Thursday, December 01, 2005

On World AIDS day

Today is World AIDS Day.Once again its a day to take a hard look at the year gone by and reflect on what we have been able to accomplish. In this battle against one of the most unusual Infectious disease,are we Winning or Loosing? Well, the answer is loud and clear. Right now AIDS has upper hand.We simply have no clue how to handle this epidemic.There are as many solutions as the stakeholders.Poor HIV positive person is bewildered, frightened,helpless person, who has no idea about the disease,and prognosis.Today he is in good health.there are no apparent symptoms to indicate that he is harboring a deadly Virus which is rapidly multiplying in his body and is annihilating his immune system.He knows that he is HIV +ve, but is not aware of what he should do.He has been told that this disease is not curable.He has no knowledge about ARTreatment,and even if he knew, he cant afford it.Large chunk of the funds to fight AIDS is spent on awareness programme.There is little money for subsidizing tests and treatment.He will work today and will wait for the day when Virus will decimate the Immune system and opportunistic infection will strike to begin the end.Then he will be shunned by friends and relatives.But will it matter? He will be already isolated in his mind, waiting for the end to come.
There is no solution in sight.We have to change the approach but what should be the new approach to tackle AIDS?.Awareness can go only this far.There is urgent need to define AIDS as "Infectious Viral Disease" which is not curable.( All Viral diseases are not curable -they can be prevented by Vaccines).This epidemic should be tackled like any other Infectious disease epidemic.There is need to bring change in our Sexual Behaviour.There should be more emphasis on "Safe Sex".These days there is more promiscuity and matching ignorance about STD and 'Safe sex'. Girls- even well educated ones- dont practice safe sex, have unprotected sexual intercourse,and are more worried about getting pregnant than contracting killer diseases like AIDS or Hepatitis B or C !!
In today's TOI there is article about HIV testing done without consent.Why this privileged status for HIV testing? Do you need specific consent for Hepatitis B, Diabetes,Kidney disease, cancer testing ? Should we take special consent for X-ray chest for T.B. and ECG for heart disease. Two years ago when SARS virus hit the S E Asia, anyone transiting through these regions were quarantined on airport.Did anyone take permission to test?
Till last year Blood Banks were collecting blood from donors and then testing it for HIV and other tests. If +ve the blood was simply destroyed after disinfection. Donor was not made aware of HIV status as it was legally forbidden to do so.He would infect his wife,children and donate Blood twice a year which was never used.!Thank God this absurd rule is now removed.TOI article goes on to add that this clandestine testing has actually reduced the spread of infection.Doctors can also act as counselor and HIV +ve person can spread message of awareness better than anybody.
Surprisingly HIV +ve person is treated by Dermatologist and not by Physician!!Its throwback to the time when AIDS was cosidered as part of venereal disease!If there are complications than Physician is called in.In US HIV +ve person is looked after by Physician.Obstetrician - the most vulnerable medical practitioner in contracting disease from patient- has no role in any AIDS programme.This sunday there is a conference on AIDS, arranged by IMA-Mumbai.In the speakers list Obstetrician is missing! Lets hope that in 2006 we may find new, more effective way to contain this epidemic.Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Chhota Shahar-Bada Shahar

Rashmi in her excellent post tried to define a 'chhota Saher' and 'bada Saher". Its very difficult to define whats chhota or bada sahar.Gaurav feels that if young people from a city like Indore want to move out to big cities than its Chhota shaher.well we can debate what's Chhota or Bada Shaher and never find an answer. Its like who is Indian?
Though i was not convinced by arguments put forward by Rashmi.Attitude of people of Indore is present in magacities like Mumbai,Chennai(of Khushboo fame) and many other.I have stayed in Mumbai my entire life but i have desire to settle down in small(!) towns like Baroda, Valsad, Navsari or Gwalior.The reason I dont pursue this is due to the fact that I am spoilt by this uniturrupted electric supply in Mumbai and am wary of daily Load shedding of some 2-10 hrs thats part of life in other cities. This desire to go to small city may be is the result of nostalgia of my years spent in Girgam(Mumbai).
One way of defining chhota shaher is Physical Boundaries of a city.Small towns have bit of intimacy.We meet same people on different occasions,time and places.People know the landmarks and there are places, shops,food joints known and visited by many residents. There is someone famous for chaat,other for Kebab,third one for Kachodis and list goes on.This is almost impossible in metropolis like Mumbai. As a city grows this intimacy, togetherness is lost and then its bada, anonymous sheher where people mind their own business and are not bothered about you.City looses its characteristics and is like any other city in the country.Visiting Cities in U.S.A. gives you same sense of deja vu.You have seen one, you have seen all. But this is just an academic discussion.This change will be relentless and we will have to live with it.We will be nostalgic about the small town,village we came from.But its a mirage. If you ever return, you will find it has grown to big Sheher, just like one you came from.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


That excellent journo-blogger Sonia has informed her blog admirer that she is as pretty as his grandmother but meaner. Now I will accept the first part of this but meaner? naa.That brings me to a question? Can you profile a Blogger by reading his/her posts.? I am regular reader of her posts.I don't know whether she is Beautiful,pretty,Attractive, fair,tall or Short and Fat, unattractive or looking like my grandma.But her posts inform us about her concern for dispossessed,those who got raw deal from life but have chosen to fight back against heavy odds, a battle they may loose.A post on Book reading gave her views on rich and famous having a sham ball at a 7* dos.Her trip to Cambodia.........
I believe that's where blogging is different than writing a piece in Newspaper or weekly.There writer is bit impersonal. Write up is about an event or person in news.Sometimes the write up is different form of advertisement and nothing remotely nasty can be written in it. Novel or short story is all about characters of the story.Sometimes it is autobiographical or writer's past experiences may intrude but its not whole thing, otherwise all the characters of the story would be almost same.
Blogging is about your day to day life.What you feel about happenings around you.YOUR experience,views,take on daily events in YOUR life.Thats why eventhough sometimes the language,prose is not great but its imminently readable and interesting as its all about life through bloggers eyes and mind. Sometimes we have witnessed the same event but someone will blog about it with absolutely different and interesting viewpoint. This reveals bloggers traits which helps you to profile him.Most of the bloggers do write about their friends,workplace,events in their lives, their relatives,spouse.....At the end of the day after few months you develop a friendship with this blogger which he/she may not reciprocate.It takes you to their blogsite everyday to read what your blogfriend has to say about world around him.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

