Tuesday, August 30, 2016

He quits! What Vishal Dadlani's exit from AAP tells us about the party


  • Climate Change
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Monsoon Management
  • Agrarian Crisis
These are just some of the several issues covered in about 30 lectures that have been organised by the Lok Sabha for our Members of Parliament in the last decade.
Contrast this with the event that Haryana Assembly hosted on 26 August in Chandigarh - a sermon by a Digambara Jain (a Jain sect that believes that the sky is enough to cover their bodies and refuse to wear clothes) monk in which, not one but several of, his parochial views were aired and endorsed.
What wrong did musician Vishal Dadlani commit in saying that this was a mockery of democracy.
The monk, Tarun Sagar, addressed the assembly on the first day of the Monsoon Session. He was seated on a dais that was positioned above the seats of the MLAs, the Speaker, who is the supreme authority with respect to all matters pertaining the House and even the Governor, the constitutional head of the state.
If that was not enough, Sagar's sermon itself was feudal, patriarchal and anti-democratic.
Even though he had been invited by the government, the entire House listened to his sermon in rapt attention! Now if that doesn't qualify to be mocked, then what does?
Some of Sagar's views are downright silly and deserve condemnation even if they would have been aired at a private gathering of his followers.
That he was invited to say this in an elected house is especially unfortunate.
Going against not just the spirit of the Constitution of India but the entire democratic ethos, Sagar firmly placed religion over politics and even drew a misogynistic analogy to illustrate his point.

KEJRIWAL'S RAP ON DADLANI'S KNUCKLES

Dadlani - singer, songwriter, music director and formerly a very vocal member of the Aam Aadmi Party - was quick to slam this disgraceful event.
The tweet that he was forced to delete carried a clever pun on the words "monk" and "mockery" of democracy.
The hashtags were hilarious but a bit too clever by half considering that mainstream politicians would have refrained from such comments, even if they would have criticised the event. So, Dadlani could have been chided for those.
But what happened instead was a shocking statement from AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal 

Tarun Sagar ji Maharaj is a very reverred saint, not just for jains but everyone. Those showing disrespect is unfortunate and shud stop
Kejriwal didn't just stop there. He went on to disclose completely unnecessary information that he knows Sagar personally and his family listens to his discourses on television regularly.

I met Shri Tarun Sagar ji Maharaj last year. Our family regularly listens to his discourses on TV. We deeply respect him and his thoughts
Does Kejriwal "deeply respect" Sagar's views that "religion is husband and politics is wife"? Or that "religion must be used to restrain politics"? Or that "it is every wife's duty to accept the discipline laid down by the husband"? Or that "ek baar galti kare wo agyaan, do baar nadaan, teen baar shaitan and jo baar baar galti kare wo Pakistan!"

SO, DOES KEJRIWAL ENDORSE SAGAR'S VIEWS?

We don't know what does the Delhi chief minister feel about the monk's golden words because he didn't tell us. He made no comment on the inappropriateness of a religious leader delivering a retrograde sermon inside the assembly.
What he only chose to comment on was Dadlani's mocking it.
The message was clear - that the monk must not be mocked and that this stand needed to be put out in the public domain with emphasis.
Three things are clear from Kejriwal's defence of Sagar and his sermon -

1.

The AAP chief is no different from the Haryana government and all those MLAs who respectfully lent their ears without raising an eyebrow.

2.

Arvind Kejriwal has no qualms about mixing his personal religious beliefs with his politics.

3.

Kejriwal wants all members of his party to also share his set of beliefs and if they don't - they should just shut up.
Dadlani is a gritty character and it is surprising that he chose to meekly surrender by apologising for his tweet and also quitting the party.
Though he did add a rider to his apology, tweeting that his problem was with "religion in governance".
(2) That dude has the same education, as he has clothes on. None. I've no problem with nudity. I have a problem with religion in governance.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Man carrying wife’s body on shoulders reflects Odisha's healthcare


BHUBANESWAR: The visuals that shocked the world, a man carrying his dead wife on his shoulders in Kalahandi district and two men carrying another woman's body packed in a sack and hung from a bamboo pole in Balasore, reflect the state of healthcare marred by acute shortage of doctors and poor health infrastructure in the state.

