Why UPA may not get re-elected in India.

ImageWell, much has been said about the UPA-2 regime but this article would still carry some juice. Let me put it straight- which party would not like to be in power, desirably every term? This UPA-2 got very talented people at helm of affairs like PC, Sibal, Moily, Khushid and young Sindhiya and Pilot juniors where at the top. You have MS and Pranabda as Mananiya Rashtrapati (Hon.President) and Ahluwalia as Chair of Planning Commission. I see it as one of the best team to support Rahul who is young, enthusiastic and shares the ideas of young India-backed by all the wisdom and maturity of Soniaji.

I must say UPA-2 still lost the golden opportunity to get re-elected with its fantastic team at top. Somewhere it lost track, remained over cautious with its economic policies, negligent about governance and too casual about corruption at high places. Soniaji appeared decisive at times, though she surprised everyone at few instances like in case of favoring RTI (Right to Information Act). However Congress failed in many states when it comes to governance and internal discipline. As a party it failed to rein deviants and lacked clarity to tackle issues at state level as in case of Telangana.

UPA-2 launched some best policies and programs that reflects the true spirit of Indian democracy-the welfare of poor. Let me be candid by saying ‘poor are not created by UPA-2′. Neither we can say that UPA-2 has done nothing for poor. MANREGA is one of the best initiative not only to generate employment but also an effort to upgrade rural infrastructure and strengthen its resources. Unfortunately it has failed to display all sensibilities in handling (Rs.32 issue) poverty. If we talk about corruption, let me say its not an easy task to eradicate corruption from India in just one or two terms. Let us see if AAP can reduce corruption in Delhi administration. I am not skeptical but I have seen it closely (corruption) and know its anatomy well. Having said that, UPA-2 should have take some steps to contain corruption in many welfare policies that have direct bearing on ‘aam admi’(common man). At grassroots level UPA-2 has lost credibility on this count.  I admire the role of opposition here in UPA-2 as most vigilant and vocal group ever found in past 60 plus years. It has tactfully highlighted all the failures of UPA-2 at every possible occasion.

The chances are very weak for UPA-2 to get re-elected even with unacceptable ‘horse trading’ as the stakes are high for BJP. Having projected its mascot Mr.Modi as best candidate for PM post and Gujarat as model state. Here again it is failure of state Congress to project itself as alternative to BJP. The leadership in Congress at Gujarat needs to be streamlined. Party cadre should be mobilized to get close to people and resolve their issues. Somehow, the cadre is neither strong nor committed to people or party-a major advantage to BJP. I am not saying that Gujarat has not progressed, but has Congress attempted to address gaps in development and highlight its efforts successfully?

I could clearly see that Indian Democracy is maturing. Voters are becoming cautious and media is definitely playing its role in strengthening democracy. I am not saying media is completely sacred. It has its own share of party favoritism and compulsions for government advertisements while covering an issue. But the vigilant public and civil society on the other hand creating indirect pressure on media to remain balanced. So do the judicial system. Though the activism of Courts are pain in neck for some political bosses and bureaucrats, it has done good to society at large. It has helped to retain people’s faith in democracy.

I would conclude by saying that good effort by UPA-2  & Congress but very bad handling of issues. Try to be a good Opposition for next 5 years.

