Saturday August 24, 2019

What if Another Gorakhpur Tragedy Happens? 15-Year-Old Khushi Chandra Launches Initiative ‘Oxygen Gorakhpur’ to Combat Oxygen-Related Emergencies

Through her initiative Oxygen Gorakhpur, Khushi Chandra aims to raise funds for a continuous supply of oxygen to several under-resourced hospitals in Gorakhpur.

Gorakhpur Tragedy
15 year old Khushi Sharma believes no child must be denied the right to live, or the right to breathe for which she has set up the charity 'Oxygen Gorakhpur'. VOA
  • Gorakhpur tragedy shook the entire nation starting early August after numerous children suffering from brain inflammation died in absence of oxygen
  • Over 290 children have died at BRD hospital, including 77 reported deaths from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome
  • Khushi Chandra launched ‘Oxygen Gorakhpur’ to offer assistance and provision of oxygen cylinders in case of emergencies

Gorakhpur, August 30, 2017: Child after child collapsed at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College in early August as the hospital ran out of oxygen supplies. Words fall short to mourn the deaths of over 60 children, among them several new born babies, or to slam the negligence of the hospital authorities in what has come to be known as the ‘Gorakhpur Tragedy’. As figures continue to soar even after a month, the tragedy has triggered gigantic uproar across the country. This prompted a teenager from Uttar Pradesh to launch a charity named ‘OXYGEN GORAKHPUR’.

The 15-year old face behind the not-for-profit organization ‘Oxygen Gorakhpur’, Khushi Chandra believes the Gorakhpur tragedy could have been prevented.

“This is very personal for me as it happened right at my doorstep. No child can be denied the right to life, and in this case, the right to breathe,” she said as she pioneered her righteous cause.

The organization aims to provide a secure and continues the supply of oxygen to indigent patients and hospitals across Gorakhpur in an attempt to meet sufficient requirements of the hospitals.

The organization aims to function on three dominant parameters-

  • Providing oxygen cylinders to hospitals during emergency
  • Reaching out to the needy by providing timely assistance
  • Build a strong oxygen-bank to provide round the clock support to hospitals

In the coming future, Oxygen Gorakhpur also aims to allocate oxygen provision vans for the transportation and delivery of oxygen cylinders to hospitals.

Horrific pictures of parents holding corpses of infants spanned across screens throughout mid-August with parents claiming they had died due to lack of oxygen in Gorakhpur’s Bada Raghav Das Medical(BRD) College after suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and Japanese Encephalitis, two diseases that are common in India, especially during the monsoons

The Gorakhpur tragedy has exposed the harsh reality of Uttar Pradesh’s flawed public healthcare system out in the open.

Through Oxygen Gorakhpur, Khushi intends to ensure that this does not happen again, and instill a sense of citizenship and responsibility towards the larger society, among the youth and adults alike while also ensuring improvement of conditions of hospitals and their amenities.

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Additionally, the initiative will serve and protect the youth by exhibiting support, and encouragement while also empowering citizens to be the change-makers of today.

“As an accountable citizen of my city and the country, I feel responsible towards ensuring such tragedies do not happen again”, she said as per a report by ANI.

According to latest reports by PTI, over 290 children have died at the hospital from August 1 to August 28, including 77 reported deaths from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

Chandra also observed that the Indian government’s expenditure on public health services makes up for less than 1 per cent of the GDP, which is among the world’s lowest figures. However, she is hopeful as the Modi-led government has increased spending on health services, with an underlying aim to make healthcare more affordable and available.

Chandra feels help must immediately be provided to under-resourced hospitals and must be maintained in the long run.

“I seek support from other like-minded citizens to join hands to ensure that oxygen never runs out in our hospitals” are Khushi’s words on Oxygen Gorakhpur’s official website.

Citizens can extend their support to this noble initiative by buying an oxygen cylinder, contributing funds or spreading the word about the project.



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Indian Economy Passing through A Phase of Economic Slowdown

In simple words, a cyclical economic slowdown is a part of the business cycle having its peaks and troughs

Indian, Economy, GDP
While there is a consensus that the economy is slowing down, the debate is still going on whether the slowdown is structural or cyclical. Pixabay

The Indian economy is passing through a phase of economic slowdown, with the GDP growth registering one of the lowest rates of 5.8 per cent in the last quarter of FY19. The GDP growth rate for the first quarter of FY20 is feared to be lower than 5.8 per cent. While there is a consensus that the economy is slowing down, the debate is still going on whether the slowdown is structural or cyclical.