The number of health professionals is too less in the government sector compared to the patient overload leaving them to fend for themselves in many cases. Of the sanctioned strength of 4800 doctors in government hospitals (excluding the medical colleges) in the state, around 2000 posts are lying vacant. Of the rest more than 1000 are deputed in the medical colleges.

According to the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) 2012, Odisha should have at least 7220 doctors including 1198 in 32 district headquarters hospitals (30 districts besides Rourkela General Hospital and Capital Hospital), 577 in 27 sub-divisional hospitals, 3890 in 389 community health centres and 1555 posts in the primary health centres. The overall vacancies in poverty-stricken KBK region are around 60 per cent.

The Kalahandi district headquarters hospital at Bhawanipatna, from where Dana Majhi managed to sneak out unnoticed carrying his wife's body on his shoulders, has 32 doctors, which is around 44% of the sanctioned strength of 72. On Saturday, 94 women were admitted in the female ward with sanctioned bed strength of 10 in the ward. The average daily admission in the hospital for past one year is 225 for its 165 beds, chief district medical officer (CDMO), Kalahandi, Braja Kishore Brahma, said.

Because of acute vacancies of medicos, monitoring and supervision in hospitals are clearly lacking. "Otherwise, how can an attendant quit on his own with a dead patient unnoticed?" said Dr Nirakar Bhatta, president, Odisha Medical Services Association, a body of government doctors.

Despite massive allocation of funds, the health infrastructure in the state is crumbling. Lack of secured boundary walls, rickety indoor departments with dilapidated beds and leaky roofs are common sight, even in district hospitals though the National Health Mission (NHM), budget for the state is Rs 1197.15 crore in 2016-17, which is Rs 247.93 crore more compared to Rs 949.22 crore in 2015-16. The state budget had allocated Rs 739 crore mostly for creation of infrastructure which includes construction of five medical colleges, an analysis of the budget shows.

The government is hard-selling Mahaprayana, a paid hearse service for ferrying dead bodies launched by Naveen earlier this week, on the logic that it would help prevent reoccurrence of such unsaviory episodes. However, that is not going to happen, if doctors are to be believed. "Mahaprayana is a paid service. Private services are already available. But many poor patients can't afford to bear the cost and are unwilling to spend on dead bodies when they don't have money to feed their living kin," said a doctor of Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences where a family had left behind a relative's body last week.

A district-level committee of the Red Cross chaired by the district collector would decide cost of Mahaprayana vehicles. The Kalahandi district Red Cross panel on Friday decided to charge Rs 7 per km while ferrying the bodies from hospital to home.

T N Panda, who runs an NGO, MOTHER ((Multi Organ Transplantation and Human & Educational Research), which promotes organ and body donation, said the government can promote dignity to dead bodies by promoting more organ and body donation of cadavers. "This would help medical colleges get enough bodies for research.


The Bahrain government, moved by reports of a man carrying his wife’s body on his shoulder for burial in Odisha, has reportedly offered to extend financial help to the grieving family.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Objective Way of Assessing need for Angioplasty – A boon for Heart Disease Patients

By Dr. Praveen Chandra

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease and impacts millions of lives worldwide. CAD is a condition in which unhealthy fat deposit buildup causes narrowing or blockage of coronary blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscles. This restricts the flow of blood to the heart. Aggravated CAD may further lead to other forms of heart diseases like heart attack, heart failure, and arrhythmia.

A patient suffering from CAD may benefit from angioplasty (also known as percutaneous coronary intervention) or bypass surgery (Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting or CABG). While, angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, where a mesh-like device called a 'stent' is used to open blocked blood vessels, bypass surgery is a surgical procedure which creates a bypass for the blocked vessels.

