Deep state loathes a good doctorDr Govinda KC has given many a headache to successive governments in Nepal for all the right reasons.
No government likes crusaders, dissenters and activists, especially those who, with unquestionable moral integrity as their lone weapon, question the political leadership of the day and the brute force of the state. The current KP Sharma Oli-led administration is particularly resentful of its detractors. Its nervousness was self-evident in the way it got the police to manhandle Dr Govinda KC, the 63-year-old orthopaedic surgeon who has led a one-man movement for ameliorating the ailing medical sector in Nepal.
This time, the government went further ahead in its ruthlessness as it forcibly diverted Dr KC to the National Trauma Centre even as he was headed to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. So scared was the government that it stopped Dr KC from seeing his patients in remote areas of Jumla district last month.
The surgeon continues to fight for people's rights even when the people themselves are tired of fighting, or even seeing someone fighting, for their rights. It is this adamancy of the lone crusader that has paved the way for the preparation of the National Medical Education Bill. His other demands, including establishing a state-run teaching hospital in each province and conducting MBBS classes at the Karnali Academy of Health Sciences, are hardly questionable or inspired by self-interest. Rather, they are aimed at changing the face of the medical sector in Nepal. As government hospitals run out of staff, beds, ventilators and medical equipment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr KC's indefatigable struggle for reform has become all the more relevant today.
Through repeated hunger strikes, Dr KC has exposed the crony capitalism that has been the bedrock of the medical sector. However, the government that swears by socialism continues to shun the poor as it is hand-in-glove with private investors with dubious backgrounds. All that successive governments representing various parties over the past eight years have given Dr KC is a slew of assurances that his demands would be met. And they have betrayed him each time. Their interest has all along been to peddle lies and shut the mouths of those who question them.
It is not for nothing that Dr KC has called his fast unto death as satyagraha, or the call for truth. Satyagraha is a moral weapon for those with impeccable moral authority to fight for achieving social ends. It is only those who have an unquestionable allegiance to truth that can call others to a moral high ground of truth-seeking.
The government of the day may have political legitimacy that it derives from parliamentary democracy. But Dr KC holds a legitimacy that is even higher than political. What he has is a moral legitimacy that allows him to question the government on what it has done to ameliorate the situation of the medical sector, and what it plans to do in the future. Dr KC's is a cause worth fighting for, and his demands deserve support from the public, no matter whether they support the government of the day or not, for they are beyond the mundane rat race of everyday street politics.