In simple words, a cyclical economic slowdown is a part of the business cycle having its peaks and troughs. The economy will be moving in cycles with periods of peak performance followed by a downturn and then a trough of low activity. These are expected to be short-term problems that could be addressed with an adequate mix of fiscal and monetary policies.

On the other hand, sometimes the problems of the economy can go deeper, impeding the efficient and fair production of goods and services. In such a scenario, a monetary and fiscal stimulus won’t be enough to revive the economy. Fixing such problems would require the government to undertake some structural policies. The best example in this regard would be the reforms that were carried out to address the crisis in 1991.

Now, the question is whether the Indian economy requires structural policies or a stimulus package through monetary and fiscal policy. We can analyse the performance of various indicators that would help us in assessing whether the slowdown is cyclical or structural. The economic growth of any country is driven by a virtuous cycle of savings, investment and exports. Of all the three, investment is considered to be the key driver of growth. To quote the Economic Survey (2019), investment, especially private investment, is the ‘key driver’ that drives demand, creates capacity, increases labour productivity, introduces new technology, allows creative destruction, and generates jobs.

Indian, Economy, GDP
The Indian economy is passing through a phase of economic slowdown, with the GDP growth registering one of the lowest rates of 5.8 per cent in the last quarter of FY19. Pixabay

The investment rate as measured by Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) as a per cent of GDP is showing a declining trend. GFCF as a per cent of GDP has declined from 34.3 per cent in 2011 to 28.8 per cent in 2018. Similarly, if we consider the GFCF in the private sector, it declined from 26.9 per cent in 2011 to 21.4 per cent in 2018. Likewise, the new investment projects that were announced in 2011 stood at 5,882, whereas it declined to 3,708 in 2018. On the other hand, the investment projects that were dropped off in 2011 were 945 and it increased to 2,142 in 2018.

A similar declining trend is also evident in the case of gross domestic savings as a per cent of GDP. It declined from 32.7 per cent in 2011 to 29.3 per cent in 2018. During the same period, exports as a per cent of GDP also declined from 24.5 per cent to 19.6 per cent. Thus, the performance of all the three indicators considered to be the major ingredients of a growth story was not satisfactory.

Another major area of concern that is also contributing to the declining savings in the economy is wage growth. The economy is experiencing a declining wage growth (both rural and urban wages). Rural wage growth has declined from 27.7 per cent in FY14 to less than 5 per cent in FY19. The corporate wages have also exhibited a single-digit growth in FY19 compared to a double-digit growth a few years back. The declining wages could also lead to a slowdown in consumption, which is what the economy is experiencing now.

All the sectors, especially the auto sector, is passing through a crisis like situation due to the declining sales. The declining sales and piling inventories are forcing companies to cut down production. The cutting down of production can have repercussions in the job market. For instance, the unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent in July 2018, whereas in July 2019 it was 7.5 per cent.

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Further, the inflation rate in the economy has declined from 10.03 per cent in FY13 to 3.41 per cent in FY19. The low inflation rate would be a relief to the consumers, but a prolonged period of falling prices is not good news for the economy. Low inflation rate depicts weakening of demand that would discourage fresh investments and job creation.

The slowdown in the economy was further aggravated by the NBFC crisis triggered by the IL&FS default. The NBFC crisis led to a liquidity crunch that further worsened the situation in the economy. Liquidity crisis negatively affected the companies that were plaguing with lower sales. For instance, according to the letter written by the SIAM to the Finance Ministry, 70 per cent of two-wheeler sales and 60 per cent of commercial vehicles sales are financed by the NBFCs.

Considering the performance of the above indicators, it could be inferred that the slowdown in the economy is more than a cyclical one. The structural factors contributing to the slowdown is evident from the fact that the successive rate cuts by the Central Bank have not yielded the desired results. The limited fiscal space prevented the government from announcing any stimulus package in the budget. However, even if the government had gone for a fiscal stimulus it could have only a limited impact in addressing the present crisis.

Indian, Economy, GDP
The GDP growth rate for the first quarter of FY20 is feared to be lower than 5.8 per cent. Pixabay

The liquidity crisis in the economy could be a cyclical issue, and the policy response from the RBI and the government would help in addressing the issue. Nevertheless, the IL&FS default was also a result of the delay in the rolling out of various infrastructure projects. The situation calls for simplification of the land acquisition laws in the country. The IL&FS crisis indicates that the country requires more reforms.

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Though the present situation in India is not similar to that in 1991, the slowdown is indeed worrying. There is a need to unleash a fresh set of reforms that would help India to achieve the target of a $5 trillion economy. (IANS)