Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Missing Link – Indian Healthcare Crisis

I am writing this post with much anger and frustration. Or should I say I do not see any solution for the below explained problem. I watched Al Jazeera’s news video on Indian Health System which reinforced my inference drawn from our past experience of rural health care.

All these days, we are experiencing and learning a lot on rural development initiatives in India. We are seeing new initiatives that are specifically designed to bridge the gap between the ‘Rural and Urban’. It can be an Internet connection or a detergent which is now easily made available across the villages of India. Many organizations (Public, Private and Not-for-Profit) are backing the progress with respect to the rural reach programs. In fact it is turning out to be a good profitable business to reach the 72% of the rural population mass with some value added. We are seeing enormous wealth being created. In short we are trying to make our beloved ‘Visionary’ of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s dream PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas) a reality.

Interestingly, while the focus is more on rural areas, we are still encountering a major challenge with respect to Indian Health Care System. If you read the below statistics (from Al Jazeera news report) you will know the major challenge that we are encountering:
  1. India spends only 5% of its GDP on Medical Care.
  2. It is a very tiny amount when compared to the 15% in the United States.
  3. There is a shortage of 2.2 million hospital beds.
  4. 53% or 67 million children below 5 years lack access to even basic health care.
  5. 72% population live in Rural Areas and 80% doctors are in urban centres.

While the rural mass is being targeted by many global players and organizations to create wealth, where is the Indian Health Care system heading towards? Why is it that it is getting difficult to address the Rural Health issues? And where is the missing link?

It was a very disappointing experience, in spite of our sustained efforts in trying our best to collaborate with many of the doctors and hospitals, we were unsuccessful in convincing ‘One’ doctor who can give his/her service in the Primary Health Centre of Kandavara village in Chickballapur taluk. We met with quite a lot of doctors and physicians to discuss about the non-availability of doctor in the village and literally begged for their services. We went on to an extent where in we requested for ‘One-day-in-a-week’ or ‘Four-hours-per-week’ types of services. We failed in all our attempts. The reason for our failure was not because we had no money to buy doctors, but, doctors were not keen on being in a village or carryout their professional services in a village. All they wanted is to be in the city limits and make enough and more money. I feel sad when I think about the reasons we got to hear from them. We also tried our best to get medical students to do their internship in the PHC of Kandavara. They came, they saw, they left with literally no response from their end. We met with many of the medical associations, many young and senior doctors in Chickballapur, but we could not succeed and the reasons weren’t deviating from where it was. We also took the help of journalism students, who did a commendable job in making a documentary by interviewing the government officials. But nothing substantially worked with respect to appointing a doctor to the PHC. Eventually, PHC was demolished and fortunately a Nursing school is being constructed in its place. Hopefully it will also have a hospital or a clinic attached to it. We will believe it only when we see it.

On the other hand, we have seen a lot of doctors who are committed towards the rural health, like the team from VGKK (Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra) at B R Hills run by Dr. Sudarshan, Vaatsalya HealthCare run by Dr. Ashwin Naik and team. They are doing remarkably well in keeping their promises on to the needy. They are going out of their way towards the primary and secondary health. Dr. Prashanth, who works at VGKK, to me, is a great volunteer. He has dedicated his life to the mankind by providing his services in the remotest villages of India. All the above mentioned gentlemen have the highest qualifications in their field and they are not doing this just for money. They are trying to make a difference with their dedication, knowledge and commitment to the society. They are the real altruists! And I am very certain that there will be many more like them.

But not enough! Absolutely not!

Is making money holding all the doctors going into the rural areas? Or it is the lifestyle that they need cannot be seen in rural areas? Why is it that there are no doctors, including a lot who are from the same rural background, are backing out of giving their services to the needy?

As per our discussions with the DC and ZP of Chickballapur, they were ready to compensate the doctors well. In fact, surprising to know is that government is finding it very difficult to recruit doctors to the existing PHCs. They are now depending on the voluntary organizations to help them. There were a lot of programs and schemes designed for the betterment of the rural health care during the era of the Ex-Principal Secretary of Health, Madan Gopal. But what is the use if there are millions of people without access to even the basic health care. And this is the story with most of the states in India. In the news report, an example is quoted says ‘a place in Andhra Pradesh, there is only one hospital for 35000 people’. There are many places where in patients walk a dozen kilometers to reach hospitals.

