Saturday, October 22, 2016


In a shocking development exposing the pervasive nature of medical corruption beyond India, disgraced ex-Medical Council of India (MCI) president, Dr. Ketan Desai, was selected as the new WMA president yesterday (see news below). 
Dr. Desai was caught red-handed for taking huge bribe from a private medical college (when he was still MCI president) in a sting operation by the CBI in April, 2010. After spending more than 6 months in jail, Dr. Desai was released on bail as his medical license was also suspended for indefinite period by the MCI after PBT president, 
Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged a complaint for “professional misconduct” under the provisions of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002. While Dr. Desai is still waiting for his criminal trial to begin and his medical registration remains suspended, he and his medical cronies in the MCI and IMA managed to make him president of the largest international medical organization using their political influence and evil power of corruption.
While imposing an indefinite suspension of Dr. Desai’s license, members of the newly formed MCI in 2010 (after MCI was dissolved and all members of Desai’s MCI were removed under mounting public pressure following Desai’s arrest) also directed that Dr. Desai is debarred from representing any medical group or association. With a sinister motive to repair Desai’s grossly tainted public image and to influence the outcome of his criminal prosecution, senior members of MCI/IMA including Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Sudipto Roy, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal (all IMA and MCI Ethics Committee members) and long-term Desai supporter and newly elected IMA president, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, went before the WMA and made a false claim that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority based on which WMA decided to make Dr. Desai president of the world medical body in the most blatant and corrupt manner. Even the MCI Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) categorically found that the senior MCI/IMA members lied before the WMA to help Dr. Desai and directed the health department to take disciplinary measures against these sitting members of MCI/IMA in a scathing report in October, 2014 (see below). 
Almost two years have passed, MCI and Health Ministry have remained in a deep slumber and refused to take any steps to stop the biggest medical mafia of Indian medicine and a criminally-indicted Dr. Ketan Desai from assuming the prestigious post of WMA president. 
PBT has sent a legal notice to the MCI president and a well-known Ketan Desai crony, Dr. Jayshree Mehta, asking her to take immediate measures, as directed by the MCI in their order of Dr. Desai’s license suspension of 2010, to remove Dr. Desai from this unlawfully acquired post of WMA president. If the MCI and Health Ministry fail to take any action, PBT will move the appropriate court of law to bring an end to this sheer atrocity that has shaken the core of Indian and world medical community.

A Small Thought Experiment on Made in China

In the recent past there have been calls for boycotting Chinese goods. The question is: Whether this can be executed? Or to put it more specifically, whether it can be executed by a middle class Indian? 

Consider my personal situation. I am writing this column on a Lenovo laptop, which is Made in China. 

The Kindle book reader which I use to refer to many books that I quote in my regular columns, was assembled in China. 

My internet connection is provided by Reliance 4G Wi-Pod. The device has been made by the ZTE Corporation, which is based out of Shenzhen in China. 

I use the Moto g4 PLUS mobile phone, which is Made in China. 

I own the most basic model of a Hewlett Packard printer, which is Made in China. 

I own a Toshiba television, which also happens to be Made in China. 

This shouldn't be so surprising. In 2015-2016, 36.6 per cent of Indian imports from China constituted of electronic products. Engineering goods came in second at 28.9 per cent and chemicals came in third at 18.4 per cent. 

So, basically if we want to hurt China, then these are the goods which we should not be importing from them. In total, they formed close to 84 per cent of Indian imports from China. 

So far so good. 

How realistic is this? Here's a thought experiment I did in order to figure this out. So let's say you want to go out somewhere. You decide to call an Ola or an Uber taxi. There is a very good chance that you do this using a Made in China phone. In 2015-2016, 16.3 per cent of Indian imports from China were telecom instruments. 

Even if you manage to avoid that, chances are that some component of the phone would be Made in China. You have no way of knowing. Why do I say this? This is primarily because MNCs these days manufacture products using global supply chains. 

As the World Trade Report for 2013 points out: "A central feature of this... age of globalisation is the rise of multinational corporations and the explosion of foreign direct investment (FDI)... Upwards of two-thirds of world trade now takes place within multinational companies or their suppliers - underlining the growing importance of global supply chains." This is something that India has clearly missed out on due to a whole host of reasons, which are beyond the scope of this column. 

Further, the battery of the phone used to call the taxi, is charged through electricity. Chances are the electricity that you are using has been produced using equipment imported from China, using loans provided by the Chinese banks. Electrical machinery formed 4.4 per cent of Indian imports from China in 2015-2016. 

You avoid thinking about this rather esoteric point and get back to calling for the cab. You need to go out after all. And in order to do that, you need to call an Ola or an Uber taxi. If you call Ola, you need to know that Ola is in alliance with Didi Chuxing, a Chinese taxi-company. They have entered into a non-compete clause. If you call Uber you are going to use Paytm to pay the taxi driver. The Chinese company Alibaba is the major investor in Paytm. So that rules out paying electronically. 

So you need cash. You go to withdraw cash from an ATM. Chances are the ATM will be in Made in China. So what do you do now? You go to a bank branch and withdraw money. Chances are the computer used by the teller to give you cash is also Made in China. So what do you do? You think chuck it, let's not go out anywhere because we don't want to encourage Made in China. Let's order a Pizza. Ah, a perfectly American Pizza. Uncle Sam can have my money but I am not going to give it to China. 

What do you think Uncle Sam will do with that money? Order goods from China. 

But that is a second-order effect. So you ignore that and curse that MBA degree that makes you think so much. 

Nevertheless, Pizza has cheese. And cheese is made from milk. In 2015-2016, industrial machinery for dairies formed 4.7 per cent of Indian imports from China. Oh then, it's quite possible that cheese also has Made in China inputs. 

