Friday, August 25, 2017

WORLD HEALTH CONGRESS 2017 REFLECTIONS

I was in Hyderabad from 20th to 22nd August , 2017 on account of attending the World Health Congress (WHC http://www.worldhealthcongress17.com/) that was conducted at the Jawaharlal Nehry Technological University (JNTU). The congress brings distinguished delegates from various corners of the world to explore new pioneering discoveries in favour of health care and welfare. It is a paramount international gathering of health leaders that broadcasts unmissable sense-check on where the industry is heading.

The congress dates were 21-22nd August. I really enjoyed my time there and learnt a lot. In this blogpost I share my experience of the time spent at WHC.

The moment I entered the JN auditorium, I was pleasantly shocked. It was a huge auditorium, you could actually play hide and seek in the auditorium with your friends. There was a litany of speakers which were to address the  gathering of a varied crowd ; students, professionals, doctors, engineers, social workers, entrepreneurs, government officials, venture capitalists etc. On first day, we had the opportunity to listen to BVR Mohan  Reddy, Dr. V.M. Katoch, Dr. William Selvamurthy and Dr. Arun Maseeh. 

Mr. Reddy's talk was on "Innovation Disruption in Health Sector". He is a Padma Shri Awardee and founder and Executive Chairman of CYIENT. Mr. Reddy in his address was vocal about the traits of an entrepreneur, being one himself he believes that risk taking is intricately linked to success and that challenging the status quo is the main ingredient in becoming an innovator. Through his wonderfully crafted PowerPoint presentation, he was successful in delivering the message across the audience. He talked about artificial intelligence and use of robotics in health. He mentioned that in these times data is getting generated at a break-neck speed and such enormity of data if interpreted in a meaningful way can lead to breakthroughs in better understanding of the health at individual and community level. He emphasized  that technology-driven innovation is relevant for India and that the only thing that limits us is our imagination. He also took various short case-studies to bring home the importance of multidisciplinary capability to become an innovator. He talked about engine-less cars, Tesla motors, 3-D printing and robotic surgeries. More than a scientific address, his speech was a perfect mix of scientific know-how interspersed with lots of inspirational material to do things for the betterment of the society. He welcomed questions from the audience and very patiently answered each one of them. 

The next talk was by Former Director General,  ICMR and presently NASI-ICMR Chair on Public Health Research at Rajasthan University of Health Sciences (RUHS) , Jaipur, Dr. Vishwa Mohan Katoch. The topic of his talk was "India as a partner in Innovation and Translation in Global Health Care Efforts". Dr. Katoch regretted that innovation in India has not been good for about a century and that indigenous innovation in the field of health is abysmal. He mentioned that as Indians we often look down upon the products that are produced in our country and place a higher value on the foreign products. He used this premise to state that we need second independence from this inferior mindset. Being the head of the institution which works closely in the field of public health in India, he rued that there is a lack of good laboratories in India and that the locally relevant systems are neither serving the people nor doing good business. In the later part of his speech he also mentioned that research is an ethical issue and that extreme attention must be paid while conducting research which involves human subjects. He asserted that focus on individual leads to well-being of the community and that there is a need to create effective tools for better communication between the members of society for appropriate dissemination of information. What really touched me from his words was when he said that we must use and leverage technology not as a fashion but for a purpose. It is quite common thing these days that technology often taken an upper hand when it comes to the relevance of the technology for the masses. His message was very clear, "Utilize technology to solve problems whose solution will help the communities".