In Defence of IIPM

I am no way connected or interested in IIPM activities and strongly condemn the comments by IIPM sympathizers attacking Rashmi and issue of Legal(!) notice to Gaurav.It is their basic right to express their opinion on IIPM activities which can be refuted or ignored by IIPM.I would like to be Devil's advocate and join issue with Rashmi and Jammag.
1) The Full Page *Advertisement* of IIPM.:-Well since when are we suppose to take seriously what is stated or shown in advetisement? There are so many bloggers working in Advertising firms in various capacities.Do they believe anything they write in any advertisement? whatever is stated in full page advertisement of IIPM,you must take it with bucket of salt. It is no crime to make false claims in advrtisement.It's been done everyday,by everybody, in all advertisement.Give credit to IIPM that it has not resorted to inserting articles in major newspapers,extolling virtues of IIPM or placement of IIPM graduates with their inflated salaries.
2) Ranking of IIPM:- Is anyone bothered about these ranking except the institutes?whats the use of ranking when you can get admission on your score and merit ranking.May be first few in the Merit list can select, rest have to take whatever is offered to them.Besides these ranking are big joke and I simply throw the' India Today' issues on ranking of Medical,Engineering colleges and B-Schools in dustbin.Ranking depends on many variable factors and different agencies give different ranking depending on the weightage given to different criterias.( India Todays ranking of Best chief Ministers-Mr.Naidu & Mr.Krishna-lost elections).I am presuming that they have carried out the whole exercise with honesty and sincerity.Only fools will take admission on the basis of ranking given by Outlook-C,India Today etc.
3)Campuses of IIPM:- A building in Bandra-Kurla complex costs real money.If you dont get acres of public land at throw away lease rent from the Govt. then such a campus is great thing.BTW I have seen campus of many Engg. colleges which are converted coaching class/ school/ Tin sheds.This is in Mumbai.If they have A.C. classrooms with decent desks and P.A.system it is better than what we are used to.Even a decent Toilet is improvement on campuses of many reputed Engg. and Medical colleges. have you seen the campus of* Deemed University* in New Mumbai? Whats wrong with well organised small canteen?Atleast one IIPM campus did have swimming pool ! wow! English Architecture? How many know whats that? You want to do MBA or Architecture? If you are interested in taking admission please go there and check it out . If you dont like what you see don't take admission. If you are a lazy slob then who can help you?
4) Fees:- Now since when this high fee for MBA is an issue? I think we settled that almost 2 yrs ago and gave fitting reply to that Prof.M.M.Joshi who wanted to reduce fees of IIMs.We fought a pitched battle with him and his hidden saffron agenda, remember?We had decided to keep the fees high as students were assured fat salaries on graduation . Even banks were willing to offer loans to prospective students.Keeping that in mind IIPM has kept its fees high between 4.5- 8 lacs.IDBI bank is there to give loan.I am sure they have extension counters in IIPM campuses.But look at the brighter side.IIPM offers free Laptop and Free Europe tour.You have recovered atleast 1.5 lac.and don't have to spend on package tour to Europe!
5) Faculty:- Students were satisfied with their permanent teaching staff .What more you want? If professors from foreign Universities are not not taking lectures then only students have right to complain.
6)Placement:- Why should you believe what is advertised by IIPM? Placement will also depend on Business cycle.When economy is growing, more will get jobs.There were quite a few companies who visited IIPM campus for recruitment.30-40% were recruited from campus recruitment and other managed on their own and got the job with salaries upto 4.5 lacs.Not bad, na?
7) Degree: The MBA/BBA degree conferred by IIPM is not recognised by AICTE/UGC or any state universities.Does it matter? There are so many Degrees in different fields which are not recognised by Indian state.(Medical Degrees from CIS./Mauritius/Seychelles/) .Does that mean they don't know the subject?As long as IIPM graduates are useful to companies which can hire them to carry out their work its ok.
8) Mr.Arindam Chaudhury: Why should it bother us whether he is MBA or not?From which IIM?Anyone can call himself as management Guru.Why not? If he can set up and manage such an Empire than he is Guru.Whats in MBA degree.Is Mr.Jagmohan Dalmiya a Cricketer?But he has made BCCI wealthiest sport body in India.Mr.Chaudhury is better marketers than many IIM graduates.If students believe him and enroll for MBA in IIPM than they are doing it with their eyes wide open.Dont blame him for students' carelessness.Nobody is forcing students to join IIPM.Find out everything you want before joining.If you foolishly believe everything that's given in advertisement than you have noone but yourself to blame.
Above is my opinion based on whats written in article in JAMMAG.I personally have no knowledge and don't waste time reading IIPM advertisement.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