What is a Pizza without cheese? But you compromise and decide to go get Pizza bases from the market and make one for yourself at home with tomato ketchup. 

Wait, wait, wait! What is a Pizza base made of? Wheat. And farmers use a lot of fertilizer to grow wheat and other food grains. In 2015-2016, fertilizers formed 5.25 per cent of Indian imports from China. 

India is dependent on imports in the case of phosphatic and potassic fertilizers. As far as phosphatic fertilizers are concerned, almost 90 per cent of it is imported. With no known commercially exploitable source of potash in India, the country is totally dependent on imports for potassic fertilizers. 

You decide not to think so much and just to order and eat the Pizza. After eating the Pizza you feel a little queasy. You decide to pop a tablet. Wait, wait, wait. Medicinal and pharmaceuticals formed 3.8 per cent of Indian imports from China in 2015-2016. Bulk drugs and formulations formed a major part of this. In 2015-2016, bulk drugs and formulations formed around 3.7 per cent of Indian imports from China. 

So chances are that the drugs that have gone into the making of the tablet have been imported from China. Even if they haven't, there is no way for you to figure out. 

How do we go we genuinely go about avoiding Made in China? Let's say we boycott Chinese brands. You don't buy a Moto G phone but an Apple iPhone. While iPhones are also assembled in China, a large part of the money will go to Apple, which basically seems like an American company. 

Interesting. But the moment you buy Apple, you pay more. This leaves you with lesser money to buy everything else and in the process Indian manufacturers lose out. 

Hence, Apple is not worth the trouble. 

Okay, so you buy a Samsung phone. Samsung is a Korean brand. But they also make stuff in China. If more and more people buy Samsung phones (and not Moto G) that in turn will also benefit Chinese companies. What they lose out on Moto G they will possibly make up from Samsung. 

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with crackers. Yes. Diwali crackers. Make sure you buy Indian brands this year. Made in Sivakasi. And not Made in China. And in the process keep encouraging regular fires in Sivakasi. 

And forget about the fact that there have been cases of Sivakasi fire cracker entrepreneurs also getting their stuff Made in China. You will only know once you open the packet. 

And how much will a boycott of crackers hurt the Chinese? Perhaps a little. But not something that they can't manage. Fire crackers are low value products at the end of the day. 

So how is it possible to really hurt China? The way out is to ensure that the government creates an environment where Indian manufacturers can compete with the Chinese ones. And that is easier said than done.

The above is from Vivek Kaul's Diary, a newsletter I receive from Equitymaster.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Modi’s many failures

Amulya Ganguli

Narendra Modi’s responses to questions from Saudi Arabian businessmen during his recent visit to the country showed that, uncertainties still remained about the economic reforms. “GST (goods and services tax) will happen,” he assured his listeners, but could not say when. Similarly, he said that the retrospective taxes were a thing of the past so far as the government was concerned, but it could not do anything about the pending cases because they were sub judice. While banking sector reforms were on the anvil, there was a need to “explore” with investors the areas of technology transfer and investment.

Clearly, the promised achhe din (good days) with all the catchy jingles which dominated the airwaves in 2014 are still very much in the future. For the present, all one can do is to wait. The “prudent gradualism”, noted by the US-based pro-Modi economist, Jagdish Bhagwati, has become even more gradual.

Arguably, the investors might not have been too worried about the slow pace of development if they believed that the government was moving in the right direction in both the economic and social fields. But doubts are being caused by the fear that economic advancement can be scuttled by social tension.

It is not only the violence threatened and unleashed against beef-eaters and those who do not chant Bharat Mata ki Jai, the new litmus test for nationalism, which can have an adverse impact on the economy, but also the disturbing signs of authoritarianism displayed by the government.

One of them is the directive to Urdu authors to give an undertaking that they will not write anything against government policies. Even if it is meant for those who seek monetary support from the government, extracting such a pledge from writers is unheard of in a democracy, as Zafar Mohiuddin, convener of the Forum of Urdu Writers and Artists, has said.

Art cannot be formalized by official diktat. Yet, this has been a longstanding pattern of saffron behaviour as the hounding of the celebrated painter, MF Husain, into exile (where he died), the ban on James Laine’s biography of Shivaji and the withdrawal of Rohinton Mistry’s work of fiction, Such A Long Journey, from the Mumbai University syllabus show. True, the Congress is guilty of the same sin. It banned Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses under pressure from the Muslim fundamentalists. But, at the moment, it is the conduct of the BJP and its allies which is under the scanner.

If writers are being harassed, can journalists be far behind. As it is, Union minister of state VK Singh, who was involved in a controversy over his date of birth when he was the army chief, has proudly coined the term, ‘presstitudes’ , for media personnel to show off his innovative use of the English language. The word is frequently used by the saffron netizens.

Against this background of abuse, an Editors’ Guild team found evidence of intimidation during a visit to BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, where they came to know of arbitrary arrests of journalists, physical attacks and the resultant pervasive fear. It is no secret that the scribes in out-of-the-way mofussil towns live a lonely life unlike their brethren in Delhi and other metropolises who can use their links with the powers-that-be to fend off the political thugs. This kind of safety is not available in the districts from either the goons or the police, especially if the state government decides to teach the media a lesson for writing against it.

Far from being an “avatar of modernity and progress”, as Congress M.P, Shashi Tharoor, once called Modi, the Prime Minister appears helpless in the matter of pushing ahead with economic reforms or keeping the anti-social elements in check as when they forced the cancellation of a programme by a Pakistani singer in Delhi. The saffron hoods had done the same earlier in Mumbai.