After lunch, Dr. William Selvamurthy graced the gathering. Dr. Selvamurthy is the President of Amity Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation. His talk was on "Health Care Vision 2035". Dr. William's speech was very much relatable because he was talking about problems of health in India which are known to most Indians. He talked about the socio-economic aspect of health care delivery, affordability, accessibility and health equality and equity. He emphasized the need for prophylactic, preventive, promotive, rehabilitative aspects of care in addition to secondary and tertiary care. He shared his imagination that a patient one day might have the opportunity to choose the kind of treatment he wants : Modern, Traditional or AYUSH (ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) in the same hospital setting. His presentation was very sound statistically and that led him to make cogent points about the current state of health in India. He talked about the premise of personalized medicine & development of devices for food-testing. He called for increased attention towards the wide and fast spreading epidemic of diabetes in India. Like Dr. Katoch , Dr. William also unequivocally mentioned that technologies that reach the societies are very important. From his address I understood that keeping technologies in the hands of a selected few will not lead to sustainable changes in the society and that the technology needs to be used in such a way that it can bridge the gap between various strata of society and cater to the objective behind its genesis. How? , that is an important question. Developing such kind of technological interventions is not  that easy, but it is important nevertheless to keep thinking in the direction. Dr. William also gave a surprise cultural performance by singing two Hindi songs. Before singing he said, "The audience is very  young, I have become motivated, I have become younger and want to sing two love songs". Eventually he beautifully sung two Bollywood songs. (Muskurane ki Wajah tum ho and Lo  maan liya hamne - this one I had not heard!!). It was a delight to watch such elder person being so comfortable singing songs with his heart while being in between the youngsters like us. You could be sure what I thought listening to him. "I want to be uber-cool like Dr. William Selvamurthy when  I become his age". 

The fourth session like the above three was another delight to attend. Dr. Arun Maseeh delivered a keynote address on "Global Drug Development from and In India". Dr. Arun talked about the process of drug development, clinical trials and the famous "The Indian Polycap Study (TIPS)". He talked about a pill, polypill, which can treat multiple diseases at the same time and reduce the risk of various health outcomes. His study on polypill has shown reduction in the risk of Chronic Heart Disease and Stroke. He also shared that the idea of polypill came after reading journal papers on British Medical Journal. Using this premise he formed the hypothesis that inspiration comes from information and that we must read, read a lot. Reading according to him is the single best investment one can make towards creating a better and fulfilling life. "You cannot not afford to read". Dr. Arun also took up the maximum questions from the audience and very patiently he replied to all of them. I also asked two questions from him. The first one was :"It is said, if exercise was a pill, it would have been in a great demand. Given the premise of advent of polypill, how do you reconcile the preventive and curative paradox, given physical activity and weight management reduce risk of chronic diseases by 56%?" Dr. Arun acknowledged that physical activity is extremely helpful in mitigating the risks but also mentioned that people do not adhere as strongly to exercise regimen and disciplined food  habits as much as they do to drugs. This really was not a new information to me, but it did cement inside of me that most people want to achieve better health with least pain and hard work involved and as long as that belief persists, drugs will stay and continue to be developed. My second question was:"Sir, drug development is good but what about drug availability? A drug company refused ART to HIV people citing that it had not received payments from the government for the previous medicines that were distributed to public?"  I did not receive a satisfactory answer to this question, but I do remember what he said. He had said that we must not wait for others to take responsibility, which seemed a little out of context to me, I could have countered his argument but I chose not to. 

The first day was wonderfully spent. There even was a cultural performance after the end of lectures and that helped in lightening up the audience. 

On Day 2 , there were four sessions which were scheduled to happen before lunch. The speakers were Dr Shivangi Maletia, Dr. anthony Melvin Crasto, S.M.Z. Ahamed Kabeer and Dr. Anu Gupta. 

I can actually write a separate blog on the address given by Dr. Shivangi Maletia.  Magnetic, Excellent Speaker, Humble, Polite, Human and Energetic : very few words that can only flimsily capture the fabric Dr. Shivangi is. She is a dental surgeon and work in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Dr. Shivangi gave a lecture on "Healthy Mind and Empowered Souls". At the outset she started with questioning the audience about what was meant by a healthy mind. Her address, needless to say, was very interactive, engaging and two-sided. She, by sharing her own life's experiences, mistakes and confusions was rendering motivation in each cell of the person who was present in the auditorium. How can I forget to mention this : When she started she said very politely that she would use Hindi and English both in her address because she feels that Hindi also needs to be acknowledged at the same level at which we have crowned up English. Now that stole the show and hearts of people. Dr. Shivangi's talk was a perfect talk, it was rationally motivational, it acknowledged the presence of the audience and gave a lot to ponder upon. She remarked that we are not empowered by increased status in society, that empowerment does not lie outside rather it lies inside and that is where all quest should be targeted. She mentioned that insanity is searching for something outside which is already inside, in her words the "Kalpavriskha" lies inside of our hearts. She works majorly in upliftment of women and believes that courage and confidence is the true beauty and that beauty is no where related to color, complexion or physical features. I cannot forget a profound statement she made, "Every lady is a queen inside". Naturally, we did not want her to stop thinking but she did conclude her speech by saying , "When you think you can do, you can do. When you think you are limited, you are". Dr. Shivangi was a wonderful person to come across, it made me very proud that she exists in our country and is doing her bit to help women realize their uniqueness and carry it with pride and dignity. I would want to hear Dr. Shivangi speak again and if possible work with her for some time. 