It's a Dog's life

Thrice a year, when the maid who takes my pet dog Blackie down for walk, goes to her gaon on vacation , I have to take him for his daily walks.I take him to lane behind my housing society which has virtually no vehicular traffic and there is large playground adjacent to it.We are familiar with the stray dogs who have made it their home.Most of them are borne here.They are in three groups,and each group has it's own garbage dump. In the morning they are in group surrounding the ragpicker who picks up garbage from neighboring societies sorts the garbage,and keeps aside what she can sell,rest is again filled in plastic bins,from where its picked up by BMC garbage van.Pack of Dogs have that short period, to rummage through the garbage to look for and eat.Skirmishes and fights are common features,since Blackie is not one of the contender for food,they don't bother with him.rather two young dogs want to play with him,tail wagging but Blackie likes only one of them so to other one his response is is to ignore or start low growl which keeps him away.I would avoid feeding them when Blackie is around as controlling them is tough.
Everytime I look for the addition and passing away of old friends.Socksy who was hybrid between stray and may be Pom was intelligent leader of the pack, always ready to rush when intruder was spotted.He was on good terms with Blackie as both had grown up together.But in May, Soksy was weak and disinterested. He would not get up to greet and would look with pathetic eyes.His coat was dirty and there were patches where there was infection.He was being treated but it was a loosing battle.Today morning I did not find him in the pack.It's loss of a friend. Kalu is stray,strong and present leader of the pack.He has many scars to show for the battle fought and won in last 2 yrs.There is a bitch in the pack. she is pregnant at present.May be this would be her third litter.I hope this time few of the new born will survive.From her last littre none survived.But should they?
It's pathetic situation.Since High Court has passed the judgment directing BMC not to kill strays, BMC has lost interest in them.It seems its more profitable for BMC to catch and KILL strays than to catch and sterilize them.NGO who had filed the PIL doesn't have financial or managerial resources to carry out sterilization of strays.They are dependent on BMC to give land to keep sterilized dogs.BMC would hate to part with anything.So there is explosion of Canine population.There is great strain on space and availability of food.Since pack guards its territory fiercely, there are fights and many are seriously injured.Weak ones have to sneak in others territory for food.If they are spotted, they are attacked and injured.Last May a dog had sneaked into our area at night.He was spotted and attacked.He took shelter under the School Bus parked during vacation.Hungry and thirsty he dare not come out from his safe place.He was so fearful that he would not come near the edge.It took almost an hour to cajole him to come and eat Biscuit and milk.He had wounds on the back, near ear and another near leg.During night he managed to sneak away safely- hopefully.When I was a child, we had practice of keeping aside food for Dogs and cows was believed by Hindus that feeding Dogs and Cows will prevent fights among members of the joint family and bring prosperity.Today the practice is dead and with fridge in every house there are no leftovers to feed stray dogs.So canine population has exploded and food source has dwindled.This is slow,painful death by starvation and disease.
Is there a solution to this problem? I don't know.These days one hears constant complaints about stray dogs creating mayhem.Their incessant barking and fights at night are the constant cause of complaint.Last month a stray who was attacking passerbys was stoned to death in Andheri.Group of sickos brutally killed a bitch and tried to burn her.In future stray dogs will be more aggressive as available space for them will reduce.There is no communication and coordination among NGOs workig for strays.Availability of funds is a problem for any animal lover.But people have inherent love for dogs and are willing to help care for them.A milkmen gives milk for all the three packs while supplying milk in our area.An old lady lugs heavy bag filled with chiken legs to feed strays in almost 2 km.area.She refuses all help and does this as mission.Its time for all the Animal Lovers and NGOs to pool their resources and carryout directed help in more organised manner.This problem requires urgent solution.Any suggestions from our IIM trained bloggers? I urge them to apply their skills to find solution to this problem.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Commercialism Of Education

Commercialism of education is one problem that perpetually bothers Indian mind. Our first reaction is 'Its bad and shouldn't be allowed.' But what is comercialisation of Education?. Providing higher education to students who couldn't get admission through regular channel-CET score- by charging high fee is considered bad. The student may have just few marks less than 'cut off ' marks and in many cases more marks than many SC/ST/OBC candidates.Besides if he is paying in lacs to get the education than he is basically more interested in subject than the student who has joined just because he /she has good score or is admitted through reserved categories. Should we unfairly assume that he will be a bad student and after graduating his first aim will be to recover the money spent on education and not provide service to people.This is absurd because students who take admission through regular channel don't charge less to the patients or take less salary as Engineers or B school graduates.There is hue and cry if Private Medical colleges-who have to have attached Hospital providing Free Medical treatment- charge 1.5-2 lacs as fees and wants to increase it but if Prof. Murli Manohar Joshi wants to reduce fees charged by IIM's from 3-4 lacs to 1 lac then there is great protests from likes of Narayan Moorthi.Its ok if IIMs-and other B schools- charge huge fees but bad if Pvt. Medical colleges charge the same fees for MBBS course.
This has resulted in funny situation.There are no new private Medical colleges started in India.-Except Minority institutions.On the contrary established Pvt. Medical colleges are threatening to close down and state wants to take over.Whereas all the neighboring countries have decided to tap this market and now one can do MBBS from Nepal,Sri Lanka,Mauritius,Seychelles,Ukraine,Russia,Uzbekistan and now even China. So we wont let Indians open a Pvt. Medical College in India but allow Indian student to pay 5-6 lacs Fees in foreign exchange and take dubious Medical education in above countries.This is abs. Novel way of preventing commercialisation of education in India.we need fresh, new thinking about higher education.May be its time to admit Paying NRI/Indian students to even state run colleges to make them financially viable and in case of state run Medical colleges to upgrade and maintain hospitals and provide better hospital care to patients.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Chawls of Mumbai

