Yet another sordid story of immigrant plight, like Rohingyas are thrown out of Myanmar, Karen, originally a tribe from Myanmar, are dislodged from Thailand. Painful with pathos. Worth a read and ponder why this is happening.
‘When you’re doing the right thing, you have to keep fighting, even if it means you may lose your life.’.
“And after he said that, I couldn’t ask him to stop,” she recalls.
“We Karens respect nature as our God. We worship a water God, a forest God and every living thing in the forest. Our farming technique is environmentally friendly. And we grow things we can consume all year round.
Thailand’s disappeared Karen activist Billy and the burned village
Gene editing and Eugenics has been in vogue within the scientific community for over 50 years now. However, there is a taboo or phobia within human mind of modifying or re-engineering the human genome. Part of the concerns are ethical and part imperfections associated with any scientific experiments. Our ambivalence is seen while we promote Bt crop and edit genes for diseases but oppose re-engineered because of ethical reasons. I have cited select reasons for our ambivalence without providing a way out since I believe, that is subject to interpretations.
Word Count: 1173; Time to Read – 5-6 minutes; Expertise – Curious Mind.
The Advent Of Dolly
Dolly – An ingenuous experiment conducted in the late nineties, depicted a clone being developed from a mature differentiated cell. As the world believed, it was a landmark event. However, little did they realize that such experiments of creating newer varieties were already conducted by Humans in producing the best yielding agricultural varieties in the late ’60s. Until then, mixing and creating a newer gene pool was within the realms of nature alone. Humans made the stride but it was silent, never associated with any opposition. Instead, these events were applauded across unchallenged. It never crossed our definition of ethos and tailoring when it was done by nature or humans until it remained restricted to plants.
CRISPR Babies Project
CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) are patterns of DNA sequences found in the genomes of bacteria and other microorganisms. If a virus threatens, the bacteria use the CRISPR immune system to identify and destroy the viral genome. Scientists have adopted this system to use in cells from animals and, now, humans. Cas9 is an enzyme that works like a pair of “molecular scissors”. A guide molecule is programmed to tell the enzyme exactly where to cut in the DNA sequence.
He Jiankui was a noted scientist working in Bay area, until he was invited by the Chinese Government, as part of the ‘Thousand Talents Plan’. He masterminded the engineering of designer babies who would be immune to HIV (and AIDS). The CRISPR babies project entailed eliminating a gene called CCR5 with the hopes of rendering the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera. I would like to remind readers of our BT resistant seeds. BT Crops such as Cotton, Corn, Eggplants, Potato, Tomato, Rice, Sugarcane and Poplar are few of the agro products that are Bt transformed. They are disease resistant plus the promoters claim that they provide a higher yield.
If Bt crop is not bad, why modification of CCR5 gene a bad idea? After all, it modifies the immunity by increasing the resistance to HIV, and other diseases.
Designer babies Dilemma
The scientific community raised key objections for characterizing He Jiankui’s gene-editing plan. Amongst those are –
1. The technology is ethically charged because changes to an embryo would be inherited by future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool.
“We have never done anything that will change the genes of the human race, and we have never done anything that will have effects that will go on through the generations,” David Baltimore, a biologist and former president of the California Institute of Technology, who chairs the international summit proceedings, said in a pre-recorded message ahead of the event, which begins Tuesday, November 27. The risks of introducing unwanted mutations or yielding a baby whose body is composed of some edited and some unedited cells. Data on the Chinese trial site indicate that one of the fetuses is a “mosaic” of cells that had been edited in different ways.
2. One risk of CRISPR is that it can introduce accidental or “off-target” mutations. But He claimed he found few or no unwanted changes in the test embryos.
A gene-editing scientist, Fyodor Urnov, associate director of the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences, a nonprofit in Seattle, reviewed the Chinese documents and said that, while incomplete, they do show that “this effort aims to produce a human” with altered genes. Urnov called the undertaking cause for “regret and concern over the fact that gene editing—a powerful and useful technique—was put to use in a setting where it was unnecessary.”
Science knows it very well that the retrovirus genome is embedded into our noncoding genome (exons). Can anything be done to these exons? We have examples where viruses cause germline mutations that are inherited from generation to generation? The proponents of this hypothesis emphasize that it is the nature that induces these aberrations. If nature can randomly induce these aberrations, why can’t humans try? Has there been an experiment that has worked perfectly from the get-go? Errors drive perfection and such human endeavors into Eugenics will eventually be perfected.
3. Aren’t Industry innovations driven by profit or fame?
Investigators from Guangdong Province Health Commission said that He had conducted the work “in pursuit of personal fame and fortune, with self-raised funds and deliberate evasion of supervision and private recruitment of related personnel.” The authorities also said He forged ethical review documents and blood tests to circumvent a ban on assisted reproduction for HIV-positive patients.
State Induced Definition of ‘the outer limit‘ of right?
