Powered by Blogger.

The Malayali Morality: Have your say

>> Saturday, December 12, 2009

Everyday,we hear some stories or other about women being molested in Kerala.The media thrive on them.

Earlier we could only read the stories on newspapers. Now we see them all on television, men and women covering their faces to avoid cameras,and a hoard of men outside to catch a glimpse of the poor women.it is a sadistic pleasure.Even if the woman had gone voluntarily to earn her daily bread,it is twisted in to a molestation story.Last month,a girl was trafficked all around Cochin on a motor bike,and when caught ,she said she was traded ,against her will.In most of the cases the women were taken to different parts of the state,stayed at class hotels where they had spent their nights,with men who paid for their services.At the end, the men had to undergo arrests,trials and public scorn and ridicule and humiliation..For many of them, it costs their family lives.We act as if we are the watchmen of morality, and divinity incarnate.

Harassing women in public places has become more or less an accepted hobby.Not many women can walk around confidently in our cities,with out getting pawed.The truth is that there will be hardly any woman who can escape pawing if they happen to travel by a public transport,specially a crowded city bus.

"All this often makes us long for a sexually promiscuous society so that these sick men can go and do it with willing women instead of bothering strangers".Comment by an NRI lady who recently visited Bombay.

“India is filled with perverted sex hungry , uncivilized men who gets sexually pampered by the Bollywood women every day. These vulgar Indian men are sex hungry. Native Indian women do not provide the sex to these Indian vulgar mens need. Sexual perversion is rampant in public transportation, roads, cinema halls and other public places. Be careful if you travel to India.” This was written by an NRI traveller in a Travel magazine.Too outright,I would say,and a bit harsh.

"Kumarakom, Kerala: Two minor girls from Canada, holidaying in Kumarakom, were allegedly molested by a security staff of a hotel, raising concerns over the safety of foreign tourists visiting Kerala. Police said the sisters, aged 12 and 13, came here and stayed at the hotel two days ago.Following the incident, the family cut short their stay and left the place".

And just few days back,we heard the story of a young girl who was arrested  on a molestation charge at Trivandrum,and  then molested by four policemen while in custody,after sending away  a  police woman away on some errand...Keepers of law and order!!.This makes us suspicious of the very purpose of our policemen and their enthusiasm in chasing these kind of cases.

There are too many similiar stories to mention.

What a credit to the moralists of Gods own country!

India's Supreme Court has asked the government to consider whether it might legalise prostitution if it is unable to curb it effectively.
The court said legalising prostitution would help in the monitoring of the trade and rehabilitating sex workers.
It is estimated that there are more than two million female sex workers in the country.
The court's remarks came while dealing with a public interest litigation filed by an NGO about child trafficking. The court said child trafficking and prostitution were flourishing because of poverty.

"When you say it is the world's oldest profession and you are not able to curb it by laws, why don't you legalise it?" Judges Dalveer Bhandari and AK Patnaik asked a government solicitor.

"You can then monitor the trade, rehabilitate and provide medical aid to those involved."

The solicitor said that he would look into the court's suggestions.

"The [sex workers] have been operating in one way or the other and nowhere in the world have they been able to curb it by legislation," the judges said.

"In some cases, [the trade] is carried out in a sophisticated manner. So, why don't you legalise it?"

A government-commissioned study says that the number of sex workers has risen from two million in 1997 to three million in 2003-04.Prostitues in India earn little,  as little as 4 dollars a day. A meager amount, but one that could be the difference between life and death for a starving family.

Alexa Albert, MD, wrote in her 2001 book Brothel that:

However disturbing the idea of commercial sex may be to some of us, it's naïve to believe that prostitution can ever be eliminated. The demand will be met with supply one way or another, no matter what is legislated. Turning our backs on the women (and men) who do this work may be far more immoral - even criminal - than prostitution itself. Only when we recognize and validate the work of professional prostitutes can we expect them to practice their trade safely and responsibly.

"Prohibition of gambling and alcohol have both been tried in varying degrees in many countries around the world, always with the result of stimulating illegality and sleaze. The sex industry appears to be no different. All developed economies have conceded that the business is impossible to stamp out. Tolerating prostitution while leaving it technically illegal or semi-legal encourages corruption: policemen are paid to turn a blind eye. It also renders the workers helpless against their employers and the policemen.

In many countries across the world, prostitution is more or less legalised.At least,there is some governmental supervison,to avoid child trafficking, promote  healthy pracices ,and to lessen crimes related to the profession.
Prostitution has been there from Biblical times.That is not an excuse to justify the cause.But if a minor willful vice saves many major crimes,and makes lives easier for ordianry people,what would you say?


