By: Keyur Seta
Indians have grown up watching mainstream Hindi films. Most of these films have a common theme – a man (known as ‘hero’) fighting a lone battle against evil forces and emerging victorious. Although we all have seen innumerable films with this theme, we hardly (or never) come across such a hero in real life. Very, very few of us do.
I am glad to have known one such a brave fighter very well. I am more fortunate since that person is also a good friend. She (not ‘he’) is Dr Rita Pal. She is a doctor and a medical journalist. But the reason why I feel she is an ideal Mardaani is because she dared to be a whistleblower against malpractices and corruption in the medical field and refused to give up despite the fact that she was all alone.
This is her story that she narrated to me:-
Originally from Bengal, Rita has been staying and working in the United Kingdom since long. Her story started in 1999 when she was working in the Midlands with the National Health Service (NHS). After realizing the substandard methods of patient care over there, she complained about it. However, the authorities not only ignored her concerns but also labeled them as baseless.
But Rita didn’t give up. She continued her fight by approaching the Department of Health, General Medical Council and the media. But these organizations, however, didn’t take any actions and, worse, started assassinating her character. The scheme of things also ensured that Rita didn’t find other employment; she was able to work with NHS on short contracts in order to conceal her ‘past’.
Sadly, this wasn’t all. The worst was yet to come. It came when once Rita came to know that false rumors about her ‘mental state’ are been circulated on a website. This obviously affected her professional life so much that she had to carry a doctor’s certificate to prove her normalcy. When she tried to find the source of these rumors, she came to know that the General Medical Council (GMC) came to the conclusion after doing a secret inquiry about her mental condition and that too without contacting her or having a look at any of her medical reports.
When the GMC refused to remove the notes of the secret inquiries, Rita approached lawyers but none were ready to help as they felt it is impossible to take legal action against the GMC. She decided to become a litigant and wrote a claim with the help of a friend by going through those thick legal books. Finally, she found a lawyer, a colleague’s friend. This route also wasn’t easy as we all know these lawyers charge a bomb.
After a lot of hardships, Rita finally won the case. The GMC had to remove the notes citing her so-called mental illness. They were also compelled to provide her with a letter stating that there was nothing wrong with her mental condition.
Her story is indeed similar to the theme of a lot of Hindi films. But what she went through was not a film shoot but an actual life struggle that would demoralize many of us, who would have given up when pitted alone against such powerful forces. Unfortunately, the media didn’t cover this case much. But that doesn’t take away anything from Rita’s act of bravery.
I believe fighting a lone battle against such forces and emerging victorious is an ideal example of Mardaani.
P.S: Dr Rita Pal regularly takes part in a number other social causes too.
This is a personal message sent by Rani Mukerji after reading this post:-