At the Eleventh Session of the
All India Homoeopathic Conference at GAYA, 1955.
[Continued from page 18]
Politics in its essence is not a philosophy of technical ideas, but an art of the immediately practical. That is exactly what the modern Chinese have eminently understood. We Indians are about the most legalistic minded race, always looking to precedents and authorities; and the only man who broke through this in India was Mahatma Gandhi. He was the greatest statesman of all time in India because he understood the simple needs of the masses. I asked a member of the British Embassy who was travelling with me on the boat back from China what he thought of the modern chinese; and he said that they had something most uncommon, namely, commonsense.
The rulers of New China are, in my view the greatest statesmen I have seen because they know the needs of the masses and, as statesmen, act as brokers of ideas, without whom no bridges can be built between the expert and the multitude. It is no accident, but an inherent quality of his character, that the specialist distrusts his fellow specialist when the latter can reach the multitude. For him the gift of popular explanation is a proof of failure in the grasp of the discipline. His intensity of gaze makes him suspect the man who can state the elements of his mystery in general terms. He knows too much of minute to be comfortable upon the heights of generalisation.
I want to further add, and this is especially meant for our Government and its bureaucrats, that things done by Governments must not only appear right to the expert, no matter whether he comes from America, or Kamaschatka; their consequences must seem right to the plain and average man. And there is no way of discovering his judgment save by deliberately seeking it. this, after all, is the really final test of government; for, at least over any considerable period, no Government can maintain a special policy which runs counter to the wishes of the people or which does not show adequate and rapid results.
Neither good – will in the expert nor efficiency in the performance of his function ever compensates in a state for failure to elicit the interest of the plain man in what is being done. What can be done is not what the plain mans scheme of values permits him to think as just. His likes and dislikes, his indifference and inertia, circumscribe at every stage the possibilities of administration.
Had our planners and our bureaucracy thought out these aspects the picture would have been very different, their attitude towards the basic problems of a resurgent Asia would have been more realistic; and you and I would not have been more realistic; and you and I would not have been here gathered today to dissect the strangely antagonistic policy of the Hon. Health Minister and her Health Ministry to pieces. For, after all what is it that we are asking of them? All that we are asking is for them to look first at facts as they stand, sheer, brutal economic facts of India and Asia and then to build their theories on facts.
The most important fact as Harold Lasky points out is that: “We must ceaselessly remember that no body of experts is wise enough, or good enough, to be charged with the destiny of mankind. Just because they are experts, the destiny of life is, for them, in constant danger of being sacrificed to a part; and they are saved from disaster only by the need of deference to the plain mans commonsense. Indeed, it may come so far that, as Professor Whitehead wrote: “The fixed man for the fixed duty, who in older times was such a godsend, in future will be a public danger. In a sense, the more expert such fixed people are, the more dangerous are they likely to be.
In order to co-ordinate his specialism with the sumtotal of human knowledge, he must cease to be an expert, for the wisdom that is needed for the direction of affairs is not an expert technique but a balanced equilibrium. It is the knowledge of how to use men, money and material available in the present and the near visible future, a faculty of judgment about the practicability of principles under given situations that matters. It consists not in the possession of specialised knowledge, but in the power to utilise at the right moment and in the right directions.”
All this I have been looking for in our Rulers and their bureaucracy of experts and have not found them. So of what use is putting before this ruling class our suggestions even if they are of the utmost value and based on a realistic approach? And how right was I, even as far back as 1951, when I warned you all against having too high hopes that the bureaucratic structure would change or that this Government would rely, less upon their reactionary bureaucracy and more on the realistic analysis of facts. Nothing has changed today. On the contrary, the more it begins to fail the more barren its results turn out to be, the firmer does this Government clings onto its pre – conceived notions – a well known escapist phenomena.