What is Right or Correct? Ethics and morals always evoke discussions and expose our deep-seated differences of ideologies anchored to our understanding. Somewhere, we have never understood our own evolution; we presume we rose through the ranks of Neanderthals… to Homo sapiens. Evidence has started mounting that we could have not made that leap from apes to Homo sapiens (and the current Homo Teknicon), without such experiments.
The Ethics of Discovery, Artificial Intelligence, Eugenics
To address the ethical concerns Stanford Institute of Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence is exploring the option of leveraging AI to reduce the shortfalls of human scientific endeavors and march towards perfection that can be called Ethical. In my view, eventually, ethics is so subjective and prone to interpretations of the perceptions from religious, scientific and natural interpretations.
There is a significant gap between the evolution of mankind (300,000 years) and the recent human history, which dates back to not more than 15000-30000 years at best. What happened during these 270,000 years? That hiatus has been a subject of exploration and we are gradually unraveling those horizons where we have possibly started accumulating little shreds of evidence of possible gene (pool) mixing.
It is too early to call that the above hypothesis to be proven right, but if it is eventually proven correct, posterity will prove that this scientist was possibly not wrong.
My personal view is that we, humans are not capable of understanding ourselves and such studies may be lopsided since there is a potential to produce chimeric havoc. However, I can counter my own fear with the recent genetic studies in agriculture where we have produced better yielding varieties including disease-resistant BT species.
It arouses my curiosity to understand that human beings are ready for consuming genetically modified crops, ready to gene therapy for treating genetics diseases but not yet ready to engineer their babies while they are in situ. As Hoover Institute pointed it out, “We don’t need a moratorium. We need to push the frontiers of medicine to cure more patients”.
As you might have noted, my own ambivalence will gradually tilt in one direction with mounting evidence. I know I am just part of the global wave of such ideologues. However, these are interesting times.
Public Views of Gene Editing for Babies Depend on How It Would Be Used
China jails ‘gene-edited babies’ scientist for three years
Bt Insect Resistant Technology
AI and Ethics
Think Tanks – How gene editing is changing the world
India – A race to the bottom
CAB and NRC debate has diverted the attention away from the struggling economy. However, it is hard to reconcile arson, only if you find it difficult to torch your home just because you had to protest against your spouse. If that is scornful behavior, so are those protesters burning public property. These despicable acts can still be pardoned, with punitive damages as per the statutes.
What concerns me most is the crass abandonment of the façade of pseudo-secularism. India has for last, relegated the idea of Secularism. To talk in the US equivalent, India has indirectly modified its first amendment, a right to practice religion. More so, BJP further fractured the Seven Sisters from the North East irrationally extending the boundaries of ILP. Writing the CAB was full of logical fallacies and an act in haste.
I shared eight implications unlikely discussed by mainstream media about the current CAB. Further, I have provided evidence of a lack of humane insight with the current CAB and NRC. I am confident, you will find it insightful.
Word Count 1751, Time to Read – 8-10 minutes, Expertise – Responsible Citizen
If you are angry, do you burn your home? Arson is not justified, Period
Just imagine, your spouse is angry with you and she starts burning your home, maybe you can imagine that you are angry with your spouse, and you start burning your home. Of course, that arson is disdainful, but more than that, it is a psychopathic malady. This blog is not about how that should be treated or understanding the dynamics. A wrong remains wrong, without justification. Let us drop this British era vestige and face the truth that not just inside our home, but outside (our home) belongs to us too.
To be unbiased, let us not side with the aggrieved or those who are instigating aggression. Now let us watch the entire spectacle from a third person’s point of view. The first thought that comes to your mind is, ‘Is this person normal?’
Arsonists, at home or in public, are not acceptable at any cost. Protesting is absolutely a feature of any throbbing democracy but arson and anarchy justified? Protesters burn public property not because they are insane, but because they don’t consider that as their own property. If they do so, would they burn their homes too? Students have a lesson to learn from Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), who took peaceful protest to influence the political landscape (See citations).
Drop the False Pretense
CAB is based on a false notion held by many BJP loyalists that India is a great destination for Muslim migration from Pakistan. Statistics reveal that only Bangladesh is the country of origin for Muslim migration for India.
India does not appear anywhere in UN reports for migration of Pakistanis and the same holds true for Afghanistan. Barring Bangladesh, no Muslim country thinks of India as a place of destination (see UN references cited below). It is rhetoric that BJP is trying to roll out for the next election. This is quite an old strategy, ‘scare the populace and demand vote’ (read 10 stages of genocide, citation below).
It is time to visit CAA/ CAB and add a missing perspective. Immigration is as old as human evolution. Like water flowing downhill, people have been migrating towards opportunities for living. Sometimes, those are plain attacks by organized armed men and often, those are innocent in search of life and better living. CAB is an intent and a sentiment converted into law. Laws are interpreted by word and provide a foundation for precedence. Once a law is created, intent and sentiments take a backstage. CAB becomes interesting from this perspective. As I read CAB, I understand it as below –
- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh are allowed
- Specifically, any Muslim from the majority Muslim nations surrounding India are not allowed. However, can BJP spell out its strategy for accepting those Muslims from Enclave reassigned in 2016?
