Money does matter

Updated: Aug 1 2005, 05:30am hrs
PK Michael Tharakan’s article ‘Greater social respect can help ease the shortage’ (July 29) on how to check the exodus of nurses to countries abroad illustrates the problem with academic theorists.

He talks of a catastrophe waiting to happen, a third of nursing jobs in government hospitals being vacant in migration hotspots and terrific overwork on those who remain. And what is his solution "Not by money," he firmly says. Instead, he suggests higher social respect for nurses as the answer "to compensate for their opportunity cost at Chicago or New York." This when his own article notes the proliferation of private nursing colleges and the fact that 80% of the students have willingly paid a Rs 2 lakh capitation fee, plus a Rs 3 lakh course fee "with an eye on overseas placement."
Why are these unwealthy students putting down all this money to get that degree Obviously, as Mr Tharakan himself notes, because they expect to earn far more by getting out of India. Doctors get social respect in India. Offer them a choice of a salary 10 times what they get here and a fast-track green-card and they’ll be queuing to get out, too. Where is Mr Tharakan’s ‘social respect’ to come from, with pay for nurses so low Doesn’t he see a straight lesson in the fact that a nursing student who has put down lakhs of rupees to get that certificate of qualification doesn’t want to apply for those government hospitals where a third to a half of posts are vacant
If you want nurses to stay here, you’ll have to offer them far more to do so, unless you intend to ban their search for better opportunities. How is it that with posts so difficult to fill in government hospitals, the policies on pay and professional advancement are still stationary There’s nothing in Mr Tharakan’s article which offers a solution in this regard. There’s a mention of better training and technological upgradation which "could also bring higher self-respect to Indian nurses." Why don’t you just put that money at the disposal of hospital heads to offer a far higher pay to the human resource which technology cannot replace Could Mr Tharakan spell out a policy which allows this within our stratified, IAS-run system
TR Ramanan

ONGC fire
It is indeed shocking to note that the ONGC fire has consumed numerous lives and the toll would have higher, had it not been for the timely intervention of the rescue team.
ONGC, being one of the most profitable PSUs in the country, has miserably failed to put in place safety measures for its employees, resulting in such a shocking tragedy. Instead of instituting an enquiry into the accident after allowing it to happen, pre-emptive measures should have been put in place.
The committee probing the lapses under former chairman SK Manglik should not only put forth the system failures leading to the fire, but human lapses as well. In fact, it would be better if a senior judge probed the matter, rather than somebody who was with ONGC, to ensure the findings are fair and objective.
B Venkateswaran