The photo on the left is of Aishvarya Agrawal, M.Tech student with the School of Information Technology [SIT, JNU] who passed away yesterday at about 11 PM IST.
The manifest, ostensible, medical reason is that Aishvarya died due to an asthma attack.
But the real reason is that he died because of lack of a fully equipped ambulance and medical facilities within the JNU campus!
The JNU ambulances are nothing but taxis and transport vehicles with no stretcher, nebulizer, oxygen cylinder or a paramedic to administer first aid. The death was fully preventable if the JNU ambulance was a fully equipped one.
The SIT students wrote a letter to the vice chancellor and raised the various issues related to this unfortunate preventable death of young Aishvarya Agrawal in a meeting with the JNU officials.
At about 9:15 pm a condolence meeting was held at the administrative building and students came together for a silent candle march from the administrative building to the Health Centre of the campus located near the Ganga hostel. The students have resolved to light candles at the health centre every night until the apathetic JNU administration decides to open the health centre round the clock and provides for adequate medical support and staff, a long-standing demand of the JNU student community.
JNU health centre sucks in more ways than one! The quality of doctors is pathetic [jhola chhap doctors is the phrase many JNUites use in a light-hearted vein meaning quacks]. Some years ago Prof. Ramprasad Sengupta, Dean of School of Social Sciences had suffered a heart attack and there was no ambulance for him and he had to hire a taxi to go to the hospital!
The JNU Teachers Association [JNUTA] itself had raised the issue very seriously after that episode. Dr. Rupmanjari Ghosh, the then JNUTA president had said:
The health centre is not equipped to handle an emergency and I have been highlighting this inadequacy in services…The lack of preparedness of the JNU health centre is shocking…we want… a medical attendant and basic life-saving equipment for the ambulance..
The JNU ambulances are mere vehicles! The death of Aishvarya Agrawal is yet another testimony. The JNU officials have often claimed in the media that the JNU campus has a ‘fully equipped ambulance!’ Nothing can be more shameful.
JNU is like a township. It is a residential university with thousands of students, faculty and non-teaching staff residing within the JNU campus. A 24X7 health centre and fully equipped ambulances are demands as old as the hills!
The JNU administration has the resources for sacrilegious concretisation and beautification of the campus [electric poles worth 50 Lakh Rupees have been installed even though the old ones were working perfectly; benches worth about 40000 Rupees everywhere in the campus, absolutely useless signboards and whatnot] but it does not have any money for the basic needs of the JNU community!
The bureaucratic JNU administration wants this place to be a world-class one but the facilities here are still wretched on many counts.
This is what JNUSU president Dhananjay had said in 2006
The (Health) centre needs to be 24 hours seven days a week. There are also very few specialists that come here. If there is an emergency in the middle of the night, what will happen..
What will happen?! Death of course! Aishvarya Agrawal is dead! He was a student of one of the greatest universities on earth surrounded by some of the greatest hospitals on this planet! Still he died because the ambulance was a mere taxi, a ferry service thanks to the JNU administration! The JNU administration has blood in its hands!
JNU administration’s “24 hour ambulance service” is just a taxi service or ferry service run by JNU administration. Today many SIT students met the JNU rector Prof. Ramadhikari Kumar who displayed professional calmness and sangfroid which only amazed the students. He repeatedly emphasized that the JNU administration is helpless on this unless it is sanctioned by the UGC! A student who was in this meeting says that the rector was very careful in not using the word ‘ambulance’ during the discussion and asked students to “cooperate” which only irritated some students.
The following letter was signed by the SIT students and sent to the JNU VC B.B. Bhattacharya.
To Dated 10-09-2009
Prof B.B. Bhattacharya
The Vice Chancellor
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Sub: Let no other student of our University suffer Aishvarya’s fate!!!
We write this letter as we mourn the sudden death of our colleague Mr. Aishvarya Agrawal, a First Year student of M.Tech. in Computational and Systems Biology at School Of Information Technology.
The part that saddens us more than his death is the fact that it could have been prevented with very little effort. What we write in the following lines will clearly illustrate what is wrong with the system at JNU especially with regard to emergency medical health care.
Aishvarya was studying in Hall 001 of SIT. He was enrolled in this University rejecting offers from institutes like IIIT Allahabad and IIIT Hyderabad. He was an extremely bright student scoring 95% marks in his last degree which is B.Tech. Biotech from Allahabad Agriculture (Deemed) University and also got full marks in the first class quiz conducted in SIT. Sadly today he is no more with us.
He had one medical condition that he was suffering from chronic asthma which was under control and he always had a inhaler handy. Yesterday at around 10:30 pm he experienced acute respiratory discomfort. As usual JNU health centre was locked, therefore the so called “JNU ambulance” which lacks an oxygen cylinder and an emergency paramedic was summoned to take him to AIIMS. His condition worsened in the ambulance and when they reached the hospital the doctors tried to revive him but it was too late.
Now before you dismiss this as yet another statistic, we would like you to know that his death was perfectly preventable if the so called “JNU ambulance” which is merely a transport vehicle with no stretcher, oxygen cylinder, nebulizer, or a paramedic to administer first aid. This is not an AMBULANCE. There is no facility in the Health Centre to handle such emergencies it closes at 9 pm. Sadly medical emergencies can occur anytime and there is no one to whom students can contact in case of a medical emergency.
