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Exclusive: ‘The Ethical Doctor’ Author Dr Kamal Mahawar explains Grim side of the noble medical profession in India

The Quacks,Touts and the Compensations, Dr. Kamal Mahawer covers all aspects of the medical field which is now turning into a business

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The Ethical Doctor Cover

A sixty-year-old man with chest pain goes to his local family doctor. Chest pain is a common clinical condition and can result from a number of conditions. However, it promptly takes a patient to the doctor because deep inside, every patient is worried that it could be due to a heart problem. Family doctors and cardiologists are aware of this fear in patients’ minds and will not hesitate to exploit it.  When the survival of your own family is at stake and when the hospital has given you targets to achieve for the month, even the most conscientious cardiologist will not hesitate in recommending stenting even if it is not strictly necessary or required at all.- Excerpt from “The Ethical Doctor”

Sept 04, 2016: It’s been a long night, alternating between cups of coffee and a monstrous packet of chips, I had imagined sporadically about life without a uterus like the forty-year lady mentioned briefly in the book ’The Ethical doctor’. It started off as a casual read after an evening of friendly banter with a couple of doctor friends over medical corruption. I wouldn’t lie; the words did take me off guard but I played along dumbly. Corruption amongst the Gods; our hallelujah healers, how plausible is that?

‘Ethical doctor’ helped me climb the ladder from an atheistic to a realist. Closing the book cover that night, it was established that my newfound knowledge about Cuts and Commissions, Unnecessary Tests and Treatment and more on the similar lines could now easily piss off a doctor. I looked up the name of the author, Kamal Mahawar, unsurprisingly the man had many titles to adorn the name, he was a Bariatric Surgeon for Sunderland Royal Hospital, UK, an Associate Clinical Lecturer, an Editorial Board Member for “Obesity Surgery” and the Chairman of Webmed Limited. The book must be a Gospel message, I thought!

Dr. Kamal Mahawar
Dr. Kamal Mahawar. Image source: Twitter

A man practicing in UK writes a book about Indian medical conduct, undoubtedly there will be questions thrown at him. I had my own set in a thought bubble over my head that needed answers that night.

Days later, I (Reporter Karishma Vanjani) got a chance to pen them down for Newsgram, after an interview with Doctor Kamal, himself. *Self-applauds*

A distant hum in the background was the only sound accompanying the unmissed anticipation of the conversation. I broke the ice by questioning him about his journey to becoming a veritable doctor-writer, in the likes of Danielle Ofri.

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  • Karishma: So, What inspired you to move out of the hospital corridors and turn into an author cum doctor?

Dr. Mahawar: It’s an honor to be referred by this label. I wouldn’t want to give you a very clichéd answer but years after I settled into my role as a doctor, I thought to myself what have I given to a country that gave me a free medical education and so much more. My stint in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was part of the same journey; a journey to find ways to contribute to the Indian society without shadowing a judgment on it.

Now, we can’t deny that there are problems in the system that goes deep. I mean as a surgeon, I can come back and maybe do 20 operations a month but even if 100’s or 1000’s of surgeons like me went back, it won’t change anything, will it? Problems are profound and it was only when I realized the importance of addressing the structure of the system in place that I started writing.

  • Karishma: Your book “The Ethical Doctor” talks about how easy it is to dupe people when it comes to the matters of life and death. It has a very good insight into the medical profession in India. The readers would love to know about your life in India that helped you understand more on the lines of Medical fraud.

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Dr. Mahawar: From 1991-2011, I played my role in India-  learning, practicing and absorbing the people and the environment around me. I also went back to Delhi for seven months in 2014, but sadly I couldn’t work looking at how the system functioned. Today, as a columnist for the Indian medical times, I say things impartially. I have written several opinion pieces in the last 3-4 months and people do come out and criticize you. However, I believe that till the time you don’t put your self-interest aside, the society won’t move forward. Everything I know, I tried to share it through my book and that’s all I have done.

  • Karishma: Would you like to comment on the Kidney racket in Mumbai’s Hiranandani, hospital? This has been the first time senior doctors at a large institute in the city have been arrested for unethical medical practices. There are arrests and pre-arrest bail pleas are being made, let’s just say there must be an absolute havoc in the hospital?

Dr. Mahawar: You’ll actually find a blog on this topic by me on the Indiatimes portal. I would like to say that it’s not just doctors and hospital owners who need to do some soul-searching here. Why would there be an incentive for a doctor to cheat if he’s rewarded properly? Doctors pass out with 10 years of experience as their leverage but also a family to pay for. If you pay him 20,000 a month how do you expect him to survive?