To make matters worse, or perhaps to cover up the failures on these counts, the government’s keenness to suppress dissent by using the colonial-era sedition law is worrisome. The BJP’s senior citizen, LK Advani, may have had to clarify his remark that he did not have the “confidence that it (the Emergency of 1975-77) cannot happen again” by saying that it was not aimed at any leader. But as the Shiv Sena said, his disquiet cannot be brushed aside.

It is not without reason, therefore, that the Vice-President, Hamid Ansari, recently asked “whether a more complete separation of religion and politics might not better serve Indian democracy”. The hint that the present government was blurring the line between religion and politics made Subramanian Swamy, the Sangh Parivar’s in-house gadfly, accuse the Vice-President of making an “undignified comment” against the government.

But the uneasiness about the government’s intention will remain if only because it is known that it cannot ignore the pro-Hindu agenda of the RSS and its affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and associates like the Sri Ram Sene, the Hindu Sena, the Hindu Mahasabha and others.

With the decline in the investment rate from 33.4 per cent in 2013-14 to an anticipated 29.4 per cent this year, and the “deceleration” in tourist arrivals to “Incredible India”, noted by the Economic Survey, the scene is not what Modi had promised in 2014.

The writer is a former Assistant Editor, The Statesman.

Dubious parallel

Political belligerence may have a positive impact on limited audiences, but can also backfire in a larger context. The “chest thumping” over the 29 September surgical strikes had one kind of fall-out: now there is need to monitor the wider “reach” of the Prime Minister’s likening those strikes to what had once been hailed as flashes of military brilliance and audacity of the Israeli Defence Forces. It was to a gathering which included a number of Army veterans that Narendra Modi declared “earlier one heard about Israel doing such a thing, now the country has seen that the Indian Army is no less”. The observation would have drawn the expected applause, though military experts would contend those “strikes” did not match up with the operations in the Eastern Theatre in 1971 as the Army’s “showpiece essay” - on the ground those strikes have had only limited success.

The more important evaluation of Modi’s admittedly one-off comment would be how “Arab Street” reacts to a seemingly one-sided suggestion. There is a sizeable Indian population in the Arab world, their foreign-exchange remittances still count, and whether they will continue to be welcome by the local populace remains to be seen. And in the midst of some trying times, India’s diplomatic ties with the Gulf/Arab states have proved rewarding. India has struggled to maintain a fair balance between its old allies in Arab Street and new-found friend in Israel - that balance could now “tilt”. Despite Israel now having become a major supplier of advanced defence equipment, it must also be noted that the IDF has lost some of its “edge” in recent times - the raid at Entebbe and air operations in the Bekkaa Valley are of historic rather than contemporary military significance.

Of particular relevance to prevailing realities is the extent to which the unrest in Kashmir is influenced by the Prime Minister’s observation. For if the Indian forces can be bracketed with the Israelis, the stone-pelters would be prone to see themselves as conducting another Intifada, and the sustained effort to slam them as Pakistan-sponsored trouble-makers might not “stick”. The difference between terrorist/militant and “freedom-fighter” has always been nebulous in Kashmir.

It will become more complicated now to project the Indian Army as “secular” - the IDF was never required to maintain that kind of profile. India’s vast “minority” community was never thrilled when India warmed up to Israel, and Modi’s line could easily be interpreted as further evidence of the NDA government pursuing a “saffron” agenda. That will only fuel further doubts about the compatibility of the BJP-PDP tie-up in the state. The Hurriyat could well be chuckling in delight at Modi’s over-simplistic parallel.

The above is from the Editorial in The Statesman.

Rocky bail bares police probe gaps

Rocky, the son of suspended JDU MLC Manorama Devi and RJD strongman Bindi Yadav, is accused of killing Class XII student Aditya Sachdeva in a burst of rage triggered by the denial of right of way on the Bodhgaya-Gaya road on May 7 this year.

The most incriminating evidence against Rocky was the report of the forensic science laboratory, which established that the bullet that hit the slain boy was fired from the Beretta pistol owned by Rocky. Gaya senior superintendent of police Garima Malik had also confirmed it at her news meet soon after the arrest of Rocky from Gaya on May 10.

But inexplicably, the prosecution failed to bring the fact before the high court during hearing of Rocky's bail application.

Rocky's counsel, senior advocate Y.V. Giri, told the court that nobody saw Rocky open fire. The other glaring lapse on part of the investigation team was that the bloodstained clothes of Aditya were thrown outside the post-mortem room, leading to destruction of vital evidence.

The clothes were also not produced in the court. Instead, they were collected from the spot by Aditya's family members.

Despite admission of Rocky's father Bindi Yadav that his son had fired in self-defence, the prosecution again failed to put forth this fact before the court. Surprisingly, the police had seized the murder weapon barehanded and thus tampered with evidence.

The police, sources in know of the investigation said, didn't check the veracity of Rocky's claim that he was in Delhi when the incident took place. The police, the sources added, also didn't verify his travel ticket and other details, which could have helped the prosecution in tightening the noose around the accused.

Gaya city superintendent of police Awakash Kumar, who was part of the special investigation team formed to crack the case, however, claimed that the police gathered clinching evidence to substantiate the charges levelled against Rocky. "I can't say what went wrong in the court," he said, adding that he hoped the state government would move the Supreme Court against the high court order.

The order has come as a rude shock for Aditya's parents. "This is a very bad day for Bihar, I appeal to the government to save Bihar from jungle raj," said father Shyam Sunder Sachdeva. "We have all the evidence but still justice is denied. Money and power have again silenced the truth."

