow human, who is in need of care and help is fast becoming a thing of the past. There was a time when the majority of our people in the society irrespective of who and what they were always helped the needy and the sick as far as they could. That mentality is not there anymore. 

Instead a self-serving, self-centred and selfish psychology has taken over the society at large. Nobody big or small, or the teacher and the heeler or the vendor and the worker doesn’t give two hoots about those who are under their care let alone any other member of the society any more, if what’s on the menu or the plate is not attractive and big enough.

The socio-economic changes in the society that resulted following those policies of ‘Open Market Economy’ of late JRJ precipitated this moral avalanche. And these polcies also introduced a new philosophy of living to the masses: To ‘make money by hook or by crook’ at the expense of honesty, decency and morality. And the politicians led the way by example, showing the people how to cheat, lie and rob with ease and without having any scruples.

And then some blame the sad circumstances like the one mentioned above regarding the dialysis unit in the National hospital on the bureaucratic red tape and inertia that our public service is deeply afflicted with. 

It’s a well-known fact though that the ‘Third World’ and its public sector in particular is notoriously replete with bureaucratic inertia, with its public servants often venting out their workplace grievances, even domestic at times,  on the hapless public and Sri Lanka is no exception. 

Most of our own government organisations are well over over-staffed and I am sure many of their employees from top to bottom are quite happy sitting and doing nothing, passing the buck around and to make their task easier there is lots of that bureaucratic red tape too, bound around those musty-smelling files and folders sitting on their tables for ages, waiting to be opened.

However when the sick and the ill, who cannot afford private medical care have no option but rely on our government hospitals to look after their health issues and expect to receive necessary treatment as quickly and efficiently as possible, utilising the available resources to the maximum, become the victims of neglect and negligence, it’s a very sad state of affairs indeed, which in fact is both a social malady and a tragedy of no small dimension.

No doubt we still have dedicated and honest professionals and workers, who put their duty above and beyond everything else. Sadly this creed is now becoming a minority.

I sincerely hope that the new president will take prompt action to put a stop to this abysmal inaction and endless procrastination that has become the work ethic of the majority of the employees in our government institutions and organisations. Its colossally negative impact on the development of the country and the improvement of the standard of living of its people need no elaboration.

Laksiri Warnakula

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