A lot of my Indian friends in England say they want to go back to India but they are so put off by the nature of the practice that they would rather not. Where are the jobs for people to go to? We talk about doctor’s being unethical but has the government created a system where people can go and work after qualifying? Where is the system?

Dr. Kamal Mahawar, a man of expertise, experience and understanding will show you the good bad and the ugly side of the most revered profession in the world through his book. By the end of the interview, he happily disclosed that there’s another book in the pipeline and we, here at Newsgram wish him the very best for it! Dr. Mahawar can be contacted at @kmahawar 

– Interviewed by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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Listening for Well-being : Arun Maira Talks About a Democracy in Crisis, Unsafe Social Media and More in his Latest Book

Maira asserts that we must learn to listen more deeply to 'people who are not like us' in our country because of their history, their culture, their religion, or their race.

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Arun Maira
Arun Maira (extreme left), during a public event in 2009. Wikimedia
  • Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira’s latest book is titled ‘Listening for Well-Being’
  • Maira observes that physical and verbal violence in the world and on social media is continuously growing
  • He also highlights the importance of ‘hearing each other’ in order to create truly inclusive and democratic societies

New Delhi, September 5, 2017 : Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira contends that “physical violence” in the real world and “verbal violence” on social media against people whom “we do not approve of” are increasing today. With such trends on the rise, the very idea of democracy finds itself in a crisis.

The solution?

“We need to listen more deeply to people who are not like us,” said the much-respected management consultant, talking of his latest book, “Listening for Well-Being”, and sharing his perspective on a wide range of issues that he deals with.

“Violence by people against those they dislike, for whatever reason, is increasing. It has become dangerous to post a personal view on any matter on social media. Responses are abusive. There is no respect for another’s dignity. People are also repeatedly threatened with physical violence.”

He said that gangs of trolls go after their victims viciously. “Social media has become a very violent space. Like the streets of a run-down city at night… not a safe space to roam around in.”

At the same time, streets in the physical world are becoming less safe too. “Any car or truck on the road can suddenly become a weapon of mass destruction in a ‘civilised’ country: in London, Berlin, Nice, or Barcelona,” Maira told IANS in an interview.

Maira said that with the rise of right-wing parties that are racist and anti-immigrant, there is great concern in the Western democratic world — in the US, the UK and Europe — that democracy is in a crisis.

In the US, for example, supporters of Donald Trump, Maira said, believe only what Trump says and watch only the news channels that share a similar ideology. On the other side are large numbers of US citizens who don’t believe what Trump says but they too have their own preferred news sources.

“They should listen to each other, and understand each other’s concerns. Only then can the country be inclusive. And also truly democratic — which means that everyone has an equal stake and an equal voice,” he noted.

In “Listening for Well-Being” (Rupa/Rs 500/182 Pages), Arun Maira shows his readers ways to use the power of listening. He analyses the causes for the decline in listening and proposes solutions to increase its depth in private and public discourse.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a leading strategist, he emphasises that by listening deeply, especially to people who are not like us, we can create a more inclusive, just, harmonious and sustainable world for everyone.

But it would be wrong to say that the decline in listening is only restricted to the Western world.

“We have the same issues in India too. We are a country with many diverse people. We are proud of our diversity. However, for our country to be truly democratic, all people must feel they are equal citizens.

“The need for citizens to listen to each other is much greater in India than in any other country because we are the most diverse country, and we want to be democratic. So, we must learn to listen more deeply to ‘people who are not like us’ in our country because of their history, their culture, their religion, or their race,” he maintained.

Maira also said that India is a country with a very long and rich history. And within the present boundaries of India are diverse people, with different cultures, different religions, and of different races.

“So, we cannot put too sharp a definition on who is an ‘Indian’ — the language they must speak, the religion they must follow, or the customs they must adopt. Because, then we will exclude many who do not have the same profiles, and say they are not Indians. Thus we can falsely, and dangerously, divide the country into ‘real Indians’ and those who are supposedly non-Indians. Indeed, such forces are rising in India,” he added.

Maira, 74, hoped that all his readers will appreciate that listening is essential to improve the world for everyone. He also maintained that it is not a complete solution to any of the world’s complex problems but by listening to other points of view, we can prevent conflict and also devise better solutions.