- There is no mention about religious persecution on Muslims such as Qadian, Nizari Muslims, Hazara diaspora, Senusi Sufi’s, Ismailis and Shia’s who are also being persecuted in Pakistan
- Muslims from The Maldives and Tibet – The Maldives is a Muslim majority nation mostly constituted from ethnic Indias from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Similarly, several Muslims from Tibet have migrated to Kashmir or other parts of India, after the Chinese genocide and occupation. They are definitely in trouble because of CAA/CAB. Lhasa-born, Lhasa Khache Muslims and those who migrated from the central Tibetan city of Zhigatse, living in Srinagar are likely to be targeted.
- INCLUDED RELIGIOUS GROUPS from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians.
- EXCLUDED RELIGIONS other than Muslims are Taoism, Baha’i, Confucianism, Judaism, Shinto, etc. It also excludes Tibetan Muslims.
- If one sincerely intends to migrate to India from any of the above countries, CAA/CAB indirectly encourages conversion (proselytization) to any of the acceptable religion.
- Other EXCLUDED are Agnostics, Atheist, Indigenous Faith, etc., if one interprets the law. If the law can be bypassed to get these groups to migrate to India, that’s another concern.
- As per the wording of CAB, excluded groups from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal are not welcome either.
The intent is Islamophobia and though CAB abhors migration of Muslims from three countries specifically, it does not mention if Muslims from other countries are welcome. It is safe to presume, that CAB is exclusively targeted towards Muslims. Nations do not rise with a phobia, Pakistan is a good example. It cultivated hatred and diverted its resources against India and we all know where Pakistan stands today, as a nation.
Nations rise with a keen sense of identity and that cannot be a phobia toward any generic group of people. Introducing such ordinances degrades a democracy into a Taliban style model.
That does not mean, I disagree with the issues with Islam, all I insist is we need to work out a creative concrete solution and sometimes, that takes decades. There is no debate on the aggressive nature of Islam and the lack of reconciliation for the crimes committed by the bigoted and aggressive practitioners. However, that is presuming 100% of followers of Islam are bad. That also includes Abdul Kalam and several of the noble soul who contributes vigorously to the development and expansion of humane cause. Thus CAB concludes, if you are a Muslim, you need to be shunned, at least from India. In the US, they call it the first amendment. First amendment enshrines safeguarding your faith. At least, for now, India has dropped the veils and abandoned First Amendment. It is no more a secular country. Yes, India is a country for Non-Muslims though. If the US drops its First Amendment, it has dropped the very foundation stone on which it rests. India has just done that.
The Inner Line Permit (ILP)
ILP began as a practice with British rule to keep away the mainland Indian population from gaining business opportunities into the virgin field rife with Oil, Tea and Timber business. That was more a visa equivalent, to restrict the mainlanders from the pristine North East population. It remained in place since the 1830s. Gradually, all including Assamese and Tripurites got accustomed to this visa restricted entry system since that offered protection. However, gradually the population from Bangladesh and West Bengal started migrating. However, the reaction was more towards the foreigner from Bangladesh. Not against those from West Bengal, though the pain was felt equally from the migrant population irrespective of their origin.
Thus an exercise began against the gradual migration of the Bangla population into Assam and Tripura. This migration changed the opportunities for the native population and there was an outcry for the migration to stop. The Assamese insisted on stopping the migration across from Bangladesh, irrespective of Hindu Bangladeshi or Muslim Bangladeshi. It was to safeguard their jobs, opportunities. BJP exploited this opportunity and implemented their sense of nationality at the cost of the native demand to restrict the Bangladeshi. Though it changed the demography, there never was any concern about the increasing Muslim population, except for BJP, who knew Muslims would never vote for BJP. It was an astute exercise of gerrymandering.
Immigration and Emigration:
Like water flows downstream, so do humans migrate towards opportunities, better environment, avoid persecution, etc. Migration this exists since eternity. Birds follow this path, animals migrate towards better pastures. There is no dearth of examples irrespective of species.
No nation or geography is devoid of migrants, and always there has been a reaction of the natives to such immigration. What concerns most is not the migration or the protest against migration but the quality of protest and the dismal intention of building barriers and mechanisms for reducing the influx. Let us revisit each of these phenomena individually.
Of course, we all know people gravitate towards a better quality of life, better opportunities, avoidance of persecution, atrocities, escape torture (asylum, refugees), and hardships, etc. However, immigrants have always benefited the nation since it provides the diversity or addition of skills and labor for proper growth. Rarely people migrate because of none of these factors. Opportunities exist and so people migrate. Immigration is thus a flux or movement of people towards opportunities, whereas emigration is a movement away from their native land. We are dealing with Immigration, not Emigration. We often consider nationals of one country migrating into another as immigration. However, intra-nation migration is more common than migration between countries.
