Detecting Fake Pills

It’s no exaggeration to compare illicit medicines with the nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction we all fear. These WMDs, though, are largely aimed at people in poor countries who are already facing a multitude of social and economic ills. Sadly, these “track and trace” approaches suffer from a fundamental shortcoming: They authenticate the package, not its contents. A package of medicine is assumed to be genuine simply because it has a valid security mark. Unscrupulous manufacturers can readily circumvent such measures by putting the wrong stuff in the right package. And these approaches offer no help in detecting degradation.

I read this interesting article from my IEEE Spectrum subscription and I immediately correlated that with my recent experience of fake or substandard pills. The magnitude of the problem is humongous. Diabetic medicines that are not effective, to cancer cells that are not killed completely and eventually escape to proliferate further and become out of control to seemingly innocuous infections that are treated not with adequate dose (MIC levels). Sometimes, it scares me to think a patient dying because he had inadequate dose of chemo, and who knows, the antibiotic resistant bugs have evolved due to human greed. It is a massive industry fraud and the entire supply chain is involved.

Fake Pills

In my experience, substandard medicines are not just common in developing and underdeveloped nations. Recently, I took my pills for evaluation to Walgreen’s, a major pharmacy retailer, to inform them that the medicine I got from them was not effective, that a similar pill from another brand was effective and that, another patient, who was given a pill with same but one quarter ingredient had matching size. They evaluated and informed that the manufacturer from China was discontinued. However, their tracking was impressive, there was a alpha numeric inscribed on the tablet, which was visible only with a lens. This Alpha numeric correlated with the source and manufacturer.

It’s no exaggeration to compare illicit medicines with the nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction we all fear. These WMDs, though, are largely aimed at people in poor countries who are already facing a multitude of social and economic ills. Sadly, these “track and trace” approaches suffer from a fundamental shortcoming: They authenticate the package, not its contents. A package of medicine is assumed to be genuine simply because it has a valid security mark. Unscrupulous manufacturers can readily circumvent such measures by putting the wrong stuff in the right package. And these approaches offer no help in detecting degradation.

When you purchase medicine at the drugstore, you assume that it’s what you think it is and that the active ingredient in the drug is present in the specified concentration. Unfortunately, your assumption might be all wrong. Counterfeit and substandard medicines have become widespread, particularly in low- and middle-income countries with weak regulatory systems. Indeed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of 10 medicines sold in developing countries should be considered “substandard.” Your drug could even be an outright fake.

Using a physical phenomenon called nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR), you can test your pill and eat it, too. Nuclear quadrupole resonance requires an atomic nucleus with a nonspherical distribution of positive electric charge, which creates an electric quadrupole moment. The word quadrupole refers to the four electric poles that produce an equivalent nonspherical charge distribution when added to a set of spherically distributed charges. The electronic tester measures the NQR response of the sample at different frequencies. The resulting NQR spectrum is generated by energy transitions within the atomic nuclei of the chemical, providing a unique fingerprint for that compound. Nuclear quadrupole resonance is useful for testing specimens that are solids or powders, but not liquids. While that’s an obvious limitation, NQR has a lot of other things going for it. In particular, it’s insensitive to the presence of coatings or packaging materials. So it can be used to examine pills while they’re still in the bottle or blister pack. Indeed, it could be used to test an entire shipping carton of such bottles or packs, or a drum of powdered material. What’s more, the equipment could be built at low cost and would be amenable to miniaturization. And because NQR instrumentation relies on radio waves of relatively low frequency and power, it is inherently safe and could be used without special training. The prototype drug-­authentication device is portable, performs measurements automatically, and doesn’t require any special skills to operate. It could thus be used anywhere in the drug supply chain. It is estimated that such a device could be manufactured at a cost of about $100, which would, presumably, translate to a price for the end user of less than $1,000.

Credits –

The technology was invented at Nanoscape Research Laboratory Florida and Case Western University by Swarup Bhunia, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the former, and Soumyajit Mandal, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science works at the later, where he oversees the Integrated Circuits and Sensor Physics Lab. This article was published on August 21, 2019 in IEEE Spectrum and was accessed from my account. Excerpts are copied and credited.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/detecting-fake-pills-with-nuclear-quadrupole-resonance

The Ailment – 3

This is the prospective Presidential hopeful admitting the ownership of slaves on behalf of his great great great grandfather. This is worth a rad for those liberals who believe in equal rights for all humans and who understand the torment and pain endured by those who went through this ordeal for generations. I sincerely salute such leaders since these are the ones who create the destiny of the country, not the narrow minded partisan polity. We curse US for its progress. US was born from leaders like Beto.

