Friday, December 13, 2013

Few year end thoughts

A quiet and lazy Sunday afternoon as November is about to end. I am sitting at my laptop, watching a movie. A thought crept into my mind, and it is one of those things that made write after a while.

11 months of another year gone by. It will have been so different for all of us, in so many unimaginable ways. We will have had moments to look back fondly upon, and days and months to forget as they might be unbearably painful or just not worth remembering. As the year winds down, soon all of us will begin planning for what to do on this new years eve, and rightly so.

My last new years was mind blowing, and rightfully so. After the craziness of 3 marriages (one of them my own), in the midst of the final days of prep for another one, and tired as hell of driving all the way from Goa, we managed to spend 31st among close friends, relaxing and drinking (non-alcoholic beverages on my part). It was another 12 months gone, a year of monumental changes and incredible happiness and a promise that the next 12 months would be as exciting as the pevious.

The year gone by has given me the most vivid and palpable feeling of growing up. So many changes have happened, so many paths have differed, so many new people met, some people lost, in spirit or otherwise (may their souls rest in peace). There has always been that niggling sense of a fork in the road up ahead, pivotal for sure, but not there yet. I don’t know if you have experienced it, but it is a theme.

We are a generation full of extremes (I am probably the worst in that aspect as I seldom see grays). We either live lives in our own tunnels and miss the scenery, or are too busy with looking at the scenery, that everything is out of focus. The rat race makes us that way sometimes and very few people have the sense or make the time to listen and not just hear, see and not just glance.

This new years, lets patch the rifts, celebrate the successes, hope for more happiness and apologize for all mistakes. Lets make this and every succeeding year end meaningful. So don’t get pulled into plans just for the sake of nostalgia and end up with awkward conversations. Call up that long lost friend and strike up a meaningful conversation for a minute. Instead of a bulk sms, write a letter to a friend who is far away, and just give him a glimpse of the life you are living. Let’s be thankful for all we have, let’s make dreams come true, let’s discuss ideas instead of people, let’s just reflect.

I am sure to have done wrong by some people, and I sincerely apologise to them. Maybe I will get some people back, or post this, lose some one for ever. This post is my way of reaching out. I do not want to sound preachy, but I thought it was a sentiment worth sharing.

Just Reach Out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Window

I have worked in the corporate world for 2 years and 4 months, so it is not a mountain of experience. Prior to that I am a MBA in Marketing and prior to that a Graduate of Science majoring in Biotechnology. Through all these phases though there has been one constant, I have been a son for all my life. When I think about it in retrospect, I owe the freedom of choice that I have had to my parents. With that realisation however comes a burden to shoulder and that is of all the expectations.

I have been in existence for 25 years and from the day that I was born there were dreams attached to my actions and my plans. My mother might have seen a doctor in her arms, or my father might have seen an engineer in the crib. They might have seen a national swimmer in the pool and a scholar at school who would go through education magna cum laude.

Well, I necessarily did not dream of all of those, but thanks to my parents I was never made to follow any of the above either. We all make mistakes and will continue making them, and so will I (I do not plan to stop). Although on reflection, a theme arises. Picture for me if you will a window in a wall, the only opening in a monolithic facade. What you see through that window is your future, your plans, the ideal scenarios etc. a script if you will of what your life should be. The problem with this picture however is the glass on this window, which is filtering that light in. What colour is it? Well it is the colour of expectations, opinions, learning and wisdom. And that filter might be capable of giving a biased view of actually what could be.

We often read through articles about what a place this world has become, and we need to work on it for a greater tomorrow, a brighter future, a world where mankind can survive for eternity and not have to face the consequences for the mistakes we and our ancestors have made. It is easy to agree to the fact that what we do or do not will be for our children. The next generation endures and the previous one fades. It is cyclical and inevitable ... today is the oldest you have been and the youngest you will ever be. So then are we giving them a fair chance to make the world the way they want to be?

