Sunday, July 31, 2016

Parliament Passes Lokpal Amendment Bill

NEW DELHI: A bill to amend the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, was passed by parliament on Thursday doing away with the time limit for public servants to furnish details of their assets and liabilities, which as per the original act was July 31 every year.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, was passed by the upper house on Thursday.

It allows extension of the time given to public servants and trustees and board members of NGOs, receiving government funds of more than Rs 1 crore or foreign funding of more than Rs 10 lakh, to declare their assets and those of their spouses.

Speaking on the bill, Minister for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh said the government had no intention to dilute the Lokpal bill.

"We have no intention to dilute or to deviate from the Lokpal bill. Government stands by Lokpal Act and is committed to implement it in letter and spirit," he said.

"The message should also not go out that members have joined together to get away from provision of stating their assets. It is also a fact under the Representation of People Act what we are declaring is much more than any other class or section of society," the minister said.

He added that the amendment is needed as the deadline for declaration was just two days away.

Congress leader Anand Sharma, participating in the short-duration debate on the bill, urged the government to fulfill the task of appointing Lokpal.

"This bill is being passed to have time to reach clarity and there is no intent to dilute the bill. It is important for the entire house to bear in mind this country has seen enough turbulence. There was agitation, there was demand and then this bill was brought. It is incumbent on the present government to complete the process and appoint Lokpal, so the purpose of law is achieved," Sharma said.

The Left parties refused to support the bill.

"The CPI-M and Left do not support the bill. Lokpal should be made more stringent," Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader T.K. Rangarajan said.

"Normally, the corrupt people put their money on (in the name of)their wife and their children. They have two-three wives... We cannot support all these corrupt people," he said.

The bill was later passed with voice vote.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The charge of the cow brigade

The cow rakshak syndrome needs to be analysed and exposed as a threat to Indian democracy

One of my friends, who is an anthropologist, argues that the middle class Indian does not need to be psychoanalysed on a couch. “A crowd,” he claims, “is a better method of analysing Indian repressions.” India’s politics of anxiety emerges more at the level of the crowd. “Crowds,” he adds, “are for negative democracy, the public for citizenship.” 

For him, the psychology of India unravels at two levels. The first is at the level of the family, and where violence is more patriarchal. The second is at the level of an imaginary Jajmani system — a socio-economic system more predominant in rural areas and of its interaction between the upper and the lower castes. In this caste bundle, there is constant shuffling which provides a sense of order and disorder. But the fact is that what looks like order at one level might be mayhem at the second level. For this he uses the example of the cow and the politics around it which are very much in the news. At the domestic level, the cow is a god and represents something sacred. Simultaneously, it is the embodiment of an agricultural way of life. The cow is Gau Mata representing man’s oneness with nature and is embodied in his totemic relation with the animal.
Now, a symbol of social fissures
But this domestic arrangement acquires political overtones. The nature of the symbol, the cow, changes and it soon comes to represent the worst in the caste system. The political battles around the cow soon become deep. Let me put it this way. The cow expresses the social tensions within an agricultural society that is turning urban in its ways. Here, local panchayats disrupt what is normal by becoming vigilantes. Ironically, the cow becomes a symptom of the deep fissures within a society. Brahmins, Muslims and Dalits are fast losing their moorings in agriculture and the cow becomes a source of violence. Ironically the cow, instead of representing the best of agricultural values, embodies the tension between a changing caste system and the ideals of a constitutional India.
As a result, we are soon inundated with images of and reports about social violence. In such moments of change, the Constitution becomes an empty document. Neither the rule of law nor law and order is maintained. Vigilante groups play kangaroo courts while the rest of the nation can only watch. It is this sociology of violence that we must confront. 

One thing is clear. The Government of India is blissfully deep in slumber as this process plays out. As victims protest the violence, the regime plays a game of being indifferent. I must add that I am not reporting one singular event but a cascade of events. As the urban social landscape flares up, one even begins wondering whether the much talked about smart cities of the future will have a civic place for the cow, even as imagination. Given the nature of Twitter and the Internet, every act soon goes viral. Events in even the remotest corners of the country soon become a global spectacle. They become a part of the ecology of everyday memory and are difficult to shrug off. 

It is not as if these “cow protection” groups protect the cow. They are not like the Jain goshalas where there is deep respect for animal life and cattle are given shelter. These groups see little connection between the cow and the future of agriculture. In fact, the cow, which is an icon, honoured in festivals, and considered as a totem, becomes a symbol that leads to irrational violence. The high caste Hindu, instead of seeking harmony between nature and culture in which the cow is cosmologically represented, now brutally disrupts both.
Minorities at the receiving end
Consider a typical scene that went viral. Four men were stripped, tied to a car and beaten by a high caste group. The brutality of the scene is stark. What added to the brutality was the piety of the gau rakshak pretending he was protecting the ideals of a fading society. Yet it is not as if the gau rakshak understands the Jajmani system or the political economy of a society where lower castes carry away carcasses, playing a scavenging role that keeps other castes pure. The four Dalits were taking away a dead cow to be skinned. This has been a part of tradition, yet the gau rakshak is illiterate about social functions. Worse, these vigilante groups obtain encouragement from the rhetoric of government spokespersons who announce elaborate plans for cow protection. Stopping illicit cattle trade between India and Bangladesh is understandable, but using this as a pretext to inflict atrocities on Dalits is not. 

