Let taxpayers pay for ‘our’ treatment abroad, while they rot in government hospitals: Harsh Taneja

Guest post by HARSH TANEJA

The Government of India has recently gifted its bureaucrats a privilege. The state will reimburse the total cost of medical treatment abroad for the three highest civil services officers (the IAS, IPS and IFS).

And this entitlement is not limited to procedures that cannot be carried out in India.

According to this newspaper report, these officers and their families can decide to go abroad for even routine procedures such as bypass surgeries. A privilege that is unfair, undemocratic and borders on institutionalized corruption. Here’s why.

First, the most obvious argument pointed out in the newspaper article itself, is the huge expenditure to the exchequer. However that to me is the beginning of why this is problematic. The following two concerns are perhaps more grave.

The first argument is that such an entitlement cannot be limited to the officers of the Three Elite Services. Let me explain. India has a socialist public health system. In other words, our public hospitals treat every citizen according to their income. The poor are charged the least and so on. (Certain government jobs entitle all employees to medical treatment at government expense). The network consists of primary health centers, district and state hospitals and more specialized referral hospitals such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at New Delhi. Every patient irrespective of social or economic status can be referred up to AIIMS for treatment. So if treatment abroad has to be on government expense, why should it not extend to all beneficiaries of the Public Health system? Should the option to go abroad for treatment at government expense be based on your status in the government or on the complexity of your illness?

Readers familiar with Animal Farm may remember what the pigs did for themselves.

The second argument is that such policies will only lead to further degradation of the Public Health Infrastructure. I recently had written about how a state hospital was unable to treat a case of hydrocephalus, a rather common condition among infants and elderly. The IAS run our health ministry and hence ensure the functioning of this system. If they are allowed to avoid and escape the system for their own use, they will never empathize with the concerns of the infirm common man. An analogy can be found in public transport. India’s public transport is pathetic because those who oversee its smooth functioning are not its users. They ride chauffeur driven cars, which contribute to their apathy towards the plight of those who ride trains and buses.

This law needs to be immediately challenged in the courts. Beyond the most direct arguments of an expenditure the government should not incur, there are other grave concerns.

Such policies are based on flawed principles.

I am willing to work with any individual or organization that wants to file a PIL, organize a protest and represent against this decision. Please email me/ comment here and I will be all ears.

Harsh Taneja can be contacted at harsht@u.northwestern.edu

11 thoughts on “Let taxpayers pay for ‘our’ treatment abroad, while they rot in government hospitals: Harsh Taneja”

  1. What is happening is not right .Why should we the -tax-payers, pay for their ailments , , with our “hard-earned money ?? Like the rest of us they should be treated here !!

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  2. I too was astonished to read this news in one of the English dailies.At the outset my reaction was that it was a totally unacceptabale order.Personally I have a belief that this decision will not stand the public scrutiny,There will be a strong objection to such an order.Even the lower echelons of the bureaucracy will not tolerate such a preferential treatment to these elite services of the British legacy.Such a decision is a blatant affront to the Constitution of India.itself.I have my own doubts if this order had got the approval from the Ministry of Personnel.If the Minister in-chargeis also privy to this order it is he who should be held responsible first of all.Those who have taken this decision must be ostracised.It is horrible if such people in the bureaucracy rule the roost and nobody takes note of such an obnoxious decision..If these IAS,IPS and IFS officers are allowed to go abroad for treatment on government expenses why the peons and lowest rank government employees should not be given the same facility?I still hope this order shall be revoked at the earliest.

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  3. I agree with the writer.This needs to be nipped in the bud right away! We need to start a petition,go to the media ,file a PIL- do whatever it takes to prevent this before its too late.It will set a dangerous precedent.

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  4. I don’t get it – all this at a time when our nation’s Forex reserves are at an all-time low?. And that too, for standard procedures – for which many foreigners even come to India (such as by-pass and transplantation of organs). Who is making these assinine decisions?.

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  5. I totally agree to what has been shared in this article. This sounds like such a weird and inequitable policy. The class of employees which anyways already gets paid the highest in the system out of all kinds of government employees is further being privileged and also being given another reason for being totally disconnected to what is experienced by the masses in the country.it is just amazing how insensitive and inequitable our system is becoming day by day….

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  6. This is the most dangerous choice made by the GOI. IAS, IPS and IFoS are not the only government officers/ servants working for the country. There are various other services those too contribute in the Indian and its state system. Every services must be respected equally. The writer is correct that bureaucrats don’t know what the problem is in the public convenience and they work as ‘secretary’ for the government and issued GOs. This step will lead to uneasiness to the other employees who is contributing for this country as well. This must be stopped and PIL must be filed in the Supreme Court of India instantaneously.

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  7. The author of the email states that he is looking forward to an individual or an organisation
    that wants to file a PIL. Who will bell the cat?

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