Maharastra Govt. order to evacuate and demolish dilapidated buildings and have brought chawls in the limelight once again.Chawls are unique for Mumbai and are responsible for cosmopolitan ,liberal ,tolerant culture of Mumbai.Most of them were built between two World Wars by people who had made money in 1st world war and the rooms were rented out to people moving in with families to Mumbai from interiors of Maharastra and Gujarat.They formed the famous 'Middle Class'.If you make money you move to flats of Colaba,Marine Drive,Walkeshwar,Hindu and Parsi Colony.The architecture was what they had in village they came from without the Angan in front and Court yard in rear.Typical tenement was common Gallery,large 12-18' x 10' room, followed by smaller Kitchen with Bathroom(Mori) at the end with Tap for water.Common Toilets were norm.There was no provision for underground water tank and Water supplied by BMC did not reach overhead tanks due to lack of pressure,so storing water in big drums was necessity.Que for the toilet in the morning,dirty ,stinking, poorly lit,chocked toilet was common and was ordeal most people dreaded.Many overcame the stink by smoking Bidis in toilets and got addicted to smoking.The Chawls had Wooden Beams and columns,Burma Teak meant good construction,Floor consisted of wooden rafters at the base,Brick coba, and china chips in nice designs,Kota or Shahbad stone or plain cement on the top.No tiles.I lived in small dead-end lane in Thakurdwar area.We had 3-4 stories chawls with 10-40 tenements.Residents of first two chawls were predominantly Gujarati and Marwadi,rest were inhabited by Maharastrians.Few of the ground floor rooms were dorms for those who had come to Mumbai for work leaving their families in village.They worked as Mathadi workers and others from Konkan area worked as plumbers,painters,peons in small offices. We had Chambhar(Mochi),Bhandari,Khatri,Kasar,Sonar,Brahmins, Desais and Low caste Patels from South Gujarat.There was no caste discrimination.Everyone took part in Festivals.Kamble who had shoe shop, was in charge of Sarvajanic Ganesh festival for many years.I dont remember being asked not to play or not to mix with low caste people.We were aware of the caste but it had no place in our day to day life.This has given Mumbai its unique character.
Tenement were small so there was no space for residents.You use home to bath,eat food and sleep.Rest of the time you have to be out of the house.So groups were formed according to age and each group had its meeting place.During holidays and vacation half the day was spent in company of friends. With plenty of time on hands you indulge in games-cricket being favorite,but we played Kabbadi,lagori and Marbles.Carrom was very popular,and Table Tennis on small wooden bench.There was no TV, so Radio Ceylon with Binaca Geetmala was hot favorite.We had timeon hand, so could take part in Election campaigns.I remember election meetings of George Fernandes for Lok Sabha.He defeated S.K.Patil of Congress and virtually put an end to Patil's political career in Mumbai.For decades Fernandes was called 'George the Giant Killer'.In seventy Marathi youth was attracted to Shiv Sena with its 'Son of soil' ideology.There was constant conflict between socialists and Shiv Sena.Most of us couldn't pursue studies after SSC due to financial constrains.Even passing SSC was tough as at home there was no space to study.We used to go to GMC Gymkhana bldg. on Marine Drive to study.Terrace was another good place.Most got job as clerk in BMC or in Govt. offices.Gujrati boys completed their college education and took jobs in Banks or offices.With hard work and diligence they progressed but couldn't reach very high posts.Very few could break through the Middle class bracket.
Festivals were the most enjoyable period. First festival of the year was Kite flying on 14 Jan.we would gather on terraces and it was funfilled day.Holi was no-no as there was no water to take bath in the afternoon.Monsoon session would start with Govinda.We had Handi which could be broken with 3-4 Thars.It was usually local affair but Govinda from Umerkhadi was famous then as well.Ganpati festival had Pride of Place.we had Sarvajanik Festival and most Marathi homes has Ganpati. for 1-7 days.Majority had Gauri as well.It was 10 days of fun,music,orchestra, 3 act Drama etc culminating in the Grand Visarjan which would start at 9 pm and end with immersion at Chawpatty beach at 1 am or so.For a quote a few years we had Pauranic themes played out by Moving figures.Entire set up and its perfect working for 10 hrs or so daily would take up quite a lot of time and effort, but there would be long queue to see the show which would make it worthwhile.In subsequent years focus moved to huge idols of Ganesh and for us there was nothing to do as cultural programme degenerated to 16 mm movie shows and an evening of orchestra.Most difficult part was Visarjan -to move and immerse 12'+ idol required great effort and to take it for immersion in deep sea, in darkness with full tide was scary as well.Navratri was celebrated by Gujarati residents with Garba and Dandia.We had Dholi and shehnai and dandia ras was more like "Dholi Maro... in DDCS than what we see these days at Falguni Pathak's show.Diwali was less noisy-most couldn't afford bursting crackers-and emphasis was on making Kandils, usually similar Kandils for entire chawl which gave beautiful look to entire lane. Very beautiful Rangoli was other special feature of Diwali-in fact we had Rangoli competition for few years.Entire night was spent in creating Rangoli,some with nationalist or Shivaji themes,other with intricate designs and few with nature as theme.Christmas and New year were not celebrated as we didn't have Christian families.
But most of all, it was feeling of being part of one BIG family.There was more togetherness, cooperation and help.If male member had to go out of Mumbai or a family member was admitted in hospital, one need not worry on home front.Neighbours would take care of children,and food was never a problem.Someone is available to attend hospital or be with you just to give company and courage.Somehow money needed for treatment was arranged.Almost everyone was invited to attend marriage.And attending funeral was almost mandatory.Everyone in your chawl knew almost everything about you, your extended family and sometimes about your guests as well.Many felt this lack of privacy stifling,but there was nothing one could do.Those bonds of friendship,togetherness are still there.Weakened,frayed but important part of my upbringing.It has helped me to be more understanding of other's problems,made me more tolerant of other's idiosyncrasies,liberal in outlook and to be practical and pragmatic in life.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mangal Pandey