Immigration and Emigration both have consequences for the local population and the nation in general. Immigration has a direct impact on resources and revenues. Economies change drastically if there is an exodus of the working population. They leave behind an aged population and carry revenue along with them. Thus policies have to be created to control migration.
Most evolved democracies have a mature mechanism for regulating migration. However, these mechanisms are continuously monitored and tweaked, as required, to control the flow to virtuously and humanely manage the cycle of migration. An evolved democracy hardly has a religious limitation as a filter for immigrants. N400, a naturalization form that is foundational for US immigration, represents one such mechanism. Naturalization is contingent on the answers provided in this form. Any misrepresentation has the potential for revoking citizenship. Similar mechanisms can be ascertained for migrants from nations where there is a potential for social impact. Such a mechanism was distorted with gerrymandering introduced through CAB and ILP.
NRC will thus be a step ahead than Watan Cards or National Identity Card of Pakistan. Let us race to the bottom along with Pakistan! If you ask me, the entire fiasco of CAB and NRC has been managed in the usual BJP style like Demonetization, Surgical Strikes, GST and now CAB/NRC.
When most countries are accepting the Humans Rights, India is actually regressing like its Pakistani counterpart in upholding the rights of refugees. India lost its status as a secular nation, it is transitioning towards a Hindu National Identity inclusive only towards select religions. More so, the NRC and ILP have fractured the seven sisters from the North East into three categories, those having the ILP, those recently added to ILP and those tribals with a hybrid model.
Hurrah BJP! Welcome, Grand Mess!!
Nationalism, immigration and minorities
Overseas Pakistan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Pakistani
Pakistan as a Return Migration Destination
Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), https://metropolisjapan.com/sealds-legacy/
10 stages of genocide. Where does India stand? #CAB https://www.reddit.com/r/india/comments/e8du1h/10_stages_of_genocide_where_does_india_stand_cab/
https://idsa.in/system/files/monograph/monograph56.pdf (Illegal Migration From Bangladesh).
Migration of Enclave dwellers – India and Bangladesh Swap Territory, Citizens in Landmark Enclave Exchange https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/india-and-bangladesh-swap-territory-citizens-landmark-enclave-exchange
First, let us decipher the message –
- That Brahmins are despised by the other population
- Brahmins thought it was their Government
- Society is polarized
First, let us revisit history in a reverse chronology to cross-check if Brahmin Leaders were/are despised by the Bahujan and rural masses? We have seen Several Brahmin rulers who are/were well accepted by society. We have several examples of astute leaders from this class who led the masses very successfully, during normal times and during the crisis. They were loved by all sections of society. Lokmanya Tilak is an ideal example. To avoid debate, let me quickly revisit the Peshwas. We all know the Peshwas were Brahmins and they ruled and successfully expanded their kingdom from 1713 until 1818. Then too, Brahmins were minuscule. Leaders are not born, they achieve that status because of identification with the masses and aligning them towards those shared goals and objectives.
‘Angur khatte hai’
Second, it is common to label adverse unexpected outcome as ‘Casteism’, those undertones are always there. BJP, RSS and their so-called Chanakya, Amit Shah did not manage the different stakeholders for sure. Now they call, ‘Brahmin’s are despised’.
RSS think tank and PM Modi are on the ascendency of the power hype curve. They have not yet tasted the different seasons and the colors of power and politics. All it means is that they have a long way to go. Those successful in politics have often strategically backed off. An attitude of ‘backing off and strategically accommodating’ others (or collaborating with others, is missing with the BJP. That complacency is primarily due to arrogance of power and lust for dictating. To sustain power, you have to be very malleable, mentally astute and agile to realign. It is wrong to say the masses despised Brahmins. Always rulers are minuscule, they create that masses around a shared objective.
Blasphemy of Hindutva
Hindutva is very diverse, plural and deep. By Hindutva, I mean Sanatan dharma and Land on the east Hindukush. Dharma offers a wholesome milieu based on the principles of accommodating various colors, provides a platform for self-actualization for every individual irrespective of the situation they are. It understands the challenges individuals face during their time in this (life) journey. Dharma has an immense appetite to change, adapt, adopt and assimilate as time progresses. It is about the ethos that provides a foundation for human struggle, human endeavor and the journey of a human through their lifespan. Scriptures provide that written foundation, artifacts, and rituals a visible form to support that identity.
Sanatan dharma is thus deep and divine. Today, it is catapulted into crass religious scripture, rituals, and artifacts. The later cannot be a religion if the ethos are lost. BJP’s ideas of Sanatan Dharma (Hindutva) are very narrow and artifact-based. BJP’s Current idea of religion is a reactive backlash against ‘Muslim Atrocities and Aggressiveness’ over the centuries. There was a lot of pent up frustration within the masses and BJP has galvanized support over those pent up feelings. Tapping that resentment against the Muslim aggression has brought them to power but to sustain power, they have to address the root, that fundamental yearning to which religion provides the vigor and vitality.
NRC and Opposition to CAB
It is exactly this lack of understanding that is causing the North East to burn because it is the lack of understanding of the diverse population from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, and Meghalaya.