Earlier this month, RJD MLA from Nawada Raj Ballabh Prasad was granted bail by the high court in a rape case. Reliable sources say that the forensic report suggested that the rape survivor's clothes sent by the police had been washed, leading to destruction of evidence.

A PTI report said the government would file an appeal in the apex court.

"The state government is going to file an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the bail granted to Rocky Yadav by the Patna High Court," principal additional advocate general Lalit Kishore told PTI.

Is the World Medical Association Also Corrupt?

The World Medical Association (WMA), the top medical-ethics body, on Friday installed an Indian doctor facing corruption charges as its president, despite controversy surrounding his appointment while legal cases are pending. A statement released by the WMA said Dr. Ketan Desai delivered his inaugural speech as president on Friday at the association’s annual assembly in Taiwan. He will serve in the position for 2016/17. Desai has faced conspiracy and corruption allegations since he was first selected in 2009 as a future president of the WMA. Desai has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the pending cases. He did not respond to questions from Reuters sent via email. When Reuters asked the WMA this week for an update on Desai’s legal situation, spokesman Nigel Duncan said the association had nothing more to say.
“I don’t think there’s anything we want to add to what we have already said,” Duncan said. He did not answer questions about Desai’s legal cases or what the ethics body had been told about them in recent months. In one case filed in New Delhi in 2010, Desai faces charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy for allegedly being involved in a conspiracy to obtain a bribe of 20 million rupees ($450,000 at the time) from a medical college. In return, investigators allege Desai helped the school get permission from the Medical Council to add more students. When contacted last year, the college, which is not a defendant in the case, declined to comment.

Desai was jailed that year and his inauguration as the WMA president was suspended. He was later released on bail. In 2013, the WMA decided to lift the suspension after receiving assurances from the Indian Medical Association, which Desai once headed. The Indian Medical Association did not respond to queries from Reuters this week. A Reuters investigation published in July last year showed that the Indian Medical Association had incorrectly told the WMA that charges against Desai had been withdrawn. Representatives of major doctors organizations accepted the information as fact. The Indian Medical Association said last year that it never misled the WMA.

The WMA had said it took questions raised in the Reuters article “very seriously” and would look into them. Later, in October 2015, the WMA upheld its decision to appoint Desai as president, without giving reasons. A source at India’s Central Bureau of Investigation said this week that the New Delhi case was still active though it was on hold due to a pending appeal in the Supreme Court. The source said Desai still needs to appear before the district court judge during hearings. A court document dated Aug. 3 shows Desai, a urologist by training, submitted an application to seek an exemption from a personal appearance in court that day due to an illness. The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

Proceedings in a separate case, alleging Desai was involved in a conspiracy to have the Medical Council of India allow a private medical school to add more students, were put on hold last year by a district court in northern Uttar Pradesh state until investigators obtain government permission to prosecute. Desai’s counsel in the case, Purnendu Chakravarti, said this week there was no change in the status of the case. Based in France, the WMA sets ethical standards for physicians worldwide and represents millions of doctors. Known for its pioneering work in ethics, its members include the American Medical Association and the British Medical Association.

This smarphone app may replace contraceptive pills

LONDON: A new smartphone app, which can accurately tell women when they are fertile, may prove to be an effective alternative to give the female body a break from contraceptive pills, researchers have claimed.

Input your daily temperature into the app, and by comparing the readings with those in its data set, it lets you know when you can have unprotected sex (shown as a green day in its calendar) and when to use contraception (shown as red).

"I wanted to give my body a break from the pill, but I could not find any good forms of natural birth control, so I wrote an algorithm for myself," said Elina Berglund, co-founder and CTO at Natural Cycles.

Based on advanced statistical methods from Berglund's time at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the algorithm uses body temperature to determine fertility.

After ovulation, increased levels of progesterone make women's bodies up to 0.45 degree Celsius warmer.

Natural Cycles has conducted two clinical trials, the second of which analysed the data of more than 4,000 women aged 20-35, 'Wired' reported.

Over the course of one year, there were 143 unplanned pregnancies, ten of which occurred on green days, giving the app a 99.5% efficacy rating - the same as the pill.

It is currently the only app of its kind to be regulated as an approved medical device, putting it in the same category as condoms and IUDs - albeit in a different class.

"We are a natural alternative to the pill - with no side effects," said Berglund.

"Natural Cycles is not recommended to those who are very young or very keen to avoid a pregnancy, since there are other more effective methods," said lead author Kristina Gemzell Danielsson, from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

"The efficacy is far below that of intrauterine contraception or implants, but similar to that of the pill when used in real life," said Danielsson.

App saves cardiac arrest patient's life in Seattle

If your heart is going to stop, right outside a hospital is not a bad place for it.

SEATTLE: If your heart is going to stop, right outside a hospital is not a bad place for it.

And if 41 people within a 330-yard radius have a cellphone app alerting them to your distress, so much the better.

That's what happened in Seattle last week when Stephen DeMont collapsed at a bus stop in front of University of Washington Medical Center.

While a medical student rushed over and began chest compressions, a cardiac nurse just getting off her shift was alerted by her phone, sprinted outside and assisted until paramedics arrived.

Five days later, DeMont, 60, is walking, smiling and talking about how the PulsePoint app helped save his life.

Seattle officials say the rescue shows the potential the free download has for connecting CPR-trained citizens with patients who urgently need their help. It's being used in 2,000 US cities in 28 states.

"I put it on my phone yesterday," said DeMont's wife, Debi Quirk, a former registered nurse. "He would not be here as we see him today."

Seattle officials hope DeMont's story will help persuade thousands more people to sign up for notifications; so far, about 4,000 people in Seattle have downloaded PulsePoint since the city adopted it earlier this year with financial support from an employee charitable fund at Boeing. The goal is to have 15,000 using it.