Today with the release of Aamir Khan's much awaited film based on Mangal Pandey-India's First Martyr in the war Of Independence, time has come to examine that period of Indian history.Was it India's First war of Independence?. What we had learned about it in our History Books is very different than what is taught today. It was called Sepoy mutiny.It was analysed then in more detail. Today It is our first war of Independence and detail as well as reason for its failure are given Nationalist spin.
Basically it was not war in which common people participated as in French Revolution or American War of Independence.Rather they were the victims and suffered atrocities unparalleled in British History. Protagonist were Indian Sepoys in Army of East India Company and Armies of Maharajas and Nawabs of Princly states which were taken over by East India Company-aptly called campany sarkar.The war did not spread south of Vindyas -todays Northern Maharastra and many Princly states-especially those who had cosy, profitable relations with British- did not join the rebellion, rather they joined forces with British. British counterattacked Delhi with Sikh and Gorkha forces.The area affected was Delhi and what is todays U.P.Most of the Sepoys were high caste Hindus and were fighting for more pay , perks and resentment against greased Cartridges.While Princes wanted to be allowed to rule their states. There was nothing for the Aam Adami.He was passive onlooker and participated in loot,rape and atrocities against British for which they were punished by British army when they gained control again.Punishments to Villagers and captured sepoys were most cruel in British Army's history. British had Well trained proffessional standing army part of which had rebelled( mutinied).Indian army of Princes had not seen action for very long time.So the Mutiny was spearheaded by rebellious section of British Indian Army and it's fate was foregone conclusion.
To compound the matter Mangal Pandey, did not wait for the appointed date to start the rebellion-6th May-but jumped the gun and attacked his supirior officer,then tried to commit suicide by shooting himself, was captured,court martialled and hanged on 8 April. The company to which he belonged was disarmed and dismissed.This incident forwarned British and they tried to find out the conspiracy hence rebellion started from Meerut(Merath) earlier than appointed date and led to confused, disorganised attacks against British which had better army and heavy guns,mortars.No wonder rebellion failed.Had it succeeded thanAam Adami would have gained nothing. Instead of British rulers, we would have had Indian rulers who were partners with British in exploiting Indians.The First War of Independence is as fictional as Aamir Khan's Mangal Pandey.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Towards Electronic Annual Reports

Come July and one is inundated with Junkmail called "Annual Reports" of Listed Companies.All the Company Chairmans have this fascination of Glossy Annual Reports which runs to some 150-200 pages,carrying their statement-Vision( sic)- for the Company. Mug shot of the Chairman-M.D. is a must on the first page.Now with Shares being in Demat form, there are shareholders with just 5-10 shares.Rather they form the majority and each one gets this "Annual report".These days our housing society office looks like a Raddiwala's shop as most of these reports are dumped there by the Postman-They don't fit in the postbox provided to the member. How many shareholders read or even glance through these reports? Most of the Shareholders have shares of some 15-20 companies, Units of 4-5 Mutual Funds.Do they have time to go through these reports?.How many of us really understand Balancesheets of Companies and their subsidiaries reports are almost in standard format informing nothing.
So why are we supporting such waste of paper and consequent loss of forests.We take pride in being IT savy-no IT superpower (!) nation,then why cant we put our Annual reports and accounts on Website? Those interested can go through it and download-print whichever portion they want to.The cost of producing,printing and dispatching these reports must be more than Dividend received by most shareholders.Surprisingly IT Giants like Infosys sends printed reports. One can argue that Company Law requires this, but surely it can be changed.As long as Accounts are Published and are made available to Public the purpose is served.We talk of Paperless office and e-Governance and all high fandu jargon.But in practical terms its same old story repeated year after year.Its time to put stop to this nonsense,and move towards "Electronic Annual Reports"

Friday, July 29, 2005

Our Role in Disaster Management

When disaster struck Mumbai in the form of heavy rains and floods,we realized that we had very poor disaster management system, and blamed Govt./Police for this.But what is the role of citizens during disaster? No one has any idea what we as citizens supposed to do.Take the case of Tuesdays floods with few examples.
Everyone wanted to reach safety of the home irrespective of the perils along the way.I gave lift at 11.30pm to group of 5 ladies with their children. Chidren had gone to school near Chandan cinema and their mothers got worried and left their homes on Yari Road at 4 pm to go to school and bring them home.While returning they had to cross overflowing Nallah where there was very strong currant as water was flowing to sea in ebb tide. They took 8 hrs in rains, darkness and flooded Link road for to and fro journey.Where children were safe? In school or on roads?
Mr. Mahesh Bhatt interviewed a lady, who went to pick up her daughter in Jamnabai School which was under may be 7 feet water and from there to Neena's home in Juhu, wading through water for 1 1/2 hrs.Mr.Bhatt applauded their efforts. But where they were safe? in elite school like Jamnabai or on road flooded with dirty water? Surely elite school like Jannabai can safely keep student and provide water and food to students for upto 24 hrs.
Ms. Dilnaz Boga -Journalist with Mumbai Mirror-moves out of safety of Times Bldg. with 2 lady colleagues to go to their homes in Mahim and beyond and has described her experience in Mumbai Mirror.Its a good copy to read but can she explain what was the need to leave safety of TOI bldg in first place.TOI doesn't have facility to keep journalist there for 24 hrs?
I agree with bloggist 1963, that people would like to be with their families during disaster but disasters are not managed by emotions. You have to carryout your assigned role to manage and help in disaster.So its important to fix citizens role while planning disaster management..Everywhere schools are used for shelter during disaster and here we take children out of safety of school to dangerously flooded roads.In future schools and office should be equipped to accommodate students and staff for the duration till all clear is given or safely moved by authorities.
Lesson to be learned from this disaster is to be at safe place during disaster and move only when all clear is sounded, as was advised to Londoner during 7/7 Bomb blasts.If this simple principle were followed by officegoers in Mumbai, then they would have stayed put in safe place like office or nearest safe place like home of friend or relative nearby.This would have prevented traffic Jams caused by stalled cars,(even their costly cars and other valuables would have been safe),easy movement of rescue teams which were held up by traffic and fewer incidents of need to rescue people who were trapped in surging water while going home. There would have been fewer people on stations and lot easier to provide water and food.Telecommunication would not be overwhelmed and their dear ones would not have spent hours worrying about them. In my hospital, staff and even visiting doctors were asked not to leave till water receded and was safe to go home.We made arrangement for the food(just omelet and bread).Even a couple who wanted to use toilet in the hospital was asked to stay in hospital premises till water receded.My daughter was asked to stay at relatives place till we fetched her next day evening.A doctor friend in Parla -west was host to friend's daughter and her friends for upto Wednesday afternoon.They were safe and we spent worryfree night.This horrowing experience was completely avoidable and unfortunately there were many who lost their lives for not following this First principle of Disaster Management.