Such atrocities have been recurring with impunity and Dalits are deeply frustrated. Some have even gone to the extent of ending their lives. 

In all this, one realises that vigilante-sponsored violence is not sporadic but involves organised networks. They even patrol highways looking out for trucks ferrying cows and then attack those in the vehicle, using weapons to mete out instant justice. In turn, the Centre remains silent, almost tacit in what it considers an informal validation of government policy. It is not sacred cows that the regime is protecting. What it is tacitly desacralising is the Constitution. The so-called rights of a cow are getting precedence over the rights of Dalits. The very sacred idea of a cow which seeks harmony between nature and culture now stands emasculated. It is here that fundamentalist movements get some of their energy from. It appears that the Modi government is operating on split levels, with one entity suggesting modern proposals for policy, while the other wants all of this to be anchored to a fundamentalism. It is this which makes the violence so overt. Oddly, the function of policing is being handed over to these groups and the regime sees them as arms that are helping to consolidate the ideology of the government.
A structure of violence
Let me look at another incident which happened last year where a 50-year-old man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son severely injured in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, allegedly by residents of Bisara village, after rumours spread in the area about the family storing and consuming beef. In fact, if one looks at the lynching of Akhlaq and the attack on the four Dalit men for skinning a cow, one sees similarities. There is a third incident I will look at. This time it is on a video that emerged in late June this year which showed volunteers of the Gau Raksha Dal forcing two “beef smugglers” to eat cow dung and drink cow urine. According to reports, their leader admitted that his group had forced the two Muslim men to eat cow dung on June 10. The man claimed that volunteers, acting on a tip-off, intercepted a vehicle transporting “700 kg of beef from Mewat to Delhi” on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway. He said the group chased the car for a few kilometres before stopping it near the Badarpur border. “When we caught them, they had 700 kg of beef in their car. We made them eat panchgavya, a concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee, in order to teach them a lesson and also to purify them,” the man said. Thus there seems to be adequate evidence of a new fundamentalist rule of law. The sad part is that the political Opposition, especially the Congress party, is reading all this as sporadic events rather than as an emerging structure of violence that does need to be confronted. 

We must understand that there is a style to the violence and its staging. In one way it is plain bully boy brutality, where brute majoritarianism seeks to make a point to some minority group, be it Dalit, Muslim or tribal and that “they must be taught a lesson”. Vigilante and policeman literally mirror each other even as the government appears to be instructing the victims to be restrained!
The unending sequence of probes being demanded matches the widening cycle of violence. It is almost as if it takes only one sacred cow to kill another —in this case, democracy. In all this, middle class India watches silently as it is overcome by “atrocity fatigue” and wants to get back to “aspiration and desire mode”. 

In the end, the Muslim and the Dalit are violated twice. Riots first displace the Muslim, and vigilante groups then forbid him from pursuing his occupation. In the case of the Dalit, he has to face never-ending atrocities. Thus in the roster of democracy, both Muslim and Dalit are less than equal. What needs to be exposed is the sanitised hypocrisy behind these acts of brutality. The cow rakshak syndrome needs to be analysed and exposed as a threat to Indian democracy.
Shiv Visvanathan is Professor at Jindal School of Law.

Menopause reversed, women could now stay fertile forever

Scientists have announced they can now reverse the menopause in what is thought to be a major scientific breakthrough.

Trials claim to have "rejuvenated" women's ovaries using a blood treatment normally used to help wounds heal faster, and have reversed menstrual cessation in multiple women, including a 40-year-old who underwent the menopause five years ago.

The research, undertaken by scientists in Athens, has been presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting in Finland, 'The New Scientist' reports.
The scientists used platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which triggers the growth of tissue and blood vessels and is thought to quicken the repair of damaged bones and muscles by stimulated tissue regeneration.

They injected PRP into the ovaries of women who had already undergone the menopause and say they found it restarted their menstrual cycles, causing them to experience periods again.
From these "restarted" periods, the researchers have been able to collect and fertilise eggs which the women have released, raising the possibility that they could be implanted in their uterus and the women could subsequently have children. However, the team have yet to implant any eggs to test the theory.

One woman who responded well to the treatment was 40-years-old and had undergone the menopause five years previously. Researcher Konstantinos Sfakianoudis told 'The New Scientist': "It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material. It seems to work in about two-thirds of cases. We see changes in biochemical patterns, a restoration of menses, and egg recruitment and fertilisation."

He added: "We need larger studies before we can know for sure how effective the treatment is."
The menopause typically occurs naturally in women between 45 and 55 years of age when their periods start to become less frequent over a few months, before stopping altogether. The process can often be accompanied by a number of symptoms including hot flushes, difficulty in sleeping and vaginal dryness, as well as low mood and anxiety. Menopause can occur at a much earlier age for many women, often triggered by chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments. the independent

Daylight robbery: Private hospitals prescribing medicines worth Rs 15,200 despite a Rs 800 alternative being available

Private hospitals are making a killing by buying medicines and devices in bulk at huge discounts and selling them to patients at the marked maximum retail price — accounting for 15-35% of their profits. Patients, as a captive market, have little choice but to bear the inflated costs.

