It’s the year of pay commission in India, or as my childhood taught me (being a younger sibling), the year in which elder brother finally gets new clothes to be passed on to me after 3 seasons. The service-class people get a hike in pay enabling them to gift their wives some jewellery, their kids some new toys and themselves a bottle of hangover-free non-poisonous whiskey. Through the past 60 years of post-independence India, pay commission has been one of the very few government-related things worth looking forward to, other than Lalu Yadav’s interviews and viral videos of politicians getting slapped or thrown shows at.
This pay commission, however, hasn’t been up to the general expectations, specifically to the medical fraternity. May be the government thinks that doctors are some saints who do not have earthly needs and should treat others as a form of social service. May be the government thinks that we can survive on a food-free diet consisting of verbal thank-yous and the occasional thrashing by some attendants. May be the government thinks that by the time most of finish studying, we are already too old to think of getting married and probably too sterile to even think of having kids. Whatever the thought process is, the government, just like our lives and our exes, has not been fair to us.
The biggest issue is that our non-practising allowance, that is the money that we get for not doing private practise while working in government setup, has been reduced, and also delinked from our basic salary. For economically naive doctors, this means next time you visit an ATM, it will make a sound of “AaaakhThooo” from the money slot and will display #LolAukaat as your balance. Your shopping destination will shift from Select City Walk to Palika or local tuesday market and vacation venue will change from Thailand to Shimla or Paharganj depending upon your idea and/or purpose of a vacation.
The doctor’s association has decided to protest against this by holding a strike in government hospitals, hence giving Delhi Police a chance to practise their water-cannon skills on live targets once again. The proposed strike prompted a Rajasthan BJP MLA to call doctors ‘nikamma and aalsi’, the two compliments earlier reserved for LK Advani. Over the past one year, I have trained my brain not to pay heed to BJP politicians’ comments, specially since one of them had a problem with JNU students using condoms. He said it was against Indian culture of “feel nahi aati yaar usko use karte hue”.
The argument that doctors deserve same salary as other government officials who work the same number of hours makes perfect sense to those who think stapling papers together and attesting property documents requires the same skill as trying to make a disease go away or saving a life. Also, the acquisition of those skills required training for a minimum of 5.5 years, which is roughly the number of holidays that a Sarkaari Babu gets in 6 years. On the other hand, we work on weekends, public holidays, in fact, hamare yaha shadi-party ke order bhi book kiye jaate hain.
We love our job, it gives us satisfaction, though that satisfaction will not be useful while paying for my food, clothing, shelter, pre-wedding photoshoot, honeymoon trip, nursery admission of my future generation, iPad for their third birthday else they’ll hold their breath, and a rocking chair for retirement, because that’s the desi dream ain’t it?
Here’s to hoping that our unity bears some fruit. Dear fellow doctors, I am with you.