Abu and From Kippers to Karimeen

>> Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sometimes, good things happen on the television. I was watching a programme on Jeevan TV few days back,a re telecast of a short film on Abu Abraham,the legendary cartoonist. I Knew Abu had died few years back,and so ,the curiosity kept me glued to the TV till the end. Abu was a small, wiry man, who looked, with his shinily bald pate surrounded by long gray hair, like a holy man. The interview with Abu was wonderful,and so was the location. Later I came to know that the interview was done at his Baker designed house "Saranom" at Trivandrum."Like my cartoons,there is lot of space in my house",he said."I wish I could draw like a child. It is very difficult to get that kind of simplicity and appeal". 

He had worked for almost 16 years in the UK,after a modest career in India with Bombay Chronicle and Shankar's weekly.He worked for newspaprs amd magazines like The Punch,The Sketch,The Eastern World,The Observer and finally,The Guardian. 
Abu was a quiet, contemplative person and in the early 1990s returned to Kerala because he said that everywhere else, he missed "the temple bells, festivals and the scent of jasmine, all the senses and tastes". 
In an obituary article, The Guardian (December 7, 2002) recalled: "His style of drawing was astonishing and singular. It was utterly contemporary but as lithe as the decorative linearity of the Mughal courts.... and as expressive as the hand movements of a classical Indian dancer...He 'walked tall while others crawled'. 

Abu was unsparing in his criticism and often earned much-admired disfavour for his commentaries on Indian politics, its leaders and society. During the Emergency, Abu remained one of the shining examples of professionalism and courage, and his cartoons of that period have a heroic status in the history of Indian journalism. . At a time when the press was censored, critics were being jailed and journalists were falling silent, Abu's cartoons came to be referred to as "single-line editorials".

 All along the interview I had glimpses of an elderly,bit overweight Europen lady in the background,and guessed it must be his wife.She never came in during the interview. I was curious. I also felt happy and relieved that at least ocassionally,we have learned to recognise and remember the legends of our times.

My curiosity led  me to the life of one of the most intriguing women I have seen.And from her comes 'From Kippers to Karimeen".It is something of an autobiography,written by Psyche Abraham ,Abu's wife,and published recently, after Abu's death.She is brave,not because she fought wars,but showed the courage to open up her life in front of everyone as a memoir.One can learn lessons...cant we?In todays world,with so much full of hypocrisy,it is hard to find women with courage to discuss their own personal lives.In a country like ours, a woman has narrated her life with three husbands,and the many lovers in between, and even an affair with someone new,while waiting for her lover to join her and marry her.It is not that there is much to applaud about her life,but the openness needs to be appreciated.
We see a woman who determinedly plots her own path through a society that still labels a woman with a past as a nymphomaniac and admires an adventurous man as a playboy. .The book is also a rare insight into a world gone by. Psyche’s accounts of life evokes a gentler Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi that today’s urban gridlocks rarely reveal.This is  also the life story of a child, a mother, an explorer, a home-maker, a worker, a lover, and a woman. Through her relationships, joys and tribulations, one comes to understand her enduring love for India.She says she finds herself a 'misfit' in her own hometown.
(Kippers are salted and smoked herring, found in the cold waters around the British coast and traditionally eaten by the English and Scots for breakfast. Karimeen is known in English as Pearl Spot and is found in abundance in the warm, brackish waters of  Kerala)

I planned to write on Abu,then thought it would not be complete if I dont mention his partner and wife.I am sure the narration would evoke some curiosity in to the book itself.Everybody has a story to say.Her name itself has a story. Christened Valerie Anne, it was one of her lovers, poet James Michie, who nicknamed her Psyche. Moralists may find fault with her, but her story is riveting, not just for the sexual escapades but for the comments she makes on the turbulent times she passed through.
Abu was legendary.Asked how he wants to be remembered,he said..'as a man who lived his life without creating trouble for others'.He earned his reputation through his skills and hard work.There was a simplicity in his looks,in his life, and in whatever he said. And we know Psyche through Abu.
Now,we are here not to judge others...


Drug mafias and fake medicines..

>> Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recently, I had reasons to go to a medical shop at Trivandrum. I gave them the prescription for Dexona injection(Dexamethasone) intended for my daughter n law. (It  contains cortisone,and is a life saving medicine)  Luckily,after reaching home, I was looking at the vial and noticed the Dexona "Vet" label on it. The drug they gave me was intended  for veterinary use and NOT for human!!.I went back and asked the young boy behind the counter.He said,Sir,your driver usually buys medicines for your dog,and so..... Wonderful answer..isnt it. He probably was trying to impress me with personalised service...like they offer in bars,when a regular drunkard walks in,and the bar attendant welcomes him with his regular brand of drink.... I have often wondered whether the person behind the pharmacy counter himself is really qualified, as in whether he is a trained pharmacist or has simply ‘learnt’ the trade through an apprenticeship, many of these so called pharmacists look suspiciously young, unkempt and I have seen some, who  even passes comments,and make "better" suggestions, when requests for  medicines are made,as if they knew better than the doctor who prescribed.. Thinking about it, I would not be far from the truth if I said the entire ‘drug’ industry in the country is rather unregulated, thus giving way to huge amounts of fake drugs, quacks who operate as doctors and fraud pharmacists, to mention  few among many problems.

