Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Pulse Beat

Medical developments from around the world

Exercise after Age 40 May Increase Life Expectancy
A study published recently in the journal PLOS Medicine sounds a loud wake-up call to ‘healthy weight’ couch potatoes who believe their good BMI (body mass index) will ensure them a long life. “Even from among people with a BMI of between 20 and 25, those who told researchers that they were physically inactive were far more likely to die in the next decade or so than those who were overweight or obese exercisers. Among the 431,479 study

participants over the age of 40, the sedentary were almost twice as likely to die during the course of the study than were participants who were highly active,” the study said. Other studies also show that a little bit of activity helps the human body, irrespective of the body size and weight. Walking for an hour daily has been shown elsewhere to reduce the risk of premature death by as much as 80%! Drug interventions in other risk factor management therapies might reduce the risk by hardly 1%-2%. The MRFIT study (multiple risk factor interventional trial) did show, at the end of 25 years of observation, that risk factor control with drugs and/or surgery would definitely alter the risk factor but NOT the final risk (premature death). Writing his opinion on the trial, one of the trialists, Roger W Sherwin opined that, as far as the MRFIT trial was concerned, there was nothing called risk factor controlling with which the risk gets altered. He labelled the study a boondoggle.

Patients with Diabetes
A recent five-year follow-up study of diabetic patients who received cardiac interventions showed clearly that bypass surgery was better and safer compared to the fashionable angioplasties especially in multi-vessel disease syndromes. The guidelines will have to be changed accordingly. This research data was presented at the American Heart Association meeting in September 2012.

Excessive Sitting Linked to Unhealthy Fat around the Heart

A new study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, states that “all those hours Americans spend in their office chairs or on their sofas may be packing on a particularly unhealthy form of fat around the heart,” and “what’s more, the fat stayed in place even when people undertook regular exercise.” Interestingly, there have been many studies recently that showed that “when it comes to its deleterious health effects, sitting is not just the absence of physical activity—it has effects on the body that go beyond lack of exercise.”

Heart Failure and Cancer

“Heart failure patients face an increased risk of cancer along with an increased risk of death.” These preliminary findings were presented at the recent American Heart Association meeting. Investigators found that a cohort of patients diagnosed with heart failure at baseline were significantly more likely to develop cancer than participants in a control population without heart failure; cancer in those patients was the cause of death in almost half of them.

Sulfonylureas Linked to Increased Risk for CVD
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal, showed that “using sulfonylurea as a first-line treatment for diabetes is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease compared to other drugs. How that happens is not known. They felt that metformin is better. But common sense says that metformin is a not a safe drug.”

Alternative to Statins To Lower Cholesterol
An alternative to statins that lowers levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ by up to two-thirds is being developed. The drug, called AMG 145, is currently only being tested in an injectable form but scientists hope to be able to make it available as a pill in the future. This study was published in The Lancet (Early Online Publication, 6 November 2012).


Life Exclusive
Fakery Syndrome

Hospitals often diagnose fake critical illness or serious injuries just to loot hapless patients

Gopal (not his real name) is a young techie working for a big software company in Chennai. One day, he was a bit late to office and was in a hurry. He was trying to park his two-wheeler with his helmet on which was not securely tied as usual. He slipped and fell on his face with the helmet strap cutting his upper lip. His friends got frightened on seeing blood gushing from the mouth and rushed him walking to a nearby five-star hi-tech hospital.

When they reached the hospital, Gopal was rushed into the intensive care unit (ICU) in a wheelchair, although he preferred to walk. No one was allowed inside the ICU for the whole day. Gopal was brainwashed that he had 'serious' head injury. Apparently, everything was normal—including the results of a battery of blood and urine tests. Despite all that, even his three-month-pregnant wife was not allowed to see him. They were told that Gopal was seriously ill and could become unconscious any minute and might throw a violent fit at any time. His life, they said, hangs by a thin thread! The anxious wife almost collapsed and became unconscious herself.

By then, it was late evening and his other relatives got scent of the incident: one of them was an influential man who works with hospitals in Chennai. He insisted on seeing the patient at any cost or else he would get the patient discharged against medical advice. The nursing staff relented and allowed him inside. Incidentally, no medical staff, above the rank of a duty doctor, had seen this ‘seriously’ ill patient whose life was said to be hanging by a thin thread (!) all day, as most of them were in Deepavali mood. What the relative saw there shook him up. It was a large A/C room. One side of the room was separated by a plastic sheet to keep contagious patients being quarantined and the other half was used for such 'fake' serious patients. The nurses refused to show him the CAT-scan and blood reports. Blood was still oozing from the wound and they had not stitched the torn lip wound yet, as they were waiting for their facio-maxillary surgeon who was  out for Deepavali holidays. In these hi-tech hospitals, even minor surgery had to be done by a sub-specialist!

