Saturday, November 14, 2015

India Unravelling???

Even at the cost being baited and targetted, I am compelled to say I told you so. The series of actions and the brazen attempts to make India a theocratic state are so numerous, that it will take me a few days to list them. Rationalists killed, sedition laws brought out to counter criticism of the government, modification of textbooks to create false history or correct the errors of colonial historians. In 2014 when the election results were announced and a so-called saffron wave surged and swept a BJP led dispensation into power, I was considered a recluse and pariah in my own family and friend circle. I have chosen to keep quiet for some time and allow things to pass. However, I consider not speaking up today to be a crime. Those who read my blogs, must know that I have repeatedly warned you about Modi's authoritarianism and his mask of development. The mask is now falling and revealing the khaki shorts, which are hidden under the sartorial designer clothes which are part of the packaged brand Modi.

I again want to emphasize that the Congress is certainly responsible for this by their refusal to act and oppose Modi ideologically. Today at least a few politically aware and persons with a social conscience have risen and acted, by registering their protest by expressing their views in print and taking the unprecedented route of protest, by returning national awards. In the run up to the Bihar elections, a ploy to polarize the votes around communal issues was attempted. What succeeded in UP during the 2014 elections and was hailed as a master strategy to win more seats in UP to enable a clear majority in its march to Delhi, failed miserably in Bihar.

While I have nothing against anybody, I consider Modi and RSS as two sides  of the same coin. The second massive defeat of BJP and its mentors in Bihar may be a matter of caste arithmetics, but I am certain that if this atmosphere of hatred continues, all the development in the world will get negated. The danger of authoritarian rule and persecution of the minorities coupled with corruption in the form of crony capitalism is a disaster in the making. Disregard for environment, agriculture, healthcare and NGO's, intolerance for contrary views or dissent within the country and the party are there for all to see. Abuse of critics on social media by hired trolls are some of the many things which disgust me.
The undignified tamashas all over the world make me hang my head in shame. Our ex-PM Dr. Manmohan Singh was prophetic when he said that Modi as PM would be a disaster.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Capital Punishment???

Capital punishment, meaning death by hanging is in the statutes and is the law of the land. In a society governed by the rule of law, is capital punishment justified? To answer this question based on the nation and its people is going to be my en devour. This punishment has been now explicitly reserved for the gravest of crimes and has been given for such crimes. It takes decades of hearings and sifting of evidence before a case is decided in our system. After that , appeals and multiple benches, end up with a mercy petition which goes through layers of state government, central government each taking their own sweet time before opining on the petitions. While all this is going on under trials or those on death row spend their lives in abysmal conditions, known as jails in this country. I wonder if this is not defined as a punishment almost making a living man dead.

Man is a paradoxical animal. Potentially, a single great man can alter the destiny of his country or that of the world, but a single misguided person can destroy everything around. A criminal act  like murder, terrorist act, destruction or waging war against a nation are all the handiwork of a diseased mind, All of us are products of our minds. Quoting the Dhamma pada Buddha says "Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draw it. Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves." The difference between a terrorist and a criminal and us is that, he who physically hurts has brought into action that which he has thought, whereas we out of fear or lack of courage do not do what we have thought. If we examine the mind chatter and look at it as an outside witness, we would notice that we commit crimes against many persons very often and keep them inside. So in one sense there is a criminal element hidden in all of us.

Then comes the question of socio-economic class caste and ability to use the system. There is absolutely no doubt that the rich and influential can and will escape death row using foul means, In a system where the state acts as an instrument of terror and wars are created and waged by vested interests, it is but natural that only some will get this punishment. Mobs kill in riots and nobody is arrested or even investigated has been the refrain of independent India cutting across the whole political spectrum. Examples of destruction of evidence, terrorizing witnesses, eliminating witnesses and simply crushing protest abound. However, this cannot mean that one can get away with a lesser punishment cause many are able to escape despite being criminals. 

The other aspect of capital punishment which rankles in my mind is when in the specific instance of Afzal Guru and his involvement in the attack on Parliament, the then Chief Justice of India in his judgement stated “The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender. The challenge to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of  by these acts of  and conspirators, can only be compensated by giving the maximum punishment to the person who is proved to be the conspirator in this treacherous act. The appellant, who is a surrendered militant and who was bent upon repeating the acts of treason against the nation, is a menace to the society and his life should become extinct. Accordingly, we uphold the death sentence.” The invoking of the collective conscience of society as a reason for awarding a death sentence  goes against all tenets and norms of justice. Judge must go purely by evidence and proof and collective conscience cannot be invoked as a justification for capital punishment.

The nuances of the Karmic laws and their operations over the multiple rebirths of a human soul seem to give a rationale for the suffering which befalls persons who have been good and the good fortune of those who have been bad. However the concept of an eye for an eye and life for life is ingrained as a concept of justice and also karma in the Indian psyche and te judge was referring to that feeling among the masses. For all our drawing room debates and discussions on capital punishment my bet is that if the common man on the streets is asked about capital punishment for heinous barbaric crimes and acts of terror, the majority will want the severest punishment given and that will be hanging to death. So all this talk of mercy, non-violence and compassion are forgotten in the hurly burly of life and in times where life is cheap and even floods, accidents and daily deaths on the roads of India are mere statistics and change nothing on the ground.

