Does an apple a day, keep the “quota” doctor away?

Hope you read about my accident in the previous post. If not, here’s the excerpt:

I had an accident on the 03rd of Mar 2009 at around 22:00 hours, when I was driving my bike back from work. I broke a couple of ribs (minor cracks/fracture, unsure if they can be called “hairline fractures“) when I fell down – as my Bullet, cruising at less than 30 kmph, did not make it out of a deep ditch on Adugodi Road, here in central Bangalore. The front wheel got stuck in the deep crater on the busy road and turned itself to my left, while I was thrown off the bike to my right. I was lucky that the traffic behind me didn’t run over me – it was slow too – and even that the 200 kg bike didn’t crush my right leg!

Next – the doctors & their diagnosis:

    1. The orthopaedic surgeon diagnosed me with 1 broken rib, on seeing the freshly taken X-Ray.
    1. The radiologist’s report said – my rib cage was in perfect condition, no cracks whatsoever. (If only I could transfer my terrible pain to him… Nevermind!)
    1. And, the Puttur Bone Setter I visited later, showed me the two clear cracks in my rib cage X-Ray. To confirm he poked his fingers at both the cracked bones, and I instantly released screams for the excruciating pain I felt. His treatment helped get the cracks filled in, and now I cannot make out where the cracks were, even by poking my fingers in the cage.
  • I visited the bone setter because allopathy (which even otherwise doesn’t have my trust & faith) cannot treat rib cage fractures, except for offering dumb pain killers.

    So was the bone setter better knowledgeable & experienced because of his diagnosis, than the other couple of trained, highly educated masters in medicine/surgery? Or carelessness by doctors?

    This reminds me of Dr. Nitin Powale (BHMS) from my home town Panvel. He is extremely experienced & knowledgeable, though he’s relatively young, in his early 40s most likely. A brief phone call from us here in Bangalore, describing the symptoms to him is enough for him to diagnose the ailment accurately. He then couriers across the tiny sugar pills and within a few days of taking the medicine – the complaints disappear. My whole family has tremendous “trust in the doctor & faith in his medicines”!

    So – how easy or how difficult is it to become a doctor in India? In my personal opinion (IMPO), with the medical institutions becoming purely commercial:

    1. If you’ve got (technically, if your father’s got) lots of money and can a pay huge donation (Oops! Read that as “Development Fees”) – do so & get admitted via the management quota – regardless of your marks.
    1. Then, there’s also the (stupid!) government accredited caste based quota for backward classes/tribes/others – further admitting non-meritorious students. (Yes, of course you can print your own caste certificate, silly!)
    1. Finally, a handful of truly worthy students make it in, to fill in the left-over un-quota’ed seats.
  • Getting admission is the toughest here – and once you’re in (via the money route, or the caste route, or the boring route), passing through the examinations is a breeze. Examinations in India are purely based on how well you can mug up your textbooks and vomit them back on the exam answer sheets. (Nope, no anti-nausea drugs needed – its a metaphor!)

    Not a single patient ever asks the doctor’s mode of getting his/her admission, or his/her scores or the number of exam attempts – before getting treated by him/her. So, attempt the exams multiple times as needed, clear the exams with the bare minimum scores, and “Congratulations – you are a qualified DOCTOR!“.

    Now – to ensure maximum business – drive away all the apple sellers in your shop’s vicinity.

    Accepted Injustice

    1. Dhanya, a 14 year old village girl, died on the way to the hospital. The valiant villagers who had saved her from drowning in the raging Cauvery waters, couldn’t reach the nearest hospital just 2.5 kms away in-time to save the breathless Dhanya, only due to bad roads. The Sunday ToI (Bangalore Edition) on 28th June 2009, reported the sad news on the front page – as this also highlights the sad state of roads, especially in rural India.

