This Ranbaxy story published in 'Fortune' is quite a disturbing read. Read the entire thing, it is worth it.
But this leads me to a question.
A few years back someone told me how a 'Paracetmol' bought in Australia was more effective on his daughter than 'Paracetmol' bought in India. And he discovered this by accident when his daughter fell sick while travelling or some such. He came back and shared that with his doctor who told him that most Indian drugs are impure and hence less effective. Of course, I laughed that off at that point, but this episode is making me re-think the whole case.
I have my own similar anecdotal tale as well. Around a few years ago, I picked up an OTC medicine for a common cold abroad and with just one tablet my cold that had bothered me for a week in India vanished.
I am thinking that if under the guise of 'generics' the whole drugs industry is based on selling substandard products to unsuspecting customers.
Scary if it is anywhere near true!!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
This Ranbaxy story published in 'Fortune' is quite a disturbing read. Read the entire thing, it is worth it.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Most of us, people like us - who have a day job who have graduated to be so called 'white collar' workers would rarely have attended a public political rally. This is a part of us feeling excluded from the political process. Not only do we feel excluded, we feel that the exclusion is a privilege. Most of the 'upper middle class' feels that they dont need politics and politicians. Indeed this has gone on to the 'politicians' ignoring this class. So, there is set of people in the cities - people who are 'comfortable', 'well-off' who are entirely disconnected with the political process.
And in our first past the post democracy system - as Kishor says metaphorically- as long as 'Dharavi' votes more than 'Vile Parle', 'Dharavi' will vote who they want to vote for. And thus it has happened that 'Vile Parle' is a forgotten vote bank - and besides, they dont even come out to vote. So, politicians focus on 'Dharavi' and how to get its votes.
Over the last few years, I have tried to get involved in the political process - both at a local level and also writing about it. And it has been an eye opening education - thanks to blogs and twitter.
So, when I got the opportunity to attend Narendra Modis meeting in Bangalore, I took it up with both hands. Despite the fact that I had enoughts reasons to not attend, I ensured that I was able to make it (Talk about inspiration).
But I suspect in a lot of ways, this meeting was different. I was amazed to see 'Vile Parle' turn out in strength for the meeting. The meeting was organized very well and as the speeches began, it almost had a college fest kind of feel.
It had practically all the current legislators in Bangalore. Some of the ministers spoke - notably R Ashok who has done a fantastic job of taking BMTC and KSRTC to being perhaps the best TC and RTC in the country. Bangalore has cracked the upmarket public transport market in this country - which no other city has yet cracked - and moved people from cars and bikes to buses.
Venkaih Naidu spoke - and in his brand of trilingual speech of Hindi, English and Telugu and I kept getting lost - though his humour and rhyming did resonate with the audience.
The star of the show though was Narendra Modi through and through - from the point when he came on stage - the audience only wanted to hear him and no one else. And he had to ask the audience in his own inimitable way (I have come from Gujarat to hear the Karnataka leaders speak and after that I will spend as much time with you as required - and thats it - the audience simply fell in line).
And when he finally spoke, it was an amazing experience. Using a brilliant mix of metaphors, facts he found the mark each time. He spoke about mother and son - referncing Sonia and Rahul, dynastic politics (netas with golden spoons), security, governance. All in all, quite an inspiring presence.
Yes, a rally organized well - can be quite an inspiring and influencing factor. And of course hearing Narendra Modi almost reminded me of vintage A B Vajpayee. All in all, it was a great experience. See the speech below for yourself.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
"Hamaari Maangey Poori Karo" is an oft repeated slogan heard in Hindi cinema and in real life protests as well. It is also used in the context of asking vote seeking politicians. The sad part of it is that this is used as an example of people power - when in reality it is perhaps the opposite.
Why does one have to prostrate in front of a politician or a political party or government to get something that is basic? Why does one have protest to seek justice? Why do citizens have to ask the government for something as elementary as water or good roads?
Why is a basic expectation from government and governance transferred as a "demand" that is then "fulfilled" by the "benevolent sarkaar?". I can understand this if we were governed by an occupying force, such as the British, but really, do we as a citizen need to spread our hands and ask for such benefits? Or genuflect in front of a political party to seek these? Or threaten a politician or a government to get these?
Yes, this is the sad part of the political system that we call democracy. If it were a democracy, then these needs would get fulfilled by a usual system of simple governance or by making an application to change a law or thereabouts? But in our twisted system of democracy - inherited and implemented by the same framework that the British used to keep the natives in check - these are not options. We have come to accept misgovernance, corruption and even non fulfillment of basic needs - like a typical occupying force.
And therefore, Hamaari Maangey Poori Karo is a sad reflection of what our democracy is today...
Saturday, April 13, 2013
In this speech Narendra Modi addresses the garbage problem of cities. Why is this so pertinent? For those of us blessed with a memory a little better than goldfish, Bangalore in particular had a great problem recently of dumping the waste of the city.
Frankly, the garbage problem is our problem. The people like us, who live in apartments and houses and expect someone to collect the garbage and clear it each day. We have been composting for about 3 years now and I can say with first hand experience that if we compost all the kitchen waste and segregate the dry waste - what is left is miniscule.
And this is exactly what Narendra Modi talks about - if cities did their composting, we can get farmers in the radius around the city off fertilizer and start organic farming. Here is another earlier post from 2010. And 2009.
Why is this so difficult for people for understand? Firstly, we need to realize that garbage is our problem - those who create it. But this problem is an opportunity - and someone with vision needs to be able to tap into this at a city/community level.