India does have equal opportunities. However, centuries old Varna System has established the practice deep into our genome. We can survive without realizing the oppression of a class. Enshrining the constitutional reforms with protection of this lower class was first corrective step. However, decades of playing politically correct has deprived the true meaning of the benefits of reservation and we have created another creamy layer within those enjoying reservations and ignored a broad swath of society that still is deprived of those advantages for centuries and generations. The malice does not end there, we have simultaneously created a new class of economically disadvantaged folks who were deprived on normal opportunities in the absence of reservations.

Does that mean, we should continue what with the reservations as is or does it mean reservations policies should be modified to 1) bring wider spectrum of people under the umbrage of reservations 2) avoid creating another legacy of disadvantaged class of society deprived of advantages despite merit? Visit my blog on https://wp.me/p7XEWW-16j

Beto, a US presidential hopeful, wrote a piece admitting his parental legacy being benefitted from slavery. Ownership of other human beings conferred advantages not just to Andrew Jasper and Frederick Williams, but to Jasper’s and Williams’ descendants as well. They were able to build wealth on the backs and off the sweat of others, wealth that they would then be able to pass down to their children and their children’s children. In some way, and in some form, that advantage would pass through to me and my children.

That those enslaved Americans owned by my ancestors were denied their freedom, denied the ability to amass wealth, denied full civil rights in America after slavery also had long term repercussions for them and their descendants. The way that fortune was passed through the generations from Andrew to me, misfortune was passed through the generations from Rose and Eliza to their descendants who are alive today. Rose and Eliza were denied their freedom and the benefits that their labor produced; they and their children were then denied their civil rights after the end of Reconstruction; and their descendants endured open terrorism, economic exclusion and racism in the form of Jim Crow, lynchings, convict leasing, voter suppression, red lining, predatory lending, and mass incarceration. Everything their descendants have accomplished in their lives is despite having all of these odds stacked against them.

In the aggregate, slavery, its legacy and the ensuing forms of institutionalized racism have produced an America with stark differences in opportunities and outcomes, depending on race.

View at Medium.com

The Lennon Walls …

Lennon wall is the apt description for the evolving human experience while experimenting with their freedom and individuality. Lennon Wall is not specific to Hong Kong. The idea was conceived and initiated by John Lennon to represent and express human perspective on local and global causes through graffiti.  https://wp.me/p7XEWW-180

Reading time – less than 3 minutes
Word count – 400;
Level of Difficulty: Aware about international dynamics

Lennon Wall 2

When defiance is strong, engineer an artifact of defection. China is in fact writing a new book on ‘The art of the war’, except the author is not Sun Tzu and the war is against its own people, brutally subjugating them towards sanitized views by the institution. The model is not new neither restricted to China.

Across geographies and over the tides of history, this institutional subterfuge is rampant and prevalent. Few centuries back, when (religious) ideologies rolled across continents, crusaders tried doing that in the Middle East, later the Spanish did that with the new world, Islam did that in Indian subcontinent, Iran and Middle East.

Ideologies were not alone to decimate and dominate amongst the unexposed and unprepared. There is a litany of examples that show the state machinery sporadically dominating and influencing the will of the people. Brutal were called dictators, while those who maintained sanity and balanced the needs of the populace were called Aristocrats and Oligarchs. Despite, human struggle continued and the models of governance continued to be insufficient. Democracy was thus born from these nonchalance and ill accommodation of plural views. However, we see that power corrupts and absolute power does produce politicians and bureaucrats.

China is by far an exception. It has all the will and fangs required for a machinery to brainwash and prevail its state dominated views. To me, its a poultry, where every chicken is offered great antibiotic supplemented food, live at optimal temperature, get great sleep and live peacefully until the life cycle ends. However, China and elsewhere, humanity is dealing with this brutal and relentless engineering and dominance of views.

Emergence of the right wing radicopaths, corrupt democracies and unleashing of feudal nepotism are introducing inaptness. Add to that is a crass materialism and chasm created by advancing technology is creating heady mix of fizz that is bound to explode and revolt. Humanity is still grappling with a new model to deal with this atavistic greed not that it is in dilemma. Its Survival instinct is strong to give way to deal with these happening and when that actually emerges, neither China, nor faith based ideologies or the governance through inapt democracies would work. The protests in Hong Kong represent those early signs of that emerging phenomenon.