Wisdom I agree is something that tells you which mistakes not to make, but isn't it static knowledge with a * for conditions apply (all other things remaining constant). Does it mean that our children should not dare traverse those paths where we have stumbled and make the safer choice always? It is a moral dilemma which I currently am struggling with. Success is relative, and I might be fantastic at work, earn enough for a comfortable retirement, take some risks on my way and fail badly and still be a monumental failure as a son because of certain unfulfilled expectations. So how to make that choice?

Confusion and frustration ensues. I know that parents have a right to be anxious and keeping everyone happy is the toughest part in life. Finding a Balance is my quest and I hope someday that it can be achieved with less heartburn and even lesser tears.

To break that window pane or not? Now that is the question I have to figure out.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Health of Healthcare

Satyamev Jayate has been the flavour of the past 4 Sundays now and it has been a stellar effort on part of the production team to garner the kind of attention which they have been able to. Whether Star Power of Aamir Khan, or issues which really hit home to a part of your conscience that removes the blinds from your eyes, and make you take notice of realities which are pushed to the back of your mind and are a part of that hazy babble of voices which you chose to ignore is entirely up to you. Ignoring is easy and yes I agree all of us have enough time on our plate and hence I feel that the time slot selected by the program is a stroke of genius.

Aamir today took on Doctors head on and challenged their God complex on national television. It will have a small effect somewhere which I am sure will be life changing for some, but end of the day Doctors are made to go out and earn money in order to break even with their educational expenses. This is a fact and is caused due to the failure of our system due to its inability to provide good quality public education (primary upwards and not just professional courses). So is the blame entirely on the student who has a dream of treating the ill? Not entirely.

Now I am no expert on medicine and the profession of treating (or practicing on) patients, however I am an employee of a reputed pharma company and today I do have a bone to pick with the Satyameva Jayate guys. I think that whenever you are trying to inform people with issues that have an impact on perception towards good or bad, the communication should be equivocal and everyone has to have a chance to explain their side. The show dealt with the issues of Corrupt Doctors brilliantly and it was almost wholistic. However, since the customer was facing the judgement, the seller (pharma companies) were naturally dragged into the arena.

Whether the Medical Rep bribed the Doctor or the Doctor asked for favours form Medical Reps? Answering that is like finding a solution to the Hen and Egg conundrum, so no use wasting time on that. The problem I had was the take on Generic Drugs and the Pricing of medicines.

Here it was a propaganda saying generics are a better and cheaper option and branded drugs are evil and force individuals to bankruptcy. Cost of making all Drugs is very low and pricing them high is unfair. BIG FAUX PAS.

The Show needed to speak about the following things too:

Branded drugs are sold by companies who discover them. A medicine hitting the shelf has to have passed form the most stringent of testing norms and safety procedures in order to be declared safe for consumption. The process from discovering a molecule to actually administering it to a patient is an extremely arduous, lengthy and expensive process. For every medicine hitting the market, more than a hundred molecules are rejected, but the entire process has to be carried out for those rejects too, and this cost has to be accounted for and recovered from that successful molecule. Now the company who brings this molecule to the market, is a pioneer, naturally will launch it as a Brand and earn a premium. Rightfully so as it did all the effort and at the end of the day its a business for GODS SAKE. Generic companies are freeloaders essentially (not entirely in a negative sort of way) who are masters at manufacturing. Their cost of getting the drug to the market hence is much lower, and they can sell it cheaper. But if the molecule wasn't discovered in the first place, Generics would not exist.

Secondly, India is a cheap manufacturing hub so naturally production costs are low, but we fail to notice that the top MNCs put in more in R&D than they do actually in Marketing and Sales as they are constantly trying to come up with solutions for the human (medical) condition. Generics don't put much effort in such causes. This fact cannot be entirely overlooked.

The golden mean to the problem - life saving drugs should be given generic licenses immediately so that they save the maximum lives possible, affordability should not be a question one has to face in a life and death situation.

Also there are so many Pharma companies that actually team up with Rural Hospitals and Healthcare programmes that make it possible for many villages to get excellent quality medications for very cheap prices, utilising the excellent distribution systems of these hospitals and programmes. I work for Novartis and we have such an initiative called Arogya Parivar that which does the exact same thing. Johnson & Johnson, Cipla, GSK all have these in some form or the other.

