SET BACK: Babush, in a panic because of the demotion of his wife Jennifer Monserrate from rank four to rank 12 in the Cabinet, had a crises meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.


And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when on doctors keep prescribing unnecessary test to inflate the bill of the patient. For a Saturday following the week when a desperate Babush Monserrate had a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah who had made a transit halt in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the Supreme Court served notice on all 12 Congress and BJP MLAs, who defected to the Congress party. For a Saturday following the week when the church decided that no crosses would be put on the foreheads of parishioners on Ash Wednesday. For a Saturday following the week when Goa was getting ready for a flood of tourists as Carnival/Valentine’s Day weekend is here.


AND a few stray thoughts on how doctors loot patients. The latest instance is the claim by Dr Digambar Naik, who claims to be a cardiologist who had to sell his Vrundavan Hospital at Peddem, Mapusa. Dr Digmabar Naik claims that most of the deaths due to Covid-19 were due to heart failure. Over 700 Goans have died from Covid-19, most of them senior citizens. While the ultimate cause of death may have been heart attack what led to it were the lungs infected by Covid-19 coronavirus.
Already patients suffering from the contagion are expected to undergo a CT scan to check whether the infection has spread to the lungs and the patient is suffering from pneumonia. The most expensive part of the treatment which is critical to Covid-19 patients is their stay in the ICU. The private hospitals charge between Rs30,000-Rs40,000 per day in the ICU. The other major item in the billing of private hospitals for treatment of Covid-19 is the disposable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) worn by medical personnel attending to Covid-19 patients. This applies not only to visiting consultants but also the nurses and attendants of the patients. These PPE kits are thrown away every six hours and the astronomical cost is added to respective patient’s bill.
Now with the claim that coronavirus also affects the heart, Dr Digambar Naik wants to add inflate the patient’s bill? Dr Digambar Naik is insisting that all Covid-19 patients should also undergo an echo-cardiogram. This is a typical example of how doctors keep looting the patients!
There was a time when you had the good old general practitioner who was the family doctor. Because he knew your health history he could intuitively diagnose what is wrong with you and prescribe the right medicine. There are very few doctors now who have the medical intuition to correctly diagnose the ailment of the patient. This includes our very own doctor activist Dr Oscar Rebello who belong to the old tradition.
Most doctors who set up new practices do not trust their own judgement! It has become a universal practice to immediately ask the patient to undergo a wide range of diagnostic tests utilizing costly equipment. Even if the doctor knows it’s just a cough and cold he will ask the patient coming to him or her to undergo blood test and take an x-ray. If they get an opportunity they will ask you to do a CT scan or an MRI which are much more expensive tests. This is primarily because the doctor gets a commission from the pathological lab or the radiologist to whom he refers the patients to!
There are of course exceptions like Dr Velingkar’s CT lab or Dr Raghuvanshi’s radiology facility. But the majority of the doctors follow a kickback system of commission on patient referrals. Regrettably, the standard of doctors who pass out of medical colleges is so poor that they cannot diagnose a patient’s obvious illness without a plethora of investigation reports. This is particularly true of doctors who pass out of private medical colleges, who will admit anybody depending on how much they think they can bill them.
I recall a resident at the prestigious Jaslok hospital in Mumbai who was entrusted with the task of extracting some spinal fluid. This is a very painful process which is necessary in acute cases like polymyositis which is a muscle wasting disease. The resident who must have passed out of a capitation fee college told the seniors that there was no fluid in my spine! In which case I would have been dead. Later a senior doctor manage to get the sample within seconds.
It is a vicious cycle with students or parents having to pay huge amounts for admission to private medical school. The amount can run into several crore if admission for post graduate specialisation is sought. Understandably, the doctor who has paid a huge amount to get his post graduate degree which takes seven years, is anxious to recover his investment as soon as possible.
Among the major corrupters of doctors are the pharmaceutical companies. It is not a coincidence that the conferences held by various branches of the Indian Medical Association are sponsored by pharma companies. It has become routine for pharma companies to even sponsor vacations abroad for doctors. The doctor in turn feels obliged to prescribe the drugs of the concerned pharma companies.
Ideally, an honest doctor should prescribe the generic version of any drug and not the branded version. The generic versions are much cheaper than the branded ones and are equally affective. Do not be afraid to ask questions to your doctor on whether a procedure he insists on is really necessary? A colleague came across the case of a GP, who referred to his laptop to prescribe the most expensive drug he could find. As a patient you have a right to know why a certain procedure or medicine is being prescribed.