A University of such a great reputation not having a 24 hour emergency facility in the campus is a shocking fact and a disaster waiting to happen. We strongly urge you to have a fully equipped Health Centre at the campus with a 24 hour doctors if needed in shifts and a proper ambulance equipped with all the standard medical accessories supposed to available in a proper Ambulance. A well-trained paramedic able to use all that medical equipment should be available at any time in the ambulance.
A University as huge as JNU should have a proper Hospital on-campus. Students are frequently referred to AIIMS in case of common medical emergencies which is a good 30 minute drive away even in the best of traffic conditions. 30 minutes is a lot of time for a medical conditions to complicate beyond control. Is it too much to ask for a 5 bed Hospital which can cater to the emergency medical problems of students?
Another issue we wish to raise is the extreme paucity of Hostel rooms. Aishvarya was residing in TEFLA which is just a large room with more than 20 people packed into it with beds arranged choc-a-bloc, some people even sleep on the floor. The long delay in the room allotment procedure can be partially implicated as a cause of the worsening of his asthma since the living conditions at TEFLA are abysmal, no bathrooms, crowded living conditions.
It is extremely shameful that a student of such a prestigious university died of such an easily preventable condition. We cannot express fully in words the disgust we feel at this incident which robbed us of a dear friend. We do not seek to gain any political mileage out of this issue. All we want is just for this University to make sure that it reciprocates the care, faith and trust which all the students who live within its campus repose in it and not betray this trust by allowing such an incident to happen again, ever.
Dear sir, We make a humble request to provide us(i.e. All the JNU community) just the following two things:-
24*7 Emergency facilities having an on duty doctor at the health centre.
Well equipped 2 Ambulances with the on duty paramedic.
All the SIT Students
cc/- Rector 1
Dean of Students Welfare
Deans and Chairpersons of all Schools and Centres
All the JNU community
At about 9.15 pm the students gathered at the Administrative building to mourn the unfortunate death of Aishvarya Agrawal and observed a silent candle march from the JNU administration building to the worthless Health Centre of the university campus. JNUSU members were also present and YFE and AISA had especially mourned the death of the young man in their dinner pamphlets.
The JNU students candle light march from the ad block to the Health Centre:
The students resolved to light a candle here every night until these gates are open round the clock
Photo of Teflas in JNU campus where Aishvarya lived [he was yet to get the hostel]. The empty space on the right between the beds near the two blue chairs is where late Aishvarya’s bed was! The bed has been removed now.
The JNU Campus “ambulance”! One of the two ambulances in the campus. It is a taxi. Nothing less nothing more! Aisvarya had used the other one: Maruti Omni.
Aishvarya Agrawal RIP. Wish Aishvarya had joined any of the IIITs and not JNU that he loved so much!
JNU administration should be held accountable for Aishvarya’s death
Addendum: When Aakriti Bhatia, a 17-year-old class XII student of the elite Modern School in Vasant Vihar Delhi had died of a asthma attack, there was a huge uproar and even an inquiry was ordered by the CM herself and the school was blamed for her death [IBN link, TOI link, Outlook link]. About 35 hours have elapsed since his death but it is nowhere in the media.
Update 11 September 2009: ABVP held a protest demonstration at the JNU admn building at 2.30 pm and demanded the resignation of the JNU Chief Medical Officer [CMO] and the JNU VC. The NSUI in an elaborate pamphlet said that “Aishvarya was the victim of a callous and indifferent system” and demanded “24X7 Health Facility in the campus, Ambulance with emergency facilities and Medical insurance for all students ” within seven days failing which it will launch a mass agitation. The ABVP dinner pamphlet on 11 Sep also lambasted the JNU administration. Update 12 September 2009: JNUSU in its pamphlet has called for a protest demonstration on Monday 14 September 2009 at 2:30 pm .
Aishvarya’s facebook Profile
Update: 12 September 2009. Click here to visit his Facebook profile. The snapshot below is of his public profile.
It is published in the media better late than never
Update: 12 September 2009
- The Hindu: JNU students demand medical care
- Times of India: JNU boy dies of asthma attack, students cry foul
- Hindustan Times: JNU student dies for want of facilities
- Indian Express: After death, JNU students seek better medical facilities
- Dainik Bhaskar: उम्दा एंबुलेंस के अभाव की भेंट चढ़ा छात्र
- Also published in the Pioneer, Nai Duniya, NBT, Dainik Jagran, Rashtriya Sahara. Please leave your email if you want scanned copies of all the 9 news reports.
Students protest against JNU administration [photos and video]; JNU admn agrees to the demand of better health facilities in JNU campus, better late than never
Update: Click here to read a part II of this report about the protests on 14 Sepetmber 2009 before the JNU administration and the achievement of better health facilities in the campus. The SIT students also published a pamphlet on 13 September 2009. Excerpt:
Cost of a LCD TV, Rs. 50,000/-
Cost of a Nebulizer, Rs. 50,000/-
What is the cost of the life of a student?
Late Edit: I have presented facts here like a citizen journalist and produced a critical report. The health infrastructure in the JNU campus is a crying need which has been an issue raised by everyone in the campus [including all parties]. Hopefully it will be addressed better late than never.