We in Kerala ,always boast of our literacy and health awareness.A recent survey showed that Kerala is the largest consumer of medications in India. The average consumption of medicines here is three times the national average!!.India has a twenty thousand crore fake drug market!And 30% of medicines sold in Kerala are fake medicines. And most of these fake medicines have been found to be made in slums,under unhygenic conditions,by people who have no idea about what they are making.

If you are not careful,the next time you buy Paracetamol for fever,the chances are that you will be taking tapioca powder than Paracetamol itself..Imagine what would happen if it is a life saving drug ! Common counterfeits include expensive medicines like Plavix( a blood thinning agent given after heart attack) and Lipitor( medicine to lower cholesterol).
This is not an isolated phenomenon happening here.The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 10% of medicines available globally are counterfeits.The sale of fake drugs from China and other countries is expected to reach £38 billion by 2010. Fake drugs industries are thriving in China and exports medicines all over the world,including India, often with " Made in India" label. A fake consignment of Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic treatment prescribed for schizophrenia( mental illness), infiltrated Britain's national healthcare system last year. Following this, more than £3million of fake LIFE SAVING MEDICINES for ailments such as heart disease and cancer were intercepted by customs officials and  security agencies. Frightening...isnt it?. They took immediate steps like banning the repackaging of medicines and the mandatory use of special seals to stop counterfeiters,and bar codes to determine whether a drug is genuine or not.

Medicines are life saving,it is not just any other commercial commodity,and has its own sanctity.

Coming back to us,there are some other interesting observations.When my daughter was sick ,I had to frequent pharmacies at Trivandrum..and these are lessons I learned,and hadn't known earlier. If you look at the drug label,you will notice an  MRP ( Maximum Retail Price) printed ,either at the side or back of the strip or affixed on the bottle..For a medicine,on which was written  Rs1220, I had to pay only Rs780 at the Neethi Store in front of SAT Hospital. Had I bought it  from any other pharmacy,I would have paid the whole 1220 printed on the strip plus taxes!! Such is the profit margine on medicines. MRP only means that the medicine can be sold up to that price,but can be sold for a much lesser price.There are no clear cut regulations on drug prices..I had seen an article in a Local news paper comparing drug prices at various medical shops,and it was unbelievable. Most of the medicines can be sold at half the prices of what is written as MRP.For a little  bit of effort, and a bit of extra time,make sure you go to a reliable medical store( I believe the safest are the Neethi medical stores,or like those) and buy  your medicines,if you dont have money to throw around.

And also make sure that your medicines are not substituted by the pharmacist,to another brand,than what was prescribed by the doctor.

 Kerala’s medical distribution system is also one of the most abused and exploited, controlled by thousands of unscrupulous distributors and retailers who often practise the profession of pharmacy without following the basic norms set by the  Pharmacy Council or Drug controller authorities.Pharmacies are mushrooming everywhere,for the simple reason that it is easy money and profit.In the greed for money,man stoops down to any level, even selling medicines ,knowing they are fake,and can kill sometimes. It is an open secret that most of the pharmacies function with the Pharmacist licence of those who are not actually working there, are employed elsewhere, are very old and sick or even dead persons! Health care is the responsibility of the State. It has to impose strict regulations on issue of licences to new pharmacies and enforce the registration norms prudently. The quality of drugs has to be ensured by the Pharmacy Council and they have  to stipulate stringent conditions for issuing licences and renewal of registrations ,and implement them. Drug inspectors should periodically inspect pharmacies,and violators must be closed down.
Government institutions also use the system of tenders while purchasing medicines,where the lowest tender wins the deal.This process can lead to unhealthy relations between the authorities and the pharmaceuticals. So the cheapest,and therefore,  medicines of the lowest quality reach the poor people who depend on them.

  Rigorous punishment of those who deal with fake medicines,on same terms as illegal drug traffickers,must be formulated. A Chinese man was sentenced for 11 years of imprisonment for selling fake drugs on the Internet last month, which has been the heaviest sentence for such crime given by a Chinese court.We need to follow the steps as well.

As long as criminals can harvest enormous profits, patients will remain vulnerable. The counterfeiters target the weakest members of our societies - the young, the sick, the economically disadvantaged, and it is our obligation to take action.In a state,where everyone knows everything about everything,I am surprised the public turns a blind eye towards such a grave issue.