Take the example of Shalini Pahwa, diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a kind of cancer. She was given an injection, Novartis's Zometa, that costs Rs 15,200 per shot, every three to four weeks for over two years in a top private hospital in Gurgaon. On a work trip to Bangalore, she got the injection at a hospital there for just Rs 4,000. When she confronted the Gurgaon hospital about this huge cost difference, it readily offered her a cheaper option — Cipla's Zoldria for Rs 2,800.

"Why didn't they tell me earlier of the cheaper option? Why do I have to bargain like in a mandi? Now I go to a different hospital and get the same injection, Zoldonat, manufactured by Natco, for just Rs 800 and I feel just fine," says Pahwa.

A haematologist, who didn't wish to be named, explains the more expensive choices thus: "Some doctors feel safer giving the medicine of the originator company as they feel there will be better quality control. And some people feel if it's cheap it can't be good enough. But generics, especially by good companies, are as good as originator drugs. It's better to give patients a choice."

But quality issues may not be the only reason why a hospital chooses to push the more expensive option. Zometa is sold to stockists for just Rs 13,000, according to an industry insider. At that rate, the hospital would make a profit of Rs 2,200. Clearly, the Rs 2,800 injection could not yield that huge a margin.

Take the case of a broad-spectrum antibiotic, meropenem, used particularly in ICUs for patients with serious infections. Cipla's brand Merocrit is sold for Rs 2,965 per gram by a top hospital. The adult dose is about 1-2g every eight hours for about 10 days. That's about Rs 90,000 to Rs 1.8 lakh on just one antibiotic. Merocrit is sold to hospitals for anything between Rs 700-900 per gram. So the hospital makes anything between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1.4 lakh on just one patient by pocketing the discount.

Interestingly, other brands of meropenem are much cheaper in many not-so-high-end hospitals. "The MRP per gram of meropenem manufactured by Zuventus is Rs 698 and by Lupin, Rs 988. The hospital buying price for the Lupin brand Merotrol is Rs 600. When the patient is charged the MRP, the hospital makes Rs 400 per gram or Rs 12,000 to Rs 24,000 per patient over 10 days on one antibiotic even in a not-so-expensive hospital," explains a veteran doctor who wishes to remain anonymous.

It's not just medicines, hospitals charge MRP on every consumable — from syringes and catheters to bandages and diapers — though they buy them at huge discounts. To protect this revenue stream, patients are not allowed to buy anything from outside the hospital, ostensibly to ensure quality.

"We give hugely discounted rates. It is not our fault that hospitals choose not to pass on the discount to patients," argues a company's sales official who didn't wish to be named.

However, that leaves one question unanswered — why hospital MRPs are so much higher than actual selling prices? Doctors point out that the huge MRP enables companies to attract hospitals with the prospect of high margins. "Pharmaceuticals or devices and diagnostics are two major revenue earners for any private hospital. Besides, as a private venture, we also have to ensure healthy profits for the investors or owners," points out a hospital administrator.

Public hospitals, in contrast, can not only get drugs and devices at even steeper discounts — the government buys in bulk — they have no compulsion either to earn ever higher profit margins. Yet, the failure of governments to boost public health infrastructure in keeping with rising demand has pushed patients to the private sector. And for many, this means impoverishment.

A Dalit woman gets back her job because of intervention of a magistrate.

IAS officer reinstates 36-year-old widow, a Dalit cook, who was dismissed by Principal

To be a Dalit and a widow could be disastrous. For 36-year-old Urmila Devi, who lost her husband a couple of years ago, the combination led to dismissal from her job as a government school cook in Bihar’s Aurangabad district.
Her story has a happy ending, however, and a young IAS officer got her reinstated just 12 hours after she narrated her story to him.
He then had a meal that she cooked, in the same school, along with the students.
Kanwal Tanuj, the District Magistrate, listened to Ms. Devi’s story on Monday evening. She had been dismissed from her job by the principal ‘for being a Dalit widow.’
The principal, Shiv Govind Prasad, had given her job to Ramkeval Yadav.
Mr. Tanuj decided to verify the incident the very next day and made the 45-km trip to Batura Middle School in Rafiganj block. During the visit, he found many discrepancies in the registers. The principal, who could not answer his queries, was suspended.
The officer of the 2010 batch ordered Education Department officials to reinstate Ms. Devi and requested her to cook food in the school kitchen as she used to.
Soon, the magistrate was sitting cross-legged on the verandah and relishing the meal with students, even as awestruck villagers watched.
“It was a natural reaction from a human being and not an IAS officer to act upon the complaint of a Dalit widow. I did what my conscience told me to,” Mr. Tanuj told The Hindu.
The principal said he was being falsely implicated in a two-year-old case due to a “conspiracy.”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

SWITZERLAND’S NOT PLAYING GAMES With Muslim Immigrants: “If you reject our culture, we will reject your application for citizenship

