Remembering APJ Kalam´s words in the COVID-19 crisis

In a climate of challenges, Kalam's words should continue to encourage the Covid-19 heroes and our nation.


Coronavirus cases in India have crossed 14 Lakh mark with more than 32 thousand people succumbing to the deadly virus. Amid this time India’s lack of healthcare services across the nation is evident. Every day a new video or post goes viral on social media where people are wailing due to negligence of medicos.

Despite the lockdown imposed across the nation that lowered India’s Q4 GDP to 3.1%, the COVID-cases in the country rose exponentially making it the world’s third worst-affected country by the deadly virus.

In a state like Bihar, where the elections are to be held soon,  the lack of medical facilities is such that they neither have the required amount of life functioning supporting-machineries nor enough ambulances for carrying the mortal remains of the virus victims. Mani Bhushan, son of a COVID-19 patient claimed that a dead body was not removed from the corona-ward of NMCH (the dedicated hospital in Bihar for COVID-patients) for two days as there were only two ambulances dedicated to carry COVID-19 victims.

In Mumbai, doctors did not want to treat patients claiming they were not having enough PPE kits and were also lacking ancillary staff and nurses. In a report published by the Times of India nearly 35 % of the doctors in the city were under the senior citizen bracket, and thus not eligible to work.

Many doctors and nurses in various parts of the country claimed they were being disturbed by their neighbours and landlords for the fear of spreading of coronavirus.

The pharmaceutical sector amid the lockdown are in the rat race of making vaccines for the disease. According to media reports, ICMR forced to launch a vaccine named Covaxin by August 15. The vaccine which is being produced by  Bharat Biotech India (BBIL) in collaboration with ICMR’s National Institute of Virology faced many backlashes globally. Many Bioethics said that putting a vaccine under a time frame without even going for the first phase of human trials may do more harm.

Amid the time of despair, where many healthcare workers are struggling with social stigma, ostracisation, lack of healthcare infrastructure, and faulty PPE kits, the quotes of APJ Abdul Kalam can be considered as a motivation for them to keep serving humanity.

On the fifth death anniversary of Kalam let us remember his belief on the duty of the healthcare professionals and the empathy that the society lacks towards them.

The ‘People’s President’ believed that doctors do God’s work by saving lives. He wanted doctors to treat those who can’t afford to pay their fees on a part-time basis and expected them to treat at least 20 rural patients a year. Kalam said that doctors should follow the motto, ‘Let my brain remove the pain of suffering humanity and bring smiles’.

He also considered nursing to be a noble profession. Apart from taking care of at least 20 rural patients a year, Kalam hoped that a nurse would treat every patient with kindness and care. He said that a nurse’s job is to remove the pain of patients with care and bring a smile to them.

Kalam believed that pharmacies should provide cost-effective, safe medicines to the people. Kalam said, “The pharmacists must know that at each stage of making drugs from development to marketing, a single flaw knowingly or unknowingly will result in loss of human lives.”

In a climate of challenges, Kalam’s words should continue to encourage the Covid-19 heroes and our nation.

The writer is a journalist based in Bangalore. Views are personal. 


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