Human rights or terrorist rights?

>> Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today, India remembered Mumbai attck victims with a day of prayer and commemoration .There were official functions and private moments of grief.. ..Life has almost come back to normal at most sites of attack.The only place where normal service has not been resumed is Chabad House, the Jewish centre where six people were killed.

Yesterday, Pakistani prosecutors charged seven men with planning and helping to execute the attacks. Ajmal Kasab(Someone tells me ,the meaning of the word kasab..is butcher) the only attacker who was captured alive, disclosed that the attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant organization. Witnesses had reported  earlier that the terrorists looked to be in their early twenties, wore black t-shirts and jeans, and that they smiled and looked happy as they shot their victims.
One must be a moron to believe  that Pakistan will give any kind of punishment to them.Kasab's trial began on 6 May 2009,and still goes on.

Now,the masterminds of September 11 terror strike  in the US,the best orchestrated mass murder of recent times.

We are being told that the terrorists spent the night before the attack getting drunk in bars, making noise, screaming insults at the "infidels", and doing everything they could to enjoy.They were not afraid or under stress. After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September the 11th will finally face justice. They will be brought to New York to answer for their alleged crimes in a courthouse just blocks away from where the twin towers once stood. For sure , lawyers for the accused will almost certainly try to have charges thrown out based on the rough treatment of the detainees . Held at Guantanamo since September 2006, one of the terrorists said in military proceedings  that he wanted to plead guilty and be executed to achieve what he views as martyrdom. In a letter from him released by the war-crimes court, he referred to the attacks as a "noble victory".

There have been numerous protests about the way the detainees  were treated at Guantanamo.About their food,freedom,religious rights,exercise,and so on.I was bit surprised that people came forward to protect their rights.And they found attorneys to defend themselves in US,even though the terrorists were not keen on getting any help.

Now,what kind of treatment would you like to be given to the terrorists?

Human rights have become a term being used randomly and loosely for convenience – many are even obsessed with the term. Let us ask ourselves whether terrorists that target humans in a bid to cause mayhem  and destruction for political or religious causes,should expect human rights for themselves in return? What about the rights of those humans they nullify by placing a bomb or using a suicide cadre to blow off to smithereens? Human rights laws should be rewritten to take account of the new age of terrorism by excluding terrorists from its provisions. The world surely needs to know that  terrorists are the worst criminals behind the facade they project,and this is a war they are fighting.

Those who have undergone trials from US and got released,have gone back to kill peace keepers in Iraq.Or will come back to Kashmir,or anywhere else near us,to kill people dear to us,having nothing to do with them or their cause.Do you think any criminal is given human rights ,where there are no civil laws? How much of our money,time and effort are wasted on putting these people on elaborate trials?.It has been eight years since September 11 attacks, and the criminals got support for the bad treatment they received at Guantanamo. They  complained of the quality of food !! It didn’t take them a month to try poor Saddam Hussain and sentence him to death by hanging. Why are the rules different for other terrorists?. Courts, Governments and Laws are nothing but means for a terrorist to buy more sweet time in life and try every bit to spread their cause or escape from jail. When the whole world has seen these terrorists killing ruthlessly, who cries for Human Rights? Even the citizens' fundamental constitutional rights are withdrawn during emergency conditions. Is this not an emergency, where brave soldiers and innocent citizens were brutally murdered?And do you think hanging them to death is the real punishment for them. No….that is exactly what they want.  Terrorists embrace death. They do not fear it . What distinguishes us from the  terrorists that we fight is, that we cherish life. So death.....  is it punishment for them?No. They shouldnot be allowed to die that easily,but let to rot in some cells for life,deprived of all the freedom they fight for.. Don’t you get that feeling when you see the innocent faces of those children murdered by them?And the families of those brave soldiers and civilians you watched on the TV today?Can you forget their faces and forgive these animals and keep on feeding them?
" We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount… The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” – General Omar N. Bradley


Celebrity ads: Have they responsibilities?

>> Friday, November 20, 2009

It is as if there is no limit to the greed of celebrities. I can easily understand if an actress  endorses a cosmetic in a commercial. Aishwarya Rai can say her beauty is all  because of Lux soap,and a sensible person can ask which soap she was using before she became Miss World,because that soap would have given her the complexion to win the pageant.!(In fact,no soaps give you complexion!). Actor Sidhique endorsing a wig is quite understandable as well. But some of these stars appear in advertisements of products which are  newly launched,and endorses their whole beauty and hair growth of their lifetime, to that product. People love their celebrities and advertisers love their power to sell virtually anything: makeup, clothes, sports drinks, junk foods, and even remedies for irritable bowel syndrome, obesity and impotence.

