Bandi Chor Diwas, Sarbat da Balla, and Health Care

Many Sikhs participate in the celebrations of Diwali, the festival of light, without actually knowing what the significance of the date is in Sikh history.  I can admit that for a long time, Diwali didn’t hold much importance for me because I didn’t fully understand why we celebrated it.  In fact, today is not only Diwali but also marks Bandi Chor Diwas a day where Sikhs join together to celebrate the release of the sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind Ji from imprisonment.  The historic event itself should be acknowledged with significance – particularly the fact that upon order of his release from Gwalior Fort, Guru Hargobind Ji refused to leave unless the 52 princes who had also been imprisoned would also be allowed to leave.  Thinking of others’ rights were more important than simply thinking of his own.         

To me, the day is a reminder of the concept of Sarbat da Balla, or the welfare of all.  Sarbat da Balla is a guiding principle that hopefully makes our words and actions bring about positive change to the greater good.  As we approach the upcoming election (7 days to go!), it is these principles that should help advise us on those issues that affect not just ourselves but the collective good.  While the economy is the principal concern on the minds of most voters, healthcare is an important issue that will also sway votes in a meaningful way.  

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that voters agree that in the face of a struggling economy “it is more important than ever to take on health care reform.”

Among Democrats, expanding coverage for the uninsured ranks second, named by 35 percent of those voters. Coverage also ranks second for political independents, named by a somewhat smaller proportion (23 percent). Relatively few Republicans (9 percent) name coverage as a health care priority.  Most Democrats (69 percent) and half of independents (51 percent) think that universal coverage would help the overall economic situation in the United States, while only 34 percent of Republicans agree. [link]

The two candidates clearly differ on their view of health care – one supports universal healthcare and the other prefers to rely on a free market.  Obama’s plan focuses on coverage, while McCain aims at cost.  

McCain would change the tax code to encourage people to buy coverage through the individual insurance market and effectively loosen state rules governing the sale of insurance by allowing people to buy policies across state lines. Obama would encourage the continuing participation of employers in the health insurance system, expand eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and create a new insurance market “exchange”-with consumer protections, choice of public and private health plans, and income-based premium subsidies-that would largely replace the individual market. According to one estimate, discussed below, in 10 years McCain’s proposal would reduce the number of people who are uninsured by 2 million out of a projected 67 million. Obama’s plan would reduce the number of uninsured people by 34 million in 10 years. [link]

For me, providing health care to everyone and agreeing that health care is a right (and not simply a responsibility) embodies the concept of Sarbat da Balla.  Many societies around the world actually regard health care as a human right that should be provided – and regulated – in the public sector, rather than managed by private corporations.  While America offers some of the best health care, it is also the most unreliable, costliest and least equitable health care in the world.  There are currently 46 million Americans who are uninsured, including 9 million children.  Universal health care is simply a more humane system and aligns with the concept of Sarbat da Balla and while I can appreciate the freedom of political choice we are all entitled to make, it is the actions of a few than can bring about positive change for many.  Any thoughts on this or am I totally off the mark?

[To read about specific health care issues of the candidates, click here].


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19 Responses to “Bandi Chor Diwas, Sarbat da Balla, and Health Care”

  1. Reema says:

    Happy Bandi Chorr Diwas Saihaj! (does blog message count?)

  2. rocco says:

    two points:

    1. there are many important moments in our history which we do not celebrate. I doubt many Sikhs are actually celebrated "Bandhi Chor Diwas" but rather mindlessly following there Hindu friends in celebrating Diwali.

    2. I like Obama. He talks a good talk. However how is he going to pay for all of this? Independent think tanks have said that his policies will bankrupt the US in six months!

  3. rocco says:

    two points:
    1. there are many important moments in our history which we do not celebrate. I doubt many Sikhs are actually celebrated “Bandhi Chor Diwas” but rather mindlessly following there Hindu friends in celebrating Diwali.
    2. I like Obama. He talks a good talk. However how is he going to pay for all of this? Independent think tanks have said that his policies will bankrupt the US in six months!

  4. saihaj says:

    All my Sikh friends have been sending me Happy Diwali texts all day. I'm still waiting to receive my first Happy Bandi Chhor Day one…

  5. saihaj says:

    All my Sikh friends have been sending me Happy Diwali texts all day. I’m still waiting to receive my first Happy Bandi Chhor Day one…

  6. Reema says:

    Happy Bandi Chorr Diwas Saihaj! (does blog message count?)

  7. bdb says:

    Rocco, the country has already been bankrupted-have you read the news lately?

    Dont depend on the govt to do anything for you. The Dems and Repubs are beholden to special interest and the military industrial complex. We're gonna get 'more of the same' no matter who is elected.

    We can also celebrate Diwali with our 'Hindu' friends-oh kee bandey nahi?

    There is a lot of unnecessary expenditure in the US on three big things 1) defensive medicine-neither candidate has voiced any plans to limit frivolous lawsuits 2) Administrative cost for private insurance companies-they use up 25% of the health care dollar on administrative costs compared to 3% by medicare 3) funding of lifestyle drugs and other drugs that have no measurable impact on mortality-example: giving cholesterol lowering drugs to the legions of demented bedbound nursing home patients in their last 2-3 years of life.