    1. Who’s accountable for the loss of Dhanya’s life?
    1. Can Dhanya’s family sue the PWD (Public Works Department) for the horrible roads, which were the prime reason for their girl’s death? It might be tough to prove the allegations in court (the way our legal system is) – but its become utmost necessary to atleast cause a ripple in the hopelessly lax government departments.
    1. Couldn’t there be some action taken against the authorities responsible to provide the basic “bijli, sadak aur paani” (electricity, roads & water) to the villagers?
  • 2. I had an accident on the 03rd of Mar 2009 at around 22:00 hours, when I was driving my bike back from work. I broke a couple of ribs (minor cracks/fracture, unsure if they can be called “hairline fractures“) when I fell down – as my Bullet, cruising at less than 30 kmph, did not make it out of a deep ditch on Adugodi Road, here in central Bangalore. The front wheel got stuck in the deep crater on the busy road and turned itself to my left, while I was thrown off the bike to my right. I was lucky that the traffic behind me didn’t run over me – it was slow too – and even that the 200 kg bike didn’t crush my right leg!

    1. Can I sue the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike), which is responsible for the state of the roads in Bangalore, and claim damages for my long suffering & excruciating pain? The ribs took a lot of care, a full two months to recover and caused a lot of stress & worry to my family too.
    1. Is it too much if I expect basic needs to be met, like good quality ditch-less roads in the IT capital of India? Why is the Indian citizen given step-motherly treatment for basic infrastructure – “bijli, sadak, paani”?
  • Yes, instead of cribbing here, indeed I can file a court case, and even can Dhanya’s family. But we won’t get into it. By not doing so, we save ourselves from a few years of court hearings, fat fees to the lawyers and some mental & physical harassment worrying about the uncertainty of the outcome of the case.

    There certainly is a problem with the terribly slow delivery of justice. The typical citizen avoids appealing for justice; and in turn supports the government departments & their employees in their fearless & careless corrupt growth towards “invincibility”. No accountability has induced a “who cares” attitude in them. For them, the death of a citizen is limited to an entry in the dead persons’ register, that too only with a valid death certificate. Period.

    Accepted Injustice” (is what I term this condition): We’ve accepted to live with injustice. 🙁

    How can the heavily corrupt and nonchalant government departments be sanitized? How can we sensitize the government employees towards citizen’s issues? Suggesting some action items:

    1. Implement serious accountability – linked to the salaries of *every* government employee. Parameters for the accountability need to be well-defined and strictly applied.
    1. Conduct regular, as well as surprise audits of each and every department to verify that the accountability is in force. The procedure of the audits can be standardized, so the audits can also be conducted by normal citizens – like you and me. The results of the audits can be one of the parameters for the accountability.
    1. The state Lok Ayukta departments (anti-corruption cells) need to be given more teeth. Any government servant implicated by the Lok Ayukta, should be immediately fired. He/She can never apply for, or join any other government department, ever.
    1. A stronger RTI act and vigilant proactive citizens needed too.
    1. Courts to have a single hearing & immediate judgement (fines) for cases against government departments. The fines ordered in the judgement should be deducted from the salaries of every employee in the convicted department.
  • We never know if these will *EVER* get implemented in India, and we are too small to make these changes happen, or influence them to happen. We sure can hope, though.

    “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

    So, do post your thoughts as comments here, and I will add the valuable thoughts to the list above – with due credit. 🙂

    Thank you!~

    Postcard from Bangalore!

    I noticed a red & white card lying next to my right shoe while waiting at the Madiwala checkpost traffic signal, on my way to the office. I bent over & picked it up. I wiped the wet dirt which had covered it. It was a card driving license (DL), and the name on the card read “Kavindra Rai”, above his father’s name and a very short one line address (the name of a road) in Darjeeling.

