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Kiran Kumbhar

Physician-writer

Kiran Kumbhar is a medical doctor from India and a PhD student at Harvard University, Boston. He uses writing as a tool for healthcare reform and public health awareness in India. His articles frequently focus on public health, history, cinema and the intersections between the three. He blogs at kirankumbhar.com.

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Tolerance 101 For Arnab Goswami And Other ‘Grown-Up Kids’

Arnab Goswami -- and scores of influential but divisive people like him all over the world -- will immensely benefit by reading the wonderful book ‘The Story of Civilization’ by British philosopher C.E.M. Joad. This short book was written in 1931 as part of a “How & Why” series of books, the intended primary audience for which was most probably children and young adults.
29/07/2016 7:07 PM IST
Danish Ismail / Reuters

Why Non-Kashmiri People Need To Stop Outraging About Kashmir

It is terribly amusing that a nondescript Gujarati, who may never even have chastised his local corporator for the dilapidated municipal hospital, will be more than willing to get violent or encourage violence "for Kashmir". We need to grow up and understand that there is a lot more at stake for the terrorized and alienated people of Kashmir (both Hindus and Muslims) than there is for us, the non-Kashmiri Indians.
25/07/2016 4:53 PM IST
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These Films Show How Sending Doctors To Villages Isn't The Cure For Rural India

"Send doctors to villages" is the splendidly preposterous yet most commonly proffered answer to the burning sociopolitical question: How to ensure good quality healthcare in villages? A character aptly said in <em>3 Idiots</em> that people often need to be shown "demos", and that is what I will try here. Using instances from some popular films, I will attempt to explain why exactly, in current circumstances, the knee-jerk "send doctors to villages" is an ineffective solution to rural healthcare challenges.
27/06/2016 8:27 AM IST
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Why Snakes Should Matter To The Make In India Mission

One risks being mocked for juxtaposing snakes with the "Make in India" initiative which recently was spoken of in the same (albeit a bit laboured) breath as Apple Inc. Inspired by 'pop patriotism' many Indians are eager to sever from popular imagination any associations India has with snakes. But of course, snakes aren't going anywhere. Just because snakebites hardly occur in the posh neighbourhoods of Lutyens' Delhi or the cosy newsrooms of media-houses doesn't mean they have disappeared from India.
02/06/2016 8:23 AM IST
ASSOCIATED PRESS

In A Nutshell: Parliamentary Committee's Grim Diagnosis Of Govt's Public Health Performance

While some may find it shocking, there are times when India's parliamentarians do a good job. One such group of MPs has been in the limelight recently: the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, chaired by Uttar Pradesh MP Prof Ram Gopal Yadav. Following are some significant points from a 170-page report (PDF) submitted by the committee on 27 April.
05/05/2016 8:10 AM IST
Mata Jai Kaur

This Harvard Student Has Dedicated Years To Making Life Better For Rural Women

Aneel Brar, a Canadian citizen of Punjabi origin and current student of global health at Harvard University, has been working for rural women since 2011, and helping them be heard. This article itself is the latest instance of that, as his invitation for me to visit 35BB--the village in Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan where he works--opened up my ears to the cries of rural Indian women.
13/03/2016 8:29 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

JNU Crisis: Countering Violent ‘Nationalism' With Common Sense And Humanity

I voted for the BJP in the 2014 elections, but the nearly two years since have been distressing and a bit guilt-ridden. The way the government (man)handled the JNU incident was the last straw -- I could no longer bear the guilt and posted a public apology on Facebook for voting for the BJP. Little did I know that such a personal, heartfelt opinion would be converted into an issue of national and moral importance by hyper-nationalists. I was abused and shamed for two days...
20/02/2016 8:32 AM IST
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How The Constitution Saved Us From The Holy Books

Republic Day is all about celebrating our steadfast commitment to a common Constitution. It is about honouring how we have constantly, and successfully, repelled all external and internal pressures to make India a nation that follows the dogmas of a religion. One huge reason we should be happy about it is that the Constitution, as against religious scriptures, does not run the risk of being interpreted in hugely different ways. More importantly, words like "kill" and "destroy", so common in most holy books, are conspicuously absent from our Constitution.
26/01/2016 8:14 AM IST
Fey Ilyas/Flickr

Facing The Music: Why More Young People Have ‘Old' Ears

Research over the past several years shows that courtesy our obsession with loud music, we are staring at a colossal surge in deafness and other hearing problems. Sometimes metaphors best drive home a point. Thus, telling a 25-year-old obsessed with loud music that they'll have "noise-induced hearing loss" is better expressed as, "You'll get the ears of a 75-year old."
15/11/2015 8:21 AM IST
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More ‘Iqbals' And Less ‘Fanaas': How Bollywood Can Take On Religious Intolerance

If mainstream Hindi movies increasingly portray Muslims as regular Indians leading a "routine Indian life", it would immensely help in overthrowing the stereotypes that some politicians, extremists and their ilk project. But the depiction of Muslim leads in most recent flicks which do have them -- <em>Chak De India</em>, <em>New York</em>, <em>Haider</em>, etc. -- is heavily focused on identity issues. While such head-on tackling of Muslim identity crises is necessary and welcome, it should also be liberally supplemented by the portrayal of Muslims as simply people rather than Muslim people.
14/10/2015 8:10 AM IST
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Why Bollywood Needs To Make More Historical & Biographical Movies

History and biography are two significant genres which mainstream Indian cinema (Bollywood) has almost consistently neglected. Not that other genres have been represented well; we have very few noteworthy fantasy, science or sports movies. But when a deep-rooted, vibrant and impactful medium like cinema cannot do justice to the history and people of its exceptional country, that perhaps doesn't augur well for society.
10/09/2015 8:25 AM IST
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It's High Time Bollywood Acknowledged Cancer Survivors

Despite the great technical and cultural strides of the last 44 years, mainstream Hindi cinema has sadly not yet eschewed the 'fatality outlook' around cancer. More recent films like Waqt: The Race Against Time (2005), Dasvidaniyan (2008) and Aashayein (2010) all showed lead or important characters ultimately surrendering to cancer without even putting a decent fight. While the ailment certainly still kills people, it is disheartening to see that not a single mainstream movie has shown the other side of the story: that people also kill cancer.
11/08/2015 8:12 AM IST
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Why The Film Industry Needs To Talk About Donating Eyes

While changing that scenario requires a complex joint approach from policymakers, doctors, public health experts, NGOs and the society, there is one important way in which common citizens can contribute: eye donation. Thousands of people in India are blind because we as a society are still not serious about eye donation (and organ donation in general), that too despite Aishwarya Rai's ardent and gorgeous appeal more than two decades back.
17/07/2015 8:22 AM IST
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Why I Decided To Return Swades

For the 'well-paying' job (and the associated 'good quality life'), most of us give up most other considerations. It would be foolish of course to belittle the importance of money, but it is also ill-advised to give it too much weight. Understanding this subtle truth is the sine qua non for ensuring that the big choices of life stay choices, not bargains.
24/06/2015 8:19 AM IST
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British Raj and VVIP Raj: A Public Health Insight

While British colonialism was clearly not carried out with the agenda of 'welfare for the colonized', the current state of affairs in India (and even in Pakistan and Bangladesh) makes one wonder whether, as was often said during the 2011 anti-corruption movement, 1947 marked only a banal replacement of one set of repulsive administrators with another; and whether the behaviour specifically attributed to the 'cunning British' is just a characteristic of the general human race itself, later manifesting itself in Indian politicians.
22/06/2015 8:34 AM IST