Thursday, May 25, 2017

Untouchability in the 21st Century

It's not easy to shake off caste-ist ideas of untouchability when one has spent one's entire life under that worldview....

Witness the way these 2 BJP leaders responded to an unusual situation: (a Facebook post by Mohan Guruswamy)

There is something true to form about these RSS/BJP netas. First Yeddyurappa makes a much publicised visit to a dalit home for a meal, but the food is bought from a hotel and he primly eats it with a spoon off a socially neutral banana leaf.

Now our friend, the encounter Shah of Gujarat, visits a dalit family in Peretapalli in Nalgonda district for a dalit home meal with a troop of media persons to record this one time event it for posterity. But once again the food was prepared in the mango orchard of a upper caste landlord Manohar Reddy in the neighbouring Khammagudem village. The local dalit leader Chinta Sambamurthy stood by the table and watched while Amit Shah ate. This is a reversal of Modi's Na Khaunga, Na Khilaunga.

For the following day's dalit home lunch in Bhongir, the food was purchased from the Pedda Devulapalli Annapurna Mess. As the name suggests it is a upper caste eatery.
Amit Shah at a Dalit home in Nalgonda (via)

It's painful that this is still happening in 21st century India.....

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Catastrophic maternal healthcare expenses push 46.6% mothers in India into poverty

Some time ago, I wrote about how I was first introduced to the idea that even small amounts of out-of-pocket spending, required to pay medical bills, can push families below the poverty line.

I was, therefore, not surprised (though terribly disheartened) to find that a large study has confirmed, and quantified, this problem.

"Catastrophic maternal healthcare expenses push 46.6% mothers in India into poverty–with the illiterate being especially susceptible–according to this December 2016 study by researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. The expenses include childbirth, antenatal care and postnatal care expenses."

Pregnancy and poverty....

Read the rest of this article here

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Selection biases in NEET

This is my deepest worry about the proposed National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admission to medical colleges..

"NEET plans to not only destroy the dream of poor, rural, non-Hindi mother tongue medium students (that is, a plurality of all students) of becoming a doctor , but also wants to create a cadre of doctors who want urban and foreign careers, with lesser ties to soil and the realities of rural areas, which is where the majority live.

Most states already find it hard to get qualified doctors for rural postings. An urban rich bias will destroy the system irreparably. The only beneficiaries of this regressive move will be private nursing homes, big healthcare chains and of course, the US. Medical colleges of the Indian Union will serve as supply factories for these entities, to an even greater extent than at present."

Is NEET going to create many more problems than solutions?

Read the rest of this article India's healthcare system will suffer because of NEET's bias towards the CBSE syllabus

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

"To kill, to terrorise, to dominate, to create a pure and ideal kingdom."

7 Muslim cattle-traders were lynched in Jharkhand by a mob who, on the basis of Whatsapp rumour forwarded to them, assumed they were child kidnappers.

This is heartbreaking, but only the latest in a long and regular stream of tragedies unfolding all over the country.

This author in Jharkhand fears that this incident is not connected to the other incidents of lynchings by gau-rakshaks to enforce a ban on cow-slaughter.

Moments before he was lynched on the mere suspicion of being a kidnapper

"The practice of mobs lynching people for possessing or consuming beef will be unlikely to become commonplace in Jharkhand, in my opinion, because the state, due to its remarkable Adivasi population, has traditionally been known to be a consumer of beef, pork, and whatever else might be considered taboo or inedible by the majority – for example, monitor lizards. Hence, what new story could be cooked up to create a situation of fear and distrust? What is most dear to people? Their children. Accuse some people of being kidnappers of children and have them lynched. In this age, when social media has become a carrier of hatred, is it that difficult to get anyone lynched? Be it beef or the abduction of little children, everything is just a pretext, an excuse. The purpose is to kill, to terrorise, to dominate, to create a pure and ideal kingdom."

Read the rest here...

