An Oscars Swag Bag of E-Cigs

Five vaping claims that could land squarely in the “best fiction” category


No one goes home empty-handed in Hollywood. Even some of the “top losers’’ at the Academy Awards Sunday will exit stage left with an Oscars swag bag valued at $125,000
Among the goodie bag items will be a portable vaporizer (aka an e-cigarette) that’ll end up in the hands of some of the coolest and most popular superstars out there — not a bad marketing move by an industry trying to attract new vapers. But here’s what you should know about the claims some e-cigarette companies make that may put them squarely in the “best fiction” category. (Scroll down for related stories.)
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Herculean task for PM Modi in improving ties with China

When PM Modi visits China in May President Xi Jinping will seek his pound of flesh, by demanding entry into SAARC as a full-fledged member. Xi Jinping also wants to settle the border issues, to the satisfaction of China, if India wants their support to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council


During the recent visit of Sushma Swaraj to Beijing, to attend the Foreign Ministers meet, President Xi Jinping met her in an unusual gesture to show China's friendship for India.  He appears to have reiterated that both India and China have taken "solid steps" to make progress in bilateral ties.
Her visit was to attend the summit of Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC), when Swaraj was able to get both China and Russia to back the UN pact against Pakistan. India has been seeking to push the 19 year old proposal for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to punish those who shelter and finance terrorism. China, it must be remembered, has often claimed that "foreign forces" are helping terrorists in Xinjiang province.
After the RIC meeting, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying is reported to have said that "the reform of the UN Security Council should give priority to increasing the representativeness of developing countries". China "respects" the aspiration of India and Brazil to play a bigger role at the UN Security Council.
After his return to the US, it appears President Barack Obama spoke to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to appraise him of his visit, possibly hinting at the likelihood of India's move to get the coveted honour of getting the UN Security Council permanent seat.  Pakistan has itself been eyeing the seat with the support of Beijing but its track record on nuclear proliferation and acts of support for terrorism besides chronic political instability has been stumbling blocks.  Nawaz Sharif appears to have informed President Barack that India "does not deserve the permanent UN Security Council seat as the country has been violating the UN resolutions on Kashmir".
In the meantime, China's Silk Road Fund, with a $40 billion infusion, for financing infrastructure projects connecting South Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia and Europe along an integrated land corridor has become operational. This fund is meant to finance development of roads, rail tracks, fibre optic highways etc has received enthusiastic support. The Maritime Silk Road (MSR) envisons development of ports and facilities mainly in the Indian Ocean and these ports will be connected to the hinterland by a string of land arteries which, eventually, are likely to hook up the main Silk Road Economic Belt at specified junctions. All these are meant to break the connectivity bottleneck currently experienced in Asia. And these are in addition to the $50 billion that Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has on hand to offer.
According to Justin Yifu Lin, a former Chief Economist of the World Bank, "the strategy is good for the stabilization and development of the world economy and China, as it has a large overcapacity in construction materials".  All these activities will strengthen the influence of China in the region and bring about a strong influence in the area.
So, what has all these to do with the Indo-China relations? Firstly, China has been claiming Arunachal Pradesh as being a part of China, as an extension of Tibetan province, which itself was usurped by it, while the whole world watched, and did not react.  It has not accepted the actual line of control or the MacMahon Line, claiming it to be "disputed".  Not only regional area maps have been altered, but, in the past, they have continued to play around with issuance of visit visa to China as not being applicable, and issuing them, in separate detachable forms.  Border incursions, which took place even during the visit of President Xi Jinping to India and regular airspace  violations have been "treated" small border incidents of no consequence, because, the "areas are in dispute" and that clear demarcations have not been done!  Assurances have been made that these will be resolved amicably by mutual discussions!  Nothing concrete, however, has happened so far! They have claimed that people from this region "need not get visa" to come to China!
In the meantime, China has been demanding its elevation, from being a non-observer status to that of being a full-fledged member in SAARC!  There are eight permanent members, nine others, holding the "observer" status, which includes, China, US, Myanmar, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mauritius and European Union.  By its present constitution, these nine observers can sit and speak in inaugural and concluding sessions, but they are not allowed to vote or take active part in negotiations and discussions.  However, in recent times, both Nepal and Pakistan have been actively supporting China to become a full-fledged member.
India has been opposing this move and has made it clear that this matter will be reviewed after five years to consider it further. So, when PM Modi visits China in May, this issue will surely be brought up and President Xi Jinping will seek his pound of flesh, by demanding entry into SAARC as a full-fledged member and also want to settle the border issues, to the satisfaction of China, if India wants their support to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Even at this point of time, China would still seek a role that Pakistan can play in the Security Council.
China will not surrender Aksai Chin that Pakistan had ceded to them, and therefore it is going to be a herculean task that PM Modi has in his hands!  
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)




2 years ago

As an Indian, I do not want Mr. Modi to improve relations with China per se. I want Mr. Modi to secure India's position vis a vis China and the rest of the World. Better relations with China MAY be one adjunct to this adventure but certainly not a vital one. There are many other cards that India could hold if it chose. For example, cutting off trade relations with China pending settlement of border disputes. China exports a great deal to India with an overwhelming trade surplus against India, and at this time, China would hurt from such a sanction. Equally, Mr. Modi could apply his mind to finding and promoting persons capable of strategic thinking to multiply and orchestrate military resources and methods. Certainly replacing extortion (aka corruption) and reservations with accountability and rule of law is one vital method for building an India with the competence and integrity that can look China and the rest of the World in the eye.

Dr Anantha K Ramdas

2 years ago

Press reports show that China's Vice Foreign Minister, Liu Zhenmin called in Ashok Kantha, Indian Ambassador in China "to lodge stern representation on Prime Minister Modi's visit to a "disputed border region". He expressed "strong dissatisfaction and staunch opposition" to the Indian side's insistence on arranging the visit by its leader to the disputed area on the China-India border.