Blind sightedness will only help BJP fall, understanding the masses will help them drive the destiny of the nation. The best I like about BJP is their vision for a nation, what I don’t like about them is lack of inclusiveness.
Sometimes back, I wrote segmentation based on about Varna system. A staunch supporter of BJP and a good friend of mine declined the idea that Varna system still exists in India. If Varna system does not exist, why do we see such a comment?
Jugad is a reckless exploration of expedient solutions with no or minimal disregard for the system. Whereas Innovation is a novel way of solving a problem, oftentimes it is in the context, e.g. saving money, getting things done at a faster pace, etc. However, innovation never disregards society at large or compromises the existing structure. It encompasses both business and technical problem-solving. Another term, Technology Debt, is used for faster Go-To-Market development of code and is prominently used in software parlance. In this article, I have taken a dig at a common tendency to blatantly brandish our attitude towards scrupulous things with total disregard for laws or norms.
Words 1006, reading time 4 – 5 minutes.
What is Jugad?
Jugad can colloquially and loosely be defined as a practice of getting things done by investing minimal efforts and getting the desired outcome with an element of exigency attached to getting things done with least care for the system. Whereas, optimization is doing things with minimum cost/efforts/time in getting it done. Often, the later is used in situations to showcase early results but not at the cost of compromising or impacting the system adversely. In Jugad, there is an element of recklessness, lack of concern for the system and accountability. Often it involves dubious methods and approaches. Jugad is when someone gets the license after flouting the system in a spurious way.
Jugad is not Innovation
Innovation is deeply embedded in the common mind of most amongst us, we call it common sense. Most citizens have a healthy dose of common sense, that is often used in our day to day life. It brings a fundamental advantage in several ways. However, Jugad has a negative connotation and it is self-defeating, for the person and indirectly for the wider society. Despite, like an addiction, we believe it is a great attribute of smartness and keep indulging in it with pride, at the cost of crumbling character. The invention is when Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan) suggests an innovative idea to push the satellite into outward orbits with limited energy (as in Mission Mangal).
Jugad is not Technical Debt
Often a similar term is used in Information Technology (IT) Programming wherein a feature has to be pushed into production at the desired date to achieve a Go-To-Market objective. Yes, it does result in fallacies in the code and does involve a lack of diligent testing beforehand, but it is not at the cost of overall system compromise. It underpins an Agile methodology for code development. Below examples will illustrate Technical debt, and I have taken little extra deep dive to explain the different types of technical debts.
Carnegie Mellon University defines it as “a conceptualizes the trade-off between the short-term benefit of rapid delivery and long-term value”. A design or construction approach that is expedient in the short term but that creates a technical context in which the same work will cost more to do later than it would cost to do now (including increased cost over time) whereas Gartner defines technical debt “as the deviation of an application from any nonfunctional requirements”. What does this have to do with our ordinary “Jugad”? Technical debt emphasizes two paths to choose:
The easier route – made up of messier code or design, will get you there faster.
The harder route – made up of cleaner code and design that takes a lot more time.
It is unavoidable, unintentional and planned. It expedites pushing code but never with malicious intent.
So What Is Jugad?
I will cite an example. Never have I felt good after receiving a traffic citation. I complained but realized, that citation has always helped me reduce my speed and be more attentive. No one will disagree that this effect was everlasting. It might have prevented untoward incidences. However, I always grumbled for getting a citation. In the US, the only way to redress the citation is by legal means, any other means is counterproductive. However, in India, other means can be adopted for faster redressal.
Recently, there was a huge fire in Delhi (Dec 8, 2019) with a death toll of over 35. It is definitely a somber and tragic event. I am sure, the City Corporation of Delhi must be having its own fire rules and regulations. However, I am also sure that those might have been intentionally overlooked. A post facto analysis may reveal the truth later.
In a nation where bridges and buildings keep falling like a pack of cards, it is only newsworthy to read such death tolls and we feel the pain and despair only for a few moments. We lament express shock and get back to our work. However, the underlying phenomenon is our own fallacy and lack of commitment and abject ignorance of true empathy. Incidences like the huge fire in Delhi, the crumbling bridges and buildings or the smog in Northern India are tragic outcomes of a Jugad attitude. It is painful to see recurrent high death toll from such incidences. Unfortunately, we need incidences like this to learn reactively. Of course, some learning will definitely be an outcome, policy books will be updated by city planner, corrupt official, and expediency by owners will override these, NGOs may criticize and some matters will go to courts while others will be pushed beneath the rug.
Indians often pride expediency and leverage our capabilities in getting things done, hardly ever realizing that every moment, every incidence of individual contribution, adds to this Jugad character of the national identity.
There is a great deal of criticism about India as a $5 Trillion economy. People are a skeptic but India is already beyond $5 Trillion Economy. I am taking a futuristic view. According to PwC and the World Economic Forum, India is bound to be a $28 Trillion Economy and China a $50 Trillion Economy. I have an even better prediction about that but first, India needs to fix the parallel process, commonly called ‘Jugad’.