Developed by a former fire chief in Northern California, Richard Price, the app works through a city's 911 system. When a call comes in, operators alert people within a certain radius that CPR assistance is needed, along with the location of the nearest portable defibrillator.

About 900,000 people around the country have downloaded and carry the app, and 34,000 people have been activated to respond, he said, adding that alerts have been issued in 13,000 cardiac events.

He came up with the idea in 2009, he said. He was in a restaurant when he heard sirens from his crews at the San Ramon Valley fire department. As he wondered where they were going, they arrived at the restaurant.

"The patient was unconscious, unresponsive. I was 20 feet away on the other side of the wall," Price said. "The whole time I was listening to that siren, I could have been making a difference."

It occurred to him that at any given time, two-thirds of his staff was off duty - in restaurants, out in the community. If there was a way to alert them to such emergencies by phone, it could save lives, Price said.

It's not clear how many lives have been saved thanks to the app. Patient confidentiality laws often prevent hospitals from disclosing a patient's outcome.

Madeline Dahl, a 23-year-old cardiac nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center, said she downloaded the app about a month ago after reading a news story that mentioned it. Last Friday morning was the first time she'd ever received an alert. She bolted down a couple flights of stairs and ran outside into the rain, where she found 27-year-old medical student Zach Forcade performing chest compressions.

Forcade had been on his way into the hospital for a lecture when he saw DeMont, who was just getting off his bicycle, slump over.

"I hadn't responded to a cardiac arrest before," Forcade said. "I thought, 'Did he just fall?' ... Even being in the medical field, I thought, 'Oh, man, who's going to step up?'"

He told another passerby to call 911, which triggered an alert sent out to 41 responders nearby. It was reassuring when Dahl arrived to provide any needed backup, help check for a pulse and otherwise make sure Forcade was responding correctly, he said.

For DeMont, it was about more than just being lucky. A contract technical writer at Expedia, he said he has a love-hate relationship with technology - "You see all these things about people falling off cliffs texting, people are so disconnected" - but the response from Forcade, Dahl and the use of PulsePoint reaffirmed his belief in its power to make a positive difference.

"There's hope," DeMont said.

He's due to have a defibrillator implanted on Thursday. Now he just has to figure out how to pay the $100,000 tab without insurance.

For that, his family has turned to a program with a different app: GoFundMe.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Surgeons at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, give a new lease of life to a 44yr old

Surgeons at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, in city’s 33rd Heart Transplant give a new lease of life to a 44yr old Navi Mumbaikar ~ Harvested organ travelled 587kms between Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College, Nanded and Fortis Hospital, Mulund in 1 hr 53 minutes.

This marks the first occasion of a heart being donated in Nanded, also the 1st time for the organ to be donated at a Govt. Hospital in Nanded ~ Mulund, Mumbai, Oct 19th, 2016: Textbook example of synchronized efforts between medical teams at Mumbai and Nanded, helped save and enrich the life of a 44yr old male suffering from Dilated Cardiomyopathy. The recipient from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai was wait listed a month ago; with his condition deteriorating rapidly, a heart transplant was absolutely essential to save his life. This surgery became possible when the family of the donor, 35yr old male, who was declared brain dead following a head injury incurred due to a road traffic accident; consented to donate his Heart, Liver, Kidneys and Corneas. The young donor, was a Govt. employee and also worked as a Radio Broadcaster with AIR; he is survived by his wife and parents.

Retrieved by Dr Anvay Mulay, Head of Cardiac Transplant Team, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, from the donor at Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College, Nanded, the organ was transported to the hospital in Mumbai in 1hr 53 mins covering 587kms.

Why are Politicians bringing the Military in their cross fire?