Dr. Shivangi's speech not only motivated the audience but also infused energy in the subsequent speakers and they did acknowledge the magnificence of her speech before they began theirs. 

The next address was by Dr. Anthony Melvin Crasto. Dr. Crasto is a Principal Scientist, at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd and his talk was on "Medicines on Autoimmune Diseases". He spent very less time on the technical aspects of autoimmune diseases and directed majority of his talk to the premise that depression can lead to lack of immunity. Dr. Crasto was afflicted with a unique disease which affects one in million and has since been on a wheel chair. He rejoices while stating that because his fingers were working he discovered that he could do so much using computers, keyboards and mouse. Dr. Crasto maintains a world-famous blog (https://anthonycrasto.wordpress.com/author/amcrasto/) which has millions of viewers worldwide. Dr. Crasto mentioned that after the sudden onset of the disease which made him wheel-chair bound, he realized truly what his purpose in life was and that ever since he has been much more productive than he ever was. I am also happy that JNTU was an accessible place and that he did not face difficulty while going on stage. Dr. Crasto spoke highly of Dr. Shivangi and it led me to a beautiful lesson. Nothing can be more beautiful than the speakers acknowledging each other, their wisdom and appreciating each other. This sort of feeling creates a positive ambience, where egos get nullified and a feeling of communal solidarity gets engendered. 

The third session was  by Dr. Anu Gupta. Dr. Anu is an Angel Investor, a Start-up Mentor and a Pharma Healthcare Expert.  The topic of her talk was, "Emerging technologies in Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges". She talked about Patient Data Analysis, healthcare using Artificial intelligence, smart pills and basically a lot about use of technologies in the rendering of healthcare. She mentioned that there is huge amount of data echoing the sentiments of the speakers of Day 1. Later on after the talk I asked her a few questions related to data based analysis. She answered that it really depends on the problem statement when it comes to data analysis, which I knew was true. How to make sense of the enormous amount of data is another issue altogether and that involves incisive study of data. She also told me that the customer should be willing to pay and use the solution that comes after data analytics. Talking to her only reinforced in me the INTENSE attention that needs to be put when it comes to deciding what can be done with the data!! 

The last session was by Mr. Kabeer. He is the Director and Clinical Data Scientist at IDDCR (International Drug Discovery and Clinical Research). The topic of his lecture was "How to bridge the gap between industry and academia?". His talk revolved around the use of clinical data and its analysis to create meaningful differences in the lives of people who are seeking care. It was a technical talk related to clinical research and data science. He mentioned that technology can bridge the gap between industry and academia, to which I would like to add that a suitable mentor is also an important factor in bridging the gap between the two. Since he is a biostatistician, he mentioned about Oracle Database also. It was a good talk to attend and he was also asked a lot of questions related to regulation of drug etc which he patiently answered. 

After these sessions there were few general speeches given by the student bodies which work in the field of public health  in India:
Me and Sugandha at Golconda Fort Peak
  1. MSAI - Medical Student Association of India http://www.msaindia.org/ 
  2. AIESEC (pronounced eye-sek) was originally an acronym for Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales. AIESEC is no longer used as an acronym but simply as the name of the organisation. http://www.aiesec.in/ 
I thoroughly enjoyed my three days in the city of Nizams. My friend Sugandha Mittal was a wonderful  company to stay with. Very lovingly and with much warmth she ensured that I was comfortable in every way. Thank you Sugandha.