AND a few stray thoughts on a panicky Babush Atanassio Monserrate, having an urgent meeting with visiting Home Minister Amit Shah. The Home Minister was in Goa for a few hours in transit as he was on his way to neighbouring Maharashtra to inaugurate a hospital in Sindhudurg. Babush is obviously alarmed over the demotion of his wife Jennifer Monserrate, who is the Revenue Minister in the Pramod Sawant Cabinet. Her rank in the Cabinet, primarily because of the BJP dependence on Babush, was number four. However, in a Cabinet re-shuffle she was pushed right down to the second last rank in the cabinet. It is also possible that the BJP bosses did not approve of Babush removing Uday Madkaikar from his post of mayor of the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP).
Babush had announced that Madkaikar would be replaced along with 80% of the present councillors in the elections to the CCP which was scheduled for this month. The rumour is that Babush wants to make his son the mayor of Panaji. By doing so he would be controlling both Taleigao and Panaji. Besides the Taleigao and Panaji Assembly seats controlled by Jennifer and Babush, the Taleigao strongman also controls the Taleigao panchayat. Historically, both the Congress and the BJP under former chief minister, Manohar Parrikar, used to pamper Babush and yield to all his demands. This is because Babush earlier on not only got repeatedly elected from Taleigao, but also ensured that his candidates were elected from Santa Cruz, St Andre, Cumberjua and even distant Canacona. Babush used to fund the election campaign of all his close friends.
In fact, the first time Parrikar became the chief minister, Babush along with two other MLAs resigned from the Congress party and got himself and the others re-elected on the BJP ticket so that there would be no threat to the Parrikar government. Even as recently as the 2012 election Parrikar persuaded Babush not to contest against his nominee Siddharth Kunkolienkar, when Parrikar resigned his seat to move to Delhi as defence minister. Only after Parrikar’s death did Babush Monserrate manage to defeat Siddharth Kunkolienkar and win the Panaji seat in the by-election.
The BJP under Pramod Sawant has apparently decided that they can manage without Babush. It is not a co-incidence that the CM has postponed the elections to CCP by three months. Whether Babush will strike a new deal with Amit Shah only time will tell.


AND a few stray thoughts on the cases against the disqualified Congress and BJP MLAs, finally come up for hearing in the Supreme Court. In the recently concluded session of the Goa Legislative Assembly, Speaker Rajesh Patnekar finally served notice on the 12 MLAs who had defected from the Congress and the MGP to join the BJP. After the death of Manohar Parrikar both Vijai Sardesai of Goa Forward and Sudhin Dhavalikar of the MGP withdrew support to the BJP. The logic was that their support had not been to the BJP party but personally to Manohar Parrikar. The genius at breaking parties, Amit Shah, got ten members of the 15 Congress MLAs to defect to the BJP. Under the Anti-Defection Act, if two-thirds of the members of a Legislative Party split, it does not amount to defection. Simultaneously, two of the three MLAs of the MGP, namely Babu Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pawaskar, merged with the BJP. Though these defections took place more than a year and a half ago, speaker Rajesh Patnekar kept refusing to hear the disqualification notices filed by the Congress and the MGP.
Consequently, the Congress and the MGP filed a petition against the speaker in the SC. But since Speaker Rajesh Patnekar has finally initiated the process of hearing the disqualification petitions, the SC has directed the Speaker to dispose it before February end. The next hearing has been fixed for early March latest.
The SC by itself cannot issue any orders till the speaker decides on the petition. This is because the Constitution has stipulated that the courts cannot interfere with the working of the Legislative Assembly. The High Court and the Supreme Court can only entertain a challenge to the Speaker’s order after he announces his decision. There have been occasions in the past when the SC has over ruled a disqualification decision by the Goa Bench of the Mumbai High Court. In the 90s when Ravi Naik was the chief minister he was forced to resign as he had defected from the MGP to the Congress with the promise that he would be made the chief minister. Dr Wilfred D’Souza, who was the than Congress chief took over as CM. Subsequently, the SC set aside the disqualification of Ravi Naik by the Mumbai HC and he was inducted as the CM again. But only for a brief period as the then Governor Bhanu Prakash Singh had taken the decision without consulting the Congress government at the Centre.


AND a few stray thoughts on when the churches of Goa decided not to physically apply the mark of the cross on the forehead of Catholics on Ash Wednesday. This is a traditional part of church rituals which marks the beginning of the Lenten season which concluded with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The legend goes that palm trees were burnt and the ashes applied on the forehead to symbolise the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. Due to the Covid-19 scare and the standard procedure laid down by the Central government, the traditional practise has been changed to avoid physical contact between the priest and the devotee. The fear is that the priest may infect the devotee or vice versa. So the ash will only be sprinkled on the head of the devotees who attend the Ash Wednesday function in the church.
Even in church according to the SOP physical distance has to be maintained between devotees who also have to wear masks. The carnival in fact is an old pagan festival preceding the month long Lent period when Catholics were expected to abstain from consuming meat and imbibing liquor and to live an austere life. Lent is similar to the Shravan fasting observed by Hindus and the Roza observed by Muslims in the run up to Ramzan. Perhaps the original idea in all religions was that body should be given a rest and all citizens should undergo detoxification for their own good health physical and spiritual.


AND a last stray thought on Goa getting ready to welcome a huge surge of domestic tourists this weekend. This year Carnival, which is celebrated over four days from Saturday, February 13 also coincides with Valentine’s day falling on Sunday, February 14. The State government has decided that because Covid-19 guidelines are still in force the Carnival or Carnaval procession will be held only in Panjim and Margao. In the past the Carnival float parade used to be held in all the major towns of Goa as also the beach belt. King Momo has already been selected. Eric Dias, who has been selected to be the king of the Carnival, is reported to be a good singer as well as a good speaker. The Carnival starts with a proclamation by King Momo asking the people to have fun over the next four days. The carnival begins on Saturday, Feb13 and traditionally ends on Feb17 which is referred to as Maundy Tuesday. This is immediately followed by Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lent season.
We sincerely hope that the Tourism department will be as meticulous in enforcing the Covid-19 standard operating procedure, which requires the wearing of masks and maintaining physical distancing to minimise return of the coronavirus infection. Ironically, the country which began the tradition of Carnival revelry, Brazil, has cancelled its Carnival extravaganza this year because of a huge number of Covid-19 cases.

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