It was too much for the relatives to keep him there, under the circumstances. They got the patient discharged against medical advice. The hospital insisted that they pay Rs25,000 on the spot as it is the minimum charge for any patient admitted to their intensive-care unit. The hospital refused to give any certificate or discharge summary for insurance purposes, as patients discharged against advice were not entitled to such luxuries!

This is the new ‘fakery’ syndrome that I am describing. Anyone who goes to the hospital becomes a patient. Most of them have minor ailments; the problems get exaggerated in these hospitals to fake into serious maladies to net a bigger booty from them.  

What worries me more is the way the hapless and anxious patients are further pushed into the bottomless pit of anxiety by labelling them as serious, where life hangs by a thin thread. Many a time, they even predict when the patient is going to die without a shred of scientific evidence to predict the unpredictable future of their patients. The last usually happens to cancer patients. The ‘wise’ doctors tell the patient that s/he has a only certain number of months to live and so on! Such scare generation is one of the novel methods of disease mongering. This fakery is the height of ‘health-scare system’ that prevails today. Would the powers that be take a call? Incidentally, our friend Gopal is fine on his own, a bit shaken, though, by the new experience.

“To fake it is to stand guard over emptiness.”—  Arthur Herzog.

Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He can be reached at hegdebm@gmail.com



Sai Gopal

5 years ago

And then there are the super speciality hospitals like KDA in Mumbai who employ full day Specialist Doctors (i.e. Sales people) to treat Patients (i.e. gullible customers) in a 5 star ambience. Every Doc has his/her lakshman rekha and shares very little inputs with the patient. Even for a small diagnosis you end up meeting 2-3 Doc's and paying for their fee. So the Doc's only focus is on increasing their billing in order to please themselves as well as their masters. Sales targets set by the hospital bosses wins over the Hippocratic Oath.


5 years ago

nothing surprising. in Metro carpet areas cost Rs 10000/- per SFT so to invest on a small clinic with even 1000 SFT will cost no less than Rs one crore which means even Rs 3000/- daily income after covering all expenses of the support staff is just sufficient to break even the investment so young Doctors will have no choice but to admit every one to ICU ( only after collecting at least Rs 25,000/- as admit fee)and this is the basic cost if the Doctor studied at Govt college where admission is based on merit. So those who pay no less than 35 lakhs for even a BDS degree from colleges run by Manipal group one just imagine is there anyway he can earn back the investment. rather the latest scam is Medical Insurance where the first question put to person accompanying the patient is whether there is any Medical Insurance Cover if the answer is YES then it is just a holiday resort for the patient where the patient is visited by half a dozen of Super Specialists who go thro the routine of fake tests so that everybody haves a jolly good time except for patient ( who on occasions may really need expensive Medical assistance)

How SEBI treats investor associations

In the 21st December meeting, the first row around the large conference table was packed with SEBI officials and stock exchange reps, while investor associations were relegated to the second and third rows. And the chairman announced that he would leave in 10-15 minutes…

The Securities & Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) attitude to investors is best reflected in the shoddy manner in which it conducted a meeting with representatives of accredited investor associations (IAs) on 21st December 2012. These meetings, which used to be conducted every quarter under previous SEBI chairmen have already been reduced to an exercise that is reluctantly undertaken only when there is pressure over issues such as redress of investor complaints.


The recent meeting with IAs on 21st December has left us surprised and confused about SEBI’s attitude to any meaningful engagement with retail investors or their representatives in the form of SEBI-accredited associations from all over the country. This was evident from the seating arrangement around the large conference table in SEBI’s meeting room. We found that the first row around the large conference table was packed with SEBI officials and representatives of stock exchanges, while we were relegated to the second and third row. This was strange, but it is not the first time this has happened. The last time this happened was during chairman M Damodaran’s tenure and this was corrected only when the representative from the Consumer Education & Research Centre objected. Mr Damodaran was gracious enough to reprimand his officers for the arrangements, nothing of that sort happened this time. Instead, sparks flew from the very beginning, not only because investor representatives (IRs) were offended by the seating but the SEBI chairman compounded it by saying, “I will leave in 10-15 minutes. Senior officials will interact with you and apprise me of the deliberations later”. Naturally sparks flew at the very outset, but what followed was unusual in every way. 