If you watch  the TV programme for an hour,the chances are that you will see most of your favourite stars endorsing some kind of  product or other.A superstar has been vouching for an asthma remedy from its inception. There is no way to know if  it is  sold as a  medicine,because I have seen it being sold it in supermarkets.And there are no ways to know its efficacy,because there are no studies..He also endorses pickles and puttupodi  and  gives his assurance for these products.May be, he has culinary skills yet undisclosed.Most of the actresses sell one kind of hair oil or other.And the most recent additions  are "thailoms" to reduce weight and come to shape.
Just apply it and your body will come to shape!  Simple!
An anchor at a popular reality programme is selling wall care putties and a new "thailom" to shape the body.And this is at a time when billions are being sent on researches all over the world to find a remedy for asthma and also  remedies to fight obesity.Advertisements for liver care products are too many. I remember having seen one of our popular heroines trying to endorse a remedy for liver diseases.And the ad says......If liver is safe.life is safe!! As if you  needed only your liver  for life. Heart..and kidney, brain,bones and blood......they are all things of the past.Only our ancestors needed those for life! Some friends tell me that all drunkards are taking this product  to protect liver and continue drinking. This is an example of how ads try to  alter your understanding of diseases.Herbal products appear to be the ones using celebrities for promotions most.When one product starts selling..there comes  remedies for all common ailments one after another, and the "inventor" is just basking in his glory and happiness over his contributions to the world of medicine!!

The concern is about what these campaigns can do to a person's understanding about a disease, not just a drug.

Do these celebrities have some thing called conscience and a moral responsibility?Will they give these medicines they endorse to their own children? Will they be using  any of those products on themselves or secretly go and see a doctor and take treatment for their illness? Arent they responsible and answerable for their recommendations?At times when stars are charging crores  of rupees for a movie, enough isnt enough?Stars like Tendulkar endorse food products and soft drinks,which are not considered the ideal for children.Other Hindi movie stars have been endorsing anything from undergarments to cars and insurance.

Sometimes, the products they choose to endorse might not even exist, outside  the imagination of the fraud promoters. Dont u remember the company called Home Trade?And their ad... Life means more.... Sachin, Hrithik and Shah Rukh,  enthusiastically plugged its indefinable and entirely mysterious `product'. More than just defrauding the Nagpur Cooperative Bank, and cheating millions of small investors out of their lifetime earnings,  they sold something they neither believed in, nor had any proof even existed.  So the question that begs an answer is,  why do the celebrities endorse products they dont  even know any thing about?What you call it other than greed?

I think, the so called literate and intellegent society of Kerala,who are very much aware of their rights and revolt for each and every thing possible, should ask themselves ten times, before listening to their favourite celebrities in matters regarding personal health,and also in what to buy and what not.I wish if everyone followed a simple principle..... Recommend only those products they would buy and use themselves, and would give to their own wives and children,if they had the same problems...Easy solution..isnt it?


Is there justice in the world?

Last week,a young Indian man was admitted to our ward with chest pain and found to have myocardial infarction(Heart attack).After few days,when he was about to be discahrgerd, I told him I would give him a month' s  leave to rest and recuperate. This was part of our standard protocol.I was surprised when he said.....no sir,I have to go back to work.. Can I start work from tomorrow? He was a mason in a construction company, and worked from 8 in morning till 6 in evening. He was paid about 500 dhs a month. And if he didnt work a day,his salary was cut.He cannot be sick..he said .Of the 500 dhs  he made,about 150 was spent for food, and another 50 a month to call his family in India. ( he can talk for about 15 mts for that amount....his total contact with his family in a month !).No personal expenses,he cant afford that....he has to send money home  to his family. This is the situation  of almost all the construction workers in the gulf.Probably,it wouldnt be wrong to say,the wealth of a nation can be its very cheap labour force. And this is the situation where the basic minimum salary for a national is set at  about 4000 Dhs,and none of them engages in manual labour.

Our politicians come to the gulf countries almost on a daily basis. They visit the labour camps,and make statements about what they are going to do,but nothing has ever changed.Only recently have we come to know the  reason for these visits. Their visits are not for the sake of the gulf malayali,but for their own secret agendas.Almost all of them have their sons and daughters,either working or  living in the gulf.All parties have common interests here,and no differnce of opinions!The plight of the labourer is ever the same. World is growing....Richer are getting richer.The rich always have  their rights. Poor are getting poorer.....And they dont have any rights. Dont they belong to this world?
Where is justice in this world?

Why are the poor denied of their basic rights?

According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities.