    Limiting the above expenditures will hit insurance companies, lawyers, drug companies,doctors-they all have the congress and senate beholden to them in one way or another and so nothing will get done.

    I agree that Obama talks a good talk, but more than finance, it takes balls to take on special interest and throw them out-I doubt that he can accomplish that but I sure will hope.

  8. bdb says:

    Rocco, the country has already been bankrupted-have you read the news lately?
    Dont depend on the govt to do anything for you. The Dems and Repubs are beholden to special interest and the military industrial complex. We’re gonna get ‘more of the same’ no matter who is elected.

    We can also celebrate Diwali with our ‘Hindu’ friends-oh kee bandey nahi?

    There is a lot of unnecessary expenditure in the US on three big things 1) defensive medicine-neither candidate has voiced any plans to limit frivolous lawsuits 2) Administrative cost for private insurance companies-they use up 25% of the health care dollar on administrative costs compared to 3% by medicare 3) funding of lifestyle drugs and other drugs that have no measurable impact on mortality-example: giving cholesterol lowering drugs to the legions of demented bedbound nursing home patients in their last 2-3 years of life.

    Limiting the above expenditures will hit insurance companies, lawyers, drug companies,doctors-they all have the congress and senate beholden to them in one way or another and so nothing will get done.

    I agree that Obama talks a good talk, but more than finance, it takes balls to take on special interest and throw them out-I doubt that he can accomplish that but I sure will hope.

  9. Sundari says:

    One of Obama's healthcare policies is to focus on prevention rather than treatment of illness. While this may seem abstract, studies have shown over and over again how investing in preventing an illness saves substantially more money than treating an illness. For example, 95 cents of every health care dollar goes to treat disease after it has already occurred, particularly chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes which are preventable.

    I agree with bdb that there is a lot of unnecessary expenditure in the health care industry. However, the direction of healthcare is changing and with that the health care system also needs to be reformed. There is greater emphasis on patient safety efforts such as preventing hospital-acquired infections which are much more costly than, for example, investing in hand hygiene campaigns that would prevent infection. In addition, the government recently announced that they will no longer pay for preventable errors and I really believe this type of regulation is needed to control costs. Finally, another cost-saving measure in Obama's plan is the implementation of electronic medical records which will reduce unnecessary administrative costs which drive up health care costs and thus, insurance costs.

  10. Sundari says:

    One of Obama’s healthcare policies is to focus on prevention rather than treatment of illness. While this may seem abstract, studies have shown over and over again how investing in preventing an illness saves substantially more money than treating an illness. For example, 95 cents of every health care dollar goes to treat disease after it has already occurred, particularly chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes which are preventable.

    I agree with bdb that there is a lot of unnecessary expenditure in the health care industry. However, the direction of healthcare is changing and with that the health care system also needs to be reformed. There is greater emphasis on patient safety efforts such as preventing hospital-acquired infections which are much more costly than, for example, investing in hand hygiene campaigns that would prevent infection. In addition, the government recently announced that they will no longer pay for preventable errors and I really believe this type of regulation is needed to control costs. Finally, another cost-saving measure in Obama’s plan is the implementation of electronic medical records which will reduce unnecessary administrative costs which drive up health care costs and thus, insurance costs.

  11. sonny says:

    thanks for the history lesson, i actually didn't know about bandi chor diwas and was just talking to my mom earlier today (who was wishing me a happy diwali) about if diwali has any significance for sikhs. she replied, "it does have some significance but i don't remember…you should ask your mamaji (who is very knowledgeable about sikhi)". it's a great example of sarbat da balla for sure, so i'm glad to know yet another example of this tradition, philosophy and vision in sikhi.

    the u.s. for-profit, private insurance-driven healthcare system is broken. how can healthcare, a basic human right, be something that is driven by profit, not by meeting the human needs? it makes no sense and badly needs to be radically changed. i think single-payer, universal healthcare is the way forward:


    http://www.healthcare-now.org/hr-676/whats-single

  12. sonny says:

    thanks for the history lesson, i actually didn’t know about bandi chor diwas and was just talking to my mom earlier today (who was wishing me a happy diwali) about if diwali has any significance for sikhs. she replied, “it does have some significance but i don’t remember…you should ask your mamaji (who is very knowledgeable about sikhi)”. it’s a great example of sarbat da balla for sure, so i’m glad to know yet another example of this tradition, philosophy and vision in sikhi.

    the u.s. for-profit, private insurance-driven healthcare system is broken. how can healthcare, a basic human right, be something that is driven by profit, not by meeting the human needs? it makes no sense and badly needs to be radically changed. i think single-payer, universal healthcare is the way forward:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAuwaKl3-nU
    http://www.healthcare-now.org/hr-676/whats-single-payer/

  13. saihaj says:

    Thanks Reema! Blog messages definitely count.

  14. saihaj says:

    Thanks Reema! Blog messages definitely count.

  15. Allen says:

    Many Sikhs participate in the celebrations of Diwali, the festival of light, without actually knowing what the significance of the date is in Sikh history. slogan of diwali

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