It is ironic to say the least that just when I was enthusiastically reporting the news of the development of an artificial heart by IIT Kharagpur, a young heart stopped beating in the campus. Rohit Kumar, a third year Electrical Engineering student (LLR Hall) died due to the apparent neglect by the in-campus “B.C.Roy Technology Hospital”. Details about this event can be found in the campus students newspaper “Scholars Avenue” and I will refrain from reporting them once again out here. However this incident resulted in a student uproar that was unprecedented in the history of IIT Kharagpur. The angry students demonstrated their frustration at the residence of the director of the Institute which resulted in the resignation of the director as well as some other administrative staff.
I grew up in the campus and hence the state of the health care infrastructure in well known to me. The hospital had primitive facilities and it never had the capabilities to take care of brain injuries or any other serious conditions that require intensive critical care. The doctors and the staff were equipped only to treat common ailments like dysentery or some other infections. Any complications were referred either to the railway hospital or to some Kolkata hospital. This has been the situations through ages. In the meantime the number of students in the campus has increased multiple folds, and so did the Institute budget. But it seems, not much has changed in the hospital.
The authorities now have promised to rectify the situation and to improve the medical facilities. But it is sad that it required the sacrifice of a promising young man to bring their attention to this matter. The incident has also tarnished the image of the IIT students (especially by the media) who in the heat of the moment did things that they shouldn’t have. But I think we need to understand their frustration too. They have to spend four years of their lives in the campus of a premier Institute of the nation. They have the right to expect a minimum level of health care.
This also goes true for the faculty and staff. How can IIT Kharagpur attract the best teachers if they cannot offer them some level of decent health care? Kharagpur has the disadvantage of being not close to any major metropolis. The health care infrastructure in the towns surrounding the campus is poor too. An Institute that develops artificial heart should have a health care facility to take care of its talents hearts and minds.