    We all know how difficult it is (typically) to get a DL done in India, especially if you go through the right channels. Alternatively, you need to ‘spend’ quite some money to get it through the twisted channels. So if the DL didn’t reach him, Kavindra would have to go through some trouble to get his DL re-issued at Darjeeling, or worst-case he’d have to go through the full process again – reapply for a fresh license, get the learner’s license, use it for atleast some 60 days, then apply for the permanent license, pass the test (and/or bribe!) & get the DL. And, only I had the power to save him from all that trouble & expense. 😉

    I suddenly felt important… And in the heat of the moment, I assigned myself a task: Trace “Kavindra Rai” & give him his DL back. 😐

    The ‘project’ was kick-started…  (music!)

    I launched my web-browser, and popped the query to Google. Yeah – “Mullah ki daud masjid tak.” I thought Google knew everyone on this planet… however, I was wrong. Either Kavindra was not from earth, or I had exceptionally high expectations from Google (which obviously works only as per data available to it, so nevermind!). Searching on a few social networking sites, on LinkedIn & even Skype contacts did not result in anything – so, it seemed Kavindra was probably not very net-savvy. But then isn’t everyone in hi-tech Bangalore a net-surfing online animal? 😉  Naah, theory = FALSE! Misconception about Bangaloreans.

    I then ventured into the BSNL West Bengal website, navigated to Darjeeling & tried to search for a phone number registered to his dad, or to him. There were a few name matches, but no address matches. I did call up 2-3 people whose names matched, but they turned out to be “wrong numbers” (Yeah, they told me that, though I knew I had dialled the number correctly. :-)). Why is it never a “wrong caller” instead? Anyway, my numerous other tries with some combinations, resulted either in almost the same list of people, or else the nondescript, “No search results”.

    Now I could think of only two final options to reach him, viz.:
    1. Telegram. Courtesy: BSNL
    2. Snail mail – (Yes!). Courtesy: India Post (Bhartiya Daak!)

    I called up a couple of local BSNL offices, and got the know that the nearest telegram office was at the Koramangala BDA Complex. I visited the telegram office there, collected the form, filled it up… gave a deep thought… and didn’t send it.

    Why didn’t I send it?: Well… telegrams are delivered by BSNL, the telephone guys. Would they really be able to find the person at the brief one-liner address in Darjeeling? The odds, I thought, were very low.

    I was thinking – with such a brief address, this task could only be assigned to The Indian Postman. He was my final option too!

    Yes, don’t raise your eyebrows yet. Haven’t you heard of the stories of the Indian postman delivering letters perfectly, even when the letters carried an address so short that would make the tiny space for the address on the postcard seem royal? Yes, I’ve experienced it myself. Letters addressed to my Panvel residence – with just my name on them alongwith the name of my society or my building, are enough to be delivered to my home without delays. Even though, I’m not famous (or infamous!)  in my approx. 7-8 lakh populated town and there’s also one other Nirav Doshi (a good friend!) in Panvel, but the letters are correctly delivered – courtesy: The Indian postman! 🙂

    With the backing of my trust & logic, I expected the postman at Darjeeling would either already know the person addressed, or atleast put in some additional effort in tracing the person addressed.

    I went ahead and bought 2 postcards for Re.1 (yeah, no more the 15 paise we’ve known it to cost… its costlier now!) 😀 . I scribbled a short message about the DL I’d found, my contact numbers & just requested the recipient to call me.

    Quite a few pessimistic thoughts crossed my mind: what if Kavindra’s residence had changed and that was an old address? What if Kavindra had not informed his family about the lost DL and now could be rebuked because of my postcard? And even worse thoughts – What if Kavindra was into some illegal activities? What if he’d run away from home & was not in contact with his family?

    Setting these thoughts aside, I optimistically dropped the postcard in the mailbox & started my wait for that phone call from Kavindra Rai or his family.

    About 10 days after I’d mailed the postcard – I received a phone-call in the middle of a meeting. The caller identified himself as “Kavindra”. I immediately recognized him and exclaimed “Oh, Kavindra Rai! Is that you?” – He sure was the Kavindra Rai I’d been trying to reach for soo long. He said we could meet over the weekend and then he would collect the DL from me. I quickly agreed and hung-up, couldn’t keep the office meeting waiting for me for long.

