"Udhar koi bebas bahata hai aasoon, idhar bheeg jata hai daaman hamara"
—slogan on Samarpan’s calling card
Like most government hospitals in the country, the district hospital at Balaghat, a small district headquarter town near Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, is ill-equipped to handle the deluge of patients coming there from villages far and near. They have no place to stay in the town and little money to spare. And though the treatment is supposedly free, the hidden costs often prove more than what most of the patients can bear. "A patient, obviously, does not come alone. Those who accompany him can well sleep in the verandahs of the hospital and in the open spaces around. But what about food, and medicines, which the hospital rarely, if ever, provides? And what does one do about the cost of transporting the body or cremation in case the patient succumbs," asks Vinod Kankaria, president of Samarpan, an organisation working for poor and destitute patients here.
Samarpan, which literally means dedication, was born in 1998. "It was a freezing cold...