While we are having the world’s best health care technologies in India, world’s famous doctors and highly talented in house human resources, we are not using our strengths to reflect on our own problems. I am not too sure as to how to make the doctors come out of their current mindset, but I only know that this challenge remains the same unless we find that missing link!

This is a never ending crisis!

Here is the link to Al Jazeera's news video.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I see the change! What do you think?

This is our great Bengaluru!

They made me sit in Lalbagh always and I watch people who visit this place every day. People come in groups and sometimes they will be alone. Lonely wanderers are more and they come here not to visit me but to visit themselves and explore their sentiments. I have a designation and people call me ‘God’. People respect me and they do all kinds of Pooja to keep me happy. But when they come here, they throw some light at me and capture me on their screens! I am so helpless that I cannot even smile at them. What I can do is to give place for them to sit next to me and rest. Poor guys they will be so tired that they do not even bother that I am right next to them and they throw all kinds of things on me without knowing. Why can’t they use the ‘Use Me’ bin there?

I see people in all kinds; some wearing dhotis, others in suits, some donning white caps and covered top to bottom in a black burkha. I guess there are a variety of people in the world. How do I know? I am just in stone here. I wish I had life to get up and go to change things the way I see it. I feel awkward sometimes that some people hesitate to even touch me and only a few touch me, hoping I will bless them. While these things are happening, I only feel that this is not the right place for me as there is something wrong with people. They are so indifferent. Why can’t they follow one practice and make my life and their lives easy to manage? I only wish I should not be here in my next life. If I do happen to sit here again, I would love to see people with like mindset and like hearts and like beliefs.

So one day, I was lonely, waiting for people to come and disturb me and start my day with difficulty. To my surprise, I saw four innocent looking boys came and they started staring at me. They were looking very different and I noticed they are from the different sect who will not even come towards me. I was very sure that they will not even touch me.

I was wrong, they looked at me, I do not know whether they have realised my presence or not, but they made me one among them and within no time, all five of us were sitting together! They started looking at the flowers which has no religion or sect! Then I thought! We are changing! There is some hope left! If I am accepted by these four gentlemen in Bengaluru, I will be acceptable to everyone, everywhere!

What do you think?

-Beloved ‘Nandi’

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Review: A Better India, A Better World

This write up was pending since a very long time. Today, luckily I pulled out some time to write.

I read the book ‘A Better India, A Better world’; written by a great person whom I admire a lot - Mr. N R Narayana Murthy, Founder of Infosys – a giant Information Technology Company. I admire him for many reasons; and I would like to share four specific reasons. First, he is a successful Entrepreneur. Second, as a person he is humble to the core and he is an extraordinary human being with very good values. Third, He contributed his best to address the most critical problem of our nation – Unemployment and Poverty by creating thousands of jobs. And, fourth reason is that he has set a greater vision for the development of our nation and he is leading by example.

I only knew the story on how Infosys was created and eventually succeeded in achieving its vision. But after reading this book, I now know the reason for its success as well. It is the inspirational leadership, greater vision and the well grounded value system. I must say NRN did the right thing by listening to the suggestion of his son. Yes, it was his son Roshan, who persuaded him to collate all his speeches into a book. And the outcome of it is ‘A Better India, A Better World’.

This book is a collection of thirty eight speeches out of his hundreds of speeches delivered across the globe during the last few years. He has basically tried to cover the issues seminal to the future of India and the world. He has divided his speeches into several categories, namely, Addressing to Students, Value System, National Issues, Education, Leadership, Corporate and Public Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship, Globalization and his own experience at Infosys.

NRN has tried to address all the critical issues in each category and has given very good suggestions and recommendations for the challenges that are being encountered. The amount of research and the efforts he has put in to come up with these speeches are commendable. Every statement is justified and well explained with substantial statistics. The only thing redundant that one may observe while reading this book is the background of Infosys. But that has given him a strong foundation to demonstrate and experiment his ideas and convert it into words while delivering the lectures.

In his excellent speeches of addressing to students, he has given a very challenging and futuristic view on ones development and the youth power that is required. He has addressed the issues such as ‘Succeeding in the contemporary world’, ‘Need for excellence’, ‘Era of Globalization’, ‘Competition’ and also on ‘The Role of Religion in Education’. I just loved reading all of them and while reading, I felt like I am sitting in the auditorium listening to his speech.

