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.
The details of the mob attack and vandalism related to Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Padmavati are well known by now. Without repeating those, this article attempts to stimulate a discussion about what...
"It was the only time in my life when I sat and crossed out day by day how many days were left before I could return to the normal world." Those are the thoughts of Ratan Tata, India's great business...
Being poor in India is a strange phenomenon. By sheer numbers one actually belongs to the majority, but by how the country runs, one is anywhere between completely neglected and transiently acknowledg...
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.
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.
"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 3 Idiots 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.
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.
The Marathi love saga Sairat provides the 2016 status update to a cinematic discussion that began with the release, in 1936, of what is considered the first Indian movie to explicitly handle inter-caste relationships, Achhut Kanya. And well, the status update clearly reads: Hardly any progress.
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.
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.
While caste-based reservation is indeed a necessary social justice policy, we must be vigilant not to let it transform into a vendetta policy against upper castes. In that, privileged lower-caste individuals have the most crucial role to play. Let us give up our quota privileges, folks. We know we don't have a moral right over them.
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...
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.
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."
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 -- Chak De India, New York, Haider, 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.
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.
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.
It is now time to combine the powers of media on one hand and health activists/workers on the other. Lasting development of any society lies in its regarding health and education more important than any other political subject.
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.