Treatment for CAD is predominantly determined by a test called - the angiogram or angiography. (See Fig.1)


Figure 1: An angiogram
Angiogram is an x-ray image of the blood vessels in the heart and has been widely used for several decades to identify blocked vessels. However, angiogram being only a visual assessment has the margin of under or overestimating the severity of blockage.

To overcome this limitation, a new diagnostic modality called the FFR (or Fractional Flow Reserve) can be done after an angiogram to objectively determine the severity of blockage. FFR measurement aids the treating cardiologists in deciding whether or not to perform angioplasty on the blocked vessels.

Clinical studies have shown that patients who have suffered a heart attack or have unstable angina (also called acute coronary syndrome) are likely to benefit from angioplasty, however, similar effect in patients with stable CAD was debatable. In 2007, a study called "COURAGE trial" investigated the necessity of angioplasty in patients with stable CAD, the trial showed that angioplasty did not reduce the risk of death, heart attack, or other major cardiovascular events when added to medication.

In 2009, the result of another study called "FAME" showed that patients with multivessel disease (i.e. patients with 2-3 blocked coronary vessels) have better outcomes with FFR-guided angioplasty compared to angioplasty guided only by angiogram. Furthermore, in 2012 results from "FAME-2" demonstrated that in patients with stable CAD, FFR-guided angioplasty had improved clinical outcomes and reduced need for urgent treatment (repeat angioplasty or bypass surgery) compared to medication alone.

These landmark studies (COURAGE, FAME, and FAME-2) have demonstrated that the angiography alone is inadequate to determine the severity of vessel blockages and angioplasty may not be necessary for all patients with CAD, and therefore, it is important to examine patients with the FFR test prior to determine treatment as advised in global clinical guidelines.

How is the FFR test performed?
FFR test is performed by guiding a thin wire (with a pressure sensor at the tip) into the blocked blood vessel(s) through a catheter (thin hollow tube) and a measurement is made. (See Fig.2)

Figure 2: Illustration of an FFR Test

How to interpret the FFR measurement?
In a normal blood vessel, FFR value equals 1. When the FFR value is greater than 0.80, it indicates a non-significant blockage and that patient may not benefit from angioplasty, and hence could be managed on medication alone. In contrast, if the FFR value is less than 0.80, it indicates a significant blockage and the patient is likely to benefit from intervention, hence angioplasty may be performed. (See Fig.3)



How FFR technology helps CAD patients?
The course of treatment for patients with CAD depends on disease severity (i.e. blood flow in the blood vessel). FFR helps the treating cardiologist in treatment decision-making that improves patient outcomes and helps to avoid unnecessary procedures. FFR-guided treatment has been proven to reduce the incidences of adverse events such as heart attacks, repeat angioplasty (or bypass surgery), and repeated hospitalizations.

Is the FFR test approved and recommended in guidelines?
The FFR technology is a safe and established procedure. The European Society of Cardiology and European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery and the American College of Cardiology Foundation / American Heart Association / Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions clinical guidelines recommend FFR- guided treatment in specified populations.

Does FFR test require additional hospitalization?
FFR test can be performed at the time of an angiogram. No additional hospitalization is required to perform an FFR test. Most of the leading hospitals in India have the facility for FFR test. The patient may consult his/her treating doctor for advice.

Dr. Praveen Chandra, Indian Cardiologist and Chairman of Interventional Cardiology at Medanta Medicity, Gurgaon, India. He is recognized as one of the leaders in Angioplasty in the country. He has been awarded for success and achievement in the field of medicine with "Padma Shri" in 2016 by the President of India.
above is from ET Healthworld.com.
The original article ma be viewed on http://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/medical-devices/objective-way-of-assessing-need-for-angioplasty-a-boon-for-heart-disease-patients/53875362

Friday, August 26, 2016

When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'


Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is?
Most people haven’t heard of him.
But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in your stomach as when you read about Mussolini or Hitler or see one of their pictures. You see, he killed over 10 million people in the Congo.
His name is King Leopold II of Belgium.
He “owned” the Congo during his reign as the constitutional monarch of Belgium. After several failed colonial attempts in Asia and Africa, he settled on the Congo. He “bought” it and enslaved its people, turning the entire country into his own personal slave plantation. He disguised his business transactions as “philanthropic” and “scientific” efforts under the banner of the International African Society. He used their enslaved labor to extract Congolese resources and services. His reign was enforced through work camps, body mutilations, executions, torture, and his private army.
Most of us – I don’t yet know an approximate percentage but I fear its extremely high – aren’t taught about him in school. We don’t hear about him in the media. He’s not part of the widely repeated narrative of oppression (which includes things like the Holocaust during World War II). He’s part of a long history of colonialism, imperialism, slavery and genocide in Africa that would clash with the social construction of the white supremacist narrative in our schools. It doesn’t fit neatly into a capitalist curriculum. Making overtly racist remarks is (sometimes) frowned upon in polite society, but it’s quite fine not to talk about genocides in Africa perpetrated by European capitalist monarchs.
Mark Twain wrote a satire about Leopold called “King Leopold’s soliloquy; a defense of his Congo rule“, where he mocked the King’s defense of his reign of terror, largely through Leopold’s own words. It’s 49 pages long. Mark Twain is a popular author for American public schools. But like most political authors, we will often read some of their least political writings or read them without learning why the author wrote them (Orwell’s Animal Farm for example serves to re-inforce American anti-Socialist propaganda, but Orwell was an anti-capitalist revolutionary of a different kind – this is never pointed out). We can read about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, but King Leopold’s Soliloquy isn’t on the reading list. This isn’t by accident. Reading lists are created by boards of education in order to prepare students to follow orders and endure boredom well. From the point of view of the Education Department, Africans have no history.
When we learn about Africa, we learn about a caricaturized Egypt, about the HIV epidemic (but never its causes), about the surface level effects of the slave trade, and maybe about South African Apartheid (which of course now is long, long over). We also see lots of pictures of starving children on Christian Ministry commercials, we see safaris on animal shows, and we see pictures of deserts in films and movies. But we don’t learn about the Great African War or Leopold’s Reign of Terror during the Congolese Genocide. Nor do we learn about what the United States has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, potentially killing in upwards of 5-7 million people from bombs, sanctions, disease and starvation. Body counts are important. And we don’t count Afghans, Iraqis, or Congolese.
There’s a Wikipedia page called “Genocides in History”. The Congolese Genocide isn’t included. The Congo is mentioned though. What’s now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo is listed in reference to the Second Congo War (also called Africa’s World War and the Great War of Africa), where both sides of the multinational conflict hunted down Bambenga and ate them. Cannibalism and slavery are horrendous evils which must be entered into history and talked about for sure, but I couldn’t help thinking whose interests were served when the only mention of the Congo on the page was in reference to multi-national incidents where a tiny minority of people were  eating each other (completely devoid of the conditions which created the conflict no less). Stories which support the white supremacist narrative about the subhumanness of people in Africa are allowed to be entered into the records of history. The white guy who turned the Congo into his own personal part-plantation, part-concentration camp, part-Christian ministry and killed 10 to 15 million Conglese people in the process doesn’t make the cut.
You see, when you kill ten million Africans, you aren’t called ‘Hitler’. That is, your name doesn’t come to symbolize the living incarnation of evil. Your name and your picture don’t produce fear, hatred, and sorrow. Your victims aren’t talked about and your name isn’t remembered.
Leopold was just one part of thousands of things that helped construct white supremacy as both an ideological narrative and material reality. Of course I don’t want to pretend that in the Congo he was the source of all evil. He had generals, and foot soldiers, and managers who did his bidding and enforced his laws. It was a system. But that doesn’t negate the need to talk about the individuals who are symbolic of the system. But we don’t even get that. And since it isn’t talked about, what capitalism did to Africa, all the privileges that rich white people gained from the Congolese genocide are hidden. The victims of imperialism are made, like they usually are, invisible.
The above is from the FB site of Liam O’Ceallaigh, 
http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/when-you-kill-ten-million-africans-you-arent-called-hitler/