    After the meeting, I met up with a couple of friends at work and expressed the joy of accomplishing the task I’d set myself unto. My trust and logic was proven right. The 50 paise postcard had done its job in helping me in my task. And ofcourse there was the uncelebrated postman at Darjeeling, who delivered the postcard to its right recipient even with a bare-minimum address on it! 🙂

    Kavindra & me met up on the next Sunday – and I gave him his DL. 🙂 It was also very kind of him to carry along a pack of Darjeeling Tea he got for me, as a token of his thanks. I asked him, how did he manage without the DL for about 3 weeks, to which he said he had a photocopy of the DL with him, so wasn’t so worried about it. Yeah, the RTO Officers @ Bangalore are very accomodating, eh?!

    Nevertheless – Bhartiya Daak… Still rocking!~

    Quota for Tax-payers!

    Humourous Thought (Thanks Swami for this gem!):

    A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

    We, the Indian salaried class, run the country with our Tax-Deducted-at-Source (TDS) + Surcharge + Cess, is well-known. Ofcourse, there are the Ambanis, Mallya, Birlas & even Shah Rukh Khan & Akshay Kumar, who’re some of the top tax payers of the country. But then its us who pay a relatively high tax as compared to the business class.

    During a discussion with my friend KV (K. Venkatesh – I’m sure most of you know him) on this subject last year, he’d pointed out that as compared to a relatively secure job & confirmed salary at the end of the month (yeah, the IT Dept. thinks so!), the businessmen carry a relatively large business risk of the business not doing well and their investments going for a toss.

    So seemingly all’s fair.

    However, I’d like to point out – though I would probably be the lowest earning member of the apartment complex I stay in here at Bangalore, I am probably the highest tax payer amongst them all, if you compare the incomes! Any purchase that the businessmen (no offence meant!) do like a property, a car, or a music system, or books, CD, DVDs, or even a computer at home – they claim it all as business expense & even register losses. They even make their wife & children as partners in their businesses and withdraw plump salaries on their behalf. While we, the salaried class, get *limited* rebates that too for home-loans & investments only. Nothing personal here, and I know they all work very hard too, like us.

    This is also true for small shop owners like roadside paan-wallas, electricians, etc. I’ve heard stories of paan-wallas who come to their shop in chauffeur driven Toyota Corollas & Honda Civics.

    These are also the people who don’t bother about paying a bribe to get their work done at government offices. They have (obviously untaxed!) black money, which they can splurge at the drop of a hat.

    So: what does an Indian income tax-payer get, as compared to an income tax-defaulter? NOTHING!
    The Indian tax payer doesn’t see any value in paying income tax.

    This has been pinching me and I’ve been carrying these few thoughts about how to get some special value-adds for the tax-payers, as detailed below.

    This thought may not be 100% in its own – with my relatively limited knowledge of “how things work” here – but I’d like to suggest this and I feel confident that this (or an appropriately modified form!) can help be a boost to the tax collections in the country.

    Tax payers in the country should be categorized based on the tax-slabs and/or the annual tax they pay. The National IDs which the government plans to issue to all the citizens can have this added “Tax-payer status”, and/or be differently colored for different categories. This can also (more appropriately) be done at the PAN card level, but with the logistics involved in getting all the currently issued PAN cards updated, it might be a grand exercise. So while the government is at it for the National IDs, why not add a PAN number & tax-payer status to it.

    Based on the tax slab and/or annual tax paid categorization there should be various priorities/reservations (or if you want to call them with the fashionable: Quota!) available to tax-payers for various things like a new phone connection, a new gas connection, bus/train/flight reservation, a new water connection, a new electric connection, a court case hearing (even special fast track courts), school & college admissions, and such.