The following is from "The Hindu"
Reacting to the militaristic and fascist tendencies prevalent during the interwar years, American political scientist Harold Lasswell wrote in 1941: “We are moving toward a world of ‘garrison states’ — a world in which the specialists on violence are the most powerful group in society.” Fortunately for us, we do not inhabit a world of “garrison states” today. However, tendencies associated with the garrison state have cropped up in several societies from time to time in various measures, and when unchallenged, they have weakened the democratic ethos of free societies. Some of the recent developments in our country should prompt us to ask whether we are moving towards a society where the specialists on violence (that is, military) and the associated narratives would occupy a disconcerting central place in our political imagination.
The war on dissent
Statements made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokespersons and senior Union Ministers in the wake of the so-called ‘surgical strikes’ seem to suggest that questioning the Army or its actions, such as demanding evidence corroborating these strikes, are anti-national acts. Union Minister Uma Bharti argued that those seeking evidence of the strike should accept Pakistani citizenship, a euphemism for “you are a Pakistani agent”. Indeed, today asking critical questions about national security issues, be it the Kashmir uprising or Naxal insurgency, is seen as both abhorrent and anti-national. Open dissent against national security policies is worse — it’s sedition.
What is even more troubling is that many among the professed guardians of the open society — the media — are buying into this narrative for their own selfish reasons, even as the country’s liberal elite is slowly caving in. While some sections of the media argue that when the Director General of Military Operations said so, there is no need for any evidence because we have complete faith in our Army, others insist that politicians should not take credit because it was an Army action. Both have got it wrong. Citizens of a modern democracy can, and should, question all instruments of the state. The Army is merely an instrument of the state and the government of the day utilises it to meet its policy objectives: there is no ‘Army action’, it is the government of the day that acts. It’s a different matter whether the government should be advertising it the way it has been for electoral gains. Curiously, however, the same government that takes credit for the ‘Army action’ chooses to hide behind the Army’s morale to deflect allegations of human rights violations committed by the very same Army.
We are witnessing the rapid emergence of a militarised political environment in which political discourse is easily cast in a militarised language. Our popular culture is increasingly reflecting it, and some TV channels have even set up ‘war rooms’ in their studios besides mimicking the military jargon!
Socialisation of danger
There is an ever-strengthening claim made by our leaders that the nation is under threat from multiple sources, internal and external. Shrill narratives about danger, enemy and ‘the other’ are the new normal in the nation’s life. And in dangerous times as these, we have a duty to come together to fight our enemies. Even Pakistani artists are a danger to the country: mind you, some of these messages are not coming from government agencies alone. This coincides with a disquieting rise of aggression around us at every level: against dissent, minorities, and anyone with a liberal world view. Gandhi and his non-violence are passé. There is a constant manufacturing, labelling and categorising of the nation’s ‘enemies’ — from those seeking evidence for the surgical strikes to the young dissenters in Jawaharlal Nehru University. True, attacks on our forces in Kashmir have been on the rise, so are the anti-India slogans in the Valley, but we should never ask why since doing so would weaken the morale of our forces ‘who keep us safe while we sleep’. Why is it that we are so easily, and readily, seduced by the rhetoric of war and retribution?
When there is danger all around us, dissent is deviant behaviour, and there is a heightened pressure to fall in line with the mainstream security narratives. Human rights activists are declared as working against the interest of the country and it is indeed an anathema to critique the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or such ‘special laws’. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s habit of running down dissenters is akin to what Lasswell calls “the ceremonialising tendencies of the garrison state”. Moreover, there is growing restriction of civil and political liberties in the name of security, and ‘outlawing’ of dissent by imposing sedition charges or travel restrictions on activists or those questioning ‘the narrative’. “Those questioning the government are soft on terror” sounds worryingly similar to what Joseph McCarthy used to say in the 1950s: “Democrats are soft on Communism”. In today’s India, even senior Congress politicians, who are no bleeding hearts, are accused of being soft on terror and disrespectful of the Army! This is daylight governmentalising of thought.
The ‘specialists on violence’ are the new-age intellectuals of national security — civilians lack of ‘expertise’ in these matters. Retired generals, some of whom unhesitatingly take partisan political positions, are the last word on national security today. Even if we were to ignore that issues of war and peace are too important to be left to the generals, is taking partisan political positions in full public view in keeping with the professionalism and the sensitive positions they once held? There was a time when retired diplomats dominated our national security discourses: today the generals are replacing the diplomats perhaps because the times we live in demand aggression, not diplomacy. This shift is unmistakably reflective of a larger transformation underway in the country to opt for coercion over negotiation.
In a country where we (literally) worship anyone from a film star to a politician, the warrior is the new kid on the block: politicians have long lost credibility and many of our leading stars have ‘dubious origins’. Paradoxically, for our patriotic middle class, military is actually the ‘desirable other’ who we should worship though they won’t be enlisted: why else is there such shortage of officers in the Army! ‘Warrior worshipping’ for us is another way of expressing our allegiance to the nation, and those that don’t will be forced to say ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’, at the least.
Despite being the ‘specialists on violence’, the military is also said to have a very ‘fragile’ morale. Morale is key to the garrison state, and the military is at the centre of this enterprise. The military, therefore, not only should not be criticised, but we should not even bat an eyelid when they err, like all of us do in our respective professions, because they happen to have a fragile morale. Doesn’t morale also come from proper training, equipment, professionalism and adequate monetary compensation? Morale, embellished by the official propaganda machinery through the manipulation of emotions, is often overrated and misunderstood: in a democracy everyone is subject to scrutiny and criticism, and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad. This doctrine of ‘military infallibility’ needs to be challenged for our own good: what we need are more professionally trained soldiers, not infallibility, for military is merely an instrument of the state, not the nation’s soul. Moreover, it is misleading to argue that there is some essential contradiction between sacrifices of soldiers and human rights of civilians: there isn’t.
Meaning of national security
The most significant indication of a garrison state is the militarisation of national security. For a garrison state, national security defined in militaristic terms would be the ultimate value to be preserved. Thankfully we haven’t gone that far yet, and we will survive the ‘surgical strikes’ though not without the adverse impact of seeking militarised solutions for political and social challenges. The problems with militarising national security are many: national security is far more complex than what military solutions can hope to resolve, and the state could use military tools (tools of violence) to confront non-military challenges. As a nation, we can’t afford to place a militarised response over political ones. We need to forsake our fixation with the ‘Army will fix it’ notion, be it during floods or when hapless children fall into uncovered borewells. Our neighbouring country is still suffering for having made that choice.
Despite its long-term adverse implications, the garrison state narrative comes with undeniable political benefits for the political class. Militaristic narratives undoubtedly help the BJP and its ideological fountainhead, the Sangh Parivar, some of whose leaders have historically entertained such discourses in keeping with their fascination for Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. In more practical terms, the BJP has managed to use the military as a convenient political tool for electoral and publicity purposes, thereby enhancing its political clout. It has learnt the fine art of firing from the soldier’s shoulder: when under fire for its policies, the BJP diverts criticism towards the Army and calls you anti-national for criticising the Army.
In the meantime, of course, the real and genuine problems of the military continue to be ignored. Take, for instance, the demeaning sahayak system in the Army where soldiers are tasked to do household work for officers. What we need to ensure is that the soldiers on the ground, the ones standing on guard duty for 15-16 hours, are well looked after, rather than worshipped. Moreover, once Mr. Parrikar gets some free time from calling out the ‘anti-nationals’, he should concern himself with the much-needed reform of the country’s crumbling higher defence management structures.
Hardly anything that this government has done so far indicates that it is serous about modernising the Indian military or strengthening the country’s defence preparedness. Well, why should it when cheap political dividends can be made by merely massaging the military ego?
Happymon Jacob is Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, JNU.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016



