Report of 12th IDPD National Conference
Declare South Asia to be a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and to ensure healthcare to all – IDPD
The 12th National Conference of the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) held at Gandhi Peace Foundation New Delhi on 11-12 March 2023 on the theme “Healers for Health and Harmony”, expressed serious concern at the increasing arms race which is costing the health and development of the citizens. It is an irony, the statement issued after the conference said, that the world seems to have learnt no lesson from the COVID Pandemic and there is unashamed increase in the spending on arms race. Under the present scenario when there are tensions all around the globe the danger of use of nuclear weapons is grave and real. Any such situation will lead to catastrophic damage to the human civilization built through thousands of years of human labour. It is therefore imperative that the world community takes a serious cognizance of the situation and pays more attention to the needs of health and education rather than making huge profits by selling and using arms on human population. India is also in the pursuit of making and exporting arms. The spending on healthcare is meagre 1.1% of the GDP as against the minimum of 5 % as stipulated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Representatives from different units of the IDPD from different states across the country viz Jammu, Kashmir, Punjab, Delhi, Utter Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Manipur, Tripura, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Telengana and Tamil Nadu participated. There were serious deliberations on Health as a Fundamental Right, Perspectives for sustainable peace, Social Harmony in the present scenario and social activism among the medical professionals. Large number of medical students participated in the event.
The conference was presided over by Dr S S Soodan, President IDPD. Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman, General Secretary welcomed the delegates. Maj. Gen (Retd). Viod Saighal inaugurated the conference with a note of caution that the war between Russia and Ukraine must come to an end soon otherwise the human and infrastructural damage would be irrecoverable. He criticised Russia for invading Ukraine but said that the situation took ugly turn because of expansionist design of US and NATO. Others who addressed during the inaugural session include Dr Arun Mitra, Co-President IPPNW, Dr Chandrakan Pandav, former Professor and Head of Community Medicine of All India Medical Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi, Mr. Senthil Kumar Member Parliament (MP), Achin Vanaik, former Head Department of Political Science and International Relations Delhi University, Mr. Aziz Pasha former MP, Ms. Amar Jeet Kaur General secretary All India Trade Union congress. Messages of greetings from IPPNW Co-President Dr Tilman Ruff and IPPNW affiliates from Dr Arun Dixit PSR Nepal, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar PDPD- Pakistan, Dr Kamrul H Khan PSR Bangladesh and Dr Asoka Hettiaracchhi SDPD -Sri Lanka were displayed.
The session on ‘Health as Fundamental Right’ was chaired by Dr Shyam sunder Deepti, former Head Department of Community Medicine Govt. Medical College Amritsar. Dr Ritu Priya, from the Community Medicine department Jawahar Lal Nehru University Delhi was the Key note speaker. She outlined the problems of marginalization and exclusion of common people under the insurance based healthcare system. Dr Shanthi made a presentation on the Right to Health. Dr Rajni, Dr Lateef Mohamad, Dr Inderveer Gill and Dr Dharmendra Kumar also spoke in the session. Dr Manglem Singh called upon for life style changes to prevent illness.
Achin Vanaik, from Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace while addressing as Keynote speaker cautioned that there can be no complacency towards the nuclear threat in south Asia as both India and Pakistan are at perpetual tension and border skirmishes continue to happen. The two have fought four hot wars. Any escalation in tension due to terrorist violence or otherwise could trigger the threat of nuclear weapons. It is therefore imperative that south Asia is declared nuclear weapons free zone and the two countries join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The Session was chaired by Dr P S Brar and Dr Bholanath Saha. Dr Nara Singh gave an account of history of IPPNW and IDPD and its contribution for peace and health.
Dr. Aditya Mukherjee, a prominent historian said that the communal division in the country is a product of colonial rule and their machinations to continue to rule by dividing the society. The Indian National freedom movement was based on the values of secularism democracy and inclusiveness. All these are under threat now under the present right wing rabidly communal fascist government. It is time to forcefully counter them ideologically. Dr Kalanidhi Veerasamy MP said that there have been aberrations in the form of caste divisions into upper and lower castes. This has economic background as the powerful never wanted to share the wealth with the poor. Dr Ravindranath and Dr Satyajit Kumar Singh chaired the session.
In the session on Social Activism among Doctors, Dr Anjali Mehta made a presentation on the climate crisis as a result of use of Plastics. She presented her innovation of non-plastic PPEs to save environment. Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman warned that Communal hatred is becoming a serious public health crisis. Dr Jaswinder Singh and Dr Gurveer Singh shared their experience of organising medical camps for the farmers. Dr Subhas Chakraborty said that harmony in the society is of utmost importance for inclusive growth. Dr Rakibuddin told that they hold free medical camps in Imphal.
Dr Binoy Biswam MP greeted the conference with hope that this would prove a milestone for the cause of peace and health. He assured all help in the parliament.
The students conference which was participated by large number of students had very effective deliberations on nuclear disarmament, climate crisis, gender inequality and crisis of healthcare. Young doctors and students were honoured by Dr Navinder Singh Bawa and Dr Jeetendra Singh by presenting medals for their activism for social cause.
Others who participated in organising the event actively include Dr Jasdeep Kaur, Dr Nirmal Dhiman, Dr Surj Dhillon, Dr Seerat Sekhon, Dr Rajat Grover, Dr Rajni, Liza, Col (Retd) Tarun Mitra, Vivek Chaudhary, Dr Ramesh, Dr Sharad.
The conference elected a new team to run the affairs with Dr S S Soodan and the Patron. Dr Arun Mitra as President and Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman the General Secretary. Ms. Sanjeevni Sankhala and Mr. Srinath Vasudevan were elected as National Students Representatives.
Dr Arun Mitra