Tuesday December 18, 2018

Indian-American surgeon aims to save lives on Indian roads

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Wahington: An Indian-American surgeon is hoping to raise $25 million to train 1.5 million first responders – the first rescuers to arrive at an accident scene – in five years to prevent over 1,000 deaths on Indian roads every day that cost the nation $50 billion annually.

Rajasthan University-educated surgeon Dr Dinesh Vyas, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Michigan State University since 2011, has already trained over 4,000 first responders in India using a $200,000 simulator dummy.

He is now leading a strong international multi-disciplinary team to India from December 26 to January 4, 2016, to win support for the programme from Indian auto, IT and healthcare industries by way of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

“This programme will generate $5 billion business for auto, IT and healthcare industries and will save a lot of lives,” Vyas told IANS in an interview.

“Trauma and roadside epidemic is one of the biggest health concerns for India,” he said. “Unfortunately, it has been neglected for a long time and with a three percent annual increase in deaths, we have more than 1,000 deaths every day and 5,000 severe disabilities.”

Over the last eight years, Vyas’ team has established five centres in Rajasthan which have trained 2,000 first responders in person and another 2,000 through an online course with the help of 200 trainers under its umbrella. Training 1.5 million first responders at 50 centres in the next five years would stall a three percent increase in mortality, he said. “Our next five-year goal will be to reduce the mortality to one percent annually, at par with any developed nation.”

The idea behind taking an international delegation to India, Vyas said, was “to address the trauma problem holistically”.

“We are concentrating systematically on all the aspects of trauma, to prevent a burden on the health system,” with a focus on pre-hospital care while simultaneously building a platform on prevention.

The aim is to develop and build a contextual training programme in multiple aspects of trauma in various Indian languages starting with Hindi, Bengali and Telugu.

The international delegation comes with major strengths in fields ranging from surgery and trauma and critical care to mass media and communication to health legal issues and highway engineering.

The delegation includes faculty from US and Britain, with several endowed professors from Pittsburgh, Michigan State and other major universities.

Dr McSwain from Tulane University, one of Vyas’ collaborators, developed in 1980 a four-tier system in the US that goes from online education to highly sophisticated trauma programmes for surgeons.

“The technology we are using is not available even in most of the centres in the US at this time,” Vyas said. “We are designing a programme that will eventually help even developed nations in building a cost efficient programme.”

To raise money for the programme, Vyas and his team are making presentations to various foundations and IT companies both in the US and India.

During his visit to India, Vyas would be visiting Jodhpur, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Manipal, Bangalore, Karimnagar and New Delhi.

He would be addressing, among others, the National Police Academy in Hyderabad and the Rajasthan Police Academy and meet officials and fellow professionals to gain support for his mission. (Arun Kumar, IANS), (image courtesy:cloudimages.youthconnect.in)

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Issues Over Heritage In Illinois Election Campaign

"We vote by the type of person and what that person can do and not by anything else"

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Midterm Elections, illinois
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. VOA

In an Illinois congressional district where just six percent of the constituency is Indian American, the incumbent Democrat Congressman is being challenged by another Indian American.

“I see it as American versus American,” Jitendra Diganvker, or “JD” — the Republican challenger for the Illinois 8th district, said.

“Yeah we happen to be Indian,” he added dismissively.

“It is a good thing that members of minorities are running as Democrats or as Republicans,” the incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi said.

The Illinois 8th District is 51 percent Caucasian, 28 percent Hispanic,14 percent Asian, and four percent African-American, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. Of those Asians, about half are Indian, according to the campaigns’ estimates.

Views and policy

In this diverse district, voters care about issues more than identity.

“I don’t care about them being Indian American. I just hope that whichever one wins that they support and help the people,” said Michelle Sims, an employee at the DuPage Community College. “And if you’re Indian then, hey, that’s fine. Just help the people.”

A Jamaican-American university student, Amara Creighton, says she thinks it is great that two minority candidates are running and have support, regardless of their ethnicity.

“I think what’s more important is their views and their policies,” Creighton said. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter to me what their minority is as long as they’re standing up for us and doing good for us.”

This rare instance of two candidates of the same minority running against each other is reflective of a larger trend throughout the United States – record numbers of Indian Americans are running for office and winning their elections.

In 2016, four Indian Americans — one of them being Krishnamoorthi, were elected to the U.S. House and a fifth was elected to the Senate — outnumbering in just one election the total number of Indian Americans to serve as U.S. representatives.

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Incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi goes by his first name, which his constituents can more easily pronounce. VOA

Krishnamoorthi, a businessman and former deputy state treasurer, was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives in 2016. He succeeded Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who was elected that year to the U.S. Senate.

Diganvker is a small businessman, Uber driver, and ardent member of the local Republican party. As the underdog, he is running as a “day-to-day” guy, and says he decided to run because he feels his opponent is out of touch with middle-class, hardworking families in his community.

But his opponent, who is completing his first term in Congress, says he is far from out of touch with his community. He visits each weekend to see his wife and children when Congress is in session.

Though both candidates are immigrants, their views on immigration policy differ. Krishnamoorthi, the Democrat, has been critical of Trump’s policies to decrease refugee allowances and speaks out against family separations at the border.

“We shouldn’t separate parents from children,” he told VOA. “That’s an abomination.”

Though Diganvker, too, opposes family separations at the border, he favors Trump’s promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico and supported the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.

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Republican challenger Jitendra “JD” Digavnker says he is running as a “day-to-day” guy. VOA

“I’m also an immigrant. I followed the legal process and I believe in merit-based immigration,” he said, adding that merit-based immigration “brings the right skill set of people into our country.”

Krishnamoorthi, however, said that his parents legal immigration to the United States has not hardened his immigration stance.

“The fact that my parents came here legally and someone [else] did not, doesn’t mean that we should be inhumane or disrespectful, doesn’t mean we should treat them with anything less than dignity,” he said.

Diverse constituency

Both Congressional candidates are Hindu, but have wooed members of various religions in the community.

“When you come to this country there is no race,” said Farrukh Khan, a Muslim halal-shop owner in Schaumburg. “We should not go for the race, we should go for the people who more care about you and your community. Hindu or Muslim doesn’t matter.”

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Halal shop-owner Farrukh Khan says that he is unconsidered by the religion of either candidate. VOA

So as not to lose a customer, he did not indicate which man he will support in the November election.

Myrna Frankel has volunteered for Krishnamoorthi since his first campaign, an unsuccessful bid for Illinois comptroller in 2010. They know each other through the Jewish Beth Tikvah Congregation in Schaumburg where the congressman, who lives a few blocks away, sent his children for nursery school.

“He considers himself a JewDu – half Jewish, half Hindu,” she recounted with a laugh.

Myrna’s husband, Robert, said that this diversity and community relationships are typical of their community.

“Our state senator is from Mexico. Our state representative is from Puerto Rico. Our junior senator is of Thai background,” he said.

“We vote by the type of person and what that person can do and not by anything else,” he said.

Also Read: Democrats Gain Fundraising Advantage In The US Midterm Elections

When it comes to policy, voters in the Illinois 8th seem to heavily favor the incumbent. Early polling by Five Thirty Eight shows a “99% chance” that Krishnamoorthi will win. Rasmussen’s most recent poll shows a “Strong Dem” leaning in the midterm. As of June 30, Krishnamoorthi had raised more than $4 million compared to Diganvker’s $29,000.

But the challenger isn’t intimidated.

“People can give him $10 million and that’s not going to scare me,” he said, adding that despite recent polling, his campaign is “1,000 percent sure” that he will win in November. (VOa)