New Life amidts Flood of Mumbai

Watching clips of floods in Gujrat,Goa,Raigad on TV I had always thought that this is one situation Mumbai wont face. Psunami may be, but not floods as we know.My only expirience of flood was during my trip to mahabaleshwar in August of 1999, when incessant rains had flooded river near Mahad/Poladpur.But it was not dangerous as we soon left for Mahabaleshwar.In the past ,during heavy rains at high tide in Mumbai, streets would get flooded,but it never caused anything more than minor irritation. Besides one always knows which areas get flooded and can avoid them by taking detours.It was different story this time. Rains caused flooding everywhere and area near sea in Juhu,Goregaon, Jogeshwari and other places and strong current caused maximum distruction and deaths.
I was fortunate that I chose to stay home.I had to go to Mumbai to meet my Tax Consultant to file return and I had planned to return home with friends who work in fort area.My appointment was for 4 pm so after lunch I was on net reading Amit's blogs on cows and foray in the Lovers corner in Orbit Mall.But previous experience had taught me to keep an eye on rains, so by 2.30 pm I was convinced that this rain will flood the streets and trains will stop as Matunga,Mahim,Dadar ,Parel will get flooded as they usually do.I phoned my friends in Fort area told them that I am not coming and they should leave immedietally or stay there in the office till water recedes.They were surprised as there was no rain there.So I told them to Phone before starting.
At 3pm Doctor friend phoned to asked whether he could do C Section in my hospital as he had no light and emergency light would not last long.He couldnt transfer the patient as roads were flooded.Fortunatelly my house and Hospital in Seven Bunglow is on higher ground and there is no flooding, and we had electricity.I asked friend to bring the patient to my hospital and I rushed to hospital to keep Operation Theatre ready for immediete surgery.In 15 minutes friend was in hospital with patient and theatre was ready,but Anaesthetist was stuck in flooded street. Water was upto Bonnet of his car.So he started walking in the waist high water with strong currunt and heavy anaesthetist bag on his head. Its just 1km from hospital but walking was difficult. Our anxiety level was rising faster than water in the street,If we loose the child or mother becomes serious its disaster for us.Besides so far we had electricity but how long will it be there ? To operate in Emergency light,even the thought was making us anxious and nervous.After waiting for 30 mnts. we phoned other Anaesthetist friend.Outside his building Water was chest high and water had entered BSES transformer in the compound so there was danger of Electric shock. But he agreed to come. Doctor friend went to pick him up.Thats good about old model M-800. it can navigate in flooded street better than all these new cars.By this time 1st anesthetist walked in ,all wet.I asked him to change and tried to contact doctor friend on Cell.Luckily Orange network started working & after 5-6 tries call was through and I asked him to rush back to start operation.
We were all set now, Washed up,Patient prepared,Anaesthetised and... light went out.Inverter light took over, all light except operation light were switched off. No AC, no Cautery, No electric suction.Emergency foot operated suction was availabe.In 5 mts baby was out,crying loudly, By this time second anesthetist also walked in.Neonatologist took care of the baby and we completed the operation without any further problem.But it was tense time for us.If things go wrong there is no help, no blood to transfuse.One has to just thank God.Tomorrow She is going home.Will she remember her first delivery? Will she tell her baby that she was born on a day when Mumbai had record rainfall and was flooded? In all these stories of horrowing expiriences,the story of her birth is not interesting.But its one story which has happy ending,a story where a new life has come amidts all this destruction.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Finally after a long delay, Rains are here. To get wet in rain is altogether different pleasure especially when its after a long and humid summer. If Mumbai can be associated with any season then its Rain.Otherwise it's difficult to differentiate a day from any other day.Only Mumbaikar can appreciate Forrest Gump's description of Rains during his stint in Vietnam,especially 'Big Fat Rain'. Rains in Mumbai has different 'Roops' at different time. In June and upto Mid July. He is all powerful local 'Dada'.Accompanied with his gang of strong stormy Winds,lightening,Thunder he arrives and shows it's strength.Uprooting trees,Building collapse and flooding which completely disrupts Mumbais clockwork existence of Mumbai is punctuality of its suburban Trains( 1.59 and not 2.00 pm. Karjat fast).When trains are late or cancelled by rains Mumbaikar is at complete loss.All his well laid out plans and time table have been disrupted and his entire day and mood is spoilt.But he cant complain. For almost a month he was complaining that rains are late and was blaming almost everything for the delay.But nothing is more enjoyable than walking along Worli or Marine Drive sea face and watch huge waves crashing into the wall and spraying fine mist on you. In July August rain takes different roop.Now its steady drizzle puncuated with heavy showers. It has made adjustment with Mumbaikar, like fourth seater in suburban train. No more flooding, no late running of trains, and life slowly returning to normalcy.It's rains for 10-15 days followed by a week of sunshine and humid( but not hot) weather.Its time for that unique festival of 'Govinda' and thrill of watching human Pyramids trying to reach and break Dahi Handi. In September,the guest is preparing to leave.Occassional rains- rather drizzle, what is aptly called in Hindi-Boonda Bandi.You can leave your Umbrellas and Raincoats home.Take shelter under a tree and wont get wet.Mumbaikars life has almost returned to routine humdrum existence.Trains are running with absolute punctality and so is life of Mumbaikar.Discussion is on about Season's total rainfall-was it normal or less , reasons for this changing trend.Mumbaikar is sad that his dear guest is leaving and tells him " Pudhchya Varshi Laokar Ya".

