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Boosting the State of Indian Economy

GDP trend indicates the health of any economy. The economic slowdown is often cyclic and a fact of life. However, the economic woes are all-pervasive and understanding the root causes help in providing insight on how best to fix. Individual countries have different problems, comprising different patterns. Thus the root causes can be broadly categorized into a pattern and individual factors specific for the country and its economy. Often, there is a shared thread between the integrated global market place. Identifying the patterns and the specific individual factors will help in putting up a strategy for revival.

This article articulates the need for a solution within broader problem space for India, which has fluctuated economically from ‘at risk’ (2013), ‘expansion’ (2016) and now again ‘at risk’ (2019). This blog is not exhaustive and does not go into a detailed root cause analysis or detailed solution building exercise. In this article, the author has provided a select set of solutions that would boost the economy, provide opportunities across multiple sectors and ameliorate the problem of the continuing slowdown.

Word Count 2294; reading time 8 – 11 min.

Economic slow down is often cyclic and a fact of life. Slowing down or crash landing of the Indian Economy is an increasing chatter on the internet. However, a closer look will reveal that the recessionary phenomenon encompasses most major economies including the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Russia, South East Asia (the so-called ‘Tiger Economies’ of the 2000s), Brazil, Turkey, and oil-rich Gulf Nations. Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina are acutely going through this recessionary distress with revolts and change of ruling Governments. Venezuela is undergoing severe inflation called stagflation that is spreading the contagion across the borders. Poland and Canada are amongst the only few countries that are showing flying colors despite the adverse global economic headwind.

Nations such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and many African countries, especially those who have subscribed to the String of Pearls (SOP), Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partner (RCEP) and the 54 nations of the Africa Continent Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will face a massive financial challenge while servicing the burgeoning Chinese loans. Countries such as Pakistan, are on the precipice of falling into bankruptcy. No wonder India quit the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) regional trade consortium. 

The economic woes are all-pervasive and the root cause commonly follows select patterns. Individual countries have different problems. However, there is a common shared thread and select individual factors. Identifying the patterns for a specific country will help in putting up a strategy for revival. I have focused on articulating the need for a solution within broad problem areas. This blog is not exhaustive and does not go into a detailed root cause analysis or detailed solution building exercise.

Ignored Global Comparison:

In India, private debt in 2017 was 54.5 percent of the GDP and the general government debt was 70.4 percent of the GDP, total debt of about 125 of the GDP, according to the latest IMF figures. In comparison, the debt of China was 247 percent of the GDP. As of October 2018, it stands at approximately CN¥ 36 trillion (US$ 5.2 trillion), equivalent to about 47.6% of GDP. A key gauge of China’s debt has topped 300% of gross domestic product, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), as Beijing steps up support for the cooling economy while trying to contain financial risks. China’s total corporate, household and government debt rose to 303% of GDP in the first quarter of 2019, from 297% in the same period a year earlier, the IIF said in a report this week which highlighted rising debt levels worldwide.

In the United States, total non-financial private debt is $27 trillion and public debt is $19 trillion. More telling, since 1950, U.S. private debt has almost tripled from 55 percent of GDP to 150 percent of GDP, and most other major economies have shown a similar trend. Cumulative debt stands at 40 trillion dollars. Comparative figures from the US reveal that India is not badly hit, considering the numbers released by the Indian Government are trustworthy and credible.

Let us review select Key Performance Indices (KPI’s) of India’s financial health. Here are a few interesting figures from the State Of Indian Economy –

  • GDP growth is at a 15-year low
  • Unemployment is at a 45-year high
  • Household consumption is at a four-decade low
  • Bad loans in banks are at an all-time high
  • Growth in electricity generation is at a 15-year low

The list of highs and lows is long and distressing. But the state of the economy is worrying not because of these disturbing statistics. These are mere manifestations of a deeper underlying malaise that plagues the nation’s economy today. These figures were published in the Hindu, a very reputed and respected daily. When I share independent data from foreign outlets, those are immediately ridiculed as being ‘biased to damage the growing stature of India’.

I was talking with a building contractor friend of mine who has a meaningful business.  When prodded on his state of business, he said, everything is so dry and no new constructions are taking place. This is not my isolated discussion. Every now and then, I do probe these questions to people across the globe and India happens to be on the top. Below is a list of industry verticals that are not just sluggish but in recession (more than 2 quarters of slow down beyond certain percent points).

 

India Economic Slow Down

Industries Impacted: 

  • Manufacturing
  • Farming
  • Auto
  • Construction
  • Airlines
  • Service industry

Impact Equivalence: 

If you factor in the total percent affected, you will notice a major chunk of the population that forms the base of the pyramid, is affected because of the slowdown.

What happens now?

Well, families and business entities are at least losing 34-57% of their revenue. That’s a significant number. Spending goes down and tax collection goes down, tax at the POS (point of sales), tax from earning and tax from the business.

    1. Quantitative Easing
    2. Bad Loans or Risk prone leveraged industry
    3. Global slowdown
    4. China – A special mention
  • Quantitative Easing:

Well, let us borrow now at a cheaper rate from the Govt, or blow up what is saved in RBI (exit RBI Governors), a loan or from outside or print currency.