I would also like to thank the organizers of this wonderful Congress. I can actually feel that as I have written this blog I have missed JNTU, the juice shop and the conference. College campuses always leave me nostalgic and stoke the burning desire inside of me to get back to a college. It was a lovely investment of my time. Many more to come.

Samsung CSR Notebook Distribution Drive Experience

17th August 2017, We went for a notebook distribution drive in the areas of Kolar district of Karnataka as part of the CSR activity by Samsung Research Institute, where I work. I had given my name as a volunteer for the activity and I was selected. This was to be my first brush with the CSR activity which is carried out by the SEVA club of Samsung. Needless to say, I was super-duper excited and anticipating for the day to come. And it did! I finished off my gym well in time so that I could reach the spot where all the volunteers were expected to assemble. Around 10:20am we left office premises. There were close to 38 Innova cars, the back of which was stacked with notebooks : "one-line notebooks, two-line notebooks, four-line notebooks, square-line notebooks, registers and pens". In my car I was accompanied by one of my colleagues at Samsung, Rakesh Falak. We were to cover seven schools in the district of Kolar. The SEVA team had well explained on 16th August our responsibilities and way to carry out the notebook distribution, the orientation before the D-Day had definitely helped as I look back in retrospect. 

 At the first school that we went, there were all lady teachers who helped us by making queues of students class wise in the open area in front of the school. This greatly eased our work and led to efficient operation. They were also instructing their students to say "Thank you" for the notebooks that they were receiving. The smile on the faces of children as they quickly grabbed their new books was infectious and it reminded of the times when my father used to get bundles of all new books, notebooks, rough copies, uniform when I was to go to next class in school - a vivid event planted in my heart. It was a very small school, students were wearing uniforms but not shoes, most of them were barefoot. It reminded me of my school times, when every need was fulfilled by my parents in the best possible way. It is difficult not to fall back to my own school days in this situation because I know the kind of hard work my parents have done in order to educate me in best institution despite the hurdles. Hence, the notebook distribution drive was an extremely personal experience and it felt good to be a part of it. 

 There was a man who was with us and helping us navigate the area and reach to schools where we were to carry out the drive. Every school that we went to was very different, they were all different from each other but the students, their excitement on receiving the books, a sense of immense gratitude in the eyes of teachers was the common denominator. In one school that we went I was glad to notice that differently-abled children were also there - it was an inclusive school. One of the kids was autistic and his mother ensured that she was there with him all the time.  It reminded me of the importance of schools to be inclusive in nature, this makes other students aware of the diversity that exists in the real world and also teaches them loads about acceptance and instills a sense of constructive empathy in their hearts at a very early age. For example: If I talk about myself, it was only in college that I got to meet people  who were differently abled and even then I never thought about accessibility or their unique requirements (it never came to my mind : IGNORANCE). It was only when I read the autobiography of N.S.Hema in early 2016 and visited Association for Physically Disabled (APD, Hennur) that I began to understand them and started scrutinizing public spaces in relation to the unique needs of differently abled people. Therefore, being at this inclusive school did bring joy to my heart and soul. 

There was another school where there were only male instructors, there was no lady teacher in this school (may be because it was on a hilly area, who knows?). Few of the students were absent and the teacher wanted us to provide notebooks for them also, but we reasoned with them that that might cause a situation in which we have students who are present and we do not have notebooks to give. He did not understand it, but we made the other teacher understand and that led to diminishing of the confusion. We were alerted to this kind of situation on the orientation day and this greatly helped us to take decision in the moment of dilemma between decision guided by rational behavior and emotion. Falak and I decided to be rational reasoning that the books must be handed over to students because we could be sure that they are really the ones who have received the books, which might not be the case if we hand the books to someone else. After all, the club members had bestowed trust on us and given us the autonomy of decision making in the times of confusions. This helped me learn that sometimes a situation might arise when we realise that even though we are part of a big network and work to fulfill the vision and mission of the network but there will arise circumstances in which communication is always not possible and that then we have to take decisions with integrity. It was a tricky situation but I believe we handled it well. The decision reinforced the rational thinking in me keeping aside the emotional aspects. 