Is capital punishment a deterrent and have crime rates increased in countries where capital punishment has been abolished? Well the answer is generally, it makes no difference, however, the fact that mercy petitions are filed by almost every person on death row and a hard life in prison is accepted in the hope that there will be life after the long years means that life is dear. The inordinate delays and time taken means that deterrence due to capital punishment is never likely, since in the game of political roulette, if u happen to be beneficial to the powers that matter, your petitions will be inordinately delayed and you can live almost happily ever after. 

In conclusion, capital punishment must go, for the right reasons that no one except God or the supreme power has the right to take away life. It must go for the wrong reason that our esteemed rulers and opposition politicians will at least not have an instrument to incite the masses for their political gain. 

Disclaimer: I hold no brief for any party nor criminal, this is just a view point to be taken as such.  

Vispi Jokhi

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blog Revival

It has been a while since I blogged. In fact over a year. However, my Modicentric blogging led to an expectation that I need to talk politics all the while. However, while national issues and political developments engage my mind, I will write about that some other day. Today, I want to share with you musings and thoughts about my adventure to become a student once again. More than a year back, while reflecting on career and life in general, I realized that I was gradually entering a decline phase in my Orthopedic career. My lack of success in my field has been mainly due to my temperament, laziness and a casual attitude. This realization made me want to make change for the better. In short I wanted to learn to "manage" my life better. So I decided to learn management literally and try and train my self to improve and manage myself. While a full MBA seemed beyond my reach, I decided to challenge myself and apply for a course in healthcare or hospital administration. After a bit of market research and inquiries, I literally became tired of hearing the refrain TISS or nothing. TISS for the uninitiated stands for the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a premier autonomous institute with a tradition of conducting courses for professionals and whose alumni, today boasts former deans, present CEO's, Superintendents and administrators in cities dotting the Mumbai landscape.

So I applied almost hoping that I am disqualified or told am overage. However, I was called for an interview and in the waiting room met a curious mix of persons, dentists, physiotherapists, a few guys who were already administrators in their hospitals. We waited on class room benches and chatted, Some of the faces I met seemed clear in their reasons for doing the course. They became friends over the next year and co-travelers in the journey called EPGDHA (executive Post Graduate Diploma in Health Administration). We were interviewed one by one and my first impression of a short and stout dark complexioned personality Prof. M, Marriappan was to be frank unimpressive. Short in stature simple smiling man, asking the simple questions to find out and probe our reasons for opting for this course. He warned us that he had no intentions of making this course a farcical walk in the garden. So we went home and ultimately got the admission email with the procedure. Management subjects are basically attempts to objectify management and create leaders out of the individual personae. While a leader has personal, interpersonal, leadership and practical skills, he or she needs to know and understand the tools which are needed to understand the workings of organizations in the field of health care. As clinicians we have generally looked down on administrators and felt that their failure top provide what we need is because of their incompetence, however for me this course showed me that this was not really true and quite often the clinicians behavior and attitude left a lot to be desired. The subjects we studied were alien to me and the lack of precise answers, bemused me and we were a bit taken aback Principles of management, Research Methodology and Statistics, Financial accounting and cost accounting, Human Resources, Ethics and Governance, Hospital Information and management systems, Hospital Support systems and Marketing were taught in the first semester by teachers and guest faculty in Government class rooms with adequate facilities, The group dynamics of the students consisting of persons from diverse fields and areas of the country soon gelled into groups, but unlike our college days, the maturity of the group led to a healthy competition along with a genuine sharing and mentoring by the seniors. While 15 days of lectures along with travels and exams and impromptu assignments challenged us,very soon we found ways to cope with the challenges and help each other. The friendships forged and the whats app group dynamics made learning fun and soon we had completed our first semester. While the going was tough, the hints of the storm to come were available but not taken by us. In the second semester, Thesis and project work, along with hard core subjects like Strategic Planning, Strategic Cost Management, Financial Planning, Business development, Quality Management, Materials management, Hospital project planning and Organization of clinical and super specialist services hit us like an avalanche. However we managed. The final exams along with the vivas, made us literally struggle through late nights and fears of the unknown.

All the teachers had their styles and peculiarities, but the overall impact of the course was positive. The use of moodle and the communications and the assignments with their relevance created the need and the desire to look at our hospitals and study aspects we hitherto took for granted. The thesis of trying to create a strategic turn around of a unique hospital proved to be an exciting project. I feel making it a three semester course could be better.

Almost all our teachers were sincere dedicated and masterful in imparting their knowledge. Prof M. Marriappan and Feroz Ekbal the local faculty were the workhorses, These two were the men for all seasons with answers to all our queries and between them covered 5 of the sixteen subjects. The others were ex TISS students and had a love and commitment for their work as teachers, D,P. Singh sir, Neil Sequera, P,M, Bhujang, Dr. Prashant Bhatt, Mr, Ashok Thapar, Mr. Vijay Arul Dass, Dr, Ram Naraine, Dr. Prashant Kelkar, Dr. Vivek Desai and Dr, Atul Adania all contributed through out the course.

Lastly a special word of thanks to my co-students and friends. We will cherish the process of our journey and take back wonderful memories of the roller coaster rides in our journey. The highs lows, petty fights and acts of kindness and bigheartedness have made our EPGDHA a memory of life.

While I await my results, I feel extremely gratified that after so many years I could overcome the challenge adding a new dimension to my learning and enjoying it too.

On this eventful day in India when a terrorist was hanged and India bid farewell to a peoples President, I am glad to have revived my blog. Hope to write more often.

Vispi Jokhi