Health is Wealth

This old saying obviously meant that being healthy is the best wealth for a person.

Yet now it can have a different meaning- from the medical providers point of view. Obviously they are into this profession for the love of it AND to make a livelihood.
Medical establishments have grown from being one man stand alone shows to huge set ups. Hospitals, path lab chains are now registered entities. This obviously means they must report profits. I am told that some set ups have ‘targets’ for CABG (open heart bypass surgery)… 
Obviously the ‘patient’ then becomes a consumer and should be eligible for protection under consumer laws. Often those affected by a mis-diagnosis or carelessness prefer to ‘let it be’ after they get relief from a second/third opinion. 
While advertising was a almost a taboo for the medical profession some time back, we have huge hoardings, television commercials, print ads for medical products like artificial joints, diabetes and weight loss solutions (without dieting or exercising) just to name a few. Surgeries are available as ‘packages’ ! 
Does this strike a warning bell? 
They say one’s friends circle must always include one who wears a white coat and one a black one. (Doctor and a Lawyer). 
I would prefer to exercise regularly, meditate, set achievable goals and try to be happy and avoid going down this street as much as possible.
What about you?
Take care

Mumbai Ground Zero

What is happening to India?
As Mumbai bleeds it is for each one of us to extend a helping hand, put a balm in whatever way possible.
The most important thing is to know that as citizens we must be alert, responsible.
Not to give in to rumours and media reports that often only sensationalise the issue.
Going by their performance in past three days, they seemed more keen to be the ‘first’ to report something. Long haranguing debates and blame games.
Our prayers with the soldiers and other men and women who have braved this assault, their families who bear pain, indecision and grief.
Here are some voices, please click to read more:
Industry captains react
Little information, comfort from the government
India Inc calls for strong security apparatus in financial capital
What the international media had to say
This is a very relevant article in Marathi in about how so called ‘Breaking News’ is actually detrimental. The Sakal dated 29 Nov 2008 also carries a similar article on the front page of how misleading ‘Breaking News’ can be.
Firebrigade men, Mumbai’s unsung heros

Jai Hind!

It has to be Now

Last week, a bus ran over a school boy in the wee hours of the morning, snuffing out a young life barely a few summers old. He was cycling to school for football practise.
As usual this has led to a debate of building cycle tracks in the city.
Here are a few observations: A cycle does not need to be registered with the RTO nor does the cyclist need a license. In fact, I am not sure there is a minimum age for a person to be cycling on the road.
The city does ‘boast’ a few tracks but what is their state? The one on Canal road is built through several trees. While we laud the conservation attempts, it can be most inconvenient to cycle around them a la slalom skiers! And that’s if one can save themselves from the overhanging branches.
Some are used by the irrepressible two wheeler drivers as they try to get ahead come what may, even going in the wrong direction. Thelavalas too set up shop here or simply park their vehicles for a siesta.
So where does that leave cyclists? In all other road lanes of course.

Everyone wants to travel safely on roads but wants someone else to do something about it.
Worse, many end up jeering the one person who waits for the red signal to turn green, practically honking him/her into deafness.

All of us who use roads, whether on wheels or walking have to respect and follow certain rules. Yes, pedestrians too use roads irresponsibly and need to relearn basics taught at school. We need to take pride in following rules. Traffic discipline has to come from within.

Hope some awakening occurs sooner rather than later…..

A Sore Thumb

The past few days have been miserable, the extremely painful reason being a sore thumb.
Here I am a simple Marathi lady trying to put down my thoughts and generally be useful to society. How much attention did I really give all my fingers earlier? I tried simply eliminating the thumb from my actions but grip, pinch and every other hand function was impossible. Compensating with other joints complicated things even further.
Society is something like our hand. Every group and strata has its own strengths and weaknesses like our five fingers. All have to function harmoniously for any effective action. Each one however apparantly small or insignificant cannot be done away with.
Dont take my word for it. Think for yourself. Look around. We are Indians and have a social and national responsibility to live harmoniously and work for India’s progress.

Canine Revelations

(Edited version published in the Times of India Pune West Side Plus on 09 Mar 2007)

A sudden uproar in our normally quiet neigbourhood one cold December evening had me running to the balcony. In the fading light I saw the driver of a long, big mean looking car fling something on the edge of the road. The master continued to rave at him in between barking orders into his mobile phone. Another minion hurriedly deposited the master’s laptop, lunch box and other paraphernalia in the car hoping to avoid the verbal onslaught.