Born in Lahore, Arun Maira received his M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Physics from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College. He has also authored two bestselling books previously, “Aeroplane While Flying: Reforming Institutions” and “Upstart in Government: Journeys of Change and Learning”. (IANS)

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Book Review: Author Tim Harford’s “Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy” deserves Plenty of Plaudits

But economist, columnist and author Tim Harford does not only seek here to list of 50 specific inventions but also to tell us the singular stories behind their inception

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Tim Harford
Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy cover. Facebook
  • Author Tim Harford has written a new book titled ‘Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy
  • Tim Harford is also an economist and a columnist

New Delhi, August 22, 2017: The i-Phone may seem the pinnacle of human endeavour, ingenuity and technological prowess — but while Steve Jobs deserves the plaudits, the range of technologies making it possible were a collective effort, facilitated by a surprisingly unexpected benefactor. Such tales are discussed in Tim Harford’s “Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy.”

When we think of the wonders of our modern world, we may cite these flashy hand-held devices that enable us to communicate, entertain ourselves and find information instantly. But they are merely one facet, for our lives now owe to a range of inventions and discoveries stretching from the humble plough to Google, and from the elevator to intellectual property, and achieved in several unusual and unexpected ways.

And while the i-Phone does make a list of 50 such inventions, so do concrete, clocks and infant formula as well as limited liability companies, public key cryptography and the welfare state — and many others, including some which may seem surprising.

But economist, columnist and author Tim Harford does not only seek here to list of 50 specific inventions but also to tell us the singular stories behind their inception — the iPhone especially — and how they affected us socially and economically from the beginning of civilisation to workings of the world economy now. Or rather in laying its foundations.

These 50 inventions, he says, range from those “absurdly simple” to ones which became “astonishingly sophisticated”, “stodgily solid” to “abstract inventions that you cannot touch at all”, profitable right from their launch or, while others were initially commercial disasters.

Also Read: Book Review: Hinduism in Ancient India and the Various Aspects of its Traditions by Greg Bailey

“But all of them have a story to tell that teaches us something about how our world works and that helps us notice some of the everyday miracles that surround us, often in the most ordinary-seeming objects. Some of these stories are of vast and impersonal economic forces; others are tales of human brilliance or human tragedy.”

Harford, known for his “Undercover Economist” series, does stress that he doesn’t seek to identify the 50 most economically significant inventions for some seemingly obvious entrants — printing presses, airplanes, computers — are missing. And there are good reasons why.

He also promises that while zooming in closely to examine one of these or pulling back to notice the unexpected connections, will provide answers to questions like the link between Elton John and the promise of a paperless office, how an American discovery banned in Japan for four decades affected women’s careers there, which monetary innovations destroyed Britain’s Houses of Parliament in the 1830s.

Harford also explains how all these inventions have two facets — they may not be always benign — in the longer run, or ensure a “win-win” scenario for all.

While it is easy to see inventions as solutions to problems, he warns against seeing them as only solutions, for they “shape our lives in unexpected ways — and while they’re solving a problem for someone, they’re often creating a problem for someone else”.

These attributes are best shown by the case of an ostensibly well-meaning American inventor who is responsible for poisoning our environment twice-over though his two contributions were initially helpful, and then by both the beneficial and baleful impacts of the plough — or banks for that matter.

Harford also shows that there is more to an invention than its inventing, and even for any one of them, “it’s often hard to pin down a single person who was responsible — and it’s even harder to find a ‘eureka’ moment when the idea all came together”.

Dealing with such aspects in the brief interludes between the inventions, placed in no discernible chronological or thematic order, Harford also seeks to put them together at the end to pose the vital question of how we should think about that often used and often misunderstood buzzword “innovation” today.

“What are the best ways to encourage new ideas? And how can we think clearly about what the effects of those ideas might be, and act with foresight to maximise the good effects and mitigate the bad ones?” he asks.

But as his incisive but illuminating and entertaining sojourn through centuries of human activities and endeavours show, there are no easy or definite answers. (IANS)

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Dr Upendranath Brahmachari: Remembering the Forgotten Genius and Saint of India

Dr. Upendranath Brahmachari was born in Jamalpur, Bihar on 19th December 1873

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Kala-Azar
Dr. Upendranath Brahmachari. Wikimedia
  • Upendranath Brahmachari was born in Bihar in the year 1873
  • He grew up specializing in medicine and surgery
  • The doctor is said to have saved millions of lives through curing a viral disease called Kala-Azar

August 22, 2017: A renowned and prominent name in the hall of fame list of Indian scientists is Upendranath Brahmachari who was famous in the field of medicine.