Ms Mala Bannerjee, who heads the Federation of Consumer Associations of Bengal, was the first speaker. She took a strong exception to the fact that the chairman planned to leave meeting in 10 minutes and castigated the cavalier manner in which the meeting had been arranged. She spoke about the poor response of SEBI’s officials to IAs and also mentioned that her organization was ignored when investor programmes were conducted in West Bengal. Ms Banerjee was especially scathing about the seating arrangement which belittled IAs by relegating them to the back-benches. “The stock exchanges talk with you daily throughout the year. You should interact with us and not push the non-profit organisations back”, said Ms Bannerjee.


When it was my turn to speak, I said that the chairman’s decision to leave so early is a clear indication that he and SEBI do not consider retail investors and their associations important enough to spend even half a day with them to understand ground realities. I apprised him of the fact that since 2000, IAs meetings used to be full-day affairs; in recent years, in line with the changing attitude to retail investors, they have been curtailed to half-a-day, but successive SEBI chairmen made it a point to be present for the entire period. After all, the preamble to the SEBI Act places primary emphasis on investor protection—a job where IAs play and important role.


I pointed out that I had made the effort to be in Mumbai only on the specific understanding that it would be an opportunity to interact with the chairman. I made it clear that in future, I would not like to attend these meetings unless the chairman intended to be present.


I apprised the chairman of Midas Touch Investors Association’s contribution to investor protection over the past 16 years. We have been invited to depose before the Joint Parliamentary Committee and before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. Our eight public interest litigations (PILs) include the one which forced Canara Bank to pay Rs975 crore to investor during the 1992 scam. We also took the ministry of corporate affairs to court on the “Vanishing Companies” scam which was a hard battle to convince the government about how poor supervision had allowed fly-by-night operators to raise public funds and vanish with the money. The lawsuit ultimately led to the creation of joint coordination committee in 1999, is still struggling to initiate credible action.


Meanwhile, retail investors have lost faith in the capital market and its regulatory system and the investor population has shrunk from two crore in 1992 when the SEBI Act was enacted to half the number after two decades. In the corresponding period, the deployment of financial household savings into the securities market has dropped from over 10% to around 2% while household savings have galloped from Rs100,000 crore to Rs15 lakh crore. This fall is all the more glaring in the face of economic growth numbers. It reflects the failure of SEBI to attract and channel investment in the securities market and reflects an emphatic vote of no confidence in its policies. I then said that it was incomprehensible that SEBI made no effort to see engagement or brain-storming with IAs. A few other IAs also spoke.


Later, chairman UK Sinha tried to explain the situation by saying, “Perhaps some of you are not aware of the way SEBI works and its structure. We consciously took a decision that the chairman would not be a member of the various ‘advisory’ committees set up by SEBI.” This is absolutely incorrect. First, the structure of advisory committees has been followed by several of Mr Sinha’s predecessors, yet they have treated their meetings with IAs very differently because the two simply cannot be equated. Also Mr Sinha suggested that IAs will be overawed to speak frankly in the presence of the chairman although there was no evidence of this at the meeting.


The logic of facilitating a frank discussion in absence of SEBI chairman shows the astounding disconnect between politicians, bureaucracy and the citizens, all too familiar in last two years. The fact is that officials should have the gumption and guts to face questions from the public in open forums. 


Among the issues discussed was the proposed “safety net” for investors. IAs made it clear that this seems more like a red-herring since only a small extent of the loss would be covered and allow investment bankers to lure investors by creating the impression among retail investors that their money was 100% safe. We made it clear that we are opposed to any sops, discounts or inducements for enticing retail investors. What we require is reasonable IPO pricing.


Multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes & collective investment schemes (CIS): Mr Sinha in his opening remarks had stated that SEBI was facing great difficulty is dealing with CIS schemes, particularly in West Bengal since the lower courts had a issued stay order on SEBI action when they had no jurisdiction under SEBI Act. He pointed out that SEBI had been forced to go into appeals in the high court; however, they did not provide any details or number of such instances. (However, Moneylife has written about MPS Greenery; ).  


Almost all IAs were concerned about MLM companies and some suggested that SEBI should regulate them. I brought up the case of Stockguru India, which collected nearly Rs1,000 crore by promising hefty stock market returns.


