India’s new ‘North East’ Cluster will represent the isolated states of Nagaland and Assam. Dr. SEDEVI ANGAMI is the Director of a Christian hospital in the region, and he’s played a big part in the Cluster’s launch. Below he tells us why the history and landscape of the region make the Cluster model so important.
Jake: Tell me about your part of the world. Sedevi: My state is the most under-developed state in India, and the needs are huge. If you look on a map you’ll see that Assam and Nagaland are very cut-off from the rest of India. And the terrain is so difficult to cross. To give you an idea, driving 100km would take about 14-18 hours of the most horrible roads you can ever imagine. And there are lots of places where the health infrastructure is extremely poor, so most people have absolutely no access to healthcare. And where there is healthcare, health ethics are often in a very bad shape. For example, in India, most medical students are not taught ethics, and so now everything is about money - human dignity is not regarded. This is an area we really need to focus on. There is a lot of corruption too. Basically, it’s like a failed state. And so people feel very hopeless. Jake: And you see the Cluster as a way to generate hope? Sedevi: Yes, I think so. If as Christians we lose hope, then there is no hope at all. And so we don’t have the option of losing hope. We have to network and strengthen each other. And I think we can do it because there are a lot of people all over the place with good intentions who are willing to help. But we have to network and strengthen each other. And I’m sure we can pool our resources and do something good. Jake: You mentioned your faith there – tell us about the relationship between Christianity and healthcare in your region. Sedevi: Well this region of India has a Christian majority, so most doctors in the region are Christian, but they’re not really Christian in their approach. When India first got its independence, the backbone of healthcare in India was predominantly run by the Christian world – we had about 800-900 mission hospitals in those times. But over the years it has gone down to about 200. And as Christian healthcare has declined, healthcare has become more commercial. We have a lot of corporate hospitals that run on commissions. There are targets to be met. Patients are called clients. If you don’t meet your targets then you’re out of your job. And hospitals are listed on the stock market! In the past, when you became a doctor you weren’t really talking about your salary, but now they do. And so we need to revive Christian healthcare. For example in our hospital we try to create a community of caring, a community which can demonstrate a difference, so people around can say that Christ is reflected and demonstrated in our work. Jake: How can the Cluster help do this? Sedevi: Well the people who came to our launch were from mainly Christian organisations who are already doing good things in their own respective places. And I think the real crux of it is it’s not so much what they can get from other people, but what they can give to people. I’ve always felt that there’s nothing I have which is original – everything that I have was given to me by someone else. And therefore I really do not have the right to keep these God-given things to myself. They need to be spread out as fast as possible before I die! So that’s what I would like to see in our Cluster: our Cluster members have ideas, thoughts and experiences and we all want to learn from them. So I think there was quite a lot of openness amongst the folks that came to our Cluster launch, and they all realised that there is something that they can contribute. So it was a very good, healthy start. Jake: What are your hopes for what the Cluster might achieve? Sedevi: By networking, we share resources. And if we share resources, we don’t have to compete. We will actually cut down our costs. The Cluster can also decrease our sense of isolation – you can’t survive in isolation. The outside world – the corporate world – is very, very fast moving. So it’s very important for us to stand with each other and keep encouraging each other. We need each other in order to survive. So I think this network is absolutely crucial. It’s a small beginning but I think that it will bear a lot of fruit in future. And I am thankful to the entire team for introducing us to the wider network and I’m sure we have a lot to learn from all of you. Jake: And we have a lot to learn from you as well! Thank you for your time Sedevi.
You can read more about the North East Cluster here