At 65, This Doctor Treks and Drives to the Remotest Pockets of Odisha to Save Lives

"“If hundred patients come to see me at the hospital, I know there are many more people out there who are not able to make it to the hospital,” says Dr. Sr. Aquinas Edassery, who is out on her mission to reach the most needy and the most unhealthy.

To find them, she’s going to places where there are no roads, where the first four-wheeler that the people saw was the jeep that she came in, where teenage mothers are dying during childbirth and where the death of children under the age of five is heartbreakingly high."

Did you know there are places in India where people have never seen a jeep yet? Welcome to Bharat......

Read about this quiet hero here

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Marriage wounds

An excellent article on the way God uses marriage to shape us and make us. Do read the rest here

"Having a spouse is like living with a mirror that constantly shows you where you are weak, where you are prideful, and how in desperate need of a Savior you really are. Chad and I never could have known, all those years ago when he slipped this ring on my finger, how much joy would really be in it or how much heartbreak. Jesus put a rare love in our hearts for one another, and He has used that love to wound us in the most wondrous ways. Ways that show us who we are and who we want to be. Ways that show us how likely our hearts are to falter. Ways that show us how great His love for us really is.

The mark on my finger is almost healed now. Soon it will go away, and all that will remain is the freckles and the gold and diamond that a young idealist once scrimped and sacrificed to gift to me. For half of our lives now we have loved and hurt and grown and agonized together. And still, we are idealists. Because we have learned in this life together that God can do what seems impossible. He can take two kids who only know that they are madly in love, and He can teach them how to sanctify one another, one wound at a time. He can use great pain to bring indescribable joy. He can bind up every hurt with His love and tenderness. And, He can use every scar to show the world how great He really is."

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Is NEET the way to select potential medical students?

The practise of medicine is equally art and science. Not everything can be learnt from textbooks. This video reminded me of my own MBBS admission interview at CMC Vellore many years ago. A carefully planned, well-rounded and scientifically justified admission procedure that, in addition to assessing knowledge through MCQ tests, also assessed character, ability to work with a team, ability to rationalise and think out of the box, ability to prioritise and work rapidly under severe time constraints, willingness to work hard and willingness and skill to work with one's own hands with dexterity.

That admission process is now under threat and is likely to be ended with the government and court push for NEET, which ranks you on the basis of your performance on a single morning in a single exam. This is going to sadly affect the practice of medicine in this country. It is good to see in this video that some universities across the world are moving in the opposite direction.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Exodus

A Powerful poem by Dave Banhart. (Posted in full here for those who might not click over to

The Rich Man and Lazarus by Frans Francken III

I have seen your religion, and I hate it.
I have heard your doctrine, and I loathe it.
Take away your empty praise songs,
your vacuous worshiptainment.
Your mouth is full of religious words,
but your proverbs are salted manure.

“The sick deserve to be sick.
The poor deserve to be poor.
The rich deserve to be rich.
The imprisoned deserve to be imprisoned.”
Because you never saw him sick, or poor, or in prison.

“If he had followed police instructions,
if he had minded the company he keeps,
he would not have been killed,”
You say in the hearing
of a man hanging on a cross
between two thieves.

“People who live good lives
do not have pre-existing conditions,” you say,
carving these words over the hospital door:
“Who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”

“It is the church’s job, not the government’s,”
say you fat sheep,
defending your fat shepherds,
shoving and butting with shoulders and horns,
while you foul the water,
and air,
and scatter the hungry sheep.

You watch the melting glaciers and say to the waves of the sea,
“this far shall you come, and no farther,”
as if your will could change the weather,
as if your will could be done in the heavens as it is on this earth,
as if you could drill the sky the way you drill the soil.

In your telling,
in the story of the starving of the five thousand,
there are not twelve baskets collected of left-over food;
In your story, God’s abundance becomes scarcity,
and the crowds devour each other.
“Send them into the villages to buy food,”
and let the Invisible Hand’s miracle of the free market sort them out,
the worthy from the unworthy,
while you eat the two fish and five pieces of bread
volunteered by a child.
These ungrateful poor,
the welfare queens
with their anchor babies,
stop before your disciples’ raised palms;
they hear you say,
“The Master cannot be bothered to bless your children.”

You see Hannah drunk,
and you jail her for fetal endangerment.

Like Haman, you hide behind the skirts of the king;
you make laws and pay bribes
that allow vigilante violence
and private discrimination
against those you hate,
sheltering underneath plausible deniability.
“It’s not a Muslim ban,” you say one day.
“It’s about religious liberty,” you say another.

This Bible you wave, this word you claim,
it is sharper than any two-edged sword.
You wield it poorly; it slices you on the backstroke.
You know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.
You tie up heavy yokes for others
whose burdens you do not bear,
but you will not lift a finger to help them.
To some you say, “Do not marry, but burn.”
You lock them out of the kingdom of God.
You cross sea and land for your missionary work,
and teach others to be as hateful as you.

Your kingdom is not the public park of Zechariah,
where children play in the streets
and old men and women lean on their canes for very age.
It is not the land where every fearless household
has its own vine and fig tree,
their own means of production and shade for their rest.
It is not the land where everyone has a home.
Your kingdom is the one with gates,
where homeless beggars have their sores licked by dogs,
where people who have the audacity to grow old
pay a premium for their insolence.
Like Ahab, you covet all the vines, all the fig trees,
letting your domain stretch as far as your eye can see,
adding house to house and field to field
until, in your gentrified land
there is room for no one but you and yours.
Like Pharaoh, you call those who refuse you “Lazy, lazy.”
You build walls, and walls, and walls, and walls,
and you stuff your ears to the sound of protest songs
that will shake those walls down.

I have seen your christ, and he is my antichrist.
He is the herald of a violent god,
a god of fertility but not fruitfulness,
a god of embryos but not emancipation, pro-birth and anti-life,
a god of war and retribution but not of justice,
a god of order but not of peace,
a god of might but not of mercy,
a god of marriage but not of love,
a god of sex but not of pleasure,
a god of platitudes but not of wisdom,
a god of work but not of sabbath,
a god who demands sacrifice from the poor but luxury and reward for Pharaoh.

Your religion is the religion of pyramids pointed heavenwards,
towers built to reach the heavens.
Supported by their flat base, built by slave labor,
they are stable monuments to wealth and death.
You fill their secret rooms with gold so that
in the afterlife,
you may cross to paradise
on the backs of the oppressed,
and live in forgetful pleasure for eternity.
Your gilded gospel is rusty ruin.

You are why the ancient Hebrews
seldom talked about an afterlife,
weary as they were of working
for Egypt’s dead heaven.
Your idols and your religion
are why those slaves left the yoke of heaven,
the land of binding,
for a wide wilderness,
for a nameless, faceless God
who told them they—even they—
were made in God’s image.
You are why your churches are empty
of those who love and believe in freedom.
You are why the Gentiles blaspheme the name of God.
You are the reason for the Exodus.

And if you pursue, may God throw you into the sea.
And the horse you rode in on.

Amos 5:21-24
Luke 14:34-35
Matthew 25:31-46
Luke 23:33
John 9:1-12
Ezekiel 34
Job 38:11
Matthew 13:14-21
Matthew 19:13-15
1 Samuel 1:12-20
Esther 3:8-11
Hebrews 4:12
Matthew 22:9
Matthew 23:13-26
1 Corinthians 7:9
Zechariah 8:4
Micah 4:4
Isaiah 65:21-25
Luke 16:19-31
1 Kings 21
Isaiah 5:8
Exodus 5:17
Joshua 6
Genesis 11:1-9
Exodus 15:21

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Nothing Motivates like a Big Vision

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