I am not trying to win brownie points for Pharma, neither am I saying that everything is fair in the Healthcare profession, but I thought that Satyamev Jayate should have allowed these aspects to be explained to the people. I am sure it would have helped in a better understanding of the scenario.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Brain Drain

How do we define Brain Drain? Well the educational pundits have been referring to the huge outflow of Indian Nationals going to other countries and helping their economies, their society, their education system etc. as Brain Drain. But isn't this a very selfish and political agenda based definition?

The primary reason that anyone looks at options abroad is OPPORTUNITY. We have the brightest minds in the country, agreed, but are we doing enough to help them able to achieve their potential. No wonder that a majority of IITians go on to MIT and CalTech to get degrees and then get the best jobs in the world. They simply cannot fulfill their calling with all the bureaucratic bullshit, reservations and what not. So why not let people realize their dreams and then if they love their country, trust them to give back. We should at least be supportive than just blame it on USA.

For me, the definition of Brain Drain is quite paradoxical. I feel that when you deprive a child from fully realising his/her potential, thats Brain Drain. Dumbing down the SSC syllabi and coming up with a moronic system which just adds 10% to your score and then calls it percentile, is just an example. I mean a person standing 1st cannot possibly have 104%. Its such an easy way out. Why can't schools grow a pair and actually try and toughen up the education to a level of a CBSE or an ICSE boardsl? Is it the dream of our founding fathers to ensure that there are enough number of sub standard bumbling graduates in the country so that we are at par with world averages of literacy? This just then becomes counter intuitive to India marketing itself as the next Super Power with the treasure trove of brilliant minds.

At some level I agree with the decision taken on rescinding "Deemed University" status. But then again we screwed it up with failing to make exceptions to those institutes that are actually doing well. "Education has become a Business" is the only thing people scream from the rooftops, but why is Business so bad? It drives the economy, creates opportunities, raises the level of competition. Penalise those institutions who are in it just for the moolah, but generalisation especially in a country so diverse is idiotic. This generalisation is a plague currently affecting the HRD ministry. I mean you made IITs, IIMs, IIScs, for the absolute best in the country and then you slapped them in the face with compulsory reservations for sub standard students. Hilarious. The issue is not having reservations, but it is about clipping the wings of the privileged in favor of non deserving underprivileged. We all know how easy it is to get a certificate of belonging to a non-creamy layer don't we?

So do we really lose or gain from our original definition of "Brain Drain" ???

Friday, August 14, 2009

will we get there?

The wind in my hair, riding along those winding roads with the open sky ahead seen through the canopy of trees and the constant exhaust note in the back. And just ahead on the same bend are three other bikes heading in the same direction with my closest buddies riding. My entire group is crazy about going for bike rides and a lot of our time goes in discussing the fun on the last trip or planning the next even longer ride. And as we are at it, more often than not the discussion turns to F1, football, tennis and eventually to what is happening in everybody's life. Also the talk might focus around our dream cars and bikes and taking trips togehter after each one of us has acquired our own. But after getting a taste of the real world and seeing how some of us are flourishing, some are struggling, some are confused and still others are focussed on work so much that I hope they just dont pass life by a question arose. Will we get there? All of us? I have absolutely no clue as to whether what I am doing pursuing is right/wrong and where it will land me. Similarly there are certain things which are perceived to be right in the society and I have a feeling that I am stuck in that rut. I havent made an impact that is really me. Its all run of the mill. People have the conviction and confidence to think unusual and weird and follow it with every particle of belief. Trapped in a world of "little above average" but mediocrity none the less, is how I feel right now.

I started writing the above paragraph almost a year ago but hadn't finished it as I could not bring it to any conclusion. And now on the cusp of entering into the corporate world, with a dream job (not a dream pay I must say), in a reputed company, I ask myself what has changed? The answer is still plain and simple as before: Trapped in a world of the "little above average" but mediocrity none the less. The BIG TICKET IDEA still eludes me. I guess that is a quest I have to now embark upon and on the way maybe somewhere I will find an opportunity to really break free and make the impact I want.