The world has the wealth and means to end poverty. Yet nearly half of the world's population live on less than  50 rupees day ( Revised stansards of poverty)And over 11 million children will die from poverty-related illness this year alone, read the leaflet that fell out of a recent issue of the New Internationalist. This particular leaflet, entitled "Isn't it time we tackled the causes of poverty?" was issued by an organisation called the World Development Movement.

Policies of governments and companies are keeping people poor. Policies that ensure global trade, benefits only the rich, not the poor. The three richest men in the world are wealthier than the 48 poorest countries combined!!   Policies that give increasing power to multinational companies.....for every $1 of aid going into poor countries, multinationals take 66% of profits out!!. The powerful are exploiting the poor to make bigger and bigger profits.

Only less than one percent of what the world spends every year on weapons  is needed to put every child into school, and to feed them, and yet it doesnt happen.

An ordianry labourer working in the Middle East,has no right to bring his family to him.But,isnt it his basic  right? I often see them in the hospital,being sick, lying lonely and dejected in the ward,and often asking me, doctor,will I be able to go home?I just want to go back home before something happens to me. Then again, to go back,he  has to beg around for the ticket. It is  almost routine for us to collect money for these people,to help them buy a ticket to go home. People go abroad  for work on the hopes of a better life for themselves and their families.But many of them  see their families,only once in few years.The lives of those unfortunate women and children left behind...Where is justice in this world?

A world with poverty, where too many lack not only for the basics of life, but also the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations,demeans us all. By helping build a path out of  it, we do not just reduce suffering,but give people power over their own lives. Development is a profoundly moral cause and isnt it time we do something about it?


The day the Swine Flew !

>> Friday, November 13, 2009

It was said that a black man could become the President if a swine  flew.Both happened.Obama became POTUS( President Of The US ) and the swine flew!Literally flew all over the world !!
The other day,a patient of mine asked me, doctor  how come we got the flu from  Pigs? Is it because we have similiar nature? Though it appeared a simple question, she had a genuine reason to ask. North of kerala they call good people  " Panneeente Mone" and she had heard it often.

Having said this,the pigs could have their reasons too.Probably,Pork is the most consumed  meat in Europe.And the Pigs must have been waiting for their turn.
Now,let us be serious.
The data on swine flu is very confusing.The WHO appears to be very  conservative,and reported about 1800 deaths and about 200,000 cases till September.They reported a death rate of about 0.9% across the world.But India is the leader in mortality rate,with a registered mortality rate of 2.4%.This probably indicates our management problems in critically ill patients.In  a study recently reported in JAMA, one in five of the patients admitted to hospital for swine flu ended up in the ICUand 24% of those died.The report from Winnipeg,Canada ,also showed that many of the Canadians who died where young adult females. This is a matter of concern.Many of our initial understanding of the disease have been proven to be wrong.This disease seem to take away the lives of younger adults than the elderly.I had witnessed two deaths  in our ICU since the onset of the pandemic.The first was a young boy of 23 years who was brought in from another hospital seriously ill,was ventillated immediately,but died with in 48 hours. The other patient had many other illnesses,and the death could have been due to his basic liver disease than H1N1.

The key to the management would be early treatment of people suffering from severe illness. Approximately 98% of the swine flu viruses are sensitive to Tamiflu.Personal hygeine like frequent hand washing,covering the mouth and nose with a clean cloth or mask( respiratory etiquette),staying at home while being sick,can all help prevent transmission.
There is another  intriguing question. Was all the fuss about this disease warranted? Has it really benefited? If so,whom?The media and the governments did a good job in instilling fear in the the world.Traditionally ,fear is used as a control mechanism by dictatorships.But now,democratic governments are also turningto fear( Like they use the threat of terror strikes,missiles from Iraq,atomic tests and bird flu !!) to control their populations.And then the media who loves a bit of drama in everything.( They will wait for the whole day under scortching heat to get a shot of the prostitute,who was "molested") In general one would expect the governments to calm their people,but the opposite is happening!
Who has benefited out of all this fuss?The Swiss pharmaceutical Giant Roche is selling more Tamiflu than they expected.Sales of Tamiflu is expected to reach about 3 billion francs this year,a huge boost to company coffers.The pharmaceutical sector has not been doing very well this year,so the pandemic has been a good windfall !