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Don’t probe ‘corrupt’ officials without govt nod, says parliamentary panel

Posted on August 23, 2016 from New Delhi 

Taking action against corrupt officials could soon get harder.
A parliamentary panel has backed a move to bar anti-graft agencies from probing bribery allegations against public servants without the government’s approval.
The government can take up to four months to decide if the police should register the bribery case, and there will be no penalty if it takes longer. However, its sanction would not be required if the official is caught accepting a bribe red-handed.
The proposed move would cover states as well as the Centre, with governments at both levels getting the power to decide on probes against their respective officials.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had opposed the proposal, which intends to protect honest senior government officials, ministers and top managers in public sector firms from undue harassment. It told the select committee – set up by the Rajya Sabha to study proposed amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act – that such an action would impede the investigation process and delay prosecution of corrupt officials.
Even now, bureaucrats are protected by a procedural requirement after the completion of the probe – they cannot be tried in court without governmental sanction. While the Centre allowed prosecution in 239 cases under this provision through 2015, it rejected 39 requests – mostly pertaining to officials in the banking sector.
The panel, which also okayed provisions to bring the private sector under the anti-graft law by explicitly making it a crime to give bribes, submitted its report in the Rajya Sabha last week. Communist Party of India MP D Raja – who was a member of the select committee – distanced himself from the recommendation.
Raja told HT that he wanted to record his dissent, but had no time to prepare because the last meeting was called during the Parliament session at a very short notice. “Yes, there are some issues... we will raise them when the bill is taken up in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.
Transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj, who founded the Satark Nagrik Sangathan, a people’s group, termed the amendment as a “completely regressive” step. “I am disappointed... I thought the idea was to make the anti-corruption law stronger, not weaker,” said Bhardwaj, who had opposed these provisions before the panel.
The NDA government had originally come up with this amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act last year, but proposed that the power to clear FIRs be given to the Lokpal. Unsure of the public reaction, it didn’t want to appear as if it was usurping power.
Not surprisingly, the government promptly agreed to suggestions at panel meetings that the mandate should remain in its hands – and not with the Lokpal.
The decision to protect every public servant from harassment owes its origin to a May 2014 Supreme Court verdict, wherein a judicial bench struck down a provision requiring the CBI to obtain the government’s permission to probe incumbents in all joint secretary-level posts. As the court held that the law cannot discriminate between public servants on the basis of their rank, protection was given to all.
The above is from the mail I receive from "I Paid a bribe"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SC ISSUES NOTICE TO MCI AND HEALTH SECRETARIES ACROSS INDIA ON LACK OF ICU GUIDELINES: EFFECTS OF SLP FILED BY A VICTIM OF MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE BACKED BY PBT