Therefore what shall we discuss further? I think there is something useful I could tell you, mainly that most of the thesis we have repeatedly put up to this Government, and most of what I and some of us have been tirelessly and, to the Government, tiresomely, advocating, quite unknown to us have been put into actual execution in New China. That was the most surprising thing I and others saw when we was the most surprising thing I and others saw when we was the most surprising thing I and others saw when we went there. Namely for years we have been advocating that went there.
Namely for years we have been advocating that s three years course in medical aid, or even two years course, is adequate to turn out reasonably efficient practitioners of medical aid. The Chinese being realists have gone even further. Their arguments is that there is a difference between practical needs and academic ideals. They say, what I have been saying since years, that the basis of a plan is not what is desirable, but what is feasible and practicable. But then it needs the Chinese realism to do things in a unorthodox way. They shocked orthodox Marxism into hysterics by doing the most unheard of and un – Marxist thing.
They based their theories on a peasant revolution and made it a stupendous success. That was the most unheard of thing the orthodox Marxists with their theory of “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, had ever heard of, not only in Holy Russia but it came as a shock also to the orthodox Marxists in India When the Russians first announced their first Five Year Plan, all the learned orthodox Economists in capitalistic countries dolefully shook their heads and predicted dire failure. Why? Because it did not fit in with their fixed theories.
To their utter consternation it succeed, again, in the most unheard of manner. What is the reason for the experts failure to assess rightly the possibility of success of unorthodox approaches to problems? As Lasky points out:
“Vital, too, and dangerous, is the experts caste spirit. The inability of doctors to see light from without is notorious; and a reforming lawyer is at least as strange a spectacle as one prepared to welcome criticism of his profession from men who do not practise it. There is, in fact, no expert group which does not tend to deny that ruth may possibly be found outside the boundary of its private Pyranees. Yet, clearly enough, to accept its dictates as final, without examining their implications, would be to accept grave error as truth in almost every department of social effort. Every experts conclusion is a philosophy of the second best until it has been examined in terms of a scheme of values not special to the subject matter of which he is an exponent.
REALISM IN NEW CHINA. This is exactly what the Chinese understood, without, very likely, ever having read Harold Lasky, and I am openly confessing that my recent visit to China taught me in a six weeks of practical observation, what twenty years of theoretical study could never have effectively taught me. Take for instance their outlook on Medical and Health Problems. They never had the benefit of advice from the W.H.O. like our Health Minister. They are lucky that they did not, because it taught them to think in straight lines without reference to holy precedents.
The first thing I asked the Health Minister in China, who also happens to be a woman there as here, was what the attitude of the Government was towards it own indigenous system of medicine. She said that they could not do without it that China had about 46000 trained medical personnel which was totally inadequate, and they were conscious of the fact that it would take China considerable time to create that adequate, highly trained staff in modern medicine; and what were they to do in the meantime? Obviously, she argued, the Chinese Government could not let the people die without medical aid when there were huge number of Chinese medical practitioners in indigenous medicine who had an ancient system of medicine which the Government had not fully assessed but knew that the people were resorting to it.
She said that both the Government and the people held the old indigenous system in high respect and that the Government thought it wise to enlist the aid of these thousands of indigenous practitioners and give them encouragement to study their own system better. I told her that I had read about the various short term courses of training of medical personnel and how she could substantiate them. In my own heart I was over joyed to find our views already in picture there, but in order to get more information, I put on the air of a stern scientific investigator. She told me that these were merely practical make shifts. Something had to be done at various level during the period of development of China to a full – fledged, highly developed country, and obviously, they had to choose between the essentially practical needs on one hand and academic desirability on the other.
Thus they have devised specific courses for specific purposes, at specific levels, beginning at the Hsien (Tehsil) level right up to the modern specialities at the city level. Their courses are 6 months, 1-2-3-4 and 5 years, and each is devised with very clear cut and specific intentions. They have thrown for the time being the academic ideals out of the window. They said there is time for that. In interviewed the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Mukden and was astounded to learn that they did not believe in the teaching of international nomenclature in anatomy.