Rabindranath Tagore Heart Institute, a top cardiac center in Kolkata, and their senior cardiologist, Dr. J. Naik, were found guilty for causing death of a retired Wing Commander, Mr. Robin Saram Verma, following an ordinary coronary angiogram (CAG) after obtaining an invalid “informed consent” from the patient without properly explaining the associated risks involved with the procedure. 
The three-judge bench has awarded a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh plus Rs. 25 thousand (as legal cost) to be paid by the doctor and hospital within 45 days failing which 9% interest would be added to the compensation (see news below). The observation made in this judgment may have major implications in other cases of medical negligence involving botched “informed consent”. 
Doctors are duty bound to obtain a valid “informed consent” from the patient/patient-party before undertaking any medical/surgical procedure after fully explaining the possible risks associated and also other options for treatment. Unfortunately, most doctors and hospitals in India blatantly violate the rules for obtaining a proper “informed consent” because they are hardly ever brought to justice for failure to obtain a properly implemented “informed consent”.
Jayeeta Verma Sarkar, daughter of the deceased military man,came to PBT in 2010 following the negligent death of her father seeking help in her quest for justice for her departed father. Over the past six years, Ms. Sarkar has not only launched a recentless fight against the powerful hospital and doctor, she has also joined PBT as an ardent volunteer to help other victims of medical negligence.
 Ms. Sarkar is now also a member of the PBT Executive Committee and has been deeply involved with helping other victims of medical negligence. The MCI also found Dr. Naik guilty for professional misconduct in 2014 and directed the Orissa Medical Council to cancel his medical license but the state medical council has refused to take any action against the errant doctor until now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hitler home

Vienna, Oct. 17 (Reuters): Austria plans to convert and possibly tear down the house Hitler was born in to prevent it becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis, the interior ministry said today.

Austria had already ordered the compulsory purchase of the building in Braunau am Inn, a town on the border with Germany where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889.

Now a committee of experts including historians, officials and the head of Austria's main Jewish organisation has recommended that a "thorough architectural rearrangement" be carried out.

There are houses in India too where people with similar views a Hitler were born.
I wonder when those houses will be pulled down.
I suppose that could be done only when there was a sensible government at the centre.

Lesson: disagree and be damned

In Bangkok, a woman was forced to grovel in public before a portrait of the late Thai king on Monday after allegedly posting online remarks insulting his son. Her humiliation outside a police station on the holiday island of Koh Samui came as mobs of Thai royalists called for those accused of disloyalty to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to be punished.

In Calcutta, a hoarding was hung outside a university student's house in Dum Dum with her picture and excerpts of Facebook posts where she had complained about the waste of public money in the state-sponsored Puja procession on Red Road on Friday.

"We condemn your posts," the banner signed by an unknown citizens' forum said. A group of women stormed her house, threatened her family and demanded a public apology.
The hoarding in Dum Dum has since been pulled down. The myriad questions it raised remain: in the mind of the computer science and engineering student and in many others across the city.
Is it a crime to ask questions?

Do I not have the right to disagree?
Will I be punished if I protest?
On Monday, she penned her thoughts for Metro.

On October 14 (Friday), I had posted my view in the open forum of Facebook criticising the Durga procession conducted by the state government, draining the taxpayer's money.
I thought at a time the state was reeling under unemployment, the wastage of public money was insensible.
And then it was equated with the Rio Carnival. I protested.

On the morning of October 16 (Sunday), I found a hoarding with my Facebook posts and my photo hanging near my home. The objective was clear: to humiliate me.
A few women workers of the ruling party then came to my home to physically heckle me and they threatened me and asked me to publicly apologise for my Facebook posts.
I refused. I fought back by refusing to apologise.

My experience reminded me of what had happened in Mumbai in November 2012.
In November 2012, we all had seen how two girls in Mumbai were arrested because they had dared to question on social media the shutdown forced on the city by the death of Shiv Shena chief Bal Thackeray.
Mumbai had shut down then. A part of Calcutta had to be shut down on Friday because of the Red Road procession.
Under Article 19 (1) (a) of our Constitution, freedom of speech is a guaranteed fundamental right. But who cares?
Although I was not arrested, the harassment was no less frustrating. Incidents like these make us forget that we are living in a democracy, not a dictatorship.

I am astonished and also worried about this state of affairs because the generation after us will face a greater problem if this kind of oppression persists. The state will suffer if you don't allow protests.
My question is simple: has the right to dissent been banned in Bengal? Is disagreeing with the political system a crime?
Inability to accept criticism borders on fascism.

I am scared that those days are not far away when the free movement of a common protester will be restricted. And the harassment faced by Ambikesh Mahapatra (the JU professor arrested for circulating an Internet joke on the chief minister), Taniya Bhardwaj (the Presidency student branded a Maoist for questioning the chief minister at a public forum) and Shiladitya Chaudhuri (the farmer who had protested the rise in fertiliser prices) will be the norm in Bengal.
Being a responsible citizen of state I have every right to protest against anything I perceive to be wrong, even if it is perpetrated by the state.

Industry is in bad shape in our state and young people are jobless.
I protested because given the critical financial situation of the state, I thought it was not wise to waste money.
Protest is difficult in such a state. Even more so for a woman.
I saw the film Pink. It showed how difficult it is for a woman to question the system.
I merely voiced an opinion on my Facebook page and ended up being harassed by the system.
The harassment has done one good, though. It has helped me firm my resolve to protest - yes, on every possible forum - and also invite my young friends to join in.
What is your message for this young woman? Tell

When will the Acche Din Come?