Small biotech companies are getting  fresh attention from investors looking for less expensive ways of making H1N1 vaccine.Diagnostic companies have been reaping the harvest as well,as doctors order more flu tests.The truth is,at the hospital where I  work,we have stopped ordering for flu tests,unless it is needed for documentation in the  seriously ill patients.The easier thing to do is to treat those who are having  the illness.
Everyone ,who has got  something to do with Inflienza, has gained form the pandemic. The Swiss drug maker,Novartis expects to sell flu vaccine worth  700 million dollars in the 4th quarter of this year.Glaxo and Aventis  are expected to sell higher.The expected sale of flu vaccine next year is somewhere between 10 to
 18 billion dollars !!
Many countries have started the vaccination programme.This being the Haj season, the flu vaccine is becoming a mandatory requirement. Over in the land of the free, free swine flu vaccine is not tempting folks and their kids,according to the New York Times.While most considered the vaccine safe,majority had no plans to get vaccinated. As a professional,there are no clear cut data  against the vaccine till now .But no vaccine is 100% safe.
The last time we had seen a similiar virus was in 1976.Cases of swineflu were reported in soldiers in the US, and 40 million Americans were vaccinated  during a national campaigne.But many who received the vaccine at that time filed injury claims saying they suffered a paralysing condition called Guillean - Barre syndrome.Reportedly, it can affect one in a million cases of vaccinations,but the claims were many more.The vaccine was withdrawn after just 10weeks,when the link to GBS was known.More people died of the vaccine than the swine flu itself!The US Govt was forced to pay out millions of dollars to those afflicted with the problem.
So,the vaccine makers have gained legal immunity this time from law makers in America.The document sigened last month grants immunity to those making swineflu vaccines.The federal court will take the responsibility of handling the cases. This was done to facilitate the manufacture of the vaccine.But it appears that the Health protection Agency,the official body that oversees public health,has issued an alert to neurologists, to be observant for any vaccine related problems.
The disease probably is getting controlled.Everyone has had their share of the windfall,and probably it is time for a dog flu or cow flu next year !!


Mani's merger, Abdullakkutty's victory,Murali's re entry,child deaths and a better place to live.

>> Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wondering about the caption....And what is the connection? You would know when you finish reading.
November 2 was the first World Pneumonia Day.Pneumonia claims the life of a child every minute in India.Dr Rajesh Kumar,Head of the Child Health at Chandighar made this announcement during the First ever World Pneumonia day and I found it with great difficulty at the corner of a newspaper.Many of you wouldnt have noticed it as well.Because the rest of the newspaper was full of Mani's merger and Abdullakkutty's victory,and pictures of Mani and PC George wearing monkey caps,smiling at cameras.

Pneumonia is a treatable disease,and to a great extent,preventable.This means,we could save the lives of many of these children,if we wanted to.Every year about 450,000 children die in India due to Pneumonia.Not a small number,isnt it?
And the death toll across the world is 6.6 million !

Now, do you feel a bit uncomfortable knowing that every minute you watch these leaders embracing each other and waving at you and then starts planning together for our future,( in fact, the future is only their own) a child dies in India? Dont you wish you could do something about this? And wish if our children had a better place to live?Or,at least , we had a better newspaper to read?

Then why?You agree that the world has become a miserable place to live.
Exploitation, Greed and Hatred. Arent these enough reasons? Like Pneumonia is treatable, can we find a remedy to these? Every natural resources have been exploited.Water is a scarcity.Forests disappear. Many species have vanished for ever.
But then,man is the most exploited.Children are raped,human trafficking is the most lucrative trade, and man even sells his own wife and children for money.

A better place to live is our dream. It is our right too.The world needs a clean up.
Clean the world of those dangerous,unwanted creatures,who are in fact the only disposible sub specis of humanity.Along with that, clean the mind of greed and hatred.
Then the newspapers will become cleaner. They can write about human beings and their problems..And I could shorten the caption to Child deaths in India.

There is a bit of magic in a simple little smile
Something that just makes life seem a little more worthwhile
And there is a world of meaning in the touch of someone's hand
a gentle touch that lets your brother know you understand
Oh... if people would stop taking and just once try to give
We could make the world we're living in a better place to live
La la la la la la la la la ...............


When bad things happen to good people

>> Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The last few weeks were the most testing in my life.My daughter n law was diagnosed to have an ovarian tumor, my wife had a coronary event,and then travel up and down, hospitals and corridors and endless waiting outside the ICU and the operating rooms.....

There was enough and more time to think.

In the busy schedules of work, one hardly gets time to sit back and think on ones own life.One thought leads to another.One question leads to another..all unanswered.

Why such things happen to us? Have we done done something to account for? What has an innocent girl done to be punished for?Who does all these? How does all these things happen?Who is responsible? Is it God? But He is supposed to heal us..not give us sicknesses..He carried all our inequities to the cross.....everything has been accounted for..Then what?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

This is a question which many people ask themselves.Today I ask the question.Tomorrow many of you will find yourself in similiar circumstances.

Harold Kushner wrote a book with this title.

Kushner addressed one of the principal problems of theodicy,the conundrum of why,if the universe was created and governed by a God who is of a good and loving nature,there is so much of pain and suffering? The book is dedicated to the memory of his young son,Aaron,who died at the age of 14 in 1977 of the incurable disease called Progeria.Kushner was a conservaative Rabbi.And the book was a best seller.