And then there is the bigger problem of sewage...but thats for later. But seriously, we need to reimagine our present concept of urban living...
Monday, April 01, 2013
Recommended by @Rajeevsrinivasa on the death of Chinua Achebe, somehow the book caught my attention and I purchased it on impulse.
The book starts off with a glimpse into African culture and explores the Ibo tradition in Nigeria and its subsequent conflict with the 'white missionaries'.
The plot of the book is a very simple one - it captures the rise and fall of its protagonist from humble origins and parallely, the rise of a foreign religion that grows its tentacles amongst themselves dividing an hitherto united culture.
I dont know how the present day structure of Nigeria is, but reading the novel brought alive, vividly, a glimpse of Nigeria of those days. What I liked about the book is its genuine voice that brings the culture of the Ibo to its pages in a matter of fact way. The village ceremonies, the rituals are described in detail almost transporting the reader to the village and making one empathise with the characters.
The second part makes for tougher reading - because it takes one through the journey of the protagonist through his eyes and the the writer does well to make the reader connect with the protagonist and his tragedy. But a very well written book that connects beautifully the reader and the subject.
It also tracks the way a foreign religion makes inroads into the native culture slowly splitting it apart - and this is something that has been highlighted in India as well many times and has led to inevitable conflict between tradition and so called modernity. The Nagas come to mind inevitably.
This has been an aspect of colonisation, I suppose, one that has never been sufficiently highlighted in most Indian literature. In the name of civilization, apart from banning certain bad practices, there was a strong tendency to impose a new religion as well. Wherever, colonization went, there went missionaries as well, in the name of civilizing the natives. That it split apart cultures and disconnected the people who lived in harmony with the earth and literally worshipped it has been ignored in most contemporary literature. This aspect comes out very clearly in this book as he exposes the conflict between traditionalism and a foreign religion on the people of his village. Of course, it is politically incorrect to say that these days...
The most recent I read something similar was in this review of Korkai by Aravindan Neelakandan at CRI.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
A Waterless Holi, a crackerless Diwali, a crash diet and earth hour may seem very different from each other, but in reality they are not very different. Each of the above is an event as opposed to a habit. Promote events as much as you want, but the effect of it is short-term at best.
Let us go one by one.
The most recent one is a waterless Holi. Now, Holi is not exactly my favourite festival for a variety of reasons, but not playing Holi (with or without water) is not really going to solve your water problem. If you really care enough about water, you would do many other things. Reduce usage in general, use gray water, promote rainwater harvesting, work in rejuvenating lakes, plug leaks around etc etc. Not only would you do it regardless of where you were, you would also get others to do it. Just by not playing Holi one day is not going to save you too much water if you go the very next day and waste water from washing your car to leaving the tap open while you brush.
Ditto for a crackerless Diwali. The amount of smoke a Diwali cracker (or your entire collection of crackers) lets off on Diwali day is far lesser than the amount of pollutants your car (or even bike) spews in a week (assuming you take a not very long journey- and it goes up as your car gets bigger or your distance gets longer.) Most people who argue for a crackerless Diwali lead a completely opposite life on all the other 363 days of the year. They own polluting cars, will not go anywhere near public transport and wont think twice about driving a kilometer to buy a liter of milk or use a 1000 kg SUV to drop a 25 kg kid to school (instead of using a school bus). If you truly care about the environment, then do many other things - like, perhaps, taking public transport once a week to begin with?
Ditto for Earth Hour. Earth hour is a big farce. Read about it here.
And crash diets, well, you starve once in a year and then hog the rest of the days is hardly going to help your health. If you care about your health, then a combination of food, exercise and controlled eating will do more to you than a stupid crash diet once in a few months.
So, why do people still do it? Because it is easy. It is easy to do an event and then be careless the rest of the year. It is easy to campaign for a waterless Holi while having bath twice a day. It is easy to campaign for a crackerless Diwali while driving around all day in an SUV. It is easy to turn off the lights for a hour, while letting the electricity burn for the other 23 hours each day. And yes, it is easy to crash diet once in a way while hogging away at other times.
Yes, hypocrisy is another word for this...
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Friends turn active foes or simply turn away or turn co-conspirators. What is it that institutionalizes hatred in such deep terms? (We all know what it is, but it is fashionable to not talk about it and pretend that such a vile ideology does not exist.)
The book shows the mirror to a people who today perpetually claim persecution, but who have brutally conspired to drive another community nearly into extinction. And yes, this has happened in India - in the great secular democratic state we are proud to be part of - and yes, in the recent past and it continues to be so.
Third, and this is perhaps the most important one. Before the forced exodus, there were many events that happened. And this is what I call as 'creeping poison'. First, one community is asked to wear an identifier (or remove an identifier) - and this has a creepy parallel with Nazis. And hatred is spread on a day to day basis - with basic humanity being denied. There are sporadic incidents here and there. Each day this goes on and on and finally, one day, all the hatred reaches a tipping point. There is no surprise about it - but like the proverbial frog in boiling water, everybody lives in denial - government, society and others. It is not difficult to identify the source(s) and clamp down on them.
I don't know. All I can say is that the book is a depressing read. This happened in our country 20 odd years ago and even today there is very little happening to rehabilitate the community - to give them back their land and home or to prevent its recurrence in other parts of the country.
But this is a great book - it is a story that deserves to be told by the millions who continue to live in forced exile. Hats off to Rahul Pandita to write out this book.