Thursday, November 30, 2006

Health is indeed wealth

Healthcare in India is a much neglected topic with the occassional epidemic outbreak and the occassional op-ed article in The Hindu keeping the flame of discussion on this topic alive. Read this article from The Frontline describing how a left-front government of all governments is forced to rethink on a populist move set in motion by the UDF government in Kerala.

Whether the UDF government has gone ahead with this populist insurance scheme for the BPL families in blind faith in its statistics and the centre's paying power; or has gone in with outright confidence to win the assembly election and cover up its shady dealings, one thing is certain. The succeeding LDF government is in a catch-22 situation which is beautifully explained by the finance minister Mr. T. M. Thomas Isaac.

"There will be problems. It is indeed a catch-22 situation.We are now trying
to introduce a curious instrument that would undermine Kerala's public health
care sector, which, unlike in other States, is well established. But the State
government cannot also go back fully because individuals (among them people who have already paid the premium) would now be looking at what he or she can get from the scheme. It is no longer a collective choice. Every individual member
who has been promised cashless medical treatment for the next three years would
not be bothered about the long term implications. They would now be worried only about losing their short term benefits. So we cannot take a position on it

If I were a politician, I would say this to Oomen Chandy, "Eda Oomen, you have played your trick like a professional billiards player, who knows that if he has no chance of continuing on the next shot, places the cue ball in such a position that his opponent is forced to make a mistake if he uses the cue ball to strike; but strike he must, because withdrawing is not an option."

But being Deepak, I only say, "Health is wealth dude."

PS: Read this wonderful article by C P Chandrashekar and Jayati Ghosh in The Businessline arguing for higher public health funding.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where do the great economic theories stand?

I was reading an article titled 'Stolen Childhood', by Jayathi Ghosh in The Frontline dated November 17th 2006. The article dealt with the prevalence of child labour, and worryingly it is a curse which is rampantly prevalent in India.

Her opening lines are like pin pricks:

"It is not new for economies to use the productive labour of children. The
history of capitalism is replete with such instances, especially in phases of
rapid industrialisation. Dickensian stories of cheap child labour being
exploited by rapacious early capitalists were some of the cultural staples of
the industrial revolution in England. More recently, child labour has been
widely associated with poverty and seen as a sigh of backwardness."

The last line is true indeed. Human life is something like the famous acceleration-constant speed-deceleration speed vs time graph that one is taught in elementary physics. Childhood is the acceleration phase wherein one gains momentum and learns the tricks of the trade to sustein oneself through the productive phases of life. The constant speed phase can be likened to the earning and active phase and deceleration can be roughly likened to the time between which one loses interest in activity/life itself, to the end of one's life.

Now imagine that someone tries to shorten your acceleration period and tries to make you reach the same speed that you would have achieved in the normal course of time. Definitely, it will lead to stress/strain and most certainly you will be robbed of precious time in which you could have assimilated something more useful.

This is a sign of desperation which is a direct fall-out of poverty. Its only when you are in poverty that we observe the incidence of child labour. At the other end of the spectrum, lies the ogre of wealth and greed. So, child labour is not only a result of poverty alone, but a result of poverty which comes into direct contact with 'greedy wealth'.

Why does poverty exist? Capitalists blame the communists and the communists blame the capitalists. In the middle of this great circus we have numerous economists who are worshipped by many (students, Nobel prize committees, bloggers etc) who try to explain why things are so.

But people, you just forgot that for all the sophisticated models that you build trying to explain which way the quantifying numbers of an economy swing, there is one thing which you can never model..naah, make that two.. HONESTY and SCRUPLES. With these two quantities assumed in your models, but most of the time absent in real life, it isn't a wonder that the growth that you perceive doesn't percolate to all strata of society.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Birthdays THEN and Birthdays NOW

Seems like only yesterday
Life was just a sunny day
And we never had to worry
About a thing

Running Free, Stillwater

Every period in history has a defined pre and post period. Say for instance, the pre-Mughal
era and the post-Mughal era; pre and post British named after the ruling entity. Sometimes
the charisma of a person is so strong, that there are eras like pre and post Hitler, pre and
post M.K.Gandhi (for a Congress party worker, every Gandhi is entitled to this honour) etc

In a similar vien, birthdays, i.e. only with respect to the way our acquaintances come to
realise that a particular day is our birthday, and how we are wished can be classified into
the pre and post Orkut era. ( again, this is unique considering that Orkut is at a time a
person, an entity and a phenomenon)!!!