Assimilate or go home…
In the latest move to deny citizenship to anyone who chooses not to assimilate with Swiss culture, authorities have rejected the naturalization application of two Muslim girls who refused to take required swimming lessons at school because boys would be present in the pool.
The girls, ages 12 and 14, who live in the northern city of Basel, had applied for Swiss citizenship several months ago, but their request was denied, Swiss media reported Tuesday.
The girls, whose names were not disclosed, said their religion prevents them from participating in compulsory swimming lessons with males in the pool at the same time. Their naturalization application was rejected because the sisters did not comply with the school curriculum, Basel authorities said.
“Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalized,” Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalization committee, told TV station SRF on Tuesday.
The case shows how those who don’t follow Swiss rules and customs won’t become citizens, even if they have lived in the country for a long time, are fluent in one of the national languages — German, French or Italian — and are gainfully employed.
In April, members of an immigrant family in the Basel area were denied citizenship because they wore sweatpants around town and did not greet passersby — a sure sign that they were not sufficiently assimilated, the naturalization board claimed.
Another recent case sparked widespread outrage in Switzerland when two Muslim brothers refused to shake hands with their female teacher, also citing religious restrictions. Shaking hands with a teacher is a common practice in Swiss schools.
After that incident was widely publicized, authorities suspended the naturalization request from the boys’ father, an imam at the Basel mosque.
The swimming case involving the two girls is the first to deny naturalization applications for not complying with a school program, setting precedence for future cases, Wehrle said.
This is not the first time Switzerland’s Muslim community has stirred controversy over swimming lessons. In 2012, a family was fined $1,500 for forbidding their daughters to participate in swimming classes.
The matter eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which ruled that no dispensations from swimming lessons should be made on religious grounds.

In Switzerland, unlike in the United States and many other countries, integration into society is more important for naturalization than knowledge of national history or politics. Candidates for citizenship must prove that they are well assimilated in their communities and respect local customs and traditions. – DC Watchdog  Via: Shoebat

Friday, July 22, 2016

Don’t take pills with juice, stick to water: IMA

New Delhi: Washing down pills with juice, particularly of citrus fruits, makes the medicine less effective, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has warned.

In a recent advisory, the medical body says juices have been shown to affect the absorption of drugs, particularly those prescribed for chronic medical conditions such as hypertension or heart disease, and one should have these pills only with water.

"Orange and apple juices have been shown to lower the absorption of certain drugs, thus compromising their effectiveness. On the other hand, grapefruit juice increases the absorption of some drugs. This can turn normal doses into toxic ones," said Dr K K Aggarwal, secretary general of IMA, citing a study by the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in its consumer health information, also details why grapefruit should not be taken with medicines.

"Some medicines, like statins prescribed to lower cholesterol, are broken down in the body (metabolized) by proteins called enzymes in our small intestine. Grapefruit juice can block the work of enzymes, increasing the amount of medicine absorbed by the body and risking an overdose," says the FDA bulletin.

It adds, "Other medicines, like Allegra (fexofenadine) used for treating allergies, are moved into the body's cells with the help of proteins called transporters. Grapefruit juice can block the work of transporters, decreasing the amount of medicine absorbed by the body and reducing the medicine's effectiveness."

According to Dr S K Sarin, director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), fruit juices, particularly citrus ones, can affect absorption in two ways. One, by the changing the blood PH —acidity or alkalinity of blood—and, two, by breaking the coating of the pills.

"In India, there is not much research on the harmful effect of taking medicines with fruit juices. But we generally advise patients to have them with water, unless specified otherwise," he said.

Medical experts also point out how prescription rules are barely adhered to and pharmacists, a key link between the doctor and the patient, are mostly unaware about how medicines should be taken.

"In developed countries, the pharmacist guides patients on how to take medicines and whether to have a certain medication with juice or not. But in India few care about such details, leading to poor efficacy of the drug regimen," said Dr Randhir Sud, chairman, Medanta Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences.

In India, only about 20%-30% of doctors write out a detailed prescription, said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman Fortis C-Doc, "Time of meal, time of day and how to take medicines are important details for any prescription. Any mistake or miscommunication can lead to side-effects. For example, aspirin should be taken after meals to decrease its side effects on the stomach. Milk and calcium should not be given with iron, as its absorption will be less," he said.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


It is reported by the media today that Modi Govt. is hatching a new and big plan to overhaul the Medical Council of India (MCI) by stripping their supreme healthcare regulatory authority (as per the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956)and to replace it with a different independent body for better efficiency and to avoid conflict of interests (see below). This would be a hugely positive change the way it has been painted by the government but will it? Or is it another familiar story of putting the old wine in a new bottle?
Since the BJP-led Modi government came to power, there has been little or no evidence that they are eager to cleanse the long-standing rot inside the MCI and entire healthcare delivery system except perhaps the recent introduction of the 3-member Oversight Committee to look into the function of the MCI. But Modi government had nothing to do with the Oversight Committee as it was formed at the specific direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court – last hope for justice for the millions of hapless patients in India. In fact, like the previous Congress-led government, corruption has continued to thrive in medical education and healthcare delivery system during the tenure of the Modi government. Despite PBT’s repeated appeals and lawsuits (PILs) against the MCI and Health Ministry, disgraced and criminally-indicted ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, is still pulling all the strings inside the MCI. Government has remained a silent spectator as Dr. Desai is promoted to the prestigious post of the president-elect for the World Medical Association (WMA) by top medical leaders in the MCI and IMA despite Dr. Desai’s medical registration remains suspended since his arrest by the CBI in 2010. We have seen no real action against any of the corrupt members in the healthcare system by the present government. We hope that the proposed change to dismantle the corrupt MCI is done without any sinister motive by the government only to save the vulnerable patients and not to hoodwink the ordinary people of India.