As a rising nation, Indians have to abandon this parallel process (Jugad) mindset. Like it is imperative to dismantling a parallel economy, so is it equally important to dismantle this Jugad mindset and commit to hardship and build a character. Finally, every country has a character and characteristics and this is one character that will lampoon India as trailing Pakistan in the future.
Summarily, I can say with a lot of certainty that almost everyone indulges in Jugad frequently, if not the least evert now and then. However, some pride themselves only on Jugad. If only we can stop our temptation and fix our attitude of falling for short cuts at the cost of the system that would be best application of introspection.
— — —
Additional Illustration on technical debt –
All faiths across the globe different faith from Zoroastrians, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Jainism, and Hinduism advocate fasting. Fasting is definitely helpful for health and longevity. Social media is abuzz with Fasting and how it treats cancer. There is a sudden surge of colloquial and rudimentary messages on health. Often, these are relied with credence when it comes especially from revered spiritual leaders. One such message is from Sadhguru, a highly respected spiritual leader. In this video, Sadhguru is talking about the ubiquitously presence of cancer cells in our body. To deter the spread of these cancerous cells, he is recommending fasting.
First and foremost, we need to visit the definition of cancer cells. A key characteristic of cancer cell is uncontrolled growth of cells that have accumulated genetic changes (mutations) due to a carcinogen (a cancer causing agent). Second, cancer cells are not goondas that collect in one place as they advance. In fact, as the cancer stage advances these cells spread across their site of origin. Third, fasting is helpful only in select cases, not every cancer. Also, fasting is helpful beyond cancer, however it depends upon the state of metabolism, activities, age, at the least.
While we need people like Sadhguru to bring the social transformation, we definitely want these messengers to provide a solid rationale that is resting on scientific pedestals, devoid of which we will create confusion and loss of credibility. In this article, I have provided a scientific rationale for understanding the causes of cancer and if fasting can help stop the development or progression of cancer.
Words 2492, reading time 9 – 12 minutes. Background in Medicine helpful.
This 2.34-minute video from Sadhguru is truly insightful. In the below article, I provided the rationale for reconciling scientific understanding of Cancer and Diet with those Vedic practices that are proposed by Sadhguru. More importantly, scientific literature provides a mixed body of the rationale for dietary practice for cancer prevention and or treatment. To rephrase, dietary restrictions can be a feasible option for select cancers, NOT ALL the types of cancer.
I got this video from Singapore, from a good colleague with whom I worked several years ago. With deep respect and reverence to Sadhguru. I listened to this video wherein Sadhguru talked about cancer as –
1) Always present within the body and get stimulated because of stimulants and intoxication.
2) They get organized into one place and later become overwhelming for the body to counter.
3) That these cancer cells consume 27-28 times the normal calories.
His solution according to Yogic culture is –
1) Spacing meals 8 – 12 hours a day
2) Fasting once or twice a month
It immediately drew my attention to the landmark paper by Hanahan and Weinberg, in which the authors talked about ‘The Hallmark of Cancer”. As an Oncology fellow, I remember having read it at least 2-3 times as it was foundational and disruptive in 2000.
As undergraduates, we were tutored on the existence of Oncogenes (1970) and Tumor Suppressor Genes (1986) and Knudson’s two-hit hypothesis (1971). Then, it might have not had such a reminiscent influence on my mind, until I started my post-graduation in pathology. However, Hanahan and Wienberg’s paper was a step ahead in explaining the different pathways for cancer. It served me when I lead the exploratory search for the epigenetics (methylation of TSG) and downregulation of several caspases (genes) in the apoptotic pathway.
I was definitely perplexed when I read the version of Sadhguru on the existence and or progression of cancer for several reasons –
- I mentioned the key developments in cancer as a stepwise accumulation of mutations in the genes of the cancer cell. These mutations occur due to several factors called carcinogens – viruses, chemicals, hormones, persistent inflammation, UV radiations, etc. We also know that cancer can occur de novo due to improper repair mechanism or existence of germline mutation (mutation inherited from parents). However, stimulants and intoxicants (especially the former), are definitely not carcinogenic and intoxicants like alcohol are considered co-carcinogens, not directly implicated in the development of cancer causation. I especially exclude the 300 plus carcinogens found in cigarettes as a stimulant and include nicotine as the stimulant, which is not a carcinogen, as proven by ‘comet assay’.
I realized, like thousands of other researchers across the globe, that tumorigenesis is a multi-step process and follows a multistep pathway. Germline mutations (those acquired from parents) like BRCA1, BRCA2 or RB genes occur in hereditary cancers. We can call these as existing in all cells in folks who inherit them from parents. However, the percentage of germline mutations are minuscule, possibly representing less one percent of the population. For these hereditary acquired cancers, one single hit drives a normal cell towards cancer progression. Where, in a normal population, any mutation has to hit two times to drive the cells to cancer progression. This Two hit hypothesis was proposed by Knudson in 1971 and is the underlying mechanism for most genetic aberrations occurring in a normal population. Of note, cancer cells do not exist universally in our bodies unless those are inherited from our parents (a less than 1% probability).