When I asked why this trend to isolationism, he said that it was their first intention that China should produce terms that Chinese could understand in order to become reasonably efficient practical physicians and to create an army of scientists was not their primary objective. Scientists they would produce, and for that they would devise a different type of education. At present their aim was to train men and women in large numbers, as rapidly as possible, to serve specific purposes, and for that, they believe that all extraneous and unnecessary theoretical junk should be excluded.
They wanted men and women to learn to take a practical approach to a known set of problems with a known set of measures. When Professor Bhagwantham, the famous Indian physicist, was shocked, as I pretended to be shocked, that people with only a six months course of training were let loose on Chinese humanity, the same minister sent for her Director who took Bhagwantham round to the most up-to-date and largest hospital and showing him the various instruments for diagnosis and treatment, explained that it needed a full 5 years training in order to know how to use them.
But, he asked, could China, at present and for several years to come, afford to send all such equipments to villages. Obviously no. Then what is the good of sending men to to those villages when such equipment could not be made available. But all knew the common – place disease in the countryside and they also knew the simple remedies with which to combat them. Obviously, it was logical to get men from those very villages to acquire the necessary minimum training for specific purposes at specific levels till the economic situation improved, which was bound to be, but that needed time.
So they believed that the local practising indigenous physician should be enlisted, encouraged to undergo further training in the elements of new things and he is not expected to work miracles but is just expected to do his work better than before. The chinese Government had already had experience during their resistance against Japan when nothing was available, how to improvise medical aid out of practically nothing; for example, the famous Eight Route Army, and even peasants were given elementary training, like the Feldscherrs in Russia, and they did excellent work.
But then, my friends, the chinese did not have the disadvantage of a highly intellectual Indian Medical Council with the Burra Saab Mentality, nor the most unscientific, “scientific” trade union known as the Indian Medical Association. Things had to be done in the easiest, cheapest, quickest and most practical manner, no matter on whose toes of sensitive private vested interests they had to tread, and they did it.
Shanghai was the most notorious endemic focus for cholera before the new Chinese Government took over power. They did not talk big words like “Preventive Medicine”, nor did they consult the W.H.O. they went straight to the point, called upon the people in a mighty popular campaign to clear up choked sewers and streets, and week in and week out, bands of enthusiastic young men dredged stinking sewers and set an example to the people, who at first, distrustful, then amazed, joined in the work. In short, the old thesis that our former National Planning Committee had put up, alas, not followed by the present Planners, that “whatever measures we may take, it must be understandable to the people and must appear as if it comes from their own endeavours”, has been put into practice by the chinese.
In short, let us be happy. The practical proof you and I have been looking for in all our proposals to our present Government in India, has been supplied in ample measure by New China. Just recently a delegation of Engineers went to China from India and they came back with the report that the Chinese did the same things we did, but much cheaper in spite of the fact that we had more machines. Why? Because they know how to enlist man power and has a definite clear cut purpose. Yes, Friends, I myself saw a huge building of 400 rooms going up to be completed in 5 weeks; and who were building it? The students of the Mukden Technical Institute under the supervision of the masons. Imagine such a thing happening in India? It will be damned good idea and India will be far the better for it.
Now the question, the very pertinent question is should India follow the Chinese example? Are the conditions in China to which such methods of solution were applied identical with ours or at least similar? My answer is a most emphatic yes. I say this after considerable study. Most of the visitors to China from India after a brief visit imagined themselves full – bloomed authorities on China and have even delivered themselves in print.
I did not emulate their precious example, but on the contrary sat down to read more books on China from various aspects and till now I have read nearly 40 books on China from wherever I could borrow them and the more I study the problems of china I feel that at least in the economic approach, there is much to learn from China, not because of their practical approach, not only because theoretically we came to the same conclusion as the Chinese did, but because those very views we hold, have been proved eminently correct and successful.