‘Is the RBI independent? I don’t have a binary answer’

It’s now official. What was always suspected and speculated upon — pressure on the Reserve Bank of India to suborn itself to the government’s wishes— has been confirmed by former Governor Duvvuri Subbarao in his tell-all book Who moved my interest rate?, which was released today.
Such pressure is not always subtle, sometimes it can be overt and there is a price to pay for standing your ground as Governor. That’s the takeaway from the numerous anecdotes given by Subbaro in his book.
Subbarao’s tenure coincided with the terms of two formidable gentlemen at the Finance Ministry’s helm — P. Chidambaram, who appointed him, and Pranab Mukherjee — consummate politicians with their ears to the ground. The run-ins were many between Subbarao and the two Finance Ministers he served but the underlying causes were always the same — tailoring monetary policy to suit government needs and chipping away on the perceived autonomy of the RBI.
First confrontation

“Is the Reserve Bank independent? I don’t have a binary answer to this question,” says Subbarao. His first skirmish with North Block was within a month of his assuming office when he was in the midst of battling fires set off by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Chidambaram suo motu set up a committee on liquidity management with Finance Secretary Arun Ramanathan as the chairman. The RBI was asked to nominate a representative on the committee.
“I was annoyed and upset by this decision. Chidambaram had clearly overstepped into RBI turf… I called up Chidambaram and let him know in unequivocal terms that his action was totally inappropriate, and requested firmly that he dissolve the committee,” says Subbarao. For good measure he told the Finance Minister that the RBI would not participate in the committee. This skirmish set the tone for an uneasy relationship between the two towards the later part of Subbarao’s term.
This irony in this run-in was that Chidambaram was the one who pushed Subbarao’s candidature with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Subbarao was seen as a government lackey sent to the RBI to do its bidding.
Differences on monetary policy

Subbarao may well have been describing the present state of the relationship between the Raghuram Rajan-led RBI and the Modi government when he says, “There was constant and decidedly unhelpful friction between the ministry of finance, under both Pranab Mukherjee and later Chidambaram, and the Reserve Bank on what the government saw as the Reserve Bank’s unduly hawkish stance on interest rates, totally unmindful of growth concerns.”
He says that his attempts to argue with the government that the RBI was running a tight monetary policy only because it cared for growth cut no ice. “…the government remained unpersuaded or chose to be unpersuaded.”
It was not just policy rate that was the bone of contention, the growth estimate that the RBI would put out was a point of disagreement too. The government’s pet peeve was that the Reserve Bank was being too cynical in its forecasts. It wanted the central bank to share responsibility with the government for ‘shoring up sentiment’. “I used to take a consistent and firm position that the Reserve Bank cannot deviate from its best professional judgment just to doctor public sentiment,” says Subbarao.
He quotes former Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram as saying that “whereas everywhere else in the world, governments and central banks are cooperating, here in India the Reserve Bank is being very recalcitrant’. The large fiscal deficit run by the government and the RBI’s view on it was also a constant source of friction. It as one of the prime drivers of inflation and undermined the RBI’s war on inflation. Interestingly, it was not just Pranab Mukherjee who was irritated with the RBI for this but also Manmohan Singh. “He understood the economic logic but always seemed uncomfortable with the Reserve Bank pointing to it…. In early 2012, he told Rangarajan, the chairman of his Economic Advisory Council to convey to me that he did not expect Subbarao, ‘who was finance secretary in the government and understood its political compulsions’ to take such a strident stand,” Subbarao writes.
Rupee crisis

The former Governor has devoted an entire chapter to explain and defend his actions during the ‘taper tantrum’ run on the rupee, calling it his ‘toughest challenge’. Subbarao writes that he found it difficult to accept that the government was trying to paint the rupee problem as caused entirely by external factors when the root causes lay in the domestic economy. He says that he was concerned that failure to acknowledge this would lead to the wrong remedy. “I had several conversations with Chidambaram on this, but found him always dismissive of this view. He is too intelligent not to have seen the point…”
Subbarao also appears hurt by criticism that during this period, communication from him and the RBI lacked credibility and failed to bolster market confidence. “How indeed should the governor have spoken about the rupee? There were some suggestions that the Reserve Bank should have been much more assertive, more ‘alpha male’…. But what or who exactly is an alpha male?” he asks. In the same breath however, the former Governor concedes that he could have been more confident, consistent and tactful.
Subbarao is gracious to acknowledge the inputs he got from then governor-designate Raghuram Rajan in handling the rupee crisis. “… Raghu was on board all through the exchange rate turmoil and was more actively involved in all the decisions after he was named in early August as my successor.”
The decision to shore up reserves through rupee-dollar swaps with banks, for which Raghuram Rajan is now being criticised, was, it turns out, a joint decision between him and Subbarao. “Raghu was kind enough to offer that I announce these measures before signing off. But I thought that the measures would be more effective if he announced them as the incoming governor,” writes Subbarao.
RBI autonomy