Lennon wall is the apt description for the evolving human experience while experimenting with their freedom and individuality. Lennon Wall is not specific to Hong Kong. The idea was conceived and initiated by John Lennon to represent and express human perspective on local and global causes through graffiti.

Scuffles at Hong Kong’s sticky note ‘Lennon wall’
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-48946993

Lennon Walls –

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lennon_Wall

Islam, Pakistan and Religion Over Nationhood

This blog was drafted in response to a news items on cleaning and vanishing Mosques in XinJiang, China. Xinjiang, with its predominantly Muslim followers amongst it ethnically diverse population, was gradually becoming a hotbed of radicalization. China reduced the risk to its nation by reteaching the population using a novel strategy with very little casualty. It redesigned and embedded the concept of nationhood into the masses adrift with radicalization.

There are no permanent friends but permanent interests in politics. This principle pervades across the smallest municipalities to major nations, except that national histories go beyond lifetime and so it seemingly appears as though nations are permanent friends.

Let us understand the dynamics of why China is opposing Islam and supporting Pakistan, a hardline nation in International politics, especially against India. Next, let us understand, US and the West’s opposition to China’s cleansing program. To understand China’s opposition to Islam, we need to take a closer look at Islam. Muslim diaspora that advocates a pan Islamic pantheon of nations should note that China systematically cleaned Xinjiang from Islamic version of their faith and instilled their version of nationality superior to faith.

History is a concrete testimony to millennia old and established fact that Nationality is superior to all our values and believes. Humanity has experienced through practical and painful experiences that nationhood is above religion and individual faith. Our existence and expression of life and living is strongly influenced by the nation we exist. Those espousing and envision a truly sustained form of democracy, has strongly advocated the separation of Church from Politics. History of almost all major civilizations shows this experimentation of mixing religion with democracy and adverse outcome for a sustained nationhood. It is not just restricted to Christianity alone.

Islam does not recognize the superiority of nations over religion. Rudimentary aspects of civilization are closely associated with mixing religion with nationality. Such admixture is natural when one religion dominates the polity. However, faith is a reflection of evolved identities and as multiple streams of faith emerge, a nation has to accommodate, assimilate and rise above religion. It is ridiculous to note how the followers of Islam consider religion over nation.

When a religion overrides state machinery (as is happening in China) a nation as assertive as China, with its aggravated sense of nationalism and gargantuan machinery of brute force can redesign and reengineer the very concept of faith (religion). Humanity has experienced through practical painful experiences spread across geographies and centuries, to keep religion away from politics.

Looking at the international chaos created by the ‘Believers of Islam’, through their rabid, rudimentary and rabid following of faith and its impact, has created a strong reaction and aversion event amongst the most moderate and accommodating liberals. Islam has intricately woven religion into Politics and this becomes an anathema to the existence of other nations. Other than individual religions (faith) and sects, Nations too are clamoring to oppose Islam. I am more concerned about Islam and the reaction of contemporary world.

In the context of Indian peninsula, Islam is akin to Pakistan and an existential concern to India. In India, Islam is rightly perceived as embodying the soul of Pakistan. Reviewing the context with this backdrop, we first need to take a global view of nuisances demonized through the incorrect practice of Islam. Limiting the perspective to India will devour the broader context. However, it is worth reviewing the India – Pakistan dynamics in the last seven decades. As it stands, Pakistan is a fringe nation and a falling star. Especially with its natural and instinctive knee jerk jealousy, it becomes a formidable collaborator and bulwark for China to counter India. China is not the first, it started with UK, the west took over and china regained that.

The key question is – are other nations using Pakistan against India or are they capitalizing on Pakistan’s intrinsic animosity and benefiting themselves? Pakistan is a nation with no vision except animosity can only eventually drift towards fringe status and oblivion. It would have long fallen into pieces had it not been the stockpile of nuclear arms amassed in the last two decades. It’s that last concern that keeps the west and the east propping up a beleaguered nation to contain the spread of fissile material.

 

Faith in ruins: China’s vanishing mosques
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-48696184

Consciousness, Death, and Persistent Vegetative State

Background

Consciousness, Death, Coma and Persistent Vegetative State

John Paul II Institute has organized a symposium on Death and Organ Donation. Dr. Coimbra, a neurologist, has shared a video opposing the idea of organ harvesting and donation. Below, is the link on that discourse along with reference to John Paul II symposium (the link is included at the end of the blog). I differ with Dr. Coimbra and have provided a justification for my perspective. 