The pre-Orkut era:

This era can be sub-divided into (from my personal experience) three phases:

1. The school phase: Covering the 12 years I spent from LKG to 10th standard at VVS Gandhi
Centenary School and VVS Sardar Patel High School.
2. The pre-university phase: Covering the 2 years I spent at MES College of Arts, Commerce
and Science
3. The university phase: Covering the 4 years I spent at KREC (prefer this name over NIT)

The post-orkut era:

1. The post-grad phase: Covering the 2 years spent at IIT Delhi
2. The worker-bee phase: ongoing, just celebrated a birthday in this phase

School Phase: This was a time when the onus for informing others about your birthday was
upon us. The code for declaring a birthday was to come attired in the so called 'colour
dress' (as if the uniform was colourless), the school slang for informals. The birthday
boy/girl was expected to bring along chocolates for the entire class and the teachers and of
course there were the extra chocolates for 'best' friends. The birthday chap was made to
stand in front of the class and there used to be a rendition of the Happy Birthday song
followed by distribution of chocolates.

Pre-university phase: This was a slightly sobered down period with the impending tensions of the public and entrance exams weighing down on people's minds. More or less it involved a
small treat for select friends.

University phase: Life at KREC meant that the birthday had to be told only once, and someone or the other would make sure that they remembered it for the next four years.In my case, the man with the memory was Adi the God or simply, Devru.Celebrations were awesome. GPLs (Birthday bumps) followed by the mandatory visit to the night canteen were the order of the day.

Orkut brought in a new facet of birthday wishes. Everyone who was on orkut could see your
birthday and more often than not, they didn't forget to wish you because your picture would
stare them right in the face. The time for compulsory wishing had arrived, a far cry from
the old days, when it was OK to forget wishing someone.

So came the post grad birthday celebrations which were muted due to Mother Nature lowering
her temperature to a 'kewl' single digit. A few select pals in the hostel got a treat at
Nescafe and the others had to rest content wishing me on orkut or over the phone.

The worker bee phase as of now has recorded a huge spurt in Orkut wishing. So many scraps,
they outnumbered the mails, phone calls and perosnal wishes by a ratio of almost 20:1.

At the end of the process, its imperative that anyone would feel happy, but being
'overwhelmingly happy' by seeing the huge number of scraps is something that i would anyday
swap with shaking hands, getting my arse kicked, going out in the biting cold or standing in
front of my peers dressed radically different from all of them.... I know, "grass is always
green on the other side".

Monday, November 13, 2006

IST - 5 1/2 = GMT

In 'The Satanic Verses', Salman Rushdie says, "Five and a half hours of time zones; turn your watch upside down in Bombay and you see the time in London"

Its so true..Try it!!!

Is this another of the mysteries that nature plays upon us? Never know man, never know....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Heartbreak through a routine break

Sweet November
Is out in its splendour
But the harsh Bombay sun
Burns thy skin tender

In the black chariot
Sat the future visitor
To a sweet shop
Called Sweet Chariot

Eyes met, Signal turned green
Away sped the chariot
With shattered dreams
Of a date at JW Marriot

O, saffron and white clad
Dame at Amarmahal
Be mine,
I'll build u an Amar Mahal

PS: I happened to change my usual route of going to office and saw this extremely beautiful
woman wearing a white salwar with a saffron dupatta crossing the road. How I wished at that
moment that I knew her!!!

I console myself with the following,

But life still goes on
I can't get used to living without living withoutL
iving without you by my side
I don't want to live alone hey
God knows got to make it on my own
So baby can't you see
I've got to break free

Queen, I want to break free