In a historic judgment delivered by Supreme Court Justices Mr. Dipak Mishra and Mr. U.U. Lalit that may have far-reaching effect on negligent treatment of critically ill patients in intensive care units (ICUs) across India, Apex Court has directed to implead the Medical Council of India (MCI) as well as the central and state governments and issued notice to the MCI, central government and Health Secretaries of all state governments seeking to explore the guidelines, if any, for proper treatment in the ICUs (see TOI news below).
This case involves horrific death of a young woman, Sunanda Mondal, following a caesarean delivery at the Wellness Nursing Home in Kalyani, 40 km from Kolkata, under the care of Dr. Rita Sinha. The patient was left virtually unattended in ICU for three days before shifting her to a super-speciality hospital in Kolkata in a moribund condition where she eventually died from alleged acute liver failure. The devastated middle-class family came to PBT seeking help in the quest for justice. Guided by the PBT, they lodged a case before the National Consumer Court (NCDRC) seeking a compensation of about Rs. 2 crore. PBT founding-president, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared before the NCDRC during his last trip to India in December, 2015 to argue on behalf of the Mondal family. Although NCDRC summoned the accused doctor but refused to grant any time to Dr. Saha to argue the case further since he was not available during next hearing in April, 2016. It is well-known that since its inception of PBT in 2001, Dr. Saha and his organization have been helping countless victims of medical negligence in their search for justice in the most unselfish fashion without ever charging any fee for their service. In fact, Dr. Saha routinely spends lakhs of rupees from his own pocket to travel to India and argue legal cases on behalf of hapless victims of medical negligence.
Unfortunately, NCDRC dismissed Mondal’s case in May, 2016 with a cryptic order without looking into the merit of the case that the patient was left virtually untreated in the ICU following the caesarean delivery. The NCDRC also made unfortunate aspersations about the intent of Dr. Saha to help the Mondal family. Mondal’s family lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the NCDRC’s judgment and the Apex Court passed this historic order issuing notice not only to the accused doctor but also to the MCI, central and state governments to probe the status of general treatment in ICUs across India. It is a common knowledge that there is no guidelines or scientific basic protocol for treatment in ICUs by doctors in India. Many ill-equipped nursing homes and hospitals take a ride on the vulnerable and critically ill patients by treating them by careless doctors without any repercussions causing untimely death of countless patients. We hope that specific attention on this issue by the Supreme Court would bring much needed changes in our medical system to save lives of the innocent patients across the country.

‘Thuja’ behind Gopalgunj tragedy?

The Bihar hooch tragedy has a killer ingredient: officials here say it’s Thuja, a homeopathic medicine with high alcohol content. The Gopalgunj district administration and excise department officials conducted a raid of all shops stocking homeopathic medicines in the town and seized stocks of Thuja and other medicines that have a high content of alcohol on Friday.

Empty bottles of Thuja were recovered from the Khajurbani locality of Gopalgunj town, where 16 people died after consuming spurious liquor. Some lost their vision. Thuja Occidentalis is a genus of coniferous trees in the Cupressaceae family.

“As many as 25 empty 450 ml bottles of Thuja with 91% alcohol content were recovered from a place in the Khajurbani locality on Thursday…mixing any intoxicant with Thuja to prepare a brew can be fatal,” Rahul Kumar, Gopalgunj’s District Magistrate told The Hindu. “We’ve asked shopkeepers to provide details of all medicines that contain alcohol by Saturday evening.”

Circumstantial evidence pointed to Thuja being used to brew country-made liquor at some of the kilns to add more ‘high’ to the illicit brew. “Thuja has come out as a killer ingredient in the Gopalgunj hooch tragedy and we’re making raids to seize the medicine to avoid its deadly misuse further,” Mr. Kumar added.

Besides empty bottles of Thuja, the police also recovered 300 litres of illicit liquor kept in big plastic jars of different sizes in pits at Khajurbani.

Mr. Kumar added that all 15 homeopathic pharmacies in Gopalgunj were raided on Friday but, “30ml bottles of Thuja, which is permissible, were found in these shops.” A senior police official of the district said that the empty bottles of Thuja seized at Khajurbani on Thursday were of the larger size (450ml), which is not supplied to pharmacies these days.

Some makers of country-made liquor (called ‘desi daru’ in Bihar) told The Hindu that ingredients like urea, naushadar (a chemical) and alcoholic components like Thuja are used to create a more intoxicating brew by makers of hooch. “They [such ingredients] are easily and cheaply available. After prohibition was imposed, one glass of ‘desi daru’ mixed with these intoxicants is sold at Rs 40. Earlier, the rate was just Rs. 20,” one source said.

“All these ingredients, if taken beyond the body’s limit, cause nausea, vomiting, headache, severe stomach pain, loss of eye vision and even death,” Dr. Shatrughan Prasad, a homeopath told The Hindu.