But again the recurring question arises: Will our Health Ministry and our present Government realise this? My answer is no. It is not as if the Health bureaucrats are unaware of the force of public opinion is pressing for recognition of the other systems of medicine in India. Take for instance the redoubtable Dr. K.C.K.E. Raja. On page 295 of the Chopra Committee Report, Vol 2, he admits.
“There is considerable force in those arguments and they can be met only by an acceptance of the position that indigenous medicine will have to be utilised under present conditions to promote a rapid extension of health services”.
But how do they intend to stab all this in the back? Very simple, dear friends, very simple. Just get the Indian Medical Council and the Health Ministers Conference to go back on their previous recommendations and make Ayurveda a Five Years Course. Homoeopathy, D. Raja at least is honest as compared to Dr. Satish Sen, for he admits he knows about Homoeopathy only from Goulds Medical Dictionary, is recommended as a “post – graduate” or 4 years course, and I happen to know from inside sources, how Dr. Raja smuggled himself into the meeting of the Council in his “PRIVATE CAPACITY”, to make vital proposal to upset previous decisions and what General Thaper (now happily retired from doing further damage) said and I know many things which the bureaucrats imagine I do not know as to inner working of the Government.
All this has been clothed with the sanctimonious desire of raising the standard of medical education in all systems of of medicine. But who has any quarrel with the desire for the highest standards of training? But what is the purposefulness of that under present conditions, when we know that we can have more than adequate results at a much less expenditure, in a shorter time? It is intellectual tomfoolery at best; in reality, a sinister purpose masquerading under the garb of academic idealism.
So seven the recommendations of the Planning Committee have been thrown to the winds; and, where I am positively convinced, and I am qualified to speak on it, that on an average a two years course will give us a large number of reasonably trained auxiliary personnel, these academic idealists, intend to sabotage all these steps by their latest decisions.
Personally, I do not expect either the Health Bureaucrats nor the Health Minister to take any other attitude than what they have done. With tears in her eyes the Health Minister has complained that she is not being given enough money for all her fanciful ideas. Like the late lamented empress, Marie Antoinette, she will give her people nothing if she cannot give them fruit cake made by the most fashionable confectioner in London or at least Delhi. But our masses are used to plain bread and not cakes and do not expect cakes or confetti but just something simple.
What then are we to do? Obviously we shall have to turn to the final arbiters of our destiny and the destiny of our country – the people. Let us put our plans before our people; let us show them that Chinese practice has proved our contentions as justified, let us ignore this Government and its bureaucrats and realise that much of our own failure has been due to our lack of unity. I am painfully aghast at the disunity not only among the Homoeopaths, but in the so – called progressive forces in this country. To my sorrow, it seems to be a characteristic of the progressive forces in this country to have more schisms and divisions in their ranks than the reactionary forces in this country. This applies also to political parties.
The reactionary forces are at least realistic. They know they are fighting for their own survival. We so – called progressive are still in the realms of ideological idealism. Theories and ideologies have no value for me unless they are related to practicability. Correct politics is to see the reality and to adapt ideologies to practical realities. Obviously it does not lie in our power today to either reform our bureaucracy or to eliminate them. When I asked a Chinese statesman how the Chinese reformed their bureaucracy he replied, “We did not reform our bureaucracy, we eliminated them”.
Obviously just at present neither you nor I have the power to do so. But their is just one possibility. Our ruling class might open their eyes and, instead of becoming rubber stamps to their bureaucracy, start doing some hard thinking and instruct their bureaucracy to either carry out policies given to them or get out. Ah, but that, my friends, is just wishful thinking on our part.
I believe, that the only road open to us is to convince the people. We have to become the brokers of ideas today between the people and the Government, and the greater our success in convincing the people, the greater will be our success in forcing the Government; for no Government however powerful it be, can carry out a policy for long, that neither enlists the co – operation of the people, nor shows adequate results. And if the present government does show results, our question is, at what cost? Any idiot can draw up a magnificent plan going into thousands of crores.