“I have been asked several times if there was pressure from the government on setting interest rates. There certainly was though the precise psychological mechanics would vary depending on the context, setting and the personalities,” discloses Subbarao. He takes on Chidambaram over a column written by the latter in August last year where he says that on 8 out of 10 occasions, the government and RBI have been on the same page. “The ballpark average he cites may be his experience, but it certainly does not accord with mine,” is Subbarao’s caustic response.
He says that the government would “routinely trot out” that a policy rate cut was necessary to buoy investor sentiment. “The logic of why the Reserve Bank should compromise its judgment so as to become a cheerleader for the economy never appealed to me.”
Price to pay

Subbarao says that the price he paid for standing up to the government was that his recommendations in the reappointment of deputy governors were ignored. “A healthy convention should be to defer to the governor’s recommendation on the appointment of deputy governors. That privilege was denied to me.”
Thus, Usha Thorat was denied an extension of her term though she was eligible for reappointment as per the government’s own rules. Incidentally, there is a parallel to the present in this episode too. The government deviated from standard practice by constituting a selection committee to choose Thorat’s successor without informing the governor. Something similar played out recently when the present government did the same with Raghuram Rajan in the mater of filling a vacancy in the Deputy Governor’s post.
If Pranab Mukherjee was the main actor then, Chidambaram did an encore later in 2012 when he kept Subir Gokarn and Subbarao in suspense until the eleventh hour on December 31 when Gokarn’s term was ending, before conveying that he was not being reappointed. Subbarao sees these as slights to him for standing up to the government.
Another reason to prove that the BJP and Congress are two sides of the same coin.
While Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee mad life hell for Subba Rao, Arun Jaitley and Subramanium Swami made life intolerable for Raghuram Rajan. 
Modi has too much finesse to do the dirty job himself. 
He prefers to keep quiet unless he is abroad.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A study in Contrast - Compare USA to India

Indian-American couple ordered to pay $7.75 million for healthcare fraud

WASHINGTON: An Indian-American couple, who owned a mobile diagnostic testing company in New Jersey, has been ordered by a US court to pay USD 7.75 million for committing a multi-million health care fraud.

Kirtish N Patel and Nita K Patel, both aged 53, had earlier pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud.

The government's civil complaint had alleged that they created fraudulent diagnostic test reports, forged physician signatures on these reports and then billed Medicare for the fraudulent reports.

They also billed Medicare for neurological tests that they conducted without the required physician supervision, the Justice Department said.

The lawsuit was filed under whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.

The False Claims Act also permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, as it has done in this case.

The whistleblower who brought the misconduct to the government's attention will receive 15 to 25 per cent of the more than USD 7.7 million recovered by the government.

According to the documents filed in the case and statements made in the court from 2006 through June 2014, Nita and Kirtish owned and operated Biosound Medical Services Inc and Heart Solutions in New Jersey, which were mobile diagnostic companies and approved medicare providers.

As per court documents, Biosound technicians would travel to the office of a primary care physician in the New York and New Jersey area to conduct diagnostic testing.

Biosound was responsible for sending the tests to a reading physician, an appropriate specialist who would interpret the results.

"After the reading physician prepared a report, Biosound was responsible for providing it to the referring physician.

Biosound was paid millions of dollars by Medicare and other payors for the diagnostic testing, the reading physician's interpretation of the results and the reports, the prosecutors said.

Kirtish admitted to fraudulently interpreting and writing diagnostic reports produced by Biosound despite having no medical license and knowing that the reports would be used by the referring physicians to make important patient treatment decisions.

Nita assisted her husband in forging physician signatures on the fraudulently produced reports to make them appear legitimate.

The couple admitted falsely representing to Medicare that the neurological testing performed by Biosound was being supervised by a licensed neurologist, the Justice Department said.

According to reports, more than half of the diagnostic reports generated by Biosound between October 2008 and June 2014 were never actually reviewed or interpreted by a physician.

Nita and Kirtish were paid more than USD 4,386,133.75 by Medicare and private insurance companies for the fraudulent reports, which they used for personal expenses, including multiple residences and luxury vehicles, it said

Kidney racket busted in Mumbai hospital, 4 arrested

MUMBAI: Mumbai police arrested four persons in connection with a kidney racket busted at Hiranandani hospital today. Acting on a tip-off, the police team carried out a raid and caught the agent identified as Vijendra Visen and three others.

The hospital staff and the management officials are being questioned. Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti confirmed to TOI about the racket bust and said probe is still on.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone X) Vinayak Deshmukh said the police team inspected the hospital on a complaint by a social worker Mahesh Tanna.