Similarly on his lectures with respect to Education, I enjoyed reading the lecture on – ‘What would I do if I were the principal of a Secondary School?’ He has given his best to think and come up with the strong recommendations on the challenges a school principal faces with respect to the system. In the same category, there are two more interesting speeches on ‘Framework for Reforms on Higher Education in India’ and ‘The Unfinished Agenda’. The way he has written his speeches, the examples that he relates while explaining an issue, the depth he addresses the problem is what attracted me and I completely second all his thoughts with respect to the same.
In his speeches with respect to National issues, he has given his best argumentative views on the current problems we are facing as a nation. What will it take for India to bridge the great divide? The divide of ‘Hunger, illiteracy, disease and undernourishment in one hand’ and ‘with one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world and an array of recent achievements in technology, industry and entrepreneurship’ in the other. Similarly, he has also discussed and argued in depth on the issues of Globalization and Economic Reforms. I learnt many new ways of analyzing our 1991 Economic Reforms and could study the depth of the impact out of it. All the lectures has good amount of statistics to understand the issues carefully.

Some of the best speeches that I liked were from the categories of Entrepreneurship and Values. Being a successful entrepreneur, I guess it was easy for him to write his own experiences on the challenges faced and the strategies he adopted to tackle them. But for budding entrepreneurs or who wants to become entrepreneurs, like me, those are the wisdom pearls and a great learning. His speeches on values were more based on his two decades of experience at Infosys. Absolutely inspiring words on value system and I must also say that It is very difficult for any corporate to achieve so much having followed such wonderful value system. He has also addressed few of the critical issues like Corruption, Secularism, Western Influence, Discipline and empowerment. I am only lucky having read these speeches.

I was shocked and at the same time thrilled to learn some of his personal experiences which have taught him good lessons for life. I enjoyed reading the ‘Journey of creation of Infosys’ and the value system that they follow in Infosys. I got to know more about Infosys only after reading this book. He has also given the experiences on how, as a team, they tried to overcome all the breakdowns in their early stages. His speeches on Philanthropy talks more about the social responsibilities in the current context and his speech on ‘Compassionate Capitalism’ is a very good read.

NRN has a very good way of explaining his views. In all his speeches, you will come across many Sanskrit sayings, quotes from leaders and proverbs; through them he has beautifully communicated his views. You will also come across vision of ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ – Father of Our Nation, in many of his speeches and his meaningful quotations are placed very well in his writing. I am sure one will enjoy reading them and try relating them to what NRN is trying to communicate.

While I am writing this post, I also feel like writing on few of the issues that he has argued and addressed in the book. So far I have not made any critical analysis of the book, because, to me, it is a very positive book. Each and every speech has given me good insights and made me think about it to come up with the right views and actions. It is more like, if you have any doubts or questions on any of the categories mentioned above, this book is the right answer. You read it and you will get most of your queries and doubts on the critical issues resolved. Atleast I got answers to most of my questions! And one day I wish to see NRN and visionaries like him to lead our nation.

I strongly recommend reading this book. It is available at every book stall and is priced at 499 Rs published by Penguin Books India. One can also try shopping this book online. Rediff.com gives good discounts if you buy online.

Happy reading! And if you have already read the book, please do share your experience.


Monday, September 14, 2009

A good time spent…

An expired invite,
I kept it open,
hoping I will do it,
finally… I did…
One more journey
into the happiness,
to forget the past,
and lift ourselves…
Thoughtful stint,
enjoyable time,
lovely place,
no regrets…
I said let’s do it!
and we did.
no second thoughts,
only excitement…
Journey on the road,
into the green,
beautiful sight,
unlimited joy…
Lost in thoughts,
to gear up acts,
synching vision,
deep into the cliché…
The best company
of my good old friend
to share my stories
and the pain as well…
wonderful memories,
and a best time spent,
with workable thoughts,
am returning home…


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thank you Sardarji!

I am still not able to believe that I did that today. I was not even sure that I will meet this person again and I was happy to see the Sardarji again with his red turban. And meeting him today again made my day!

