The Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, JNIMS, has been finally launched after a series of frustrating postponements. We join the rest of the state in congratulating the government for this achievement. We however would like to throw in a caveat at this stage. Let the JNIMS strive to live up to its name and intent of being a medical research institute first besides being a hospital and medical college. The advantages of being a research institute and not just a hospital should come across as obvious. But it also would need no reminder that these advantages come with additional responsibilities. In a crux, the institute will have a hospital, a medical college and most importantly, medical research facilities. In other words, the responsibility of this institute is not just about treating the sick, but also to be on the ultimate frontier medical sciences where better means to fight diseases are evolved, and weapons to defeat deadly diseases to which humans so far have no final answer, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS etc, are designed. It is known that the doctors/scientists recruited to run this institute are very well paid, and deservingly too. We hope the service perks would itself be enough to confine them to the job they are recruited for and concentrate their entire energy to the onerous mission the JNIMS is slated for as a medical research institute. In the years ahead, let the institute come to be known for its achievements and not for having produced doctor millionaires alone.
At the inaugural function, the chief minister, Okram Ibobi, chastised the doctors’ community in the state for being too obsessed with making money outside their official salaries even at the severe neglect of the hospitals that employ them and at huge monetary costs to the patients. This allegation would have surely struck a chord with a larger section of the people who have had to forgo the subsided medical facilities available at government hospital because the doctors there would much rather treat them at private clinics for an extra fee. This would be regardless of the fact that many would be in their hearts comparing the chief minister’s sermon to the devil citing the scriptures. Politicians have been in no way better in their commitment to profession or to the people they serve. Then again, the allegation may well apply to all other public offices, and so too private businesses. Nobody any longer takes pride in excelling in the vocation of his calling. Their jobs are an excuse and their real pursuit invariably is money. This can be through corrupt means or else by compromises of their pledge of loyalty to their professions. Hence we have teachers doubling up as petty government contractors and businessmen making a killing from public misery etc. Many would have found this out in the hard way even during the petrol and essential commodities scarcity in the state in the past few months. Those who availed petrol distributed against government coupons from certain petrol pumps would now have begun encountering carburettor problems in their motor vehicles.
This fact that practically everybody shares the guilt for this misgiving should however not be any inhibitor to initiatives for change. The buck must stop somewhere, and we are hopeful that the newly launched JNIMS would become the pivot in this much desired great U-turn of attitude. What we need today is a new generation of professionals, public servants, politicians and businessmen, for whom money is important, but all the same secondary to achievements in their fields of specialisation. What the state needs is a new crop of people committed to their work and takes pride in their contribution to public good. To indulge in a little homily, in the long run, these contributions each makes will be what leave permanent marks, and even landmarks, in history of the state and not the money each amasses by means that are far from fair. To underscore the point, money is important but its real value ultimately would be only so far as it is a measure of the worth of the contribution somebody makes to the vocation he or she has committed his life to, and to the larger common good. Money itself cannot be the measure of achievement. Unfortunately, in Manipur this is coming to be so. The more the money anybody makes, regardless of how the money has been made, the more important he becomes. The situation must be reserved, and the responsibility for this must rest most heavily on the shoulders of the coming generation of professionals. There is much in the teaching of the Bhagavat Gita: “Work is Worship”.