All of my friends are already well on their chosen and distinct paths. Some rats in the race like me, some headless chickens wandering, some following their dreams, while still others who have achieved their father's dreams but not their own. In this myriad of different journeys some will succeed and some won't, but who decides this? Who cares if the majority doesn't feel that you have arrived? I guess what will matter in the end is what your own conscious tells you. It all boils down to knowing your limits and then pushing the envelope constantly to improve. Success depends on what you had set out to achieve PERIOD. If you get what you want, then its done. YOU ARE THERE.

So here is the answer I figured out: YES all of us will get there. It is just a question of WHEN.

Keep at it people -------> La Sfida (Pursuit of Dreams)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

long time, have i run out of opinions?? have i lost myself??

Its been almost six months since my last blog and I am ashamed for not being active for the duration. Felt like asking myself "Have I no opinion anymore?". One of the major things which have changed in the past 6 months is that I seem to have lost my knack for reading. I do take in a lot of new information but honestly speaking there has been no drive to really devour any pages. My sweetheart gifted me a wonderful book on my birthday but haven't got around to reading it as yet (whats even sadder is that I left it back in Pune). And the reason for this slacking of is that there is absolutely nothing that is stimulating me internally and intellectually. I do my work well in time and put in my best effort (don't know whether the outcome generated is the desired one or not), but work stays in office. Nothing gets done when I get back home. I have seen my colleagues also doing the same things as me but they are growing as people day in and day out where as I get a feeling of stagnation. Have gotten to know a lot about how the pharma industry works in the past month but then again its all profession based, no personal growth. I just feel like I am wandering. Maybe it is because of a sense of losing myself in this wilderness of corporate pressures (its just GAS jargon but you know what I mean) and loss of focus on whats real. One thing that brings a lot of discipline and focus is exercise and I have already started doing that again after a pretty long hiatus, hope that the paved jogging track at Shivaji Park will lead me back. I should just bite the bullet and jump start my life again. I am getting back bit by bit and to my relief I found out that meeting family and friends and doing what is closest to your heart helps. Having ajji over on the weekend really helped and so did just picking up a book and reading a few pages. Having a chatty night out with friends also shed a lot of light on the person I had become and then I had that eureka moment. I need people I love and care for around me. I need those late night phone conversations with a certain special some one. I need to touch base every now and then. I need my college friends and that chaos. And I also need a routine with exercise forming a part of it. This revelation just made just made somethings very clear, in order to sustain your true sense of identity all you have to do is think straight and simple. Its those small tweaks that matter in the long scheme of things. I am hoping this is an interesting read (I am pretty sure it will be boring), but guess what? I am on my way back.... and I still have an opinion.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the poem I was talking about in class

The Teacher:
I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day-
And as my fingers pressed it, still
It moved and yielded to my will.

I came again when days were past
The bit of clay was hard at last.
The form I gave it, still it bore,
And I could change that form no more!

I took a piece of living clay,
And gently fashioned it day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child's soft and yielding heart.

I came again when years were gone:
It was a man I looked upon.
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change that form no more.

These few lines are very close to my heart. For me they capture the essence of a teacher. Only the other day in class, we were talking about the current educational system and how it could be changed for the better. All the members in my group made very m,any wonderful suggestions but except one person no one really spoke about the need for quality teachers.

The poem above says that: He still that early impress bore, which signifies how important a part the teacher plays in shaping a child. This cannot happen with teachers who feel that the Wagah Border is the design you see on the back of a tiger, or who don't know the name of the person who wrote our national anthem.

The word EDUCATION is derived from a Latin word which is e-ducere which means- to draw out/ to lead out. Now if you look at it from this perspective then it becomes so blatantly clear that if a child has to draw out the best of learning and knowledge, then the source from where he/she draws it out should have that kind of quality to provide within it. Then it became apparent to me that providing facilities, chucking the marking system, changing learning pattern, reducing the importance given to exams, giving more weightage to practical experiments would only go so far. All this would only be sustainable, and work for the better only if the educators themselves were amply trained in their respective disciplines and were motivated to teach of their own free will.

I agree we don't need experts, but we sure as hell need people who know what they are doing and feel that theirs is a noble profession.