Expensive schools and hospitals

Dear Editor,
Four years ago, while admitting my father in a private Hospital in Kolkata, I was asked to deposit “only” Rs.1,05,000/- immediately! After completion of the admission formalities, the billing official handed me two cards —- one for Visitor, another for Attendant! Attendant? Yes. I came to know that since my father is a septuagenarian, a special attendant is being suggested for his personal care and for that, obviously the patient party will have to pay! Even after more than a lakh in advance only, I will have to appoint a private nurse at further expense! Aren’t nurses a part and parcel of hospital community! Yes, I was a fool! Four years ago it was a mere suggestion, now it has become a norm in almost all top hospitals to engage private nurses at the expense of the patient party despite billing astronomical amount!
After health, now let’s move on to another lucrative business named education! Aren’t schools supposed to be an institution where students are taught various subjects with a little bit of sports and culture as extra-curricular activities. But in this “modern” era; instead of awarding maximum stress on teaching of academic subjects, many schools are acting as middle-men of vested interests! In the earliest of opportunity, brochures of any reputed publishing house are being forwarded to the students and asked to purchase any or multiple books revolving on fiction, biography or historical tales! Why this insistence? Can’t the students themselves ask their parents to buy their favourite books from the market or do the parents refuse such requests of their children! Who has asked the school authorities to act as “promoter” of books of specific publishing houses of their liking!
Previously schools used to conduct either one-day picnic or engage in an excursion of a serious study tour revolving say botany. But now many glamorous schools have engaged in a mission to “widen the horizon and enlighten the mindset” of the students by conducting tours not only in distant parts of India; but in Europe or Australia as well! Firstly, tours can be undertaken by many parents also according to their own budget and time. Secondly, did the minds and vision of our generation or that of our forefathers not widen a bit as our/their schools hadn’t engage in such extravagant tours! Are all traits of “humanity” and “liberalness” absolutely dependent on participation in such school-conducted tours? Would I have to believe that group selfie in front of Eiffel Tower or a launch ride on Sydney waters automatically enhance our “intellect and mental horizon”! And those who try to acquire knowledge and light through Vivekananda or Kalam books in libraries or domestic environment necessarily dwell as “laggards”! Rather the fact remains that when innumerable well-travelled persons possess an extremely parochial communal intolerant superstitious mindset; countless persons harbor unfathomable liberal enlightened tolerant thought process despite hardly travelling outside own village or town.
Now just imagine the predicament of the guardians and students specially who are not prosperous enough, yet admitted their children to reputed schools by toiling hard! If agreed to such expensive tours to see the smile of the child, they would have to part with a vulgar amount of money which could have been far better utilized if saved for the future higher education of the child. If not agreed, either a tension will crop up between the child and the parents despite absolutely no fault of the latter or the child will suffer from an inferiority complex and feel left out of the group whose parents can easily indulge in such tourism extravaganza.
Hospitals and Schools — far from imparting an essential service to the society or at least acting rationally despite charging astronomical fees; are instead functioning as middlemen or agents of nurses, publishers or tour operators! Indeed a very sad reflection of these “modern” times!
Kajal Chatterjee,