That done, the master barely allowed the driver to wash his hands and the vehicle zoomed off horn blaring leaving behind a trail of cigarette smoke and dust. The toddlers in the building seemed dazed and one was even crying. I ventured down to investigate and to my horror found that what the driver had callously flung were actually two very dead, barely a week old, stray pups. Obviously the driver had run over them as he hurried to pick up his master and together the two had decided to clean up by simply depositing them on the roadside. The kids had been playing with the pups in the evening and had seen them being run over.

Suddenly the pups’ mother turned up from nowhere and began investigating why her babies seemed so still. Sensing something amiss she looked around for lurking danger and someone to take a revengeful bite into. I hastily retreated to a safe haven namely my balcony to keep track of things from there. Soon many stray dogs gathered around as if in sympathy and the mother kept nudging the young ones hoping they would move. Naturally nothing worked and soon she was alone.

I watched in amazement as the dog actually lay down beside the pups and stayed there throughout the night. Occasionally she would break out into long cries of grief. It was pretty cold yet she stood guard over her young ones even as vehicles zoomed close by or some sadistic persons set off crackers or other animals tried to get close.

None of us did anything about the pups, not even the pet dog owners who walked their dogs, to dirty the road. I slept restlessly that night plagued by several unpalatable thoughts. I woke up early to see the mother carrying off her dead pups one by one, long before the sweepers came along. The animal kingdom looked after their own!

The big car and its villainous occupants came at office opening hours the next day and walked past with scarcely a glace at what they had done the night before. Newspapers almost mandatorily carry daily news of hit and run cases, some fatal while the lucky ones get away with injuries. We see signs of economic prosperity everywhere; the kabadiwallah has a mobile phone, students drive expensive bikes, a hundred rupee movie ticket is almost a norm, even the beggar boy at traffic signals asks for a packet of chips instead of ‘chaar ana’!

An ugly green horned devil repeatedly asked me the question all through that night, are we losing our social responsibilities that go hand in hand with economic prosperity? I looked around to see garbage piled in unauthorized places, people proudly breaking traffic rules, senior citizens given no priority in queues or public transport, neighbours behaving more like strangers, people vandalizing public property… The list seemed to go on and I had just scratched the tip of the mud pile. And all this in a ‘cultured’, ‘affluent’ neighbourhood in Pune! The pups incident was insignificant compared to Nithari or other terrorist outrages. Yet it confirms our sinking values and decency.

I grieved with the mother dog for the loss of humane qualities in humans. I finally gave up trying to find excuses for our shortcomings and shamefully admitted that there was only one answer to my question. ! Yes! Yet I am convinced if each one of us tries to make a small change in our own sphere of influence instead of going in for armchair activism we would be moving towards a better tomorrow.

Citizen Journalists

The advent of electronic media has revolutionised the manner in which information or news is disseminated. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to sources for news- there is a plethora of languages, business and investigative channels to choose from. This is not counting our regular entertainment channels!

All media now have the added feature called ‘citizen journalist’. The word play changes depending on the publishing house but the aim is the same, getting citizens to participate. The aim apparently is to bring out hidden aspects in society both good and bad. So does that mean we are better informed than before? Do we really know more about all strata of our society? That we can find inspiration in activities of someone besides the regular ‘high flier’ achievers?

Individuals who permit themselves to be featured for an article are people from everyday walks of life who are obviously are doing something that others find inspiring. However most of such citizen contributions too are subject to various editor ‘constraints’! And I am not referring to grammatical errors or a badly presented article. Some have even been known to back track on ideas discussed and approved ideas. IS this ethical journalism?

But then, the times when pen was mightier than the sword are long over. The movie ‘Page 3’ is symbolic of the rot in our system. Many papers are known to be driven by sales and advertising goals with articles being put in to fill spaces!

Where does that leave people whose achievements need to be highlighted? Again we can take advantage of technological developments, I am referring to the Internet ofcourse. Blogging offers us complete freedom to present our thoughts our ideas, our inspiration to the world. What’s better is we get comments and can actually make the article come alive with virtual discussions. Agreed that the reach of a blog may definitely not be as wide as that of an established house but then once read, the paper is consigned to the trashcan. Virtual archives allow the piece to be read again and again and again.

So then should we stop being ‘citizen journalists’? Should we stop taking an interest in our society if there is no one to transmit our message?

No. We must never give up. There are always alternatives. It is just a question of looking for them. Blogging is only one option. Speaking about the idea at social get-togethers is one more way of informally spreading our message. Join discussion forums and groups both real and virtual. So do not depend on messengers. Become one yourself.