- Though we know that cancer cells consume most of the host nutrition, it is hard to believe that these (cancer) cells organize (like gangs of Goondas) and rob the body of the nutrition. In fact, it is the other way around. Cancer cachexia, a state common in terminal cancer, is primarily due to diversion of nutrition towards metastasized (spread out) cancer cells, not when they come together.
- The solution offered by Sadhguru, that we should fast at least once or twice to avoid cancer is so much inadequate if not wrong, as we all know that those who fast frequently have cancer and those obese who are voracious eaters don’t necessarily have cancer (but other metabolic diseases).
I specifically mentioned ‘The Hallmark of Cancer” that was published in 2000. This paper made a major stride in advancing our understanding of cancer (the paper was revised by Hanahan and Weinberg in 2011). It is worth revisiting the 6 facets of the hallmark in the above illustration.
Recently, a debate is intensifying on the existence of the mechanism of cancer causation other than carcinogen-induced genetic abnormalities. Immune modification and metabolic abnormalities have also been implicated. The later is called the Warburg effect. Warburg effect proposes that the cancer cells metabolize via the glycolytic pathway even in the presence of aerobic state instead of the much more efficient oxidative phosphorylation pathway.
Let us understand two aspects –
1) Does fasting help the initiation of cancer and
2) Once established and or advanced, will fasting help cancer to regress and or get into control?
Does fasting help cancer?
Recent Geroscience literature reveals that cancer and aging are characterized by dysregulated metabolism consisting of upregulation of glycolysis and down-modulation of oxidative phosphorylation. Based on the research on Geriatric patients, metabolic interventions have been explored as promising strategies to promote longevity and to prevent or delay age-related disorders including cancer.
Will fasting help regression and or control of Cancer?
Select metabolic intervention approaches include chronic calorie restriction, periodic fasting/ fasting-mimicking diets, and pharmacological interventions mimicking calorie restriction. These are considered as adjuvant anticancer strategies, not the mainstay of cancer therapeutics. By adjuvant, I mean they are supplemented along with standard cancer therapy (chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy). However, to summarize, calorie restriction is subjective and second, where it is effective, it has an adjuvant effect.
Animal studies (in rodents) have shown that chronic caloric restriction reduces and delays cancer incidence, and inhibits tumor progression and metastasis. Also, there is mounting evidence that cancer incidence and mortality are strongly reduced in chronic calorie-restricted non-human primates. Studies of long-term calorie-restricted human subjects have shown a reduction of metabolic and hormonal factors associated with cancer risk. However, chronic caloric restriction is not a feasible clinical intervention. Evident difficulties, such as the long period required to be effective, and unacceptable weight loss, hamper clinical application in cancer patients.
Autophagy: definition and mechanisms
In the 1990’s Yoshinori Ohsumi first proposed autophagy. He received a Nobel Prize in 2016 for Physiology or Medicine for his seminal work in establishing a morphological and molecular mechanism of autophagy.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal catabolic process by which cells degrade and recycle intracellular endogenous (damaged organelles, misfolded or mutant proteins, and macromolecules) and exogenous (viruses and bacteria) components to maintain cellular homeostasis. The specificity of the cargo and the delivery route to lysosomes distinguishes the three major types of autophagy –
- Mircroautophagy involves the direct engulfment of cargo in endosomal/lysosomal membrane invaginations.
- Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) recycles soluble proteins with an exposed amino acid motif (KFERQ) that is recognized by the heat shock protein hsc70; these proteins are internalized by binding to lysosomal receptors (LAMP-2A) 6.
- Macroautophagy (herein referred to as autophagy) is the best-characterized process; in this process, cytoplasmic constituents are engulfed within double-membrane vesicles called autophagosomes, which subsequently fuse with lysosomes to form autolysosomes, where the cargo are degraded or recycled. The degradation products include sugars, nucleosides/nucleotides, amino acids and fatty acids that can be redirected to new metabolic routes for cellular maintenance.
Autophagy occurs at basal levels under physiological conditions and can also be upregulated in response to stressful stimuli such as hypoxia, nutritional deprivation, DNA damage, and cytotoxic agents. Autophagy has attracted considerable attention as a potential target of pharmacological agents or dietary interventions that inhibit or activate this process for several human disorders, including infections and inflammatory diseases, neurodegeneration, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, obesity and cancer.
Autophagy and cancer
The role of autophagy in cancer is complex, and its function may vary according to several biological factors, including tumor type, progression stage, and genetic landscape, along with oncogene activation and tumor suppressor inactivation. Thus, autophagy can be related either to the prevention of tumorigenesis or due to the enabling of cancer cell adaptation, proliferation, survival, and metastasis. The initial indication that autophagy could have an important role in tumor suppression came from several studies exploring the essential autophagy gene BECN1, which encodes the Beclin-1 protein that is frequently deleted in ovarian, breast and testicular cancer.
