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IMA relief efforts for Nepal Earthquake victims

Dr K K Aggarwal

Honorary Secretary General IMA

When we heard about the Nepal Earthquake incidence, we at IMA HQs immediately decided to help the victims of Nepal earthquake.  Under the leadership of our National President Padma Shri Awardee Dr A Marthanda Pillai, a group of 13 doctors led by Padma Shri Awardee Dr Ashok Kumar was sent to Nepal.

Heart Care Foundation of India, a national NGO, joined IMA in this cause and its Senior Board Member Mr Harsh Garg, an industrialist, coordinated all the local arrangements at Nepal through DIG Police.

The IMA team stayed in Nepal for a week and treated over 1500 patients, performed complicated surgeries and saved one person from developing gangrene.

In the meantime, the Health ministry of Nepal wrote to us saying that they did not need any more medical teams; hence, our team was withdrawn.

In between, we contacted Dr Anjani Kumar Jha, President and Dr Mukti Ramshrestha, General Secretary, respectively of the Nepal Medical Association and they requested us to supply medicines. Due permissions were taken from respective Health Ministries and Indian Ambassador to Nepal for transfer of necessary drugs.

Udyog Development Foundation led by Shri Amitav Joyprakash Choudhury joined the movement of HCFI & IMA and medicines over Rs. 42 lakhs (Nepalese currency) were collected and dispatched, courtesy Indigo Airlines.

On 27th May, Dr Pillai, myself, along with Dr Chetan Patel, Chairman, Disaster Cell, IMA and Shri Amitav Joyprakash Choudhury reached Nepal to assess the actual situation.

At the airport, we had meetings with the President and Secretary of Nepal Medical Association.  We also met Shri Ranjit Rae, Ambassador of India to Nepal and we were told that we could only work through Nepal Medical Association or the Nepal Govt. We were also told that Govt. of India had donated over 4 lakhs Tarpaulin tents including vans, money and food material to Nepal.

Next we addressed a Press Conference which was organized in Tarpaulin tent with no branding as a make shift reporters club.

We also met Dr Senendra Upreti, Director General Health Sciences and Shri Shanta Badure Shrestha, Health Secretary and Shri Khagraj Adhikari, Minister of Health & Population, Govt. of Nepal.  All help was offered to them by IMA through Nepal Medical Association.

We then went to various affected areas and also interviewed many victims, local leaders and families. We were shocked to see the extent of the disaster but we were happy to see the enormous efforts to rehabilitate the victims of the earthquake.

We could differentiate the efforts of China from that of India. They were visible everywhere.  The Chinese tents were made of a better quality material and displayed the name of the country prominently. In one area, out of the 40 tents that were put up, only 10 tents were Chinese but had prominent display of their branding in the front and visible from the main road.

When we spoke to the people of Nepal, they were of the opinion that it was only the Chinese Govt. which was helping the Nepal victims.  When we talked about the help from the Govt. of India, their answers were in the negative.

In Bhaktapur, a nearby district of Kathmandu, we saw a rehab tent of 1700 people.  They were all living in 40 tents.  In this area, Indian branding was not visible. Only visible branding was of China tents.

To help victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the Chinese mission had organized a 2-hour Musical Therapy programme.

We also saw meals being prepared by the local Nepalese people. On enquiring, they informed us that the raw materials for lunch were sponsored by China.

We interviewed a person from noodles Company who said that for Rs.14,000/-, they were providing 2000 bunches of ready-made noodles for these people, which meant for a total value of less than 5 lakhs, 2000 people were sponsored for lunch by China for over a month.

I personally believe in the philosophy "Jo Dikhta Hai, Woh Bikta Hai" / "Jangal main mor Nacha, sabne dekha" (not kisne dekha).

If you are a true believer of Vedanta, it is okay to do charity and not talk about it.  But today, the trend is that while it is important to do charity, it is equally important to make it visible.

In contrast to India where most of us probably believe in “Guptdaan” or secret charity, China was visible in showing its charity towards the people of Nepal Earthquake.

Our day ended with a meeting with the office bearers of Nepal Medical Association where they requested us to donate a Van to them, which IMA hopes to provide but not in Indian Vedanta way; the van will carry the IMA branding on it.


Yours sincerely,

Dr A Marthanda Pillai                                                                                                Dr K K Aggarwal