  • Bad Loans or Risk prone leveraged industry:

We can’t let this to catapult to a state of anarchy. We have to loan where the potential for defaults are high. Banking, Airlines, Telecom ate common examples. These were bankrupt overnight? The most common folks (shareholders) lost the most. Millions of crores of national treasure disappeared in just a fraction of time.

I disagree with “the Hindu” here. Let us understand, corruption was not just prevalent but endemic and all-pervasive. Nothing wrong, if Modi tightened the levers. At least he had guts to do that. No one including the system had shown responsible behavior and if Modi has tightened the noose, nothing wrong about it.

I will elaborate on the reasons where we are going wrong, needless and pointless to blame Modi for all the ills. Devaluation and GST came at a wrong time that confluence along with a Global slowdown, on which Modi had little control.

  • Global slowdown:

India is not alone. China, UK, Germany, Japan, the US, France, Gulf, Russia, Brazil, and many Tiger economies (remember the term for ASEAN economies used in 2000) are significantly slowed down.

  • China deserves a special mention:

China is the worst affected with 100s of ‘Ghost Cities’, flailing international trade pacts (CPEC, ASEAN and The revival of the Silk Road) and the flight of money compounded by the increasing cost of labor. It is gaining a notorious reputation of creating and exploiting poor nation’s solvency, squashing neighbors and selling obsolescence across the globe (recollect how your electrical and other goods specifically made is China have become durable and short-lasting).

India WEF

What should be done?

First and foremost, Modi has to move beyond strongman to strategist. A nation survives on vision and not just statesmanship. I have identified a few areas that will help boost productivity at the individual level, jump start the GDP and improve the health of the economy.

    1. Foundational Infrastructure
    2. Roads and Railways
    3. Satellite Cities and Telecom
    4. Innovation in Farming
    5. Revamp Agricultural Supply Chain
    6. Environment and Pollution
    7. Sewage and Containment
    8. Social Re-Engineering

India Vision and Strategy Continue reading “Boosting the State of Indian Economy”

Featured

Community Cameras Vs Home (Perimeter) Cameras

For Emerald Valley Only. Please forward to residents of Emerald Valley Only.

In general, holiday season in itself is a sufficient reason to see a spike in security related issues. Recently, we saw few security related incidences such as the cone placement or specific homes being targeted. Community cameras are definitely a great option. Several complex issues make the decision making difficult.

I talked about the top ten things that need to be considered while choosing community cameras. As against community cameras, Home (Perimeter) cameras offer an easy cost effective decision. In addition, it is available anywhere (where connectivity is available) on your smart phone. In addition to having cameras, we can supplement those with Neighborhood Watch Sign with Smart Alert. All these will act as deterrence.

Understand, this is deterrence, crime will not stop or be reduced to zero with any of the above efforts. Please visit the link to share your opinion. http://wp.me/p7XEWW-pj

Community cameras are definitely a great option. Choosing a right technology, placing the cameras at vantage points, monitoring those (in real time and historical), archiving, retrieval the saved information and policies on retrieval (viewing data) bear down the decision on proceeding with the cameras. All these activities need resources and we can either explore mobilizing our own home owners doing that or hire outside resources ($125, 000 for five years, a costly option). Thus funding also becomes a critical issue for the success of this initiative.

While we resolve the complex decisions around community cameras, I had suggested earlier using “Dummy Cameras”. The design of those dummy cameras can be made to retrofit, if we decide to proceed with permanent community cameras, once we choose a permanent option. Dummy cameras backed up with signs such as “Neighborhood Watch with Smart Phone Alert” can dissuade or discourage many. Thus, reactivating Neighborhood watch and repainting those signs indicating Neighborhood Watch with Smart Phone Alert will provide an interim workable option.

Below, I have reactivated the polls to collect the community opinion.  Please forward this to anyone within the community. These polls will end on Dec 26, 2016. Please visit the link on http://wp.me/p7XEWW-pj. I have called out the Top Ten Things to consider while placing the community cameras.

Several factors are important while choosing and placing the cameras. Eg. Fixed focal length lenses are available in various fields of views: wide, medium, and narrow. A lens that provides a “normal” focal length creates a picture that approximates the field of view of the human eye. A wide-angle lens has a short focal length, and a telephoto lens has a long focal length.

Top Ten Things to Consider while Placing Community Cameras

  1. Location of the cameras – unobstructed view, redundancy (if one fails or obstructed by a vehicle, alternate place for capturing). Away from Vandalism. Mounting Electric poles or homes where cameras can be
  2. Types of cameras (depth of field) – narrow angle, wide angle regular, pan tilt zoom (PTZ) etc. Wide angle is required at the entrance and exit, where as a narrow angle will be required while focusing on the alley or narrow street. Zooming will help if there is active monitoring. Tilt and pan will serve a similar purpose.
  3. Frame per second – remember, intruders will be very fast and agile in completing their tasks. Higher number of frames per second helps in gathering precise information
  4. Night vision enabled cameras are a must obviously since thefts are like to occur while it is dark.
  5. Cloud storage and safety of the data is critical. While dealing with a cloud solution, you may want to explore if that is from the manufacturer or service provider.
  6. Power option – solar powered are best preferred.
  7. Integrating all the cameras into single dashboard is not a difficulty thing but you need folks with sound knowledge in networking.
  8. Monitoring (do we want real time monitoring?). Who will be responsible for retrieving older information, how long do we save that information etc.)
  9. Policies and Access to Saved data needs an adequate understanding from the users. This is one key aspect that will cause a lot less heartburn if resolved early on.
  10. CCTV and cabling