Dr. Coimbra raised an interesting question – not alone in medicine but one that touches spirituality and philosophy and extends to encompasses life and living. These questions have been an enigma ever since mankind has been dabbling cognitively exploring to understand it.

However, let us discern select issues at first. At the center of the debate is the definition of death and a downstream question, after objectively defining death, is harvesting and or donating the organs. The discussion rests on select premise and some experiments. Also, it exists in a milieu of ethics and moral values. Let me take this opportunity to untangle the issues in a reverse chronology as that helps discern and render the problem space in a simpler light.

Ethical Milieu and the Messiah Syndrome

Generally, I am averse to the idea of a conspiracy being unleashed on mankind unless it is by a select group of corporate interests or a select few individuals. I hate to consider an idea wherein, someone questions the ethical and moral commitment of a hoard of well-meaning high caliber individuals and their intellect and commitment, especially when these are not connected and/or affiliated, except for the cause and dedication to their quest for scientific (systemic) understanding. To rephrase, it is hard for me to question the integrity of these folks if these people have no common thread, except a persistent quest to unravel science. Especially, when this cohort is not bound by country, religion, business, generations, ethnicity, ideology etc. Generally, I don’t subscribe to ‘Messiah’ ideology. So, I would debunk this Messiah Syndrome at the outset. Calling it ‘Conspiracy’ is unjust and uncalled for. Let us not subscribe to questioning the ethical and moral commitment of all these independent contributors.

Scientific Design and Validation

Experiments have validity if the design and or collection of data is methodical, unbiased and satisfies statistical and or inferential framework. Dr. Coimbra has not substantiated his observations with adequate scientific findings and their correlations except  inferences based on his precepts and biased beliefs. This defeats the purpose of any scientific study and helps his contentions to falls from the high scientific pedestals.

Conscious Connectedness

Death and Persistent Vegetative State are inextricably related to consciousness. For any discussion on the death to proceed, we need to understand, the very abstract concept of consciousness and its finite and sublime association with organ(ic) rhythmicity and the circadian cycle. The finite but abstract state of consciousness has always endured cognitive and spiritual interests for generations of the elite and of intellectuals. Suffice it to say that with humility, I am attempting to articulate ideas in this subtle and undefined area. Definitely, I want to stay away from sounding like an authority, which I am not except in my capacity as a sincere contemplative scientific seeker.

Consciousness is a culmination of awareness, cognitive interpretation, and a our own limited potential to respond to the inputs from the senses and the surrounding we exists. A vegetative state is the loss of this connection between the soma and the conscious awareness. At times, it is transient and sometimes, it is permanent and irreversible. Loss of connection does not necessarily mean loss of somatic function. We have had several anecdotes wherein, people have risen after long durations of disconnect, if their bodies are kept functional. We know that the duration to brain death is longer in frigid conditions or in infants. Similarly, we also know that sages have practiced an extended ‘state of mind and body’ dissociation during their trance phases. We have seen them reverting to normal bodily functions after reversing the soma – conscious association. Their experiences have been very different. We also have heard patients going through near death phenomenon, experiencing those bright flashes of light. These are just a few select examples. However, based on all these, it is evident that this is as intriguing an area as ever. However, one thing is clear that once that association between soma and conscious is irreversibly broken, we can closely approximate it with death (exception is Locked-In Syndrome, wherein, the patient is awake and conscious but disconnected with the body.

Consent and Compliance

Under these circumstances, it is best to go by the consent or implied consent of the individual (best interest standards/Substituted judgment). If those are not available, family discretion comes into play. However, religion, culture and laws of countries define and influence this space of ethics and compliance. Evidently, we see several versions that act out, depending upon the circumstances.

Inference

Labeling this complex cornucopia of facts and diverse facets into a generalized assumption of immorality of harvesting organ post death, is grossly inadequate if not possibly wrong.

References

Persistent Vegetative State
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/persistent-vegetative-state

The Challenges of Defining and Diagnosing Brain Death
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/the-challenges-of-defining-and-diagnosing-brain-death

The Legal Definition of Death and the Right to Life
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/978-1-137-58328-4_8

Neuroethics of death in the United States – PeerJ
https://peerj.com/preprints/2890.pdf

Spiritual  –

Kundalini Yoga
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kundalini_yoga

Advaita Vedanta
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advaita_Vedanta

 

Our Obsolete ‘Fairy Model’

The “Fairy Model”, is embedded as a class effort. Islam has humane cause and healthy tenets, however, the clerics and the religious guardians have become too strong, authoritarian and harsh to let any intellectual individual let it evolve. Islam is not an exception, followers of any faith, not just Islam but Hindus, Christian and Jews etc., all have to reconcile to the concept of change and get rid of the obsolete ideas and evolve. Today, we need religious change more than any technology. The chasm is widening everyday. Evolving religious ideologies to match the changing world alone will solve the problem created by this chasm.

“You would be in Jannat (heaven)” with those multiple fairies. Those are the promises made to several of the Jihadist on multiple occasions, umpteen number of time.

Utter nonsense for four obvious reasons –

  1. This presumes carnal life extends to Jannat. In true spiritual sense, if Jannat has to exist, will it be with those material trapping? Great food, sex, pleasure? Utter nonsense taught to gullible and innocents who cannot think through.
  2. That Jannat is also the place where Lord enjoys carnal moments. Wow! So those who prophesies also awaits the moments to indulge in material pleasure? Surprising that the spiritual leaders are ever bonded and never rise and evolve (those interested may read Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
  3. The perpetrators forget that the victim, after their death, too enjoys similar benefits in Jannat.
  4. Islam has no place for ladies in Jannat, except serve these youngster, who have just achieved martyrdom. Well, that is against ‘equal opportunities’? A review of history shows countless women having led countries, religion and ideologies. It is a great insult to womanhood when their participation is not extolled.

My request to those prophesying terrorism, please change or update your model, it truly sounds dumb because everyone gets the same treatment – The Lord, The Victim and the Perpetrator. It is little old fashioned and outdated. Unlike old fashioned communism, during these times, everyone would like to be treated differently, not the same.

The concern is not about dedicating for religion or its ideologies, it is about having sane ideas and devoting for those. Finally, every religion has artifacts, and I consider this as one of those artifacts. However, truly speaking, enticing young gullible youngsters with a ‘Fairy Model’, sounds really outdated and obsolete.

Every religion is bound with emotions and artifacts but deep inside, there is a rationale and a message for humanity, often in the context when those tenets were laid. However, over a period, those who are expected to safeguard those tenets, either ends up evolving it or denigrating and exploiting it. Evolution generally is forwarded by singular efforts, whereas devolution or exploitation is generally a class effort. An outside-in view will always provide a rationale and reasoning and remove those emotional epithets.

In this case, the “Fairy Model”, is embedded as a class effort. Islam has a humane cause and healthy tenets, however, the clerics and the religious guardians have become too authoritarian and harsh to let any individual let its ideology evolve. Followers of any faith, not just Islam, but Hindus, Christian and Jews etc., all have to reconcile to the concept of change and get rid of the obsolete ideas.

Assimilating change is challenging, especially within the realms of religion. Change is challenging because it is difficult to understand the change since we are moribund to the status quo, and then to assimilate and drive that change within the context of the religion and finally, to contextualize it to make it relevant. Changing the Fairy Model is not just important but an existential reality for not just one religion but pretty much all religion or ideologies.

Kashmir attack: Tracing the path that led to Pulwama

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-47302467

The Ailment – Part 1

Intelligence (and great analysis) is not leadership, that’s what we have in many leaders currently. We have intelligent self-serving folks, focused on themselves with no ability to risk their own popularity with outcome from a tough strategic decision. These folks are less connected with the root cause rather than the rhetoric and who think the rules don’t apply to them. They maintain and operate through a coterie and bunch of sycophants. Why should a coterie or follower, follow them if these leaders can’t provide them any benefit? That last word, ‘Benefit’ is important. Corrupt leaders know that they need to benefit their coterie, that’s why they encourage corrupt folks under them. It thus forms an ecosystem of corrupt, a self-serving politico-corrupt ecosystem. Thus a contagious bad apple effect percolates within the ecosystem they create.

This four point proposal was after a long reflection of the underlying dynamics of frustrations, prevalent at that time. It was a synthesis after a long deliberation and evaluation of several socially disadvantaged people not getting the benefits. Now, after 34-35 years, we see that ‘Akrosh’, that ‘Udrek’ that resentment so intense. May be something should have been done long back, on lines similar to what I proposed in 1985-86.

Not too long back, during independence struggle, the leaders had the stature and commanded respect from their populace. Their character traits encompassed selfless, dedication and benevolent act overarching all humanitarian pursuits, not withstanding their religious, ethnic or regional affiliations. They had a collective vision and a dedication to drive towards that common shared common destiny. Masses respected, supported and followed these leaders. Remember, revolutions are borne out of hungry stomach or incessant injustice. That hunger and or injustice was pervasive. Masses were looking for someone with those aforementioned qualities. These were not born, not charismatic, but they earned that respect through these traits.

Equality Versus Equity

Tienanmen was quashed because economy and opportunities were booming. People have a certain level of tolerance (also called as resilience), to such inadequacies if they are busy with their lives. Over a period of time, social values degraded and that zest to lead fell to decadence. An element of that vacuum of dedicated leaders was filled in by leaders needing sycophants, because they were intrinsically weak, lacked that innate leadership quality and that organic connect with the masses. These leaders were intelligent though, and let me say, intelligence is not higher education. I have seen visionary leaders and able administrators who had a grasp of the state and benefited the masses.

Unfortunately, Rotten Apples are intelligent

Again, intelligence (and great analysis) is not leadership, that’s what we have in many leaders currently. We have intelligent and selfish folks who are self-serving, focused on themselves (with no ability to risk their popularity and voter outcome), less connected with the root cause rather than the rhetoric and who think the rules don’t apply to them. Why should a coterie or follower, follow them if it does not benefit? That last word is important, ‘Benefit’. Corrupt leaders know that, that’s why they ignore corrupt folks under them. It thus forms an ecosystem where there is a hierarchy of corrupt, within a self-serving ecosystem. Thus a contagious bad apple effect percolates within the ecosystem they create.

This nurtures a system that becomes hollow and eroded inside. Gradually, it becomes a norm, a culture and way of life. We never realize how we landed in this state of despair. I am not very hopeful that any change of political party, banner or face will change anything. It is a system problem and they have to get aligned or be ejected, like an allergen or a thorn, out of body. In a doctors parlance, incompatible organs get rejected. That’s what will happen if a different hue (party, banner or face) will try to do.

An often asked question – can intelligence or education make a difference? The answer is obvious.  I definitely rue the state of Indian affairs. It’s Matrubhumi, a place for identity and despite, a place we unfortunately left behind, but our heart aches and it swells with pride when a rocket is launched or an extraordinary achievement is done.

I can write about the recent demonstrations against reservation (affirmative action), against aggravated nationalism, about religious intolerance, about the current generation as a legacy of our evolved culture. I find current state in ruins but should we be hopeless? Definitely not and if you ask me, why? I don’t have a reason to justify (given the state of affairs) but i have deep trust that India will rise. Time alone is an answer and that we are seeing events in time snapshot, as a frozen frame (in time).  That trust within us and that faith in those founding principles laid by the moldings from Sanatan dharma, will see it rising like a sphinx. Time alone is an answer, probably you and I won’t survive to see that, but that will happen, not with dreamy eyes but a reality and of course, I am not making a prophecy so that also means we have to make concerted efforts in that direction.

That ‘WE’ of Nationhood

That WE is important (that I is very is very dilapidated in front of that WE). That WE include this huge diversity – or regions, religions, ideologies, aspirations, ethnicities etc.). Exclusion is formidable and incompatible to us as a nation. Inclusion is our ethos and when we walk together, we make that WE and a great nation. The path is long but achievable and we are making those strides.

Change is imminent and change is required. We have to dismantle old models, reinvent ourselves and make a gargantuan huge machinery that works in unison, completely in sync. Change to ‘reservation (affirmative actions)’, ‘radical ‘religious right wing’ movement, innovation in farming, creating locally dispersed opportunities (and consequently, labor) are few things that need prioritization.

We are simultaneously beset with several cultural blocks. We lack a concerted national vision, and unfortunately, we don’t realize that our very existence is under that nation. Religion, ethnic, family, regional and language ties come later, after that national vision. Right now, it is reverse, we care for our compatriot even if she/he is corrupt or inapt, we care for our ethnic or religious group  despite knowing those are on flawed grounds, so also, we struggle to oppose kinship. However, we hate a specific ethnic group. We have biases and prejudices and prototypes, and we call them Marwadis or Gujjus etc. That rhetoric has continued to build over the last 70 years. We have to end this schism. That’s just one prejudice.