BECN1 is located adjacent to the well-known tumor suppressor gene BRCA1, which is commonly deleted in hereditary breast cancer. These deletions are generally extensive and affect BRCA1 along with several other genes, including BECN1, suggesting that the deletion of BRCA1, not the deletion of BECN1, is the driver mutation in breast cancer. Furthermore, the activation of oncogenes (e.g., PI3KCA) and inactivation of tumor suppressors (e.g., PTEN and LKB1) are associated with autophagy inhibition and tumorigenesis. Animal models note that the tumor suppressor function of autophagy is associated with cell protection from oxidative stress, DNA damage, inflammation and the accumulation of dysfunctional organelles. Collectively, these phenomena are important factors that could trigger genomic instabilities leading to tumor development.
However, the loss of function of autophagy genes has not yet been identified and demonstrated in humans, raising doubts about the relevance of autophagy to tumor initiation in different types of cancer. In addition, the autophagic machinery is not a common target of somatic mutations, indicating that autophagy may have a fundamental role in the survival and progression of tumor cells.
Once the tumor is established, the main function of autophagy is to provide a means to cope with cellular stressors, including hypoxia, nutritional and growth factor deprivation, and damaging stimuli, thus allowing tumor adaptation, proliferation, survival, and dissemination. Autophagy, by degrading macromolecules and defective organelles, supplies metabolites and upregulates mitochondrial function, supporting tumor cell viability even in constantly stressful environments. Studies have demonstrated that autophagy increases in hypoxic regions of solid tumors, favoring cell survival (a factor that does not favor fasting to help cancer regression and or cure).
The inhibition of autophagy leads to an intense induction of cell death in these regions. Moreover, tumors frequently have mutations or deletions in the tumor suppressor protein p53, which also favors autophagy induction to recycle intracellular components for tumor growth. Although the basal autophagy rate is generally low in normal cells under physiological conditions, some tumors show a high level of basal autophagy, reinforcing the prosurvival role of autophagy in cancer. RAS-transformed cancer cells undergo autophagy upregulation to supply metabolic needs and maintain functional mitochondria, which in turn favors tumor establishment. Autophagy also has a supportive role in metastasis by interfering with epithelial-mesenchymal transition constituents to favor tumor cell dissemination. Finally, studies have demonstrated that autophagy is commonly induced as a survival mechanism against antitumor treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapy, contributing to treatment resistance.
How does dietary restriction modulate autophagy and cancer therapy?
Autophagy and cancer therapeutics have a mixed relationship. Because autophagy can inhibit tumor development or favor tumor growth, progression, invasion and treatment resistance, researchers proposed that autophagy modulation could be a new therapeutic strategy in the treatment of some malignancies. In preclinical studies, dietary restriction (DR) has been shown to extend the lifespan and reduce the development of age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. DR promotes metabolic and cellular changes in organisms from prokaryotes to humans that allow adaptation to periods of limited nutrient availability. The main changes include decreased blood glucose levels and growth factor signaling and the activation of stress resistance pathways affecting cell growth, energy metabolism, and protection against oxidative stress, inflammation, and cell death. Nutrient starvation also activates autophagy in most cultured cells and organs, such as the liver and muscle, as an adaptive mechanism to stressful conditions.
Studies demonstrate that dietary interventions can reduce tumor incidence and potentiate the effectiveness of chemo- and radiotherapy in different tumor models, highlighting dietary manipulation as a possible adjunct to standard cancer therapies. Among the many diet regimens that have been assessed, caloric restriction (CR) and fasting are the methods under intense investigation in oncology. CR is defined as a chronic reduction in the daily caloric intake by 20-40% without the incurrence of malnutrition and with the maintenance of meal frequency. In contrast, fasting is characterized by the complete deprivation of food but not water, with intervening periods of normal food intake. Based on the duration, fasting can be classified as –
(i) intermittent fasting (IF—e.g., alternate day fasting (≥16 hours) or 48 hours of fasting/week) or
(ii) periodic fasting (PF—e.g., a minimum of 3 days of fasting every 2 or more weeks).
Every stride in translational medicine helps in advancing our understanding of cancer and subsequently, the management of this malady. However, when a person of Sadhguru’s respected stature talks about fiction based on Yogic culture, we tend to degrade our Yogic culture and deprive the credibility of our repute.
However, as stated earlier, there is a mixed bag of information on dietary restriction and cancer prevention or treatment.
There is a perfect need for interpreting a way of life (Sanatan Dharma and its various plural forms of ideologies for a living). I accept and understand that ancient Vedic science stood on significantly advanced scientific thinking, however, our times are different and we should rely on the current body of knowledge and refine our thinking of ancient yogic culture.
Note: I believe in providing direct feedback. I made an attempt to reach Sadhguru’s office at Coimbatore. No one answered. Possibly, I will make a few more attempts.
Effect of short term fasting on cancer treatment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530042/
Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6257056/
Nicotine: Carcinogenicity and Effects on Response to Cancer Treatment – A Review (2015)