I came to Pune on Saturday and I started working out of our Pune offices starting this week. The only big challenge that I had expected before I came here was travelling within the city of Pune. Knowing that my friend Harish’s residence is very far from office, I was wondering how I can commute to office every day. But luckily, Harish was good enough to get me his friend’s bike – Hero Honda Splendor! I was very happy that I got a bike to take care of my expected problem. So I started my journey to office everyday on bike. Harish had given clear instructions on the route I need to take to reach office.

First day (Monday), I had to visit our Pride silicon plaza office which is around 12 km from where we start. So, I was on my way and I kept asking people on how to reach the destination as and when I felt I am lost. And I happened to meet a Sardarji who was standing alone at a bus stop and I went and stopped right in front of him to ask how I should go. He looked like an army officer with his well built physique and must be in his late fifties. He was very kind enough to give me the directions; in fact he took out a small piece of paper out of his pocket and marked the map for me. I thanked him, and with his clear instructions I reached office without any problem. I was very happy that I met that Sardarji who made my life easy.

Second day, since I knew the route to office, I took the same route which I took on Monday. And I reached the same place where I met Sardarji. May be because of my timing, I happened to meet the same Sardarji again. I saw him while I was approaching the bus stop where he was standing and was thinking whether I should speak to him or not. I decided to stop over and talk to him and thank him for his yesterday’s help. I stopped my bike and got down to meet him.

I said ‘Hello Sir, do you remember me? You gave me the instructions on how to reach my office yesterday’. He was surprised to see me and he said ‘Yes young man, how can I forget something that has happened yesterday’. We both had a good laugh, I thanked him for his clear instructions and I told him that he can be the best guide in Pune. He was so happy that out of his embarrassment, I saw tears rolling out of his eyes. He said, ‘there are many people in the city young man, who come and ask for the help, the moment they get what they want, they forget all about the person who helped. But I need to appreciate you that you are coming to me again to say a few good words and enquiring about me. I am very happy and there are very few people like you in this city’.

For a few minutes, we exchanged on what we do, where we work, reason for me being in Pune and my feedback about Pune city. I also got to know that he is a teacher by profession. He was very hilarious like all Sardarjis and we both had a wonderful time. I was getting delayed to my office so I said ‘good bye’ to him and told him that I will never forget him in my life. He was very happy!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Tribute...

You naughty little boy!
dare you do this again’
I used to hear this from
everyone around me, and
I used to think, they are bad!
not only me, but all my friends…
if I did that again, I was punished mad!
I felt, I was imprisoned
I was dragged to the class
and I was made surrender myself
for all the sins I made…
and, I had no options!

I could see my parents happy!
but they heard complaints often
and started punishing me…
they were asked to meet my teachers
to give a mouthful in front of them
and I was in tears for many days…
but they came back to me every moment
they hugged and kissed me…
even if I was bad… it didn’t matter!
all the time, they taught me good,
they gave me freedom of expression,
and freedom from being within!

I failed many a times…
I was made re-do things I hate to do,
could not play with friends many a days
I hated everything when it comes to studying
I was rude to them…
never bothered getting punished…
It was tough to make me do well,
but, they came back to me every moment
they smiled at me, loved me the way i was,
they made me realize what 'I am',
they gave me power to be on my own
conquering times, I grew up tough!

As the time goes on, I think of them
every moment and they come in many forms!
without them, I mean nothing…
It was them who gave me
conviction of speech, power of good
and freedom of love….
I read and I write; all because of them,
because of their generosity
and devotion for the cause…
I salute my teachers for their spirit
and for making me see myself
and to lead the life I dreamt of…

Happy Teacher's Day!
Wishing you all the best to touch lives of many more who are in need of you!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

In Spite of...

It’s not easy!
a life without certainties
to observe, think, learn, and to grow;
perhaps, to discover our destiny…
takes us to an exciting journey of
knowing the unknown and beyond!
risks… assured enough to face;
but, it’s the belief and spirit;
which says, go ahead…
a game that we lose… or a game
we win… not life!
defeating others, taking over,
getting randomly fooled…
it’s all in the game!
a support that we need, comes,
when we are ready to give…
that we give, is what we get!
alas! greed and unkind… is around;
let’s do our bit… for all of us!
time without end and work hard,
bring the difference and see,
earn the respect… to create life,
try out extremes, and impact more,
one among others and survive,
feel the bit, be contented!
let’s not regret one day
saying we did not try! giving!
in spite of having everything in life,
one day, we may get crash landed anyway!