April Fool’s Day musings

We exchanged sms messages and greetings on April Fool’s Day.

There were  some interesting discussions regarding the way the managers of Libyan Arab institutions are making their best efforts to try and get some semblance of European style management to be able to get contracts from new companies who will be coming to Libya.

An interesting paper to read and reflect for our Reading group was Aneez Esmail’s “Asian Doctors in the NHS:Service and betrayal”. British Journal of General Practice, October 2007.

The paper has some very interesting insights on the way universal health care delivery in NHS is dependent on work by migrant workers.

Indentured labourers

Esmail’s paper opened a very interesting concept of indentured labourer which is never applied to such highly skilled professionals as doctors but it has been a significant part of emigration from India for over 100 years.

The Collins dictionary defines “Indenture” as any deed, contract, or sealed agreement between two or more parties.

 “ The concept of indentured labourer has never been applied to such highly-skilled professionals as doctors but it has been a significant part of emigration from India for over 100 years. With the end of slavery it was clear that there was still a need for labour in the colonies of Britain and hundreds of thousands of Indian workers were recruited to work in the sugar plantations of the West Indies and on the railways in the African colonies. The reason that there are so many Indians in the West Indies, in South East Asia, and in the East and Southern Africa is because of this indentured labour. Workers were willingly recruited in India with the offer of work, accommodation, food, safe passage, and yet when they arrived they found they were paid such poor wages that they could never afford to pay back the money they borrowed to get there in the first place.

  While this is not strictly true of Indian doctors there are similarities with the indentured labourers of the early part of the 20th century. Like their forebears, Asian doctors were tied into the system of the NHS. They left India with the specific aim of obtaining further medical qualifications – to complete a stage in their medical training and careers. As Smith showed so clearly in his survey, over half the migrant doctors were disappointed with their experience of working and studying in this country. So the Asian doctors end up being tied to the UK and the NHS, because returning without fulfilling your aspirations was not an option. They always hoped that they would break out of the cycle but in the end they did not but stayed on and made the most of it. They were indentured to the system.”

William Pickles Lecture by Aneez Esmail. British Journal of General Practice.Oct 2007


As some members of our reading group reflected on the way the managements are ignoring old time workers (Indians, Filipinos, Egyptians, Moroccans who have probably nowhere to go anyway-according to an indifferent management) and going ahead with “Fresh Energy” , most who ran away from the conflict and took no risk, sacrificed nothing and are now trying to make the best out of the uncertain period.

There is a sense of lack of empathy

Empathy- (Collins ) is defined as the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings.

“That is something you can expect from medical professionals, doctors and nurses,” one experienced practitioner said. “One is not realistic to expect empathy from number-crunching finance managers or project directors.”

Impersonal power

“ Do not try to impress us with figures of transfer of hundreds of thousands of Euros from Insurance and management groups.  This stress ignores the “Doctor-Patient” relationship which is very important in a medical establishment,” one experienced person countered the tendency of a manager to try and impress people by the “deals” which they are arranging through their “contacts”.

But this is the way the world under Transnational capitalism is organized.

For an earlier perspective see blog


“But the global supply chain linking Guangdong Province (South-East China) to Bentonville Arkansas (Headquarters of Wal-Mart) may well be increasingly fragile one, because the proletarianization of tens of millions of Chinese peasants is unlikely to go smoothly, especially under conditions of authoritarian governance.”   doi:10.1017/S0147547906000184

* * *

How indentured are we?

If your stock reply is- I am not indentured, think again. Are you living in denial?

Or are we Fools?

A little of everything, one friend said as we had Turkish salad, Indian Halwa (Prasad of Ram Navmi) and prepared for another day of Indentured labour.


About prashant bhatt

A psychologist, interested in mindfulness practices. I practiced medicine as a radiologist for 23 years in India and Libya as a radiologist before shifting to Canada. A regular diarist, journaling since 1983 Reading journal : gracereadings.com
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13 Responses to April Fool’s Day musings

  1. Alok says:

    Everybody is a slave to somebody. Most of all, we are indentured to ourselves with the lure of a ‘better’ life.

  2. Sridhar says:

    Selfishness overrides everything.
    The variety of decisions one takes has to have compulsory ingredient of ‘ selfish motto’ including searching for greener pastures.
    The relation between individuals revolves around purely based on selfishness.
    Anybody says the above statement is not ‘ true ‘ …..simply he/she is bluffing.Indentured Labourers are sequalae of their own selfishness
    Human race is alive because of the inherent selfishness genes.
    Whether u are in your own country or in alien country you can not ignore some element of ‘selfishness’

    Prashant… I am always thankful to you because I learn something new, every time I read your blogs.

    • Thanks Sridhar for your generous comments and insights.

      Selfishness and Soul…has been a theme of discussion of
      our Reading group -General Themes which I will expand
      upon in coming week. We were talking about who are our Heroes
      and one experienced person came up with his Hero as the
      mythological Mahabharata character Bhishma for his selflessness.

      It made a very interesting theme of discussion, as I tried
      to argue against it,(to try to bring out the points better)
      and of course lost the argument but gained a lot -discussing
      on the eve of Ram Navmi..the selflessness of Bhishma

  3. DR KUMAR says:

    Dear Prashant
    I read this article with great interest, how to dispell this colonial mindset that they treat Indian doctors like labourers and not equal with any doctor with same degrees and experience.Europeans are treated as first class with luxury apartment while we get dungeon.

    In my many discussions with yourself and others they all blamed that we are Idiots and selfish characters, why we allow them to treat us like that.

    How you can allow them to do that to us

    (Comments edited before public posting)

    • Dear Anil
      This has been a long journey-in which we have spent many phases together, trying to gauge the responses.

      Doctor-Patient relationship sanctity should be maintained.

      Professionals should be treated fairly.

      Through these discussions we learn about organizational psychology and also how the world is shaped.

      If you read my articles in chowk.com especially I recommend


      You will come to realize how life is shaped here in Tripoli, going as far back as a construction company run in early 20th century to a 21st century expatriate workers farewell to his sons..this story -in the tradition of Oral-History has many layers

      We all learn from each other, and I am grateful for your many inputs , coming from your vast and varied experiences.

  4. Sridhar says:

    The ” virtuous selfishness ” of Bhishma ………still I too feel like you ….is against his king Dhuryodhana…..after all bhishma born as Human.

  5. Rajeev says:

    A nice commentary of the prevailing circumstances affecting many like us in day to day life. Aspiring for better life is not slavery , itis the way the humans evolve. Surely , in our quest for a better life we compromise on many things , & may be in the end one may find that the objectives have been only partially achieved . This is what is life , friends , one may never get the whole thing , but one has to move on.I do not take it as slavery ,because you always have an option to quit & go to where ever you have come from.A slave does not have such freedom.

    • Thanks for the comments. The nuances of differences between slavery, indenture, will go on…Remember our readings of James Baldwin’s works in Tripoli..Nobody knows my name…..

  6. Dear Anil

    For those who have doubts after discussions
    the following blog with relevant definitions and subtle meanings
    of Parth and parantapa will be useful


  7. Pingback: Everyday history -Burnout dissected « Prashantbhatt’s Weblog

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