For several weeks now, the media has been chasing tragic child death stories in Uttar Pradesh. You know like this:
Such tragic deaths are a blot on any modern society and we must pressurize the government relentlessly until every single avoidable child death is successfully prevented in India.
Having said that, what also needs to be asked is that, what is the current health situation in UP? Compared to previous years, has it remained the same, is it getting worse or is it improving? If it is getting worse, let thunder fall on the new government. If it is the same, that’s a disappointment. If it has improved, let us recognize it.
So first, thank you Firstpost for omitting from your headline that the 49 deaths happened over a period of 30 days. That is little over 1 patient a day in a large government hospital.
We have seen a lot of hitjobs against the BJP and its state governments, but this new line of attack is by far the lowest that the mainstream media has sunk. Underlying the media overdrive, is a cold cynical calculation that the issue here is so emotionally charged that it rules out the possibility of a rational response from the other side based on facts.
Because, who would like to speak on the issue of deaths, that too the deaths of innocent children, mostly infants? When you raise an issue like this, you can always expect the majority of the public to take the side of the emotion driven outrage. Any effort to put the matter in context will be seen as “justifying child deaths”, which will ensure that bringing out the facts will ironically make the fact checker look bad.
Take this :
Again, tragic. But what most of those clickbait media headlines don’t tell you is this :
In the same Jan–Aug period of 2014, there were 3828 kids who died at the same BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur. In 2015 it was an even more shocking 4601 and in 2016 it was 3758. If you take the average of the numbers in 2014, 2015 and 2016, it works out to be 4062 deaths in the Jan to Aug period.
Now in 2017, the number for the same Jan — Aug period is 1285.
That is a fall of almost 70% in the number of child deaths in BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.
Subtracting this year’s 1285 from the average of 4062 in previous years, we can confidently estimate that close to 2800 little angels have been saved this year. In just ONE Medical College in Gorakhpur.
What is the possible explanation for this drastic prevention? Is there any other explanation for the child deaths suddenly falling by 70% in a single year apart from the fact that the BJP came to power? There might well be but it would be very unfair to the Yogi government if we say that they had no part to play in this reduction.
To again make it clear that the 1285 deaths are by no means acceptable and that the government must be held accountable until every last avoidable child death is successfully prevented, but when there is a commendable performance by a government, such as saving 2800 little angels in just one hospital, it should be recognized. Most importantly because its a simple matter of providing incentives in hopes of a better outcome. Unless we as a people start rewarding good performance, how will we incentivize political parties to deliver that good governance?
When a government successfully brings down child deaths by 70%, we must make sure everyone hears about it. Otherwise, will there be any incentive for political parties to focus on good governance and solid work instead of playing up the cliched issues like caste, language and religion?
This is why I said the media hitjob on child deaths in Uttar Pradesh is one of the most unfortunate lows in the history of fake news. Think for a moment about those who wrote those screaming headlines about children dying by hundreds in Uttar Pradesh. They are the ones who have deliberately taken the data out of context to make the man they hate look bad, possibly without even batting an eyelid.
In the end if you point out the above data, they might try and shame you but I say let’s not be scared and let’s spread the truth. This is for the children.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.