    This may sound similar to an “economic condition” based quota system which was proposed by many as against the currently misused caste & religion based quota system.

    Benefits, that I think of:
    1. The tax payers will see *value* in paying income tax, rather than defaulting on it.
    2. More & more currently non-tax payers (or defaulters) will want to come into one of the tax-payer brackets.
    3. More people will start declaring their correct income & start paying their income tax due, to climb up the tax-payer category.

    When more people start paying tax, I also think more people will start looking forward to & ASK for better facilities and amenities from the government. People will reduce/stop paying bribe for government work – because their black money resources will have reduced. The government collects more money and hopefully pays the government servants much better, and they don’t ask for bribes anymore. (Yeah, & I’m dreaming!)

    Anyway, endless thoughts! Need to stop somewhere… But the prime target:
    1. Recognize the tax-payers and give them special treatment.
    2. That way, get more & more tax-payers
    3. And, collect more tax money

    Swell idea, or a stupid one? Let me know your thoughts!~

    Mission marathon

    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. From the Gate 11, this was where we were waiting to enter into the ground/tracks.

    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium Bangalore
    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. From the Gate 11, this was where we were waiting to enter into the ground/tracks.



    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. A bunch of us Nouseans holding the placards high.
    Sorry about the shaken picture, it wasn’t me! 😛

    Some of the Nouseans on the ground with the placards high!
    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. A bunch of us Nouseans holding the placards high. Sorry about the shaken picture, it wasn



    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. Finally, the Nousean group started running…! Me there too… 😀

    dscn3393
    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. Finally, the Nousean group started running...! Me there too... 😀

     

    This time on the road, out of the stadium. I’m there in the front with the gray track-pants.

    On the road!
    This time on the road, out of the stadium.

     

    After about a kilometer completed. See us panting and puffing… :P. That’s me in the front with my napkin & cellphone in my track pocket. Just behind me, Manjunath looks like he’s about to drop down! 😀

    That's me in the front with my napkin & cellphone in my track pocket. Just behind me, Manjunath looks like he's about to drop down!
    After about a kilometer completed. See us panting and puffing... :P. That's me in the front with my napkin & cellphone in my track pocket. Behind me, Manjunath looks like he's about to drop down! 😀

    Another one, Manjunath is close to the lens this time… me right behind! 😉

    Another one, Manju close to the lens this time... me right behind!

    One more…

    One more...

    And this one with a lot of Nouseans in the frame catching their breath. 😉 Yeah, I needed the break too… 😛

    Whew... catching our breath!

    And here’re Aji waving out & a partly visible Sunil Shankar right behind Aji.

    Aji & a partly visible Sunil Shankar

    Nouseans in a group!

    A group of Nouseans!

    Sridhar, Sunu, 3 others, KB & a couple of female Nouseans – resting in the shade! Placards already half-way down! :-))

    Nouseans under a shade... Placards already half-way down! :-))

    Hurray! In front of the Vidhan Soudha (Karnataka State Assembly)
    Vidhan Soudha: Government Work is God’s Work! ;-)) With that our ministers are angels! 🙂
    Vidhan Soudha: Government Work is God's Work!  ;-))

    The Famous Five – After completing the mission.
    Sunu, Abraham, Suresh, KB & me!

    Whew! Mission accomplished, at last!
    Whew! The Famous Five - Mission accomplished, at last!

    Kick-start… Courtesy, ITC, UB Group…

    After a nice 5.7 kms of Sunfeast Bangalore Majja (fun) marathon yesterday (31st May 2009), I have a few aching muscles and lots of memories of a nice time running for Bangalore! I’d say a nice kick-start for me to exercise more frequently, as well as to participate in such events henceforth. Thanks to ITC Sunfeast… (ITC Ltd.)… as I don’t contribute to their revenue/profits otherwise! 😉 Nor do I contribute much to the United Breweries’ coffers (KingFisher [KF]!)… 😉

    Thanks also to my employers Nous Infosystems & the HR team – who organised this event for all of us.

