(Crossposted at desicritics.org)

I came across this banner below in the lobby of Labaid in Dhanmondi. The text reads :

We seek your support to frustrate unholy attempt of vested quarters to turn Bangladesh into a market of foreign hospitals.

Mark the word “unholy.” We know that Labaid wants to be the principal private hospital in Bangladesh. Moreover their mission statement explicitly states that they want to “reduce patients (sic) outflow to foreign countries for treatment and thereby save valuable foreign currency.” That is all fine. No one would argue about developing local capacity. It is greatly needed. And one can also understand that they are a bit worried about the foreign competition. Not only do patients go outside for treatment but last year Apollo hospitals (of India) opened up joint venture operations in Bangladesh with the launch of their flag-ship hospital in Basundhara. And there is also a Japanese healthcare group (Tokushukai) who have teamed up with Grameen Bank and will probably start operating shortly. But why this word “unholy?”

Not even the most rabid proponents of autarchic development, as far as I remember my development theory, use the word unholy to describe foreign investment. Oh yes they use a lot of other derogatory words but not unholy. What could this banner be about? Is it Apollo = Indian = Hindu = Unholy? So is this a plea for protectionism couched in communalist nationalist terms? I pointed out this poster to a doctor working at Labaid. She had not noticed the banner but upon seeing it was surprised and wondered along exactly the same lines outlined above, without any prompting on my part. She regretted the poster and said she would ask their customer relations department….

In case anyone thinks I have got a soft spot for Apollo. I don’t. They almost killed my mum.

Labaid banner (Taken with my rubbish Motorola RAZR)