Dr. Brahmachari’s most important work during his lifetime was his discovery of Urea Stibamine, a treatment for the fatal disease called Kala-Azar.

BACKGROUND: Dr. Upendranath Brahmachari was born in Jamalpur, Bihar on 19th December 1873. At the time, Bihar and Assam were in shambolic states. But Dr. Brahmachari had a fairly secure growing up phase. His father, Dr. Nilmony Brahmachari, was a famous medical practitioner in the Indian as well as European communities. Dr. Nilmony Brahmachari worked as a physician in East Indian Railways.

Dr. Upendranath did his schooling from Eastern Railway’s Boys High School. He loved math and had excellent academic records. The young genius went on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree with honors in chemistry and mathematics in 1893 from Hooghly Mohsin College. Further, Brahmachari did polymath. He got a Master’s degree in medicine from Kolkata’s Presidency College. His Ph.D. was a thesis on ‘Haemolysis’ which he earned in 1904.

ALSO READ: Hindu Philosophy fascinated WB Yeats: Remembering him and his Timeless Poetry at Jaipur Literature Festival

CAREER: Upendranath Brahmachari began his career as a doctor in Kolkata under Sir Gerald Bomford. Impressed by the talent, in 1901 Sir Bomford offered Brahmachari, who was 27 at the time, to teach physiology in Dacca Medical School.

Later in 1905, Brahmachari was appointed as a teacher in medicine and physician at Kolkata’s Campbell Medical School. This is where Dr. Brahmachari made some of his remarkable and outstanding discoveries, most notably, the discovery of Urea Stibamine.

This discovery was to become a significant treatment for the fatal disease called Kala-Azar. Kala-Azar is a disease strictly limited to the Mediterranean as well as South Asian nations. Sand flies are known to transmit this disease. Various characteristics broadly include irregular fever, anemia, and enlarged liver and spleen. Kala-Azar was known as the second largest parasitic killer of the world, followed by Malaria.

A treatment for Kala-Azar existed at the time but it was not helping the rapid death rates due to the disease. Dr. Brahmachari had been devoting his time to finding a treatment that had little to no disadvantages but could not come up with anything.

In 1919, his breakthrough came knocking at the door. The Indian Research Fund Association had granted resources to Brahmachari for conducting more in-depth research for the treatment of the disease. With this help, in his Campbell Medical School lab, the Doctor discovered Urea Stibamine.

Kala-Azar today is a rare disease only present in a handful of remote places. Especially in Assam where the disease thrived, many lives were saved.

Dr. Upendranath Brahmachari instantly became a popular figure in the Indian science academia. His discovery was now successfully incorporated into the growing scientific knowledge in medicine. His masterpiece “Treatise on Kala-Azar” became an essential reference reading in medicine. Moreover, his other works include treatment of malaria, dermal leishmaniasis, quartan fever, blackwater fever, and more.

Brahmachari retired in 1927 but continued to participate in Kolkata’s cultural and humanitarian activities. He stayed connected to all literary and scientific organizations in Kolkata.

Achievements: The World’s Second Blood Bank which was formed in Kolkata was driven by the efforts of Dr. Brahmachari. He was also the Head of Department for Biochemistry in Kolkata’s University College of Science, where he was also the Honorary Professor of Biochemistry.

The Asiatic Society of Bengal awarded Upendranath Brahmachari with ‘Sir William Jones Medal’. He was also awarded the Griffith Memorial Prize by the University of Kolkata. The Kolkata School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene awarded the Doctor a Minto Medal.

He became the first Indian to be elected as the chairman of Managing body of Kolkata Branch of the Indian Red Cross Society.

For his numerous contributions to science, he was awarded the title of Rai Bahadur in 1924. The same year, Brahmachari was also awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind gold medal.

In the year 1929, the famous scientist was honored with being nominated for the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine and almost won India the first Nobel Prize in the category, however, it was won by Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins and Christiaan Eijkman for their detailed work on vitamins. Brahmachari was also conferred a knighthood by the British Government in 1934.

Brahmachari was also conferred a knighthood by the British Government in 1934.

Dr. Upendranath Brahmachari’s name comes along with Satyendra Nath Bose as two main figures during the Bengal Rennaissance.

Death: On 6th February 1946, Brahmachari passed away aged 72. For his contributions to the Kolkata society’s well-being, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation changed the name of Loudon street to D.R UN Brahmachari Street.

 – Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394


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