Affirmative Action – a palpable ailment

We also have to remember, collectively as a society, we have exploited a class or strata and it is our collective responsibility to undo that injustice. If affirmative action was inscribed in the constitution, it was envisioned to bring this huge swath of populace into the emerging sense of nationality. Those who haven’t been the beneficiaries of this action, often insists that affirmative action was planned for only a decade. I often rue, is a decade enough to roll back the changes that have been inflicted for centuries now? I strongly feel, though the vision was carved into the constitution, it was only more a vision and those visionaries lacked creativity in rolling out a plan to understand the dynamics of how it would unfurl over decades amongst the diverse growing masses.

In 1985-86, during college elections, I saw casteism for the first time. Medical College Student elections were contested on caste affiliations, they would call it packing. Like packs of caste based groups aligned to vote as en lot. We were the first batch to start Non-Casteist Panel (NCP before Sharadrao coined that term 🤓). However, I was fortunate to be closer to one of the son’s of a prominent leader from socially disadvantaged class. He and I had open discussions on caste based reservations. I proposed, that’s 1985-86, I proposed below items for changing reservation. I cited his own example.

The Four Point Proposal –

  1. One reservation for graduation, one for job.
  2. If you get the job/education without reservation, that credit can be saved for that individual, which he can enjoy anytime.
  3. Once a family is elevated with reservation benefits, they exhaust the benefits for the next generation.
  4. The reservation percent would stay same, not decrease so that other layers within their society get the benefit.

These four point proposal was a long reflection of the underlying dynamics and frustrations, prevalent at that time. These came as a synthesis after a long deliberation and evaluation of several backward communities not being benefited despite a robust reservation program. Now, after 34-35 years, we see that ‘akrosh’, that ‘udrek’ that resent growing intense. May be something should have been done long back, on lines similar to what I proposed in 1985-86.

Today, we see an all pervasive, festering frustration. Millennia of new generations are born from whom opportunities are not alone deprived but we are creating an schism and a divide with our rigid reservation system Where is this heeding?

tmg-facebook_social

The answers are unlikely to be simple, so also they are unlikely to be acceptable to all. That does not mean we leave those alone, untouched because reworking would land us in controversy. Irrespective of the current ruling regime – Congress, BJP, or any combination thereof, all have decided not to open this Pandora box. They are afraid, the bees would bite most to those who are closer to the reworking the problem. However, as time stands today – no political entity or character has the creativity, ability, capacity or vision to solve this festering problem.

Two mute points of learning from this national affirmative action program –

  1. Good intention are not enough, a leader need to be a visionary to unravel such a deeply impactful program will unfurl over a period of time. Articulate and dynamic leaders are required to unleash and embed a program of such national importance.
  2. Such initiatives should be time bound and change to understand, include and assimilate the diverse needs of times.

Except good intent, both these characters were lacking when these reservations were made. Time and events can’t be undone, however, it is still time to make decisive actions and roll out changes that are commensurate with the needs of current time.

—-

Updated on May 22, 2019

We are so incorrigible to the core that we hardly want to see a perspective beyond ours if in the process; we have to give away our benefits for the wider good. Such issues are not uncommon in advanced economies; however they strive to find an innovative solution with a sincere intent to benefit those who are at the receiving end.

Citing a recent example from SAT, an exam conducted in US for admission to colleges. Over a period, people have tried influencing and getting the best for their wards but the system has evolved and stopped those mutations.

You might have heard an example of how influential parents bribed their way into prestigious colleges. So also, those safeguarding and defining the system have modified it to provide a benefit to those students who struggle in adverse situations. This is similar to the picture I uploaded in my blog, wherein these new laws are implemented to create equal playing field for those coming from adverse situation.

They call it ‘Adversity Score’ and those students facing such disadvantage get additional scores to make these students stand on the same pedestals as those who are from affluent background. This is worth reading.

Link below https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2019/05/17/students-need-more-than-an-sat-adversity-score-they-need-a-boost-in-wealth/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=72802588

While reservations have created another chasm in the society by creating an artificial class of sufferers, such things can be mitigated by creating a mechanism similar to ‘Adversity Score’ for SAT. However, I am staying away from making any recommendation as it needs a thorough understanding of the root cause. It is upon those who strongly feel the need for change of reservation system to evaluate and come up with an action plan.