An Open Letter to Major General Vasu Vardhan, ex Comdt, Base Hospital New Delhi
Dear General Vardhan,
Your recent posting to RR Hospital claimed by the corridors of power as a ‘de-stress’ measure, must have come as a rude shock not only to you but also the troops you commanded so uprightly and the patients you treated so compassionately. Your fellow colleagues from all branches also feel a deep sense of injustice and outrage at the unceremonious way you have been pulled away from the scene of action. Only a soldier can truly comprehend what it is to be recalled midway through the most important mission of his life. The last 18 months tenure of being in-charge of the busiest Armed Forces hospital in the country has indeed been your finest hour. No posting out, no backroom wheeling-dealing or tweaked appraisal can take that away from you.
I regretfully admit with conviction that we as a nation haven’t thanked our medical fraternity enough for their amazing effort during this Covid crisis. Sleepless nights day after day, no care for self and family, battling with shortages, coping with over-filled admission registers, soaking in the latest research papers and absorbing personal losses, you people have indeed been the lead warriors in this war against a very dangerous and sly enemy. You have put your life on the line so that humanity can survive. Our heartfelt salute to you and all members of your clan who have made the supreme level of sacrifice in accordance with the Hippocrates oath towards a cause nobler than anything the world has ever encountered. And here instead of recognition from atop, we find something absolutely to the contrary.
How many of our countrymen can see the rigour you have put in and tons of midnight oil you must have burnt in the last four decades to learn about a subject which led to multitudes of your patients getting rescued literally from the jaws of death? They say, the difference been life and death is just one breath. No one knows it better than a learned pulmonologist like you. Thousands are indebted to you for providing those valuable gasps when they needed them the most. Their blessings and gratefulness in their eyes will hold you in fine stead all your life and beyond.
I would never wish anyone bad and I am sure neither would you. Although devilish it may sound, I can imagine the embarrased look on the faces of the gentlemen who have been responsible for this act of indignity, if ever one day they require your services at a critical juncture in life. Others in the decision making chain who did not resist enough are also a party by acquiescence and equally culpable. You must however take heart that this act of theirs says more about them and probably nothing about you.
General Mc Douglas’s famous farewell address to the US Congress in 1951 was:
“And like the old soldier of that ballad “old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.”
There will always be two sides to a story about compliance, conformance and agreement. However, you alone know which toe you stepped on and what has truly transpired behind the scenes. Like a true soldier, you have not only carried out your duty but gone much beyond its call. With utmost grace you have kept clear of controversy and only focused on the right thing to do, that is saving lives under your care. You will also thus fade away with this unfortunate occurrence remaining just a small blip in the larger scheme of things. Seneca’ famous stoic line come to the mind, “One man’s exile was but a drop in the sea of human upheaval.” However, your contributions and efforts will not go unrecognized especially by those for whom you have been an ‘angel in white’.
The media has surprisingly been rather subdued regarding this development and just raised a few ‘eyebrows’ and nothing beyond. The least you deserve is an honourable explanation if not an apology.
As for the protagonists responsible for this regretful incident, they do not have the faintest of idea about the pressures and stress behind running a 1000 bed hospital in the midst of a raging pandemic. There are two eternal fundamentals of ‘HR Management’ which talk the same thing, ‘Straighten the arrow but don’t break it‘ and ‘Never lose your man.’ Frontline warriors like you therefore need to be backed and not berated when the going gets tough for the silent impact on the spirit of the environment.
Have a great day Doc. Retire in peace for I sincerely feel that some of us need a spine doctor more than a pulmonologist.
Ever grateful for your service,
Postscript: And Jesus was saying, “ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
First Published at seekmediation.com on 18/05/2