Voluntary Blood Donation v/s family replacement in India

2013 WBDD Awards Donors and familyIndia is moving slowly towards voluntary blood donations from family / replacement donations due to efforts of various regional, national, international organizations. However there is still substantial number of blood donations are family/replacement donations across the country. Let us understand what voluntary blood donation is and what consist of family replacement donations. NACO in its manual “Voluntary Blood Donation Program-an Operational Guideline” released in 2007 for the country’s blood banking stated that “Voluntary blood donors are the cornerstone of a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products. …Despite this notion, family/replacement donors still provide more than 45% of the blood collected in India. Such donors are supposed to be associated with a significantly higher prevalence of transfusion-transmissible infections (TTIs) including HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and malaria.” Who is voluntary blood donor? As per WHO 2005 & NACO 2007 guidelines “A person who gives blood, plasma or other blood components of his/her own free will and receives no payment for it, either in the form of cash or in-kind which could be considered a substitute for money.” Who is Family/Replacement donor? As per NACO/NBTC 2007 guidelines a Family / Replacement blood donor 1. A donor who gives blood when it is required by a member of the patient’s family or community. This may involve a hidden paid donation system in which the donor is paid by the patient’s family. 2. A family / replacement donor is one who gives blood when it is required by a member of his/her family or community. This often involves coercion and/or payment which compromise the safety of the blood. 3. A member of the family or a friend of the patient who donates blood in replacement of blood needed for the particular patient without involvement of any monetary or other benefits from any source. Despite the consistent efforts of WHO, NACO and NBTC why we are not able to give up family / replacement blood donations for voluntary blood donations? Why the rate of voluntary blood donations growing at slow pace in India? To what extent family/replacement donations are continuing to thrive under the disguise of voluntary blood donations? Is India still far away from non-remunerated voluntary blood donations? Is it a policy issue or issue of implementation? Why people are still depending on family/replacement system? Have they accepted this practice for convenience at the cost of associated risk? Are they sufficiently aware about it? These are some of the questions we need to address to bring a sustainable solution to the issue of blood shortage in India. The recent cases in Delhi, Rajasthan, GujaratUttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and many other states suggest that there is rampant black market exist in blood banking where many blood banks or blood banks colliding with corrupt officials minting huge revenues. There are several cases in Courts in India where cases are filed against blood banks, officials and medicos both in government sector and private sector. The case of Thalassemia children affected with deadly HIV and Hepatitis B virus is result of family replacement donations and artificial blood shortage created by blood banks. Many hospital based blood banks are not given permission to organizer outdoor blood donation camps where the onus of managing blood is on patient. Hence they are forced to replace every single unit of blood. Though there are many websites carry blood donor registry, they could serve much better if blood banks do not ask for replacement. So much relief for a patient who is already in crisis.

State and blood banks should collaborate sincerely towards warding off any malpractices in blood banking. I am sure many Indian’s are still facing difficulty in getting blood in time when needed. In such situation everyone should work together to encourage voluntary donations and blood banks should stop asking for replacement.

Gujarat Elections 2012

Every 5th year in India we witness a lot of drama in political arena. Gujarat for past 12 odd years have witnessed  3 such dramas at regional level. For past 12 years Modi displayed tremendous political leadership to retain political power in state of Gujarat. First he came with ‘Hindutva’ agenda and then gradually shifted to ‘Development’ agenda as key campaign tool. Indian public is known for its religious sentiments-irrespective of religion. Be it Muslims, Christians, Jains or Hindus. To corner votes on ‘religious sentiments’ (‘minorities’ to be precise) is an old trick. However, when voter get educated, this trick doesn’t work. Neither it has a shelf life of more than 5 years in ‘elections’ context.  Hence development agenda is logical step that follows any other popular agenda.

But this agenda is like ‘double edge sword’. Historically many states lost elections with this agenda. The reason is definition of development can be interpreted in many ways and no political party can ever meet all expectations. More over populist programs and “free stuff” attract more than a ‘development program’. This one can analyze and understand in Buddhadeb context in West Bengal, Chandrababu in AP for that matter. He who works on GDP generally miss the ‘social agenda’ or we may call it “Human Development Index”. Political parties still haven’t found reasonable path to manage both.

When Modi is busy with his 3D campaign gimmick, Times of India is busy in counting all his failures. Be it maternal mortality rate, or increase in number of BPL families in his regime. Meanwhile underworld bookies are busy in betting 95 seats for BJP. What BJP is sure about is this time it is not easy to manage significant majority. The reason is except Modi no other MLA did anything significant to his/her constituency. As a result they remained as dummies in the hands of strong leadership. Political parties should realize that strong leadership is good only to some extent. After a point, local leadership should also develop and establish on their own. In the entire game of power, Modi is becoming an ‘item boy’ of BJP who is center of everything. This sooner hamper the internal democracy of the party. The way we saw Congress revolves around “Soniya or Rahul”, Gujarat BJP revolves around “Modi”. This type of leadership though felt good for the policitcal parties, not good for country. It brings in plethora of wrong decisions, aristocracy and internal dissatisfaction among the aspirants. Who perhaps silently work to destabilize the  system and when opportunity appears, switch political loyalties.

Even if this time BJP comes to power, it will be very difficult to regain it next time. Anti incumbency becomes a major factor that will work against the ruling party. Meanwhile Congress should come up with serious agenda. Populist agenda like “Ghar nu Ghar” may work for some time. In many states Congress unfortunately retained power with populist agendas. But they are expensive and derails overall growth prospects of state. Gujarati voters I guess more wise and know what they want. Here I exclude Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes because even in Gujarat they are still under developed and are lured by “populist” programs.