Huff and puff

A government that has failure on all its promises staring at it in the face clutches at anything to keep its popularity afloat. It is unfortunate that the government of Narendra Modi has decided to choose patriotism and warmongering to reaffirm its credibility. 

It has been evident for sometime that Mr Modi has failed to deliver on the most important promise he made during his triumphant campaign. This was to bring to the Indian people "good days" of happiness and prosperity. The good days have become an ever-receding horizon. The economy continues to remain on a downturn. Kashmir is on the boil. Divisions within the people have multiplied. These divisions have been created and perpetrated by the most pernicious kind of Hindu fundamentalism that dictates what people will eat, what they will sell, how they will dress and of course what views they will hold. 

Dalits and minorities have been intimidated and have been made to feel isolated from the "mainstream" of Indian culture - the mainstream being defined by the sangh parivar. The fallout of all this has been disillusionment and disaffection. It would be simplistic to assume that Mr Modi and his spin doctors are unaware of this situation.

The reaction has been predictable: the government has latched on to the last resort, patriotism. An action taken by the Indian army within Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has been played up beyond measure. 

The action was not novel; previous governments have taken similar decisions without any fanfare and chest thumping. What was in all probability a routine intervention has been projected as India being on the brink of war with Pakistan. What is worse any doubts about and criticism of the action are being labelled unpatriotic and anti-national. It is being asserted that even though India is a democracy, the army is and its actions are above question. But the ploy - and a very dangerous one at that - appears not to be working. 

Mr Modi is seen by sections of the intelligentsia as trying to make India the mirror image of Pakistan. The only safeguard against this attempt is that Indian democracy is too robust to succumb to crass efforts to create an anti-Pakistan war hysteria. Mr Modi still has the second half of his prime ministership to address serious domestic problems instead of trying to deflect attention from them.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why India Will Not be Able to Completely Ban Chinese Goods

BENGALURU: China is a close ally of Pakistan and amid Indo-Pak tensions the dragon nation not so surprisingly supported our immediate neighbor. They blocked India’s entry into the NSG group, two times used their veto for saving the leader of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad, Masood Azhar, blocking water of the Brahmaputra, etc. China is continuously bogging down India because of Pakistan. Now there are various social media campaigns going across the country to ban Made in china products and to use country made products. However, Economic Times explained that why the ban on Chinese goods will be a failure.

The campaign to ban Chinese products drew support from some political leaders, but also there is a fact that currently, China shares one-sixth of India’s total imports. It was one-tenth in 2011-12 and on the other hand export of Indian goods to China is decreased to half in the same course. Total import of Chinese goods grew at 20 pct in last two years and reached to $61 Bn.

India exports petroleum, copper, cotton, and industrial machinery to China and apart from these goods, we are not exporting many other goods to our neighboring country. On the other hand, we shop for the goods ranging from home décor to electronic items and power plants. Because of the drop in global oil prices, India’s imports fall down to $490 Bn to $380 Bn in last five years. Former Governor of RBI Mr. Raghuram Rajan, referred China as the manufacturing powerhouse of the world in his research paper published in February 2006, written with Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor.

The stagnating indices in the manufacturing sector are showing that India is still way behind China, despite the record FDI of $55 Bn in 2015-16. India is struggling because of the sluggish private investments in manufacturing.

China became a global powerhouse after rapid market reformation in the 1980s. It increased its production capacity by reforming land and labor, as a result of which the fertilizer, steel, and iron production of India is not one-tenth of China.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

‘We are more an elections-only democracy’

“Seventy years after India’s independence, we are freer than when the British left our soil but perhaps much less free than what the framers of our Constitution hoped we would be,” said historian Ramachandra Guha. He was speaking at The Hindu's Lit for Life Annual Lecture on the topic ‘India at 70: A Historian’s Report Card’ in the city on Saturday.

“We have falsified the pundits who said we’ll break up but we still have much more work ahead of us,” he added and concluded that as a “nation-state, India is 80 per cent successful but as a democracy, perhaps only 50 per cent.”

“My worry is that we are not so much an electoral democracy as much as an elections-only democracy. You win an election and you think you are immune to criticism for the next five years. That was true of the UPA and that was true of the NDA.”

‘Continuous reflection’
“But democracy is about continuous reflection and interrogation, not just in Parliament. Look at the suppression of our civil society. The deficiency of our democracy is manifest in the widespread corruption of our political class, deterioration of our public institutions, particularly our failure to provide quality education and health to our citizens,” he said.

This was the first Lit for Life annual lecture, a new element added to the paper’s annual literature festival, said Dr. Nirmala Lakshman, Director, Kasturi and Sons Ltd and Festival Director, Lit for Life.
Mr. Guha examined the 70-year history of Independent India through the four principles of Mahatma Gandhi’s Swaraj — non-violence defined as political freedom; Hindu-Muslim unity defined as cultural freedom; abolition of untouchability defined as social justice; and swadeshi defined as economic freedom. 

While the holding of free and fair elections was a remarkable achievement, India’s record in nurturing freedom of expression evoked concern, he said. In terms of social justice, Mr. Guha argued that the one community that was worse off today was the adivasi community. He lamented the degradation of environment undertaken in the name of growth.

He said the country’s report card on religious freedom was mixed. While Muslims were free to practise their religion, they had suffered disproportionately during riots, Kashmir being the exception. 
Rajiv Lochan, CEO, Kasturi and Sons Ltd., presented the concluding remarks. 
Mukund Padmanabhan, editor,The Hindu, was also present.

The above is from "The Hindu"