He reiterated that the Chinese Government "has never recognized the so called "Arunachal Pradesh" unilaterally set up by the Indian side"

So, what does China expect India to do? Do they expect Premier Modi will seek China's permission for his visit to another part of India?

This Arunchal Pradesh was and is a part of India that existed even before China became a nation, as such in 1949, if I remember history correctly. Simply to say "that we do not recognize MacMahon line or the international borders" that were in force, will not hold water.

It is now India's turn to demand return of Aksai Chin first before we resume our "peace" talks. Period. Pakistan illegally ceded something that did was not hers in the first place, which itself was taken by force!

India must take a firm stand. PM Modi is bold enough to call off this visit.

Rationalising Drug-pushing
What does rationality in medical intervention mean?
“The illogical man is what advertising is after. This is why advertising is so anti-rational; this is why it aims at uprooting not only the rationality of man but his common sense.” — Henryk Skolimowski
The mad rush for irrational medical interventions— both medicine and surgery—seems to be at its peak now. Demands are growing all over the world for rationality in medical interventions, not the least in the UK and USA. Going through the history of the word rational, I found that, way back in 1803, the meaning was: “to explain, to make reasonable;” in the psychological sense of “to give an explanation that conceals true motives.” Makes sense. This article draws heavily from one of my earlier articles in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
There is a good movie, Big Bucks, Big Pharma, on this topic which is worth watching. I shall give the readers a glimpse of the theme of the movie here. Big Bucks, Big Pharma, pulls back the curtain on the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to expose the insidious ways that illness is used, manipulated and, in some instances, created, for capital gain. Focusing on the industry’s marketing practices, media scholars and health professionals help viewers understand the ways in which direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising glamourises and normalises the use of prescription medication and works in tandem with promotion to doctors. Combined, these industry practices shape how patients and doctors understand and relate to disease and treatment. Ultimately, Big Bucks, Big Pharma challenges us to ask important questions about the consequences of relying on a for-profit industry for our health and well-being.
There is an apt comment on this movie by an American movie critic: “In my opinion this is the best made film regarding the pervasiveness of drug companies in our everyday lives. The film starts with narration by the famed journalist Amy Goodman but lets the interviews themselves narrate the film later on. Though this film doesn’t address the subject directly, if you want to know why the United States doesn’t provide universal healthcare, I think that you should watch this movie. Why should we have free or inexpensive healthcare if the current system is so profitable?”
I think, our present therapeutics and its attendant pseudo-science would be correctly described by this meaning of the word—rational. The industry that tries the marketing strategy of rationalising drug-pushing and disease-mongering by concealing their true motive—to make the highest profit for themselves—can never be altruistic and listen to your sane advice. The story of insulin pens was one such effort. Now, many other drugs have come with pens! I am reminded of what Bernard Mandeville, the guru of laissez faire, when he wrote: “In the corporate economy profit is the sole motive irrespective of consequences.” How very true! Our drug cartels have taken his advice to their heart.
Taking the advice for rationality in the New Year, I hope some one will come up with audits like the one which showed aspirin in its true colour for all the newly introduced drugs. Remember we have had digoxin for nearly 350 years since William Withering’s time. 
Even now, the DIG (digoxin investigation group) recently failed to find out why digoxin is prescribed for heart failure patients in sinus rhythm. Why is the rate of death from adverse drug reaction (ADR) going up exponentially with so-called scientific advances in modern medicine? Was not Ruth Richardson right in saying that modern medicine, which has become a corporate monstrosity, would have cut many James Wakelys in the knees? 
James Wakely, a young doctor in London and a member of the House of Commons, thought in early 19th century that medical profession, at that time. had become a bad abscess on the body of society. He wanted to cure it by taking out the pus using a surgical lancet. He started the now famous medical journal, The Lancet, for that purpose in 1823AD. He had assessed the profession at that time to be a bunch of “incompetent, corrupt and nepotistic of crooks.” Poor man, even after nearly 200 years, the abscess, that modern medicine was then, is only growing bigger by the day, despite The Lancet!
Even the president of NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence), Sir Michael Rawlins, in his Harveian Oration at the Royal College, had this to say in 2008: “Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), long regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of evidence, have been put on an undeserved pedestal.” Sir Michael outlines their limitations in several key areas, arguing that a diversity of approaches should be used to analyse the whole of the evidence base. Let me remind the readers that the ‘first pass effect’ that we, medical students all over, memorised for the pharmacology examination, must have given us the warning that all (I mean all) reductionist chemical molecules, ranging from aspirin to rosiglitazone, are alien to the human system. The body tries to get rid of them. This has now been demonstrated by Douglas C Wallace, using his software MITCHIP, to be true! 
We will have the same story every year to welcome the New Year, if we do not learn from our mistakes. We need another Bernard Shaw to write a drama on patients’ dilemma today.
When you watch the movie cited above, you will come to know how people like you are brainwashed to ask your doctor for those wonder drugs advertised daily as panacea for this or that disease. Often, it is likely that you might even imagine a disease (disease-mongering by the industry) to have the treatment ‘very early’. 
How does the common man, even the literate one, survive in this polluted atmosphere where the industry and the profession seem to be in cahoots with each other for personal gain? To add to this, a new industry has grown around this rationality, corporate hospital industry, especially in developing countries like India, where even today more than 400 million people get less than one clean nutritious meal a day. Some 47 million children suffer from nutritional immune deficiency syndrome (NIDS) and die by the thousands daily! Let us have a heart.
“Appeals to rationality are mostly bluff. There is no good theory of what it is or of how to recognize it.” —  Mellor DH 


(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)


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