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Reliance Saga

At last brothers have patched up.Kokilaben had last word-command-and the biggest private Industrial house has split. Everyone heaved sigh of relief, shackled as it were by Reliance for last 7 months, promptly jumped to record high of 7K. In time to come both divisions will progress and will be mini Empires.
The great Visionary-Late Dhirubhai-did not foresee the split.He who had created this Mega Company through web of holding and investment companies, did not plan for its division between two brothers.During his lifetime he must have seen and even intervened, when family businesses were divided among siblings.Most of the businesses controlled by Gujratis were managed by family members and elder siblings who join business before younger ones, would take over major or more profitable share, forcing younger brothers to be either subservient to them or move out.Dhirubhai did not write his will.
I am really surprised at this reluctance on the part of Indians to write their 'Will' or even discuss anything about death.Spiritually we Hindus believe that 'Atma' is Amar and on Death, we are changing the Body-as changing clothes everyday. But try discussing Death and there is hushed silence will be told that it should not be discussed,who knows if times are bad then it might turn out to be true!!.In the west they select where they would like to get buried,funeral service, choose casket-even pay for it,what type of stone nad even the epitaph! Try getting help online for writing your own will.No Indian Law Firm advertises online service to write' Will'. 'Living Will' is a concept to be practiced in USA.Here we wont talk about it.I know cases where relative-who has no chance of recovering- is kept alive by Ventilator,Tube Feeding, Dialysis, with mounting Hospital Bills( In one case it was more than cost of 1BR Flat in Mumbai) and no one to take decision.In absence of 'Will' other members of the family have usurped the money and business leaving nothing for wife and children.A well thought out 'Will' would avoid bitter fights and divisions in family,would take care of spouse and weaker siblings.
Fellow bloggers ,if you have not written your'WILL' ,do so now.A small paragraph will make all the difference in the life of your loved ones.-PK

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jinnah and Two Nation Theory

I fail to appreciate whats the hue and cry about Mr.Advani's remark regarding Mr. Jinnah. Jinnah's views are well known for years.He was Secular Liberal like most of the political leaders of his time.For them religious belief was personal matter and State was Secular, making no distinction on the basis of faith of the person.Two Nation Theory was based on Politics and not on religion.After the Elections of 1936, Jinnah understood that in Democratic set up Hindus with their numerical majority would dominate Muslims politically. He had example of Britain ,which had Two party system.Jinnah envisaged Two Secular nations-India with Hindu majority and Pakistan with Muslim majority where Muslims can have political cultural power.Like Turkey or modernday Malaysia.
Today we know how wrong he was. Imagine if we had 'Akhand Bharat'of RSS dream.We would have Muslim population of India,Pakistan and Bangladesh.Hindus would have only marginal majority.With our constitution and First past the Post elections, Hindus divided on the basis of Caste--Dalit,Backward,suvarna, Secular- Communal. Minorities like Sikhs-Christians,Muslims would sweep the polls.Most of the states would have Muslim ministries.In Parliament more than 2/3 majority of Muslim members would give them power to change Constitution to declare India an Islamic State-biggest Islamic State on earth.What we would have done with Ayub and Yayha Khans,Haqs of Pakistan and Bangladesh army?Instead of having Democracy-defective may be-we would have had rotating democracy and Military dictatorships,Military coups,Exiled Prime Ministers,Cultural dictatorship,Al Quida and Laden would be hiding in India !! Partition was Blessing in disguise.
Don't forget 'Whatever Happens,Happens for the Best'

Friday, June 03, 2005

At the Mercy Of the State

Last January I went to the Office of the Registrar of the marriages at MHADA in Bandra .I was appalled by the confusion,chaos and generally disorganized state of affairs there.The Registrar and his clerk sat in a room full of files staked high,covered with dust.Files were everywhere. Room must have been painted years ago. Would be Brides and Grooms were standing in uneven queue , decked up in wedding finery and ornaments for the most important event of their lives,sweating in that dusty gloomy room awaiting their turn. Two witness per couple,friends and few relatives had gathered in the small corridor outside.There were few chairs but most of them had to stand.There was jostling, little rushing to get to the chairs in front of Registrar's table.Checking of documents to establish identity and proof of Residence, signatures and couple was married.Was this solemn occasion?What about all those promises and vows to be together in thick and thin,in happiness and in sorrow till death do us apart ? Feeling was THANK GOD its finally over. This is how people who cant afford should get married?Pawars,Bhujbals,Deshmukhs and yadavs have marriages thats megaevent written about and discussed for days. Poor people who cant afford can't have decent marriage? MHADA bldg is big complex.Cant we have a decent, bright,AC room with chairs where a couple can get married in little organized way?.Is it too costly for the State to provide these facilities? Wont it be worthwhile project for a Charitable organization or Rotary club? This is something that can be done by us.May be we wont have to depend on State for these small mercies. But first, we must take time out from our discussion on President Bush's Iraq policy.