"On certain reliable information we approached Hiranandani hospital and informed the authority that the kidney transplant operation of the patient Brijkishor Jaiswal be stopped as the donor is not his wife and documents submitted for kidney transfer are forged," said Deshmukh. Deshmukh said accordingly the operation was stopped.

Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe said a case has been registered and four persons taken into custody.

TOI attempted to speak with the hospital doctors and management staff but in vain.

The above is from
I have put the above articles together to present a study in contrast.
In the USA, the Indian couple (ironically) have been convicted and made to pay a fine of $ 7.75 million.
In India, a similar kidney racket has been uncovered but after a time all will be forgotten as bribe will change hands.
In the USA, the whistle blower will be rewarded by being paid 15 to 25% of the collection.
In India, the whistle blower will lose his life.
A convicted doctor will merrily go on as we have seen in the case of Ketan Desai.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Govt. faces Opposition fury on Arunachal

Parties plan to raise the issue in Parliament.

Saluting the Supreme Court verdict ordering the restoration of its government in Arunachal Pradesh, a jubilant Congress said it will raise the “unconstitutional” dismissal of the Nabam Tuki government in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament.
The party also demanded the immediate sacking of Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, explanations from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and an investigation into a tape-recorded conversation between some BJP leaders and a businessman that was handed over to the court as proof of the conspiracy behind the toppling of the government.
The taped conversation, party spokesperson Kapil Sibal alleged, “points a needle of suspicion” towards the Prime Minister of India and the Home Minister.
Joining the Congress on Wednesday in condemning the Centre’s “unconstitutional” dismissal of a democratically elected government were other opposition parties. They included the Left parties, the Janata Dal-United, the Biju Janata Dal, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the National Conference.
For the Congress, it is the second time this year that the court has ruled in its favour in the matter of dismissal of its State governments. The first was Uttarakhand, where a Congress government returned to power after a court ordered floor test.
‘Governor should quit’
“We want the Governor to submit his resignation immediately and if he does not do so, we will ask for him to be dismissed,” Mr. Sibal said, also demanding an apology from Union Ministers who were involved in the decision to impose President’s Rule in the State.
This Supreme Court decision, Mr. Sibal said, “is historic in every sense of the word, because never before in the history of this country has the Supreme Court restored the status quo ante, having struck down actions of Constitutional authorities who used unconstitutional means to bring down governments”.
Meanwhile, BJD chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Tathagata Satpathy told The Hindu: “We shall certainly be raising the issue, not as an anti-BJP or pro-Congress measure, but to highlight the fact that the Centre has been trying to strong-arm democratically elected governments out of power and that this should stop.”Mayawati’s demand
BSP supremo Mayawati said the Centre should “take lessons from the apex court’s verdict and try to walk the path as per the correct intentions of the Constitution.”
JD(U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said the Supreme Court decision “has exposed the Central government’s move to impose its own party rule by crushing an elected government”.
“The Centre should take action against those responsible for the continuous transgressions of the Constitutional structure in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, adding the issue would be taken up in Parliament.
CPI national secretary D. Raja described the verdict as a “tight slap” on the government’s face after the Uttarakhand episode and said the verdict was a victory of “Constitution and democracy.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the BJP-led Centre of “subverting” the Constitution and attempting to impose “dictatorship” in the country.
The BJP with just a slender majority under Atal Behari Vajpayee   had been able to achieve much more than it has been able to do under Modi with his steam rolling majority.
Why? The above explains the reason. 
Modi thinks he can get anything done under force and therefore fails. Vajpayee was more accommodating and did not rub the opposition the wrong way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Modi fails Kenya students

