Hoot Hoot Hoot!

Right in the center

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Advertisements

Excuse me, I have a reservation

Posted by kostub on September 8, 2009

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,
our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.
– Sonya Sotomayor

Recently, the Indian cabinet approved a 50% reservation for women in Panchayats, while the bill for 33% reservation for women in the parliament still languishes on the back burner due to opposition from the left. Reservations for minorities or women have been a contentious topic in India: there have been numerous protests in the past when reservations have been proposed and this one is no different. In spite of this, no political party ever seems to have considered any alternatives to reservation to solve the problems for the underrepresented classes in society.

The number of women parliamentarians in India is abysmally low with only 10% of the MLAs being women. The women’s liberation movement wants this bill to address that issue have come out strongly in its favor.  There is something to be said about having more women in powerful positions and the hope is having these reservations will address many of the social injustices faced by women. Other countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh already have reservations for women in the parliament, while the US & the UK have a much lower percentage of women legislators than Pakistan and yet have a much better social standing for women. India has had 33% reservation for women in Panchayats for over a decade and that has definitely led to an increase in women participation in politics at the grassroots level. But has that really made any difference to the social status for women, such providing access to education, improving health of women, reducing domestic violence, or has it just been touted as a panacea for all evils just because it provides the political parties with a reliable bank of votes?

Clearly, diversity is a good thing and we definitely want to encourage participation from all classes of society. Diversity provides many socio-economic benefits by bringing together people from various backgrounds, cultures and opinions. This fosters a deeper understanding of issues which may result in more appropriate solutions to address the present social and cultural problems. It also provides a platform for underprivileged classes to raise their standing in the society. In order to increase diversity, India has adopted the reservation system which allocates some percentage of the seats to minorities and women in education and public services. Other countries, such as the US, have policies of affirmative action that provide women and minorities the access to better education and have had reasonable success in improving the social standing of women and minorities alike. Does the Indian system do the same? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in india | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obamacare vs Indiacare

Posted by kostub on August 28, 2009

In the last few weeks the healthcare debate has raged all over the US.  Everyday you see new articles in the media describing various conflicting positions held by different people. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in healthcare reform, and nor have I analyzed the various positions throughly to make any sort of accurate judgement on the proposals. Instead, this article is more what the US could learn from the the healthcare system in India. In fact, it only focuses on one particular aspect of the system – the affordability of healthcare.

The Indian healthcare system is nothing to write home about, in fact it is dismal at best. The amount of government spending on healthcare is minimal, the health of the people is poorer and millions of people do not have access to decent healthcare. This is definitely not a model we want to emulate. But, there is one factor in its favor – viz. low cost. India has good medical facilities, well trained doctors and the  all the same medical treatments that are available in the US. Yet, all of this is available at a fraction of the cost of similar treatments in the US. This has resulted in a huge boom in the medical tourism industry. Before we speculate on the reasons as to why healthcare is more affordable in India, let us look at an example that illustrates the difference in cost: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in healthcare | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Swine Flu Pan(dem)ic

Posted by kostub on August 18, 2009

It has been almost two weeks since the first casualty from of the swine flu was reported in India [1]. Ever since, Pune (the city which reported the first casualty) has been gripped in extreme panic. Many public places like schools, gyms, theaters and markets were closed for extended periods of time. The amount of traffic on the streets decreased significantly and every person was wearing masks [2]. Was this kind of panic warranted [3] ? What caused it and what is the outcome that we could expect from this?

Swine flu or H1N1 flu was first detected in Mexico in mid-April [4]. Initially a wide number of cases and casualties were reported and there was a general cause for concern amongst visitors to Mexico. I was in Seattle at that time and one of my colleagues was in Mexico on vacation. When he came back we even quarantined him for a week from work to prevent any of us from getting infected. In less than a week the infection had however spread to the US. Many reports indicated that the flu affected healthy adults and humans did not have natural immunity to it [5]. However, within a couple of weeks it was realized that the fear was not as grave as what a was expected. Most of the symptoms were mild and most people recovered without any treatment. The number of deaths in Mexico were retracted and slashed by more than half [6].

The one thing I observed during this whole episode was that the typical American I interacted with was not too concerned about swine flu. Note that the demographic I interact with is a urban, highly-educated, working professional – so I cannot say what the reaction from a average American would be. There were definitely school closures in Seattle, and doctors and teachers were worried, but nothing amounted to outright panic. The general perception from the Indian American community was that Americans as a species, get scared very easily and the media coverage is causing an unnecessary concern. Most people were of the opinion that you would never see such kind of panic in India as Indians have seen all sorts of diseases and a simple sneeze or flu is not going to faze them. How wrong they were. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in india | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

And then there was one

Posted by kostub on August 15, 2009

Well it is about time.. everyone has one, so I have to jump on the bandwagon. But blogs are so Web 1.0, you say! Twitter is all the rage. So why start a blog now?

Given that I am always behind the curve on everything, this should come as no surprise.  I am not exactly what people would call an early adopter – till about 2 weeks I was carrying a 5 year old Nokia cell, which was 2 inches thick and looked more like a cordless handset, while the whole world was moving about with iPhones and G1s. So, now that the world has moved to Twitter – I better set up a blog when no one is watching.

All right, so now there is a blog, but then what? It needs posts. What am I going to write about? I am not sure yet. The topics that I have in mind are fairly broad ranged and there isn’t any unifying theme around them. Most of the essays will be about my thoughts on what is happening around me, but there might articles on technology and software thrown in the mix as well. One thing I am pretty sure this blog won’t be about is what I ate for lunch today or where I went on vacation. That probably means that the articles will be longer and will take time to write. My goal is to write 15 articles by 1 June 2010. I have the first 2-3 topics in mind, for the rest we’ll see what we get.

So watch this space, sooner or later you might see something that may pique your interest.  The first article will be forthcoming in a day or two.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »