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)

DALIT BHOJAN: NA KHILAUNGA, NA KHAUNGA.
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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1. Three Knocks on my door
2. More Knocks

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 https://davebarnhart.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/the-exodus/)

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,
grass,
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.


References:
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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4. What is a Mission Hospital

Nothing Motivates like a Big Vision



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Monday, May 15, 2017

Inflated Girl Child Numbers Behind Haryana’s ‘Remarkable’ Improvement in Sex Ratio, Finds Audit

A Beti Bachao Beti Padhao audit has discovered the truth behind how Haryana achieved a massive improvement in its notoriously low sex ratio.

Inflated Girl Child Numbers Behind Haryana’s ‘Remarkable’ Improvement in Sex Ratio, Finds Audit

Do read on to discover how a little window-dressing, and fudging of the data can make it look like things are improving, (and that India is shining!) when, in fact, there has been no change in reality...





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In His Image

Recently, the Indian Express carried an interesting report on the RSS goal of setting up "Garbh Vigyan Anusandhan Kendras" in every state of the country. The goal of these kendras was to promote the delivery of 'fair, tall and customised' babies in India.




"THREE MONTHS of “shuddhikaran (purification)” for parents, intercourse at a time decided by planetary configurations, complete abstinence after the baby is conceived, and procedural and dietary regulations.

According to the Garbh Vigyan Sanskar project of the RSS’s health wing Arogya Bharati, this is what is needed for a woman to deliver an “uttam santati” — a perfect, “customised child”."

The Telegraph thinks this might be the explanation for the peculiar RSS obsession with Shashi Tharoor. Do read this fascinating article that ends with this analysis.....


"So the sangh parivar wants an India made up of light-skinned babies that grow up to be tall, light-skinned men. This 'nationalist' organization wants to liberate Indians from a very particular kind of yoke, the burden of being not-white. It turns out that the saffron brotherhood's beau idéal, its perfect man, is someone who looks remarkably like Shashi Tharoor, tall, light-skinned, even light eyed. Suddenly the obsession with Tharoor amongst the sangh's proxies in the media and the online world becomes more comprehensible. It must be thwarting for the RSS and its affiliates that this desi paragon remains stubbornly outside its fold, even as it tries to build an India in his image."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Prosperity and Adversity, Health and wholeness: A response to the Prosperity Gospel

I am very happy to introduce Rincy Cherian, a dear friend and brother, who has written today's guest blogpost.


Rincy has been involved in full-time ministry from 2001 serving as an Associate Pastor for many years at Life Fellowship, Trivandrum. With the primary calling of an Evangelist and Teacher, he travels across the country ministering at Youth Camps, Leadership Training Programs, Evangelistic Outreaches, Church Renewal Meetings, and Equipping programmes for new Believers.

He is blessed with a wonderful wife in Subha who is also a passionate lover of the Lord.





PROSPERITY AND ADVERSITY

A child of God has experiences of both prosperity as well as adversity.  The apostle Paul describes his life experience for us.  "I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I know how to face situations where I am well-fed and having plenty, or in hunger and in want" (Philippians 4:12 paraphrase).  When we join with Paul and declare that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", we must remember that the biblical context is primarily about being able to handle both plenty and poverty (Philippians 4:13).

Exciting mountain-top incidents and difficult wilderness experiences, favourable circumstances and unfavourable situations, abundance and lack are both guaranteed to come.  When we follow the Lord, there will be experiences of 'green pastures and still waters', and also instances of passing through 'the valley of the shadow of death' (Psalm 23:2-4).  God is a God of the mountains and valleys, enabling us to be overcomers whatever the circumstances (1 Kings 20:28).  We must learn to enjoy times of blessing as well as endure seasons of hardship (1 Timothy 6:17; Hebrews 12:5-11).  We should neither become proud when we are blessed nor discouraged when facing trials- we must keep our head in all situations (Deuteronomy 8:10-18; 2 Timothy 4:5).

It is wrong to focus on only one of these truths.  God has the right to 'give' and 'take away' (Job 1:21-22).  Jesus was born in poverty but was buried in a rich man's tomb. Hebrews chapter 11 strikes a healthy balance regarding the life of faith (vs 13-16, 32-38). By faith people "received" as well as "offered".  By faith they "prospered" as well as "suffered".

There were 'rich' and 'poor' people- both in Israel of the Old Testament and in the early church.

The rich believers of the New Testament church  were "neither condemned nor commended" for being wealthy; instead, they were given clear instructions regarding what do with their material abundance (1 Timothy 6:17-19; Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15).

Similarly, poor believers were not treated as being “under a curse”.  Jesus spoke highly of the "poor widow" and did not feel she was under spiritual bondage (Mark 12:42-44).  Paul took the initiative to raise monetary support for the "poor saints" in Jerusalem- and was not looking at ministering some kind of spiritual deliverance (Romans 15:26).  The extremely poor believers in Macedonia were considered as an exemplary example to all the other churches for "out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity" (2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV).  Above all, we have the apostles themselves who were poor and without material comforts (1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 6:10).

It may especially be noted that being rich is not to be assumed as a sign of spiritual maturity.  Jesus looked at the church at Laodicea and told them that they were materially prosperous but spiritually poor (Revelation 3:17).  James talks about God choosing the "materially poor" to be "rich in faith" (James 2:5).

We are also warned against the dangers of trying to become rich.  Paul says that people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires  that plunge people into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9).  He says that godliness with contentment is great gain and calls on believers to be content with having food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:6,8).  He further states how the pursuit of money can become an obsession which leads to all kinds of evil- "some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10).

Overall, what believers should recognise is that both prosperity and adversity have a purpose. When we have abundance, the purpose is to 'make us a blessing' and 'increase our giving' (2 Corinthians 8:13-14; 9:11; 1 Timothy 6:18).  And when we face adversity, God is trying to 'mould our character' and 'perfect our faith' (Romans 5:3-4; Hebrews 12:7-11; James 1:2-4).  So both must be joyfully accepted and cheerfully faced!  

HEALTH AND WHOLENESS

Throughout the Scriptures, we find numerous statements and incidents revealing God to be our Healer.  He never created a world of suffering and does not delight in the pain of any person.  Ultimately, we will inherit a world free from everything that is wrong and evil.

Having said this, it does not mean that God would never allow sickness in our lives or that He will always heal us. Such beliefs are contrary to Scriptural teachings and examples.  For instance, God sometimes disciplines His people with sickness so they may come into a right relationship with Him.  King Asa of Judah started his reign in a godly way but later backslid.  The Lord afflicted him with a sickness to cause him to repent (2 Chronicles 16:12). The church at Corinth had people who were sick and some who even died as part of God's disciplining hand (1 Corinthians 11:29-32). Ofcourse, all sickness is not an expression of God's judgment but it would be wrong to assume that He never acts in this way!

God may also allow sickness and other trials to test our love and commitment to Him- the classic example being Job.

Again, God may allow a person to remain sick to show His strength and glory through that weak person.  There is a striking question which God Himself asks Moses, when Moses complains that God has not healed him of his stammering problem before sending him to deliver the people of Israel from Egypt.  "Who gave man his mouth?  Who makes him deaf or mute?  Who gives him sight or makes him blind?  Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say" (Exodus 4:11-12).

We also see that God may allow His people to die of a sickness without healing them. The prophet Elisha was mighty in power and worked unusual miracles.  But he died of a sickness (2 Kings 13:14).

Paul's description of his fellow worker's healing shows that while he expected healing to take place, he didn't believe healing was always guaranteed.  This is what he writes. "Epaphroditus was ill and almost died.  But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow" (Philippians 2:27).

A fundamental truth we have to grasp if we are to understand why there are strikingly different experiences or results from person to person is concerning the purpose of God for each individual.  The purpose of God is unique to everyone.  This is why we see Jesus not visiting John the Baptist in prison and thus allowing him to be beheaded while He visited the house of Lazarus and raised him from the dead even after 4 days.  This is why we see God not intervening in the life of the apostle James who is executed by Herod while He intervenes supernaturally to have Peter released from the grasp of the same Herod (Acts 12).  This is why Stephen is stoned to death but Paul survives after a similar stoning experience (Acts 7:58-59; 14:19-20).

Another vital aspect to take note of is that the Kingdom of God has a 'present' and 'future' dimension. We live in an age where the Kingdom of God has been 'inaugurated' but still needs to be 'consummated'! This means that while Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross is complete and perfect, its blessings are experienced over different periods of time, the culmination of which will be at the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, for instance, salvation has various phases. None of us are fully saved yet. We 'have been' saved from the penalty of sin, 'are being' saved from the power of sin, and 'will be' saved from the presence of sin (John 5:24; Titus 2:14; 1 John 3:2; Romans 13:11).

Similarly, although we can experience healing from our sicknesses today, the blessing of a perfectly healthy body free from all physical limitations and defects will be received only at the return of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:52-54; Philippians 3:20-21; Revelation 21:3-4). This is why even people who have been healed or raised from the dead still experience death later.  This is true both in the days of Jesus as well as today.

Again, we can experience total freedom from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13-14) but the effects of the curse which originated on the day of the Fall still awaits its full-fledged removal (Genesis 3:16-19; Revelation 22:3).  The “old order” is still to pass away (Revelation 21:4).  Death is still to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).  Creation, which is presently subject to decay, is still to be liberated from its bondage and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:20-21).  Till the return of Christ, we who "have the first-fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the full redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:23).