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Dr. Govinda KC

He rules the roost in media coverage today. His precipitous flirtation with death draws admiration. He is a medical doctor. He teaches medicine. He is based at Tribhuvan University’s Teaching Campus in Mahrajgunj. He is currently in his fifteenth fast onto death. Dr. Govinda KC makes waves with his hunger strikes. He is doing much more. K.C. repeatedly draws attention to his base, that is, the Tribhuvan University Teaching Campus at Maharajgunj. For decade since its establishment until the 1990 changeover to the multiparty system, the Japanese aided campus had flourished as a success story of Nepali academic policy, academic management and professional upliftment so much so that it has begun attracting medical aspirants from outside the country as well. Until, that is, politics of agitation caught up with the campus and medical professionals were made to participate in agitation politics at the campus. Of course, the Maharajgunj campus was not an exception of learning institutions being converted into agitation hubs. Indeed, the academic sector was almost always the center of agitation from when political movements were spearheaded. The teaching campus was an exception in the sense that it was not merely a center of learning, it was also a working hospital that housed a cream of professionals deemed fit to impart knowledge on the profession. An agitating Teaching Campus also helped rope professionals into political agitation, there were medical doctors of teaching quality, there were nurses and other health workers that automatic participants and their presence in agitation could facilitate the entry into the agitation of other hospitals and health services. This was not only potent but explosive, boding well for agitations.
The Teaching Campus under the Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University and Dr. KC’s activism also masks another truth. The production of internationally capable manpower in the health sector was successfully underway in Nepal until the politicization of the academic and professional sectors was made possible by the stakeholders that emerged after the success of the 1990 agitation. What was essentially a teaching university fell victim to the cannibalization of its resources as the Congress resourced Ganeshman eye-center and the UML backed Manmohan heart center within its premises stand witness to today. A Japanese aided technologically sound academics of professionals was also proving financially sound. And, so, the financial lucrativity could not escape the politics of academics as well. Cannibalization occurred also in its diversification as well. Dr. KC’s repeated flirtations with death drawing attention to this aspect also is an embarrassment to the current crop of leaders who have basically plundered national potentials at the cost of the state. His call for a coherent policy on the management of academics draws meaning as also widespread public appeal this round as well. It is not just the medical sector or medical education but the academic and professional sectors in total that is breaking up and a professional taking up this cudgel to death is no mean Endeavour. However, there is a spanner in all this. A society where fundamental belief systems have broken up as well cannot be stopped from questioning the extent of Dr. K.C.’s motives in his obviously public catching venture. The media attention and the political attention, shall we say, is almost inevitable. But an environment where spontaneity has been squashed dilutes KC’s initiatives to ludicrous extents. This is not only what harms but also what warns the movement. Dr. KC by doing so too is merely exposing that the syndrome is systemic.

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