Later on, we came to know that two of the schools were closed because there was a house-warming ceremony at the head master's home and hence the day was declared as a holiday. We covered 5 schools on that day. I would not say that I felt accomplished (I did nothing) but I did feel proud to be a part of an institution which understands the need to give back to society, that did make me joyful. As a token of gratitude to the person who helped us navigate the schools, we handed over few notebooks to him for his children. He was more than pleased to receive them. It needs to be mentioned that our driver was a very co-operative and funny man. Every time we'd go to some school, he would dutifully take out notebooks and then very artistically assemble them back in the car, keeping the open bundles separate from the bundled ones. This, of course, led to more efficient distribution of the books. It was very conspicuous that he knew how to take good care of a heavily loaded car (200kg) , smart man!
After the distribution drive, four of us had lunch together and went back to our original assembly point at P.C.Halli. There we deposited the books that were left and began our journey back to Bangalore. 

The day was different, unique and well spent. Amidst the many days which tend to get celebrated in the same way, this one clearly stood out and made me happy. It also gave me lot to ponder upon.

"While there are International and Universal schools in our country, we cannot deny that there are many others which still struggle for the basic amenities, facilities and infrastructure. That way, this notebook distribution drive was eye-opening. It reminded me of a school I had visited in Jamkhed in 2016 which was a residential school for differently abled children, its memories continue to humble me.  
Education is a weapon, a good school renders in the hands of the student a more powerful weapon. Investing in the future of students is the best kind of investment, much better, investing in the dreams of each other is a rent we must pay for being educated and literate.  

I would like to thank Samsung and the SEVA club for providing me with this unique opportunity to share a day of my life with the future of our country. Falak was a good team member, co-operative, light-hearted and understanding. We had a good time distributing notebooks in schools.

The day reminded me of my responsibilities and reinforced the nature of my life's conduct. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

नादान अल्फ़ाज़

वक़्त जिसे हम कभी मुलाक़ात कहा करते थे,
अब इत्तेफ़ाक़ बन गए |
दिल की धड़कने तब भी थम जातीं थीं ,
बदस्तूर आज भी रूह कांप उठती है,
जब कभी इत्तेफाक़ो  की नवाज़िश हम पर होती है ।

इत्तेफाक़ो  में खुदा की इनायत शामिल है,
मेरी खवाबीदा  जुस्तजू वाबस्ता जो तेरे नाम से है ,
मुख़्तलिफ़ है, मुख़्तलिफ़ है |
मेरा उंस मुसलसल है |

तेरी क़ुरबत का क़ाफ़िला हमसे जुदा हुआ ग़म नहीँ,
तेरी नज़ाकत , शिद्दत और इखलास
मेरी साँसों में मयस्सर है |
मुख़्तसर ही सही तेरी उल्फत,
कोई रंजिश नहीँ दिल में मेरे |
रिफाकत , रग़बत तेरी ,
फ़ज्र तेरे साथ जो गुजारीं ,
नदामत का नाम न दे इन्हें ,
तबस्सुम इन्ही यादों में है ।

मेरी मोहब्बत की नुमाइश नही,
तेरी मोहब्बत की अज़मत बयान कर रहा हूँ |
मसीहा था तू फ़क़त मेरी ज़िन्दगी का,
जिसे अल्लाह ने भेजा था |

अल-वदूद तो खुदा है
उसकी मोहब्बत के हम सिर्फ
क़ासिद हैं
अभी काफी कलबों में
चिराग जलाने हैं ।









Friday, August 11, 2017

When it Rains, I Bloom

Rains. A five letter word which when manifests itself bewitches me, I forget everything and my only desire becomes to walk in rain, dance in rain, feel the little drops of elixir from Heaven above and to allow them to penetrate into my soul, to think endlessly about life while in rain, feel every drop that falls over my head and gently nod my head in acknowledgement of the blessing that lies in every single drop. I really do believe that rains are blessings from Heaven above and invariably whenever I feel them nudging me gently and with so much love and warmth, my entire physiological system, psychological being and spiritual essence bloom into ecstasy, rapture and a sense of immense and inexplicable peace dawns upon me. And when that happens my eyes get automatically closed and a gentle smile adorns my lips. Rains are a blessing and I love spending time in rains for as long as I can, forgetting everything.

My mind feels decluttered when I am in rain, more deeply resigned to my own world. It is like being somewhere else altogether or I get transported to my own Utopia and Elysium when I am in rains. The entire environment is rendered cool and cleansed after rains, the leaves shine, the sky is clearer, the petrichor proves that certain things which are beyond sight can only be felt with eyes closed : its like everything that comes in contact with rain retains a part of it, becomes better after the episode and rejoices that rain was there. Exactly like Love is, ought to be. 



Although there is no reason for why I love rains but I believe and I believe strongly that rains are nothing but an expression of Love. The kind of Love that soothes our souls, cleanses our spirits and invigorates us with its utter innocence, freshness and warmth. The kind of Love in which you trust so much that you just close your eyes and enjoy the "Here and Now", the present moment and feel it, cherish it and express gratitude for every single second of companionship. The kind of Love that really justifies the unconditional nature of Love, the giving nature of Love, a selfless Love, a Love that knows nothing about exclusivity or special relationships, a Love which just is, to everyone and to no one. That way rains become personified and teach me Love. Rains are such beautiful creations of Lord. 

And so, when it rained today and I was at office gate, I rushed to my cubicle, threw my mobile and rushed back in open space and enjoyed the rains. 30 minutes. Bliss. Even now as I write about it, my eyes shine, I am smiling, a kind of smile which lands on the Lover's face when he sees his Beloved and realizes that the Beloved is also looking at the Lover, my heart is beating perfectly and my breathing is peaceful. That is the magic of rains. That is the magic of Love, Love which only now I seem to be learning and which is making me unlearn everything that I ever believed was Love. 

Dear Lord, Thank you,
Your Ungrateful Child.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What Could I Possibly Give You?

I believe there are no endings to stories, stories evolve in the sands of time, interspersed with times of togetherness, moments of emotional aloofness, finally to find a place in the corner of our hearts where they are safe and secure. But I believe the best thing about stories is the creativity they leave us with. I always say one thing: "The Beloved can depart, vanish, walk away on her accord or be taken away, but the Muse always remains, none can take that away."

It's your day and you wonder , 
What is it that I present you with,
But since you know me,
You know there is really nothing in store 
Or in surprise wrapped in gift papers. 

It seems awkward to gift someone ,
Who gave you so much in a brief time,
What could I possible give to you? 
Oh! My friend, my beloved, my first real love story. 

No gift would ever do justice ,
To the time you shared with me,
To the piece of your heart that you gave me,
Which sleeps with me at night and
Wakes up with me before the sun rises in the sky.

Your warmth , your unspoken words,
Lost for me, you'd like to believe,
And find solace in my demeanor,
A visage of indifference, 
That hides a vast ocean,
The waves of which have only one name,
Yours! 

What could I possibly give you?
Even thinking of something,
My inner self chides me,
The beloved teaches love,
In the process she gives the lesson
Of the most esoteric elixir ever to exist. 

The lessons you taught me of love and warmth,
No gift stands in front of them,
The piece of your heart, 
That you thought I deserved,
Is your gift to me , Oh! My Unworldly Love! 

And so you know, and know quite well,
What I have to say on this day,
A call , a message, 
If you have stories to tell or ring a bell,
I'll come to you even if I am in hell,
When you close your eyes. 

A voice of yours if I ever hear,
I'll ask you if you desire me near,
We shall together make,
LOVE OUTTA OUR EVERY FEAR! 
And that's all I can give you dear,
My presence and my ear,
Which promises to always hear,
To every piece of your heart, My Dear.

My trip to Swasthya Swaraj : Computer Lessons

This is a post in continuation of my attempt to share lessons from my visit to Swasthya Swaraj Society. Swasthya Swaraj is a secular, not-...