The summary probably is this.

Laws of nature do not make exceptions for nice people.A bullet has no conscience,neithor does a cancerous tumor,or an automobile gone out of control.That is why good people get sick and get hurt as much as anyone.No matter what stories were taught about Jonah or Daniel in the Sunday school,God doesnot reach down to interrupt the works of the laws of nature to protect the righteous from harm.The world has so become,so that bad things happen to good people,and God doesnot cause it and cant stop it.

"Nature is morally blind,without values.It churns along,following its own rules,not caring who gets on its way.But God is not morally blind.The earth quake is not an act of God.The act of God is to give them courage to survive and rebuild.

Pain is the price we pay for being alive.What we have to learn is how can we convert all our pains to birth pangs or growing pains.We may not ever understand why we suffer,or be able to control the forces that cause the suffering,but we have a lot to say about what the suffring does to us,and how it has changed our lives.

So,finally do we have an answer to the question still?The best response would be Job's response in Mac Leish's version of the Biblical story....to forgive the world for not being perfect,to fogive God for not making a better world, to reach out to the people around us,and to go on living despite it all.

I believe now that sometimes things happen for a reason.Other times,they just dont make any sense to me.I dont know if God is trying to teach as humility,or how to come together in times of tragedy,how to be good to people around you or what.This past few months were specially trying on me.All the people I saw suffering were good natured and nice.This is one of life's hardest lessons to learn and teach. If I have learned anythign out of it.. is to pull oneself together in times of need, and be good to others. What you give away,will come back to you in three folds.


Dealing with problems

>> Saturday, November 7, 2009

I was reading the other day,Carolyn R Scheidies.

Hard times,not the silken cocoon,makes us stronger if we deal with our problems and pain,instead of hiding away or pretending nothing is wrong.Blaming others or withdrawing from reality only makes matters drag on rather thn solving the problem.
Pain and problems,life and death are all part of the cycle.Only as we face problems,do we live life to the fullest.
The poet Percy Bysshe Shelly wrote, We look before and after,and pine for what is not.Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught, Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Many of our best,our highest moments evolve from dealing with circumstances,we had rather not deal with at all.When those times of trial and heartache comes,there are things we can do.
Focus on your blessings instead of your real or conceived hurt.
Deal with the situation.What is the worst case scenario?The best?What steps you can take..may be one step at a time.If you need to grieve and cry,do so.If you need to make something right,do it.If you need to confront a situation,do that.
Talk to someone who cares,someone who will keep your confidence and offer balanced,wise advice,or just listen.
Jot down ideas,thoughts,memories and emotions.You will be surprised how much it helps.

Life was never meant to be lived in a vacuum.Individuals too long sheltered from reality,contrary to what some parents believe,become mentally,emotionally and spiritually weak.Overprotecting a person prevents them from learning,growing, and unhurling their wings,and keeps them from learning resilency.
We do these unknowingly, and makes life difficult for our children when they grow up.Let them learn to cope with problems.
These thoughts really helped me in my times of stress and fear. Being a doctor,when I was to face the illness of my daughter, initially I thought...My God ..can this happen to me?Then the fear..and frustration.It took time to accept..and then I had to face and deal with it. My friends helped me as good listeners and came up with ideas.We all decided to deal with it.What we dont realise is,that we transfer our fears and anxieties to the one who is afflicted.It makes them emotionally weak.We have to stand up and face and fight.Do we have other choices?
I have gained the courage to go ahead..not by my virtues..but on His grace and my friends whom He has kindly provided. They are your weapons in times of stress and needs. Rely on them.


Do we have choices?

As we were travelling around Europe,I was thinking..do we have choices in life? Arent these people lucky to have been born in this place? Half their problems are over by virtue of their nationality.The average problems of an Indian ,are no longer problems there. Health, shelter,food... all taken care of.Then your problems arre more intellectual than physical...emotional than innate.Millions of children die all over Africa soon after birth, and many after that due to ill health and lack of food. Whose fault is all this? Do we really have choices in life?What are the Gods doing in Heavens? Have they forgotten this world?


clock of life

They say the clock of life is wound,but once. And who knows when it stops?
When it beats and runs do we think about it? The last few weeks have literally cahnged my life.I hadnt seen life and the medical world ,the way it was seen by my patients or their relatives. When I waited outside the ICU when my wife was struck by a heart ailment, I saw and heard what was the mind of those watchers outside.i was one of them. I saw the fear in their eyes,the tears,agony,frustration..everything.
And this blog is about it.


The Daily Puppy

Blog template by simplyfabulousbloggertemplates.com

Back to TOP