Don’t forget to account for – 

  1. Installation cost (not the purchase cost)
  2. Maintenance (include services, repair or replacement)

Overall, you need Governance on all these aspects. A group of dedicated folks with experience and or understanding on the different aspects need to handle all issues related with cameras. I know, you might have just thought that I made it so difficult. However, it is easy to install and very difficult to maintain unless you have given an adequate thought to all these aspects.

How about Residential Cameras?

Home perimeter cameras are still a good option. Cheaper, no hassle decision, and monitoring under home owners control (on the Smart Phone). In addition, they provide granular information right until where the incidence is happening (in this case your home). My personal experience has been exceedingly good since the time of placing (Perimeter) Home Cameras. Dummy Cameras on my farm have provided me a lot of safety too.

Use the same 10 principles mentioned above while installing home perimeter cameras.

To conclude  

Multiple layers of security are required to secure our community. Each has its place, advantages and disadvantages. Also, just in case one fails, we have other layers of security. While a decision of installing community cameras is not an easy one, community should explore interim options, such as dummy camera, that are easy to deploy.

Not sure why we wait in closing decisions on issues that matter us universally? Do you think you don’t need this because you will never be affected? Are we waiting for someone to take an initiative? Are we opposed to installing cameras? Simply voice your opinion. It stays anonymous.

Please share your opinion –

To see additional opinion from community members on security related issues or for additional links on below topics, visit documents or links on –

http://wp.me/p7XEWW-8E

The blog mentioned above offers hyperlinks to topics or documents addressing concerns on – 

  1. GUIDELINES FOR PUBLIC VIDEO SURVEILLANCE: A guide to protecting communities and preserving civil liberties
  2. An example of Camera Policies from University of Wisconsin at Green Bay
  3. Code of practice: A guide to the 12 principles (This does not apply to US scenario but it offers good understanding of issues to consider)
  4. Camera Types from Brick House Security (Offers an understanding of different types of cameras)
  5. Principles of Design for Operational Risk Reduction

 

 

Karen and Rohingya – Shared Legacy

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
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-50823872

Human ‘Engineered Babies’ Not Ok?

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.

CCR5 Plus Minus

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

DNA Editing

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”.

Citations:

Conclusion

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

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.

Burn It Not My Property

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.

HL India Migration Flow

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).

Pakistani Emigration and Destinations

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.

Assam and Seven Sisters

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Human Rights and Ratification

 

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!!

Citations:

Nationalism, immigration and minorities

1. Nationalism, immigration and minorities

Explained: Where the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill does not apply

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SM.POP.NETM

https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2017_Highlights.pdf

https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2017_Highlights.pdf

Overseas Pakistan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Pakistani

Pakistan as a Return Migration Destination
https://www.prio.org/Publications/Publication/?x=8743

Explained: Where the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill does not apply

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/12/citizenship-bill-modi-protests-india.amp

https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-12-16/india-citizenship-law-protests-spread-across-campuses

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

https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935420.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935420-e-7 (Lhasa Tibetan Muslims)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/what-is-citizenship-amendment-bill-all-you-need-to-know-about-cab-bill-2019/articleshow/72449945.cms
https://www.hoover.org/research/how-should-we-value-immigrants-and-how-should-affect-immigration-reform

Brahmins are despised. Really?

3 Percent Brahmin

First, let us decipher the message –

  1. That Brahmins are despised by the other population
  2. Brahmins thought it was their Government
  3. 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.

Caste-based Polarization

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 not Innovation

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.

 

Introspection

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.

Technical Debt 1

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.

https://medium.com/existek/what-is-technical-debt-and-how-to-calculate-it-80193e4e746d

View at Medium.com

https://insights.sei.cmu.edu/sei_blog/2015/07/a-field-study-of-technical-debt.html

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/many-dead-and-injured-in-fire-at-delhis-anaj-mandi/article30236267.ece

https://www.bmc.com/blogs/technical-debt-explained-the-complete-guide-to-understanding-and-dealing-with-technical-debt/

View at Medium.com

— — —

Additional Illustration on technical debt –

Technical Debt 2

Demystifying Fasting and Cancer

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 –

 

  1. 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).

TSG and Cancer

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

678db3d930094d45ecba7ebdfa6b29b0

 

Warburg Effect

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).

Conclusion

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.

Citations:

http://cubocube.com/dashboard.php?a=1582&b=1585&c=1

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/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608686/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648937/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442682/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5107564/

Nicotine: Carcinogenicity and Effects on Response to Cancer Treatment – A Review (2015)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553893/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/fasting