Vain engagements

Print edition : October 27, 2017

VAIDYA Balendu Prakash's engagements with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the PMO started eight months after he had resubmitted his research proposal to the CCRAS in December 2015. He decided to appeal directly to the PMO because there was hardly any movement on the application, although it was initially received with great enthusiasm.

His first letter to Modi on the subject was on August 16, 2016, in which he pointed out that further to the December 2015 proposal, the VCPCRF’s innovation had been presented by the Ministry of AYUSH at an Indo-U.S. workshop on cancer held on March 3-4, 2016. It was highlighted as a unique initiative in indigenous cancer research. The letter requested the PMO to expedite the commencement of advanced pharmacological research. But this evoked no response.

Prakash waited for four and a half months before sending a reminder, once again addressed to the Prime Minister. In this letter dated January 2, 2017, he pleaded with the PMO to direct the authorities concerned to take action immediately. But this too evoked no response. Two months later, on March 7, 2017, a second reminder was sent, again addressed to the Prime Minister. In this, Prakash said that he had come to know that the PMO had forwarded his letter to the Ministry of AYUSH, which had “totally ignored the intervention of the highest executive office of our country”. He added that he hoped the “esteemed office will take a feedback from the Ministry on the subject” and apprise him about related developments. There was no response.

It was at this point that Prakash decided to take the right to information (RTI) route to find out how exactly the PMO had treated his appeals. His RTI application of May 16, 2017, got a response on June 20. This response revealed that the letters of August 16, 2016, as well as those of January 2 and March 7, 2017, were merely forwarded by the PMO to the Secretary in the Ministry of AYUSH. Evidently, there was nothing proactive or innovative about this. Forwarding notes and appeals from one department to another is routine in government and is tantamount to passing the buck. Prakash said he had interacted with many people holding high positions in the government in previous ministries and that some of them were quietly efficient. “They were not like the present dispensation and its leaders who are extraordinary on rhetoric but quite ordinary when it comes to actual work and delivery,” he said.

Venkitesh Ramakrishnan

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