Moneylife (and other media organizations as well) had reported this in December 2010 and again in April 2011. SEBI should have acted on these reports. I pointed out that it was obligatory for SEBI to initiate action and impose a penalty u/s 23(g) and 23(h) of the Securities Contracts Regulation Act (SCRA). I pointedly asked: “Does SEBI have any mechanism in place to identify such cheating and take early preventive action?” To the best of my knowledge, it has no such mechanism and structure in place. Chairman Sinha merely replied that SEBI has taken action without providing any specific details.


* Yet another issue that came up for discussion was the non-utilisation of “Investor Protection Funds” by SEBI and “Investors Services Fund” by stock exchanges. The Bombay stock exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE) together have anywhere between Rs300-Rs500 crore in their investor services funds. Regional exchanges also have some funds. IAs pointed out that these should be effectively deployed for capacity building of investor associations. The chairman said that, in this, they have to keep CAG’s (Comptroller and Auditor General) objections in mind!


IAs formally registered our strong reservation regarding the arbitrary and non-transparent manner in which various committees (and sub-committees) are constituted by SEBI and their functioning. These committees are packed with the corporate sector representatives, industry bodies, market intermediaries and some academics pointedly leaving retail investors associations, especially the more active ones. There is no criteria for selecting representatives of IAs even after two decades of SEBI’s existence.


In response, Mr Sinha said that they will nominate IAs by rotation so that all the associations get representation. But if SEBI wants meaningful participation of IAs, it needs to combine merit with a policy of rotation. Mr Sinha left soon after the brief interaction with IAs.


A key part of the agenda was a presentation on SCORES, SEBI’s online grievance redress mechanism. We were informed that pending grievances in November 2012 has dropped to around 13,000 from 24,000 on 31st March 2012. Data of grievances received, redressed and other details were not provided. SCORES efficiency was self-appreciated. The data presented for ‘pending’ grievances is simply not credible and demonstrates an obfuscation of facts.


As per SEBI’s own report the unresolved grievances on 31 March 2010 & 2011 were 1,60,593 and 1,50,711 respectively. On 31 March 2012 unresolved grievances were 1,44,439. The reason for the discrepancy is that SEBI has quietly started excluding those pending grievances against whom “regulatory action viz. adjudication, direction or prosecution has been initiated”. On 31 March 2012, regulatory action was in progress with respect to 1,20,714 grievances.


AK Bakliwal of The Bombay Shareholders’ Association drew the attention of SEBI to the fact that companies are not annexing important schedules in their annual/abridged reports.


The tenor and mode of IAs meeting have undergone a significant change. Interaction by senior officials has reduced. They merely note the issues raised and say they will get back in due course. Earlier, they would engage in discussions, express their views and the chairman would, in principle at least, agree on certain matters.


(The author is the president of the Midas Touch Investors Association).



Dr Pankaj Gupta

5 years ago

SEBI has reduced itself to the role of corrupt Sarpanch , who doesn't have much power to punish powerful but has just enough ( power) to hackle common people. My two experiences with SEBI were pathetic to say the least. Even after bringing forth the glaring illegal, compulsive strategies adopted by the leading broking house, SEBI did nothing except a simple phone call to their compliance deptt. to call me and try persuade me for a compromise. This phone call also came after more than a month’s wait for my issue. They just don't want to look into all the glaring serious irregularities pointed by me to them (SEBI). This is very pathetic of SEBI, who just want to put label of 'cases being solved' as a numerical figure. Though the solution to the problem may be partial to the extent of 10%. The tone of the compliance officer of the company (in my case) was as if threatening me to say that the call is an opportunity for you to reach compromise or else we don't bother SEBI. We can go to court anytime and you will require arranging for lawyers etc. SEBI did nothing to any of the important issues raised like alteration of ledgers in back date. The role of the SEBI In second case was nothing better than this.
My only praise is for the associations or educator foundations like MONEYLIFE and also other investor friendly websites and associations who gave me valuable suggestions to follow such and such path and as to how to get myself heard with big wigs like SEBI, NSE, BSE. I must specially thank Ms. Sucheta Dalal , who personally answered all the queries in my e mails and helped me reach a stage where i could make myself heard to the broking house or even in front of (so called, investor friendly) SEBI. This much help at the time of need to an investor by IAs is nothing short of a lifeline.
Thanks Moneylife , Ms Sucheta and all other numerous IAs and selfless individuals who work day and night , maintain web sites through not so easy means and still take risk to educate and protect harried investors at the cost of offending those officers and chairman whom they have to face and deal with ; and , also importantly at the cost of forfeiture of any Aid that they may have got , had they been compliant enough.


