Sunday, August 26, 2012

Arvind Kejriwal

Every now and then, India throws up extra ordinary men and women. One such person who is making news and forcing us to take notice is Arvind Kejriwal. To swim against the norm, to protest against injustice, delay, corruption, poor governance against an all powerful state is no easy task and requires extraordinary courage.
I don't think in recent times any individual has won my admiration as this man has. At present he is crusading to get this country a clean administration.

I wish him success.
Club of fifteen

40 years ago, the conditions of medical practice were very different. The support systems that have developed over the years were nonexistent then. There were no ambulances and to transport a seriously sick patient to a hospital was a night mare and I was witness to many a death occurring for want of timely help. Adding to the many owes, the doctors worked in utter isolation and there was no communication at all, even among doctors working in the same area. They often faced the same problems but were unable or didn't want to get help from others. Was it fear of loosing patient to the other doctor, or a innate complex or lack of confidence or  combination of all of these? I didn't know. There was a local association of doctors and this was dominated by hospital based doctors whose ethos was very different from that of us general practitioners.

I set out to remedy this. I went around and met doctors who were running solo practices like mine and got five of them to agree to meet once a month over a cup of tea. The first meeting was held in my house, some 30 years ago. This was a success. Then others joined and we limited the number to 15 as we found this number manageable in our homes. The group became so popular that we found a waiting list. The new one could join when one of us left the group, This generally occurred by death and rarely by resignation. If the members of this group are considered good and well informed doctors, a lot of credit should go to the club of fifteen and the members have remained close friends over the years. The once a month meeting has gone on nonstop in all these thirty years!

An offshoot of this core group is a larger organisation called Family Physicians Association, Bangalore.
About this group, I will write some time later.

But my first love remains the club of fifteen!
Test Cricket

For a lover of test match cricket, the just concluded test between India and Newzealand was a rare visual treat. Despite the fact that the test didn't last five days, it had enough to give me pleasure. There was correctly played 158 runs by the youngster called Chateswar Pujara. Unlike in the one dayers and twenty twenty cricket, a century in the tests has to be built on technique and temeperment and this youngster had both. Then there was spin bowling at its best. I was able to see an off spinner bowling what appeared like a ball which spun from right to left, a kind of reverse googly and and another ball which skidded through like a top spinner. This remarkable bowler who goes by the name of Ravichandran Aswin may be our next Chandrasekar who got our first test wins abroad some forty years ago. That the oposing side had to suffer this excellent performance didn't matter. I was able to watch some great batting and bowling and also some excellent catching as a bonus.

Under 19 Champions

Normally, in the present day India, good news is rare. But two items of good news is indeed a luxury. India won the test match against Newzealand at Hyderabad and the under 19 world cup in Australia on the same day! I was fortunate to watch both. The boy with a strange name of Unmukt Chand led the under 19 team from the front and beat the favorites Australia to lift the cup. The juniors doing well augers a bright future for Indian cricket.

Much ado

Our 80 odd Olympians returned with six medals and none of the six was gold. But the way these second class winners were feted and awards showered on them left me wondering. One sports writer felt it was a great performance as we had only four medals in the last Olympics! One of the most populous of nations, claiming to be an emerging economic and technological power house could produce only six medals should be a matter of concern and shame, but we celebrated. One of the medal winners, an army man demanded to be promoted to the officer grade!

Every thing is wrong with us. Our priorities, policies, programmes, delivery systems. You name it. We have become experts in not doing it well.

Except in cricket as it happened to day!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Brahma Kamal
This extraordinary flower blossomed two days ago at night in my back garden. It has several unusual features. The single most unusual one is that it flowers at night and has a life of six hours. You can see by the picture that it buds out of a leaf and belongs[?] cactus family.
Some questions naturally arise. The extraordinary beauty attracts which pollinating agent? and that too at night?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Futile Exercise

He had a big file tucked under arm when he came in. He said, 'all appears OK', 'What all appears OK? I asked. 'The tests, he said, pointing to the thick file that he had now placed on my desk.

Who asked for these tests? I asked as I didn't remember to have ordered any tests neither did I remember to have seen him recently.