'Deep Throat' Revealed

Finally the great mystery is over and we know who 'Deep Throat' was(is).When Watergate scandal broke,Mrs Gandhi was riding high from victory in Bangladesh war,opposition decimated,ruling India with socialist ideology .Supported by Left who were part of the Goverment.We had no clue what the fuss was about.Breaking into opposition party's office was no big deal from India's political standards.It was an era when there was no Television in India.Our source of information was occasional news item or Editorial in English language paper.The story continued for almost 2 years and I used to eagerly await my copy of TIME to read new developments.It was like a mystery thriller serialized it was topic hotly discussed in our hostel.What amazed us was that President of USA had to resign for authorizing criminal activity,abetting it and lying to American Public and Congress.This was in stark contrast to what was happenings in India and in Communist world where politician never spoke the truth.In such a situation JP's call in 1974 for mass movement againt Mrs. G's corrupt and repressive government and 'Total Revolution' was new ray of light and we felt that if President of USA can be forced to resign than its possible to change the corrupt govt. of Mrs.G. We removed Mrs. G from power but had to face 18 months of Emergency excesses and goonda raj of Sanjay & co. Did it bring good,corruption free governance? You must be joking.Two leading lights of JP's movement of 'Total Revolution" are Lalu Prasad Yadav and Narendra Modi !!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

HIV In India

Latest published data says that there were only 28000 new cases in 2004 compared to 520,000 in 2003. From where did they get these figures? As far as I know there was no systemic HIV Testing program's in India in 2003 or 2004. As a matter of fact you cant do HIV testing without permission of the concerned person nor can you reveal the result to anyone. All these numbers given out are very crude estimates.Pevelance of HIV infection in High Risk group is extrapolated to get national figures !! Govt. will take lower figure to take credit for excellent work done and NGO will give out higher one to sensationalise and to get more funds and trips abroad to HIV conferences.
Whatever may be the figure, but there is no denying the fact that the HIV infection is spreading and spreading pretty fast.Problem is, that there is no concensus on how to control this.So far we have tried out various awareness programmes and free distribution of Condoms. In Andhra Pradesh they want to recruit Milkmen to distribute condoms(Isnt it like bolting the door after....).But this approach is not working as evident from the increase in number of cases.Awareness is pathetic.Well educated Boys and Girls are unaware about how the HIV infection is transmitted and have unprotected Sex with multiple partners. Girls are more worried about getting pregnant than getting HIV or Hepatitis B infection.From this one can imagine level of awareness in Truck and long distance Bus drivers.Besides awareness programe has only limited effect.Awareness level for harmful effect of Nicotine and Drugs is high but it has not reduced its use. Significant percentage of doctors and even oncologist are heavy smokers !!!.
To start with, fight against HIV should be on WAR footing.That means we must know the extent of the problem.This can be done by doing HIV testing of all the person who seek medical help in Hospitals or Blood tests in Laboratory.All the Blood samples should be coded and have only demographic information. Samples should be tested by advanced tests only, which has short window period.If tested Positive then the person should be informed of his/her HIV status only by Doctor/Medical counselor. Known HIV Positive person should be excluded from the survey. This approach will help us understand the extent of the problem,nature of problem, profile of newly infected cases and also counsel the infected person so that he does not spread the infection inadvertently to the spouse and children.All those who had sexual contact with Positive person should be advised discreetly to undergo HIV testing and thus break the chain.
This will also help medical personnel to take adequate precaution while treating Positive person.Present practice of taking Universal precaution is waste of resources.If prevalence is 0.9% then spending meager resources on 90% unaffected persons is criminal. Resources should be used to identify newly infected cases. Such a well directed measure will help us to reduce new cases and spread of this dreaded disease.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Small Businesses

Gaurav laments that libertarianism is upper middle class drawing room entity and feels that "Getting into Business" is made tough by the State.Not so,. If you ask your neighbourhood Chaiwala or Bhajiwala how many permissions he has to take to start business, answer would be NIL.They have Single Window Clearance called 'Hafta'.All the agencies whose permission is required has field staff which collects charges and gives oral permission there and then to carry on the business.Ofcourse Blessings of local Political Worker euphemism for Dada(Bhailog) is essential. Ofcourse I.Tax Dept. is out of the loop hence none of them ever pay income tax.Major problem for them is not permission from State but to raise the Capital. Banks don't lend them, and they depend on Chit Funds,Bhissi and such finance at high interest rate which cannot be repaid as their margins are low.Availability of Capital at low interest will make 'Getting into Business' lot easier.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Not so kool

Saw 'KKHH ' yesterday and did not fall out of my seat nor did I see people rolling in aisle, laughing. It took great effort to keep awake as it was late late night show in Fun Republic.Reading blogs would have been more entertaining.Its just ok comedy and after so many movies Tussar is still wooden and has no flair for comedy.Best thing for him is to spell his name as 'Ktussar' . What has happened to Anupam Kher? He seems to believe that he is putting up great comedy act.In fact he is just repeating himself and its not funny.He should take acting lessons from his wife Kiron. But the real beneficiary is Isha. From a 'Khallas' item number to four scene roles to leading lady of year's hit movie is great progress.Her Hindi with Marathi accent is great hit. I feel Hindi is not language for such double meaning dialogues. They need rustic,earthy language like Punjabi or Marathi. Kudos to Late Dada Kondke who was superb in delivering such dialogues.His play Vichha...was classic. He was pilloried by film critics and English language press when he poduced Hindi films starring him and Late Amjad Khan and used double meaning dialogues. Today same crowd is ga-ga over KKHH. Marathi films and plays -especially those with Tamasha format - are real fun to watchand they abound with double meaning dialogues. Since dialogues are based on currant socio-political scene it can be changed and impovised constantly. Well it's time to sign off as Shantabai has just entered the room and asked" Saab Kitna tem hai tumko? Mereku kapada nikalne ka ahe"

Monday, May 23, 2005

Taking the plunge

It was link during Tsunami disaster that opened Blogworld for me through Amit's posts.suddenly I was in a new world.Hours are spent reading posts.Different viewpoints, provoking and sometimes offering new insight to events happening around us. Mind you, operating word is reading the posts. I am proffessional in very different field-Medicine,and there very few bloggers belonging to my creed.We are not at ease with Computers.I know that many of my friends would love to post blogs but tech part unnerves us.It was Gaurav's post which induced me to take the plunge.May be I can post a Doctor's view.I am still trying to understand Tech part of the blogging.Thats why no detailed profile,no photo,nothing.It will take sometime to do it as there are so many Gems collected by Amit to read and he adds to it at astonishing speed.