Dr Pankaj Gupta

In Reply to Dr Pankaj Gupta 5 years ago

There is a small mistake in the third line which read like " Even after bringing forth the glaring illegal, compulsive strategies adopted by the leading broking house, SEBI did nothing except a simple phone call to their compliance deptt. to call me and try persuade me for a compromise."
while it should be read as " Even after bringing forth the glaring illegal, compulsive strategies adopted by the leading broking house, SEBI did nothing except a simple phone call to the broking house compliance deptt. to ask them to call me and try persuade me for a compromise."


5 years ago

We are deeply pained and offended by Shri Vaibhav Dhoka’s sweeping statement, given without any basis “that IAs are formed to corner money from Investors protection fund. And SEBI wants to make them dumb on receipt of fund. Investors have no faith in SEBI, Stock exchanges and also IAs.”

We hereby call upon Shri Dhoka to substantiate the allegations and aspersions made by him, impliedly against all IAs and particularly against Midas Touch Investors Association. His response shall be forwarded to our counsel for advise and further action.( We are obviously not holding any brief for IAs other than ours.) Shri Dhaka is requested to give his postal address for further correspondence.

It is obvious that Shri Dhoka has made these wild allegations without knowing, and, caring to look into the enormous work Midas Touch Investors Association has done for investor protection and it’s positive contribution in improving the systems during last 16 years. It was mostly carried out through voluntary work, members contribution and without outside and government funding. Such wild and sweeping statements is a disservice to public and investors interest and are likely to act as a deterrent to those persons/organizations fighting ills of the system against all odds for larger good at enormous sacrifice and, at times, personal risk.

We shall post all developments in the matter, if any, on Moneylife for readers information.

Virendra Jain
Midas Touch Investors Association


mm sundram

5 years ago

Investors have no faith in SEBI Stock exchanges and also IAs. Mr Vaibhav Dhoka is correct that IAs formed to corner monies. In my opinion it is ok if some of IA's after monies held in the SEBI and SE [investors monies collected from investors and traders of stocks] since SEBI is not doing anything to the investors or stakeholders while enjoying the public and tax payer's monies. There is no protection as said in the PREAMBLE and no investor is going to get benefited because of sebi. SEBI came into being after the activities and style of SEC, US wherein the law of American is watertight but here ??????????????? investors in India should suffer.

Suiketu Shah

5 years ago

This is why India Inc needs Moneylife more than ever.Even SEBi's protection of investors and its intentions in this regards doesnot seem sincere.Congrats on ml's upcoming 3rd anniversary.


Bosco Menezes

5 years ago

Very sad, but why am i not surprised ?

Vaibhav Dhoka

5 years ago

In India time required to any get any complaint with any regulator organisation or courts is unpredictable.Here it is seen that IAs are formed to corner money from Investors protection fund.And SEBI wants to make them dumb on receipt of fund.Investors have no faith in SEBI Stock exchanges and also IAs.


Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Vaibhav Dhoka 5 years ago

Dr Dhoka ... I am surprised at your comment. As a regular reader of Moneylife you will have read that money from investor protection funds are cornered by institutes of CAs, company secretaries etc. We have been campaigning about this, but get little support from you the investor.
Very negligible sums are ever given to genuine investor associations. Shady ones are accredited when they have no truck with investor issues.
In fact, check out the work of Midas Touch Investors association- the helpline it was running was unceremoniously closed.

The NSE and BSE only spend crores of rupees supporting big media which gives them publicity and suppresses negative news.
The BSE has even used the investor funds for lectures by spiritual gurus and a wide range of seminars by industry bodies.
Mr Jain was asking for transparency in the use of funds.
You may complain but unless you join the fight, I think your comment is completely unfair and sweeping.
In your own case, we spent enormous time and effort -- but it has reached a stage when you need to go to court. Are you willing to do that? Court cases require large resources, volunteers and public spirited lawyers. Very few people, even after retirement, want to volunteer even their time in a systematic manner.
Lets look inwards before casting aspersions.

240p FLV

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 5 years ago

Thanks for the facts. It is so easy to throw mud without taking the trouble to know facts. Moneylife would not have given this article prominence if IAs were all grabbing money. Those who are criticising these IAs have no belief in Moneylife's filtering process. Incidentally, is Moneylife Foundation a registered IA with Sebi? What has been its experience?

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