'No doc. You didn't but I went and got these done on my own'. 'Why did you do it? I asked. 'Because I felt weak', he said in defense. Has your weakness gone after doing the tests? 'No doc, it is worse and that is why I have come, the tests all show normal values.'he stopped

I have another of these fools who have fallen prey to the advertisement blitz in the lay press and electronic media. He has spent over 7000 rupees [nearly 150 dollars] on tests with out getting any medical advice and wants me to advise him as to what he must do.

This has become a none too uncommon experience for me and my irritation continues to grow with each such incident of doing the tests and seeing the physician later episodes. Marketing their services whether needed or not has become common practice. Yearly tests have become the norm. Nine out of ten such tests are unnecessary but are done.

Coming back to this patient, I told him I will look at his glossy file after giving him a physical check. He readily agreed. Examination revealed overt anemia and no other cognizable illness. I had a look at his reports and found all were normal except borderline low Hemoglobin and red cell numbers. The possible diagnosis was recent blood loss yet to be fully registered in the tests. He gave no history of rectal bleed. Still I did a rectal check and it showed active second degree hemorrhoids [piles]

Did he not know he was bleeding from his piles? Possible. Unless one's bathroom is well lit it is easy to miss blood in the commode.

To exclude possibility of colon cancer a endoscopy was also done.

Finally it was proved that his tiredness was due to recent blood loss due rectal bleed. He regained normal health after stopping the bleed by a minor surgery.

The expensive tests didn't reveal his piles.

Moral of the story. When in trouble see your doctor first and follow his advise. It will save you time and money

Sunday, August 12, 2012

End or beginning?
Team Anna gave up it's fast after failing to get the government to see reason. It may be that it was felt a waste of effort or as others feel, more effective methods are needed to get the torpid political class to wake up. One such move is to start a new political party.

Will this move to initiate a new political party succeed? Those who have had the experience of watching the experiment of the Janata party rule after the defeat of Madam Indira [1975] will realize my fear. I cannot forget the euphoria I felt at her defeat and the bitter disappointment of the failure of the Janata party to give a viable alternative.

To start an agitation is not that difficult but to build a party from the grass roots level is a very difficult and time consuming task. I have great respect for Anna Hazare and his team members, but will they be able to build a party with out the pulls of caste, religion, language and other local issues? I very much doubt it, especially in a short period available before the next general elections are due.

Jayaprakash Narayan led a countrywide movement against Indira Gandhi's despotic rule but he didn't build a viable party. The result was the misfire of Janata hotchpotch.

Then should they not try? Yes they should, even if it takes 5 to 10 years. The sociopolitical climate in the country is ripe for a transformation and an alternative to Congress [major evil] and BJP [minor evil]. If this doesn't happen, we will be left with more of the present and progression towards anarchy and bloody revolution and more mess.

Cruel game

The game of golf is more a mind game. This applies to the pro as well as to the amateur. Adam Scott lost The Open because of the tension and inability to keep negative thoughts away. It happened to me this morning. I was playing to one over till the 7th hole when my fellow golfer put the idea that I was playing well under my handicap. This made me think and a wave of negative thoughts took hold of my brain and I finished the next eleven holes 12 over!

So easy to self destruct when you play golf!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Corruption as a way of life

Team Anna is in the second phase of their fight against corruption. Their fast is on at the Jantar Mantar grounds in New Delhi. A scheming government has succeeded in blunting their impact on the conscience of the middle class. Why has the response been poor compared with the response when they began their agitation last year? I can think of many reasons. Some of them are:

The decision makers in this country are the people belonging to the middle class. This middle class is scared of any kind of violent or abrupt change. The government has succeeded in fanning the fears of anarchy and utter lawlessness that would come about if Anna’s team had their way. The middle class though small in numbers has accepted and even come to terms with corruption. This class is afraid of change.

There is also lack of motivation. When we gained our independence there was a major motivation and there were extra ordinary men and women who led from the front and people had everything to gain and nothing much to lose. Now it is another matter. Except members of the team Anna and few others there is a major dearth of morally superior leadership. Most politicians are considered corrupt and not worth following. So where are the leaders to follow?

In this kind of atmosphere is there any wonder that team Anna’s effort at rooting out corruption is destined to fail?