DR RAVI WANKHEDKAR’S ‘IMA BHARAT YATRA’: National president of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, was in Goa on February 28, 2018, to interact with IMA doctors here. His Bharat Yatra which started from Kanyakumari on Feb 25 will end in New Delhi with a Doctors’ Mahapanchayat on Mar 25. Many doctors think the National Medical Commission Bill before the Standing Committee of Parliament is draconian, antipoor, undemocratic, anti-student and will fuel corruption in the medical sector. They want\ the bill to be reviewed

YOU are probably not aware that the Central government has proposed a 5% service tax on healthcare in the recent budget. What are its implications? If you undergo any heart surgery, you must pay `5,000 to `10,000 or more as service tax. If you are unfortunate and suffer from cancer, then you will be charged anywhere in excess of `20,000 as service tax.

Do not be misled by the government’s justification that only air-conditioned hospitals will be charged this tax, and hence only
rich patients will be taxed. For your information, not a single operation theatre or blood bank can legally function without airconditioning!

The government spends less than 1% of our GDP on healthcare. The only other government in the world which spends less than us is the government of Pakistan. Eighty percent of our national healthcare cost is borne through private expenditure.
It is the government’s duty to provide us with affordable healthcare instead of increasing the cost by adding more taxes.
Even our poorest villagers who pay `5 to `10 for micro health insurance are charged 8% service tax. My fellow citizens, quality
healthcare remains beyond the reach of most of us partly because hospitals pay sales tax, customs duty, entry tax, VAT, electricity bills at the highest tariff bracket an even luxury tax. Every day, I see patients who have sold their homes or borrowed money beyond their means to save their child’s life. I do not have the heart to tell them that from today they will be charged an additional `5,000 to `10,000 as service tax. Less than 10% of our population can afford heart, brain or
cancer surgery. In the process, we perhaps produce the largest number of young widows in the world. Healthcare cost is the commonest cause of rural indebtedness. We must all act against this injustice. So, let us choose Saturday, March 12 as “Misery Day.” I request every citizen to assemble at 11 am near the Governor’s house of every state with a petition to roll back this misery tax. Please pass on this request to everybody you know.
– Dr Devi Shetty, India

Reports of tourists spending their holidays cleaning beaches in north Goa has not brought forth any apology or even a thank you from either the Tourism Department or the TTAG! Of course, this comes as no surprise. TTAG is too busy counting footfalls, which seems to be all they know about tourism. They would not know anything about sustainable tourism, mistaking
that for their own sustainability. Industries must be profitable: the ratio of the output to input must be greater than at least 25%. And sustainable. What are thebenefits of tourism to Goa vis-avis what is given by the people? Drugs are available in schools and have percolated to the centre of Goa, prostitution is openly practiced and blessed along coastal villages
which over time, will surely be a noble cause for young village minds.

TTAG advises ministers to speak more tolerantly about tourists but is silent on drugs in school and massage parlous doubling as prostitution joints. In December alone 13 lakh tourists visited a Goa with its own population of 15 lakh and all jostle for space. Goans today have given up all their rights to tourists and the TTAG! Goans cannot watch carnival floats, go to the beaches, attend Christmas and New Year events as they now form the minority and are second class citizens! They have
to face road blockages, loud music way past midnight, all their social functions have to be shared with the tourists…sea food festivals, even their Sao Joao. Remote south Goa beaches which we would frequent due to no tourists are now out of bounds. Goans now have to go to interior locations which again are quickly discovered by tourists!

Earlier, during the summer, when the tourists had finally left Goa, Goans would finally come out for picnics by the beach. Alas, now we find glass shards in the sand and so the traditional picnics too have become a no no. Every year even the restaurants in town increase their rates, forcing officegoers to shell out more. Fish is off the table. All other commodities are also high priced. And the industry now wants all year tourism? Real estate has shot up to cater to ‘second homes’ for tourists,
with realtors ‘converting’ land from agriculture to development and usurping the same from the communidades. Rampant hill and sand dune destruction, and influx of cheap labour facilitate this construction. All water bodies have been polluted with salt water due to bore wells sunk by 5-star hotels and sewage from lesser star hotels, restaurants and holiday’ flats.

With all this what exactly is the revenue from the industry that actually goes to raise the living standards of the ordinary Goan? How much is pumped back into infra structure?What must the ‘footfalls’ be for a sustainable and breakeven return?
You can’t expect to have December footfalls every month. Neither can you go on catering to increased rooms and then cry that there are no tourists.
– R Fernandes, Margao

THE general public should note that it is in the fitness of things that Aam Aadmi party representatives held nationwide
protests against BJP-led Central government’s vindictive targeting of a democratically elected AAP government in Delhi. Our volunteers gathered at Azad Maidan in Panaji led by AAP State convenor Elvis Gomes to decry the continuous harassment
of the Delhi government by the Centre. Gomes commented that the Modi government is unable to digest the stunning 67-3 defeat in 2015 at the hands of Arvind Kejriwal, and was hell bent on decimating the growth of AAP in Delhi as well as other parts of the country. The general perception is spreading that the Modi government with its vindictive actions against AAP in the past three years has returned the country to the British Raj era, when totalitarianism was the rule of the day.

Valmiki Naik criticized the impunity with which completely false cases are being fabricated against AAP MLAs to try and
ensnare them in controversies. Instead of supporting the reforms in education and health sector which AAP has initiated
and which even the media abroad has praised both BJP and Congress are working against the larger interests of the common
residents of Delhi. AAP is an honest political party working diligently for the common man and refusing to compromise with the well- oiled corrupt system of today’s times! Sooner or later more and more people will understand the genuine democratic spirit of AAP.
– Pradeep Padgaonkar,
Secretary, AAP, Goa

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