Politics usually does not enthuse me. There is the usual humdrum and the sloganeering, the clichéd manifestos and bromides. It is only rarely that I see a spark of envisioning that can potentially alter the destiny of a nation. Modicare is one such move.
This much I must say for Narendra Modi. He challenges our complacency and raises the stakes significantly. He has time and again invoked ‘a Bhavya Bharat, a Divya Bharat’. To me, it was all theory until some basics were addressed. The two most critical of those are education and health care. And these are perhaps the most neglected in the country today.
How can health care be fixed in India? It is a vast and complex problem. But something had to be attempted. I heard the usual noise over the years about infra-structure development and local manufacturing (which are, of course, critically important). But it seemed that human infrastructure had been overlooked over the last few decades. Now, it appears, that a tentative movement has been made.
Modicare is not a fix. Even though it is on a vast scale. Modicare can only be a first step. Basic coverage for health care is essential but so much more is needed in ensuring an effectively functioning primary care infra-structure in the country, a network of secondary and tertiary centers, a strong and vital work force of providers and ancillary personnel, a health care policy and system that ensure population health and nutrition, and so on and so forth.
And then, the removal of rampant corruption and tamas in our health care. These are huge tasks that will not be easy to implement.
What I love about the Modicare gambit though is the sheer scale and boldness of it. Modi has been known to promise much but it is in the execution that he is often thwarted. And it is not possible for one man to accomplish everything for a nation of such huge immense needs.
But he has conceptually pulled a game-changer. Provided there is follow up in ensuring that the granular details are not missed in operationalizing.
Is there money for it? You bet there is. And if it is not, if needs to be found.
Can Modicare improve the health of the nation? If this money is used for very focused goals, it can. Say, for primary care, ensuring nutrition for the young ones and women, creating a MOOC that can be used to educate and empower, a system with clear objectives and metrics, led by a team of our brightest and cleanest. Gargantuan is the word that comes to mind when I think of the possibilities.
One can mock Modi. One may prefer Rahul ji though I have yet to hear one bold idea from him to this date. But I must say that the man has what is called chutzpah. He is able to dream big and aspire for the nation. He is able to challenge us to rise to his level even in the ability to dream.
My cynical self says that Modicare will be another jumla.. But something deeper knows that the man is trying. He may fail for we are still undeserving and ungrateful.
Never before in the history of the nation, since independence, has anyone attempted so much, given so much in public life. Unconditionally and selflessly. The only kind of people I may compare him today would be our freedom fighters (and yes, my grandfather was one who almost died for the nation). We need them again. Desperately.
Whether Modi succeeds or fails is unessential. What is critical is to understand that such an approach to national life is possible. That we may squander another opportunity to redeem ourselves as a nation. And if we do, we have only ourselves to blame. The opportunity has been offered one more time.
The question really is can we rise to the challenge. As one nation.