What citizens need is enough quality food at affordable price, shelter that gives them security and employment to secure livelihood. If these things are managed at basic level, all other agendas can be appreciated by people in general.

SHOULD YOU TAKE MULTI VITAMIN OR MULTI MINERAL TABLETS

Many of us do not get the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals from our foods, even if we are consuming the suggested daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

Foods now a days are low in nutrients than they were in previous years due to mass production and processing. Crop residuals are not tilled back into the soil, chemical fertilizers and pesticides replaced organic fertilizers and in addition vegetables and fruits are harvested before they ripe on plant leading to lack of antioxidants and important nutrients.

“Suboptimal levels of vitamins B-6 and B-12 are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer; low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia (mild thinning of the bone mass) and fractures; and low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (A, C, and E) may increase risk for several chronic diseases.” (Journal of American Medical Association, 2002).

Many of us have busy lives that do not leave time for proper meal planning and preparation, which can help insure that we are getting the daily nutrients to prevent disease. To remain healthy nutritionists recommend at least 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

It appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.
Reasons for taking Multivitamin multi mineral formula:
• To prevent diseases
• To get the Recommended Daily Allowance of nutrients
• To replace nutrient deficiencies in food
• To ensure consistent nutrient intake
• To maintain cellular efficiency
• To activate enzymes essential to cellular function

Next time don’t hesitate to take multi vitamin tablets if you got common cold. It is better to take vitamins and improve your body immunity levels.

Good Day !

Note: The article is only for discussion purpose. Before taking any pills or medicines consult your physician.

Stop Teaching Corruption to Your Children.

"Anna"

The Crusade against Corruption

Almost all Indians (those who take bribe and those who give included) say corruption should end. But when you ask how optimistic they are to end corruption, you find very few. The reason is most of them are utterly confused about where to start ‘honesty’. A child in an average family learns to deceive the caller ‘Papa ghar pe nahi hai’ though the father sits right in front of the child prompting him to say so. Or he sees a traffic police taking bribe from a biker when he walks with his mother to shopping in nearby mall. Every day news channels bring one or the other story at prime time on how corruption taking place in high places with thrilling music-making it more ‘masaledar’ than a hot Bollywood pic. In short it is ingrained in the blood of every prospective Indian that corruption is here to stay and there is no cure to it.

By design corruption starts from powerful end and trickles down to least powerful position. However its visibility is high in least powerful pockets as it is thickly connected with masses. For example a peon in Indian bureaucracy takes Rs.50 as bribe to let you meet the boss. By doing so, he has no remorse or fear of getting into the act. This confidence he gains by watching / learning his boss getting into similar activities. You can say the ‘boss’ inspired the peon to get corrupt. Now this boss picked up the skill from his boss or leniency exercised by his boss for some other favor. This chain continues right to business capital Mumbai or Political capital Delhi or higher places of corporate governance. Now if you think you can complain about the Peon and dislodge him, you are mistaken.

Any anti-corruption activity should start from top and should be erased downwards. What the governance predominantly do is start from bottom and work upwards. Which doesn’t work. Even those in powerful positions also know that it doesn’t work. But they still propagate such practices only to keep the system corrupt where they can survive and flourish. A common man also has no clue how to get reed of it as he is not competent enough to erase corruption at high places.

The only option available to Indian people is to start working Top to Bottom. Corruption at high places should be erased. Journalists, Advocates, Social workers, Chartered Accountants all professionals should work collectively to remove it from high places. If Anna Hazare took a step in this direction, others should not just enjoy the show watching on TV news. Every one should join and if his team is getting diluted by vested interests, others should join the cause and sustain the movement and give it needed direction.

Though I share some amount of pessimism about its outcome, I don’t mind to be optimistic and believe that it we can weed out in future.

blood replacement practice in Indian blood banking

The irony with 1.2 billion population of India is that less than 0.5% donate blood voluntarily. One may argue that when 70% of the population live under poverty, how can they donate blood voluntarily. If you carefully observe the blood banking system, it is from this 70% population the blood banking system procures blood through replacement. Government hospitals, private blood banks and many path labs that illegally tap blood and pumps into the system is for and by this 70% population.