                                                    Modi interacts with students at the University of Nairobi on Monday. (PTI)
By Charu Sudan Kasturi
Nairobi, July 11: Paul Odoyo had a question for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was a question he never got to ask.
Odoyo was among 1000 students and faculty members at the University of Nairobi who on Monday queued up for three hours to listen to Modi address them at the lush green campus of Kenya's top varsity.
An undergraduate engineering student, Odoyo wanted to know from Modi whether India was safe enough for him and his friends to pursue postgraduate studies there. He had heard about the series of attacks African students have faced in recent months across Indian cities that had triggered an unprecedented diplomatic protest from African nations.
"It's a very, very important issue for us students," Odoyo told this newspaper, as his friends, standing in a circle, nodded. "But will he (Modi) answer? Will he even refer to our concern?"
Modi did not.
Over a 40 minute address that was his first to an African public audience, the Prime Minister steered clear of even oblique references to concerns over the security of African students in India following a spate of attacks in recent months. He did not take questions - the master of ceremonies cited the paucity of time.
In May, a 29-year-old Congolese student and teacher Masonda Ketanda Olivier was bludgeoned to death in New Delhi over a dispute on hiring an auto-rickshaw, prompting African envoys to threaten a boycott a government event. A week later, locals in a South Delhi village thrashed at least half a dozen African students and young professionals.
"You are the pride of this land and represent the Africa of tomorrow," Modi told the university students, the closest he can to assuring them of his respect and support. "I bring to you the warm welcome of 800 million youth of India."
Modi had not spoken at all about the attacks in their immediate aftermath.
But student after student who The Telegraph spoke with before Modi's address said they wanted the Indian PM to reassure them about the safety of Africans, especially students, in India, as he visited the University of Nairobi. This was, after all, his first opportunity to directly address African students, at the fag end of a four-nation tour of the continent where Modi had till then only spoken to government officials, businessmen and the Indian diaspora.
"We want him to address this issue wide and far," 22-year-old Clinton Bill, an undergraduate food science student named after the former US President - which the order of his names inter changed - said. "It shouldn't matter if you are kaala (black) or white, we're students, we're humans, and we deserve that much."
Ismail Odhiambo, 23, a veterinary science student in the audience said the attacks on Africans in India had shaken students at the University of Nairobi who were keen on travelling to India for further studies.
"This is the major issue we want him to address," Odhiambo said.
Dennis Tomoina, an agriculture sciences student, also 22, said Modi needed to "reassure" students that the incidents of the past few months would "never be allowed again".
"I know that Indian ministers have made commitments, but why is the PM silent?" Tomoina asked. "When the leader of a country makes a commitment, it percolates down all the way. When he stays silent, you don't know what to think."
Modi, who garlanded a 60-year-old statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the university campus before he spoke to the students, referred to the diversity of Kenya and India.
"It is the very essence of modern India," he said.
He also drew loud cheers when he cited a Swahili proverb to highlight the importance of education. "Money, on using, ends. Learning, on sharing, grows," he then said, translating the proverb to claps.
But the cheers were more polite than rapturous when he finished. To at least some students, the master orator had not quite delivered.
"He's a politician, and politicians know how to talk well in general terms," Odoyo said. "But he could have addressed our specific concerns with specific solutions. That's what we had expected from him."

It is not only I but the students of Kenya who have started doubting Modi.
Another thing to be marked is in the photograph above, all the students in front of Modi are white. 
Where have the African students gone?
Were they not allowed to come in front?
Has Modi again imported students from Gujarat to shout "Modi !", "Modi !".

Monday, July 11, 2016

Helmets for kid riders on table

New Delhi, July 10: The Centre has decided to make helmets mandatory for children above four years riding pillion on motorbikes, amending the Motor Vehicles Act that is now vague on helmet rules for those below 12 years.

The amendments are likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, which starts on July 18, officials at the Union road transport and highways ministry said. The draft of the amendments has been circulated among the other ministries for their views.
A senior official said the ministry had formed an experts' committee to suggest a design for light helmets suitable for children.

"A detailed analysis has shown that about 34 children are killed every day in road crashes. We are seeking ways to curb this alarmingly high number," the official said.
Nearly five lakh accidents occurred last year, killing around 1.46 lakh people. Of them, some 12,500 were aged under 17 and were killed mostly in two-wheeler accidents.
"Once the amendment is passed by Parliament, police can prosecute two-wheeler drivers who carry minor passengers without helmets," the official said.

Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act now "empowers the state government to prescribe protective headgear to be worn by the driver or pillion rider of motorcycles, other than a person who is a Sikh wearing a turban, and to make such exemption as the state government thinks fit".

Most states have made it mandatory for women riders to wear helmets too but are silent on children riding pillion, road safety experts said.
Harman Sidhu of ArriveSafe Foundation, an NGO that advocates safe practices on roads, welcomed the move.
"One often sees teenagers riding two-wheelers at high speeds without helmets. Even their parents don't bother," he said.
"Sometimes, children without helmets are made to travel standing or sitting in front of the two-wheeler rider. Often, they ride pillion clinging to the adult. Such practices can lead to grievous injuries and deaths."

Calcutta police have been enforcing a new rule since Friday under which a motorcyclist without a helmet, or one with a pillion rider not wearing the headgear, is barred from buying fuel at petrol stations. Sources said the rule was not, however, being strictly followed in the case of helmet-less child pillion riders.

Sidhu said that many countries had made it mandatory for child pillion riders to wear helmets.
"Some western countries like the United Kingdom have made it mandatory for all passengers to wear helmets, while some others have introduced age limits," Sidhu said.
"Even riding a bicycle without a helmet is punishable in some countries."
In Australia and some states in America and Canada, adult bikers are punished for carrying helmet-less minors on the pillion.

Our government likes to joke.
Here even the exisitng law requiring all two wheeler drivers (Motor cycle, scooter and scooty) to wear helmets is not  imposed strictly. Rather no law is imposed strictly. If you have political backing you can get away with murder but otherwise you can get away with bribing he police. In such an environment expecting the four year old to wear a helmet is just a way to make the police earn bribe money for traffic violations by the minor and indirectly fund politicians.
In the USA even cyclists are expected to wear helmets.
The occupants of the rear seat in a car are expected to wear seat belts.
Illinois residents and visitors must keep their children properly secured in a vehicle when driving throughout the state. Illinois' Child Passenger Protection Act requires that all children under the age of 8 travel in an appropriate approved child restraint system while older children must use a seat belt at all times. A fine may be assessed to parents who fail to adhere to the law.