Met a couple of ‘young public health professionals (YPHP)’ over the last one year and noticed some disturbing trends.
The YPHPs are savvy, smart, well read, articulate – and also completely out of sync with what constitutes either public or health. Many of them have not even been in the field of health except for a year before their Masters. The masters in Public health is done in an international university either in the US, Canada or Australia. During the public health course, there is a swagger about them. They make presentations about India, they discuss India’s issues – but there is something crucially lacking. There is a lack of understanding about India because they never did get to see it. The way the life of a middle class or upper class kid in India is structured is such that they think they know, but they don’t. They are absolutely convinced about their understanding of the country based on what they read. They are voracious readers. They absorb names, incidents, statistics. They are well versed with the written media. Closely intertwined with the lack of understanding, is the total lack of insight. There is no consciousness of how one is a part of the same oppressive structures that leads to poor public health, a lack of consciousness of one’s own responsibility towards sanitation, towards equity, towards justice, an unwillingness to explore territories that make one ashamed and an inability to judge existing systems based on what one contributes themselves.
Well it is not to say that Older public health professionals (OPHP) are in anyway less resistant to these insights and internal musings. It is just that with time and ‘globalisation’ one would expect the ‘younger’ generation to have more sensitivity. However, the dangerous outcome of uninhibited and unlimited access to information, is that one can choose the kind of information one receives, processes and registers. It is something like an information cocoon – a small little world that suits what one started off with in the first place – safely enshrined in one’s pre-existent biases and prejudices. The fact that one is so smart and well read means then that there is no scope to learn an alternate point of view, unless one is willing to re-learn. Re-learning in the world of moving ahead, is difficult and a choice that very few would make.