    The Sunday started off for me with a sleepless night, as I slept (& kept) wondering if I would wake up on-time… worrying if I wouldn’t be on time & miss the 08:30 missive by Maryann (our Sr. HR Manager) as the time to meet up opposite the UB City entrance on VM road.

    I woke up, well before the 3 alarms I’d set for myself & was ready to leave home by 08:00. Stretched myself a little, and left home after having a couple of glasses of water.

    I was supposed to meet my colleague KB at a parking place close to Kanteerva Stadium, from where we were to walk to UB City and meet up with the rest of the guys from my company, Nous Infosystems. Coincidentally we met up right at the parking place and started our “marathon” walk towards UB City. We walked a little more than half a km to reach UB City at 08:20 and waited for the rest of the guys from the office.

    They slowly trooped in after about 30 minutes, i.e. about 20 minutes later than the 08:30 schedule. Finally we received our T-Shirts, our ID badges & our kits. We were prepared to carry the kits during the run, though we would’ve preferred them to have been given to us on the previous day, allowing us to decide what we really need to carry during the run. Additionally we also had to store and carry the T-Shirts which we wore from home that day, because we had to change into the “official” T-Shirts. 😉

    The Nous T-Shirts (official-wear) were good, though could’ve been better without the light gray colored text. The text wasn’t quite visible on a white T-Shirt, however I guess there were constraints that the designers couldn’t bypass. Nevertheless, they looked pretty good!

    We got into the Kanteerva Stadium from the designated gate and then went over to the Gate 11 from where the participants for the 5.7 km Majja (fun) run started their marathon! Gate 10 was overflowing with participants and the participants from the Gate 11 were also made to enter the ground from the same entrance as Gate 10. Nevertheless, we *finally* started our run at 09:30 hrs. IST and slowly worked our way out of the stadium.

    There was a huge crowd for the Majja run – official count ~13500~ – and most of them were corporate representatives in their “official-wear” with placards/banners in hand or wearing caps. The event was high on spirit & enthusiasm as there was no competition, pure participation.

    Manjunath, KB & me typically started running together (I’m wearing the ID 20453). Later we got seperated, but we continued running. We ran a little distance, then paused under a shade (if available!), caught our breath (was available!), walked some distance & then started running again… again for a short distance! Yes, we’re not in shape, and it showed! 🙂

    The crowd, volunteers and the “official” cheer-leader girls (Yes!) were quite entertaining (less encouraging)… especially when you’re out of breath. 🙂

    The sad part about the run were the roads strewn with litter – especially the small KF water bottles, thrown on the road by the runners after emptying. Later, I passed a woman participant in Cubbon Park carrying a couple of large polythene bags filled with these strewn bottles – hats-off to her!

    Winding across the route, we – 4 of us from Nous, viz. Abraham, Sreekumar, Santhosh & me – finally completed the 5.7 kms stretch in ~00:50:00! Back in Kanteerva’s enclosure at ~10:20 hrs. IST for the water (gasp!), cheering crowds (whew!) & refreshments (wow!).

    Though the event was to encourage a GREEN BANGALORE, a couple of things could’ve been organized better to really show the spirit.
    1. They could’ve organised BMTC buses from all around Bangalore to pick-up and drop the participants. This would’ve saved a lot of fuel + reduced the parking hassles at the event.
    2. Instead of supplying KF water bottles, the organizers should’ve encouraged the participants to fill up the water bottle, given in the kit, at the watering holes. The littered roads were cleaned within a short while after the event, which is good – but it could’ve been avoided altogether – as there *was* a better & greener alternative.

    These and other such improvements could’ve served the event better. Hopefully, the next time…

    Looking forward to a greener Bangalore, contributing to a greener India, and eventually contributing to a greener earth! 😉