Any country can meet its bare minimum blood requirement even if 1% donate voluntarily. About 5% is any day needed.  In Indian context you need at least 1% to donate voluntarily out of 30% population who by any economic standards are fit and able to donate. On the other hand, if you screen the population for medical fitness to donate blood under all parameters stipulated by World Health Organization, still you can easily find 1% from this 30% still be able to donate blood voluntarily.

Then why India is still not able to get ride of replacement based blood donation?

It is the mindset of its population. Most who are eligible to donate blood actually doesn’t donate voluntarily. The standard answer is “I will donate when someone needs it”. How stupid answer it is. This answer is precisely creating blood shortage in society and encouraging professional donors. When someone needs blood he doesn’t know who your are and where you are and what is your blood group. He or she generally approaches a blood bank where he is asked to first replace a unit of blood because of shortage. Here the professional donor comes to play. If you can’t afford a professional donor, you would arrange a friend or relative to donate at blood bank. Now that situation remains so tense, that this friend or relative inevitably could hide any transfusion related illness history just to procure the unit of blood that is needed at that hour. This unit, carries all the chances to get transfused to another patient. This is how ‘bad blood’ gets into the system.

Once I was with a billion dollar business tycoon who visited a blood donation drive with his wife as part of their CSR activities. His wife said when they need blood they always ask their trusted relatives to donate. But she failed to realise that the blood banks of so called five star hospital transfuses another patients blood and not the same one that your “trusted relative” has donated. Many times it so happens that even the “trusted relative” could also hide some medical history (popping some pills that could get into blood) just to avoid embarrassment in elite circle. It is risky.

You may say then blood banks too have some responsibility to test the blood- afterall there is something like law. Yes you are right. They conduct all types of tests that are mandatory. But you can not assure a fool proof mechanism that involves costs and time. We still doesn’t have sufficient policy and legal environment here in India that can take care of any malpractice in blood banking. At the same time standard operating procedures are not fully developed and practiced in India. This further aggravates the problem. At the end of the day, you may or may not get safe blood even after paying premium, unless it is NAT tested. You actually don’t know anything.

Can you take such risk?

I suggest, take blood from only reliable blood banks that operate on “No Replacement” policy. This is the safest way to survive and get most reliable medical treatment. After all you can not risk the patient you love.

Donate blood voluntarily and regularly. This is the best way you can make the country better. Always ask for blood without replacement.

Indian Retail

Let me take you to 1970 and 80 when neighborhood grocery shop meant everything. I was kid who used to assist my mom getting everything from daal to suji tightly wrapped in news paper pieces tied with jute yarn. The typical retail shop owner usually found in dhoti -jubba sitting on wooden plank. Most of his ware are in small wooden boxes. Only he knows (out of 20-30) which shelf contains what. We used to find it little magic. another astonishing thing for us was raw sea salt in gunny bag left outside the shop. No one would steel it.

He used to keep a small book where each page is allocated to one household. It is nothing but his credit book. Everything was on credit. It is partially cleared at the beginning of the month. He would never allow you to clear the account as he believed that would snap the ties with customer and that which was not considered auspicious. As a small kid I used to find it great to get all stuff without actually paying anything. He used to be very friendly, some times giving me a peppermint or a biscuit. Its like taking something from your relative. Only my mother knows how it was cleared later.

I still see this retailer all through the 20-30 years of change. His wooden shelves are replaced by glass shelves, paper bags are replaced by packed poly pouches and he uses calculator instead of his fingers. He still continues to give credit to his customers. Added door delivery. Still offers chocolates to kids accompanied by their mothers. Now a days he also gives discount on MRPs. This of course alien concept at that time. When he could mold himself so conveniently to changing times, I don’t think any big retailer could replace him. One big Indian retailer is just 3 km away from my home. Its now operating for past 10 years. But this did not hamper his prospects to grow. He recently expanded his store and doing even more business now.

I don’t think Wal Mart or Tesco or Metro would ruin Indian Retailer. Both will have their own customers. The reality is still 1/3rd of Indian population depends on credit not cash and carry. Big retailer has his own costs too. If they can manage purchases on hard bargain a small retailer can easily restrict his costs and pass on the product at same cost-with 30 days credit period. Can they afford to do that. Certainly not. Especially the deep rooted Indian ethos are hard to replace. I wish them all the best. All the hulla in Parliament is how much moolah each party can corner in allowing or not allowing FDIs. Who’s bothered about retailer?