Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Pulse Beat

Alcohol and Breast Cancer

IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer),  an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO),  listed cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, and liver as being “causally related to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.”A new study published in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, by Kevin Shield and colleagues at IARC has shown that breast cancer and alcohol are very closely related. Even small amount of alcohol intake had shown a significant relation to the incidence of breast cancer. Dr Shield and colleagues have this to say in their article: “All levels of evidence showed a risk relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer, even at low levels of consumption. Due to this strong relationship and to the amount of alcohol consumed globally, the incidence of and mortality from alcohol-attributable breast cancer is large.”
 

Can Opioids Worsen Pain?

A new study has questioned the use of opioids, such as codeine, oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl, in treating pain. Professor Peter Grace is the lead author of the study published in the recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. All the previous studies that showed opioids to be the best pain-killers were all short-term studies. This is the first study that looked at chronic pain and opioid use for treating them. “We are showing for the first time that even a brief exposure to opioids can have long-term negative effects on pain,” says Prof Grace. “We found the treatment was contributing to the problem.”
 
Another ‘ugly side’ to opioids is this. Professor Linda Watkins, a co-author from the University of California in Boulder opines: “The implications for people taking opioids like morphine, oxycodone and methadone are great; since we show the short-term decision to take such opioids can have devastating consequences of making pain worse and longer lasting. This is a very ugly side to opioids that had not been recognized before.”
 
While on the topic, it is interesting to show that a large and detailed study of the role of opioids in pain relief was shown to be just a placebo effect in an earlier study done in four Universities, viz.,  Oxford, Cambridge, Hamburg and Munich led by Professor Bingel of Oxford in the journal Science Translational Medicine(2011; 3: 70)
 

Near Death Experiences

ADutch study published in The Lancet some time ago has shown that far from being a fantasy near death experiences (NDEs) need further scientific studies. While there is a particular sequence that al people who have gone through NDE describe their cultural background does cloud their thinking. David Wiebers, professor of neurology at The Mayo Clinic in his book Theory of Reality has a chapter on NDE where he summarises the present scientific data on NDEs to show that they are anything but fantasy. He showed that they are facts.
 
The terminology, NDE, conjures thoughts of out-of-body episodes and bright light. “Although such experiences may be repudiated as illusory, researchers of the world’s largest study to assess mental awareness during resuscitation say they have found evidence that near-death experiences may be real. Common reports of near-death experiences include encountering a bright light, meeting deceased loved ones, and seeing and hearing ‘real’ events from another perspective—often known as an out-of-body experience.” Sam Parnia, the lead author of this study was an honorary research fellow at the University of Southampton in the UK. Their data are published in the journal called Resuscitation.
 

Yoga and Meditation Could Preserve Cognitive Functions in the Elderly

“Just 3-months of yoga and meditation course may reduce older adults’ risk of mild cognitive impairment—considered a precursor for development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.” This is the conclusion of a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Yoga and meditation were found to improve verbal and visual-spatial memory for older adults. The study was led by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), including senior author Dr Helen Lavretsky, of the department of psychiatry.
 

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Managing the Optics: Mallya, Rajan or Bad Loans
A court, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PLMA), has declared Vijay Mallya, the industrialist who liked to flaunt the good life in peoples’ faces, a ‘proclaimed offender’. All the protestations by his industrialist friends—that Mr Mallya is being summarily judged in a media trial and is being financially crippled—have been ineffective. There is more than a kernel of truth to these allegations. But, then, Vijay Mallya’s friends forget that he has brought this on himself and his flashy lifestyle was only one of the factors. 
 
His cardinal mistake was in thinking that his money and influence over media, and the position he had bought himself as Member of the Rajya Sabha, gave him immunity from paying statutory dues or ignoring the sad plight of the sacked employees of Kingfisher Airlines. So much so everybody—from bankers to policemen and ticket-checkers—are told to recover money from Mr Mallya first by wrongdoers, before going after the small fry. 
 
The optics of power, money and invincibility, that Mr Mallya had created around himself, are now working against him, when he wants sympathy as just another businessman who made a few wrong decisions. The same is true of Raghuram Rajan, the first-ever Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor with a rock-star-like status. Rajya Sabha MP, Subramanian Swamy’s campaign to deny him a second term has triggered a frenzied debate and over-the-top claims by the Twitterati, chatterati and even some senior journalists and investors, who ought to know better. The more ignorant ones confidently proclaim that Dr Rajan is the best governor RBI ever had, untroubled by fact or history. 
 
It is not merely about Dr Rajan’s good looks or standing as an economist that gets him media adulation. He happily fanned the media’s quest for quotable quotes (remember the James Bond-like “My name is Raghuram Rajan and I do what I do”) in his many, non-financial public speeches, that too on issues that were beyond his remit as the RBI governor. If one were to go by optics alone—online petition and media polls—then not giving another term to Dr Rajan would be seen as the Modi government shooting itself on the foot. Fortunately, a few voices among senior editors have begun to bring the much-needed sobriety to the discussion by pointing to the limited impact it will have on India, whatever the government decides. 
 
A discussion on Dr Rajan inevitably brings us to the issue of burgeoning bad loans and losses of public sector banks. RBI’s push to force banks to clean up their balance sheets and disclose the true extent of bad loans was welcomed as a positive development. But when one public sector bank (PSB) after another began to declare losses running into several thousand crores of rupees, there was a sense in government and industry that things were going out of control. Banks are reluctant to make fresh loans and have been cutting down on credit limits as well as previously sanctioned loans even after project work has commenced. Industry is quietly lobbying for relief, while bank chiefs are raising the bogey of ill-considered actions by government agencies such as the Central Vigilance Commission, making it difficult for them to lend. In this, they seem to have RBI’s support.
 
Those of us who have tracked industry for decades know that this is nothing but an attempt to change the media narrative. Yes, bankers are humans and may, sometimes, make a wrong call; but these do not balloon into massive bad debts of over eight lakh crore rupees. It is crony capitalism, the nexus between industry and politicians, who dictate appointments of bank chairman, with a clearly spelt out quid-pro-quo of loan sanctions that leads to massive bad loans. 
 
We have seen plenty of confidential bank documents, over the years, to know how the senior-most bankers have knowingly ignored massive diversion of project funds and have been openly rewarded for their cooperation. Worse, the system is built to give immunity to the chairman and managing director from most of these actions, unless caught red-handed accepting a bribe. 
So, when banks start bleating about ‘unnecessary oversight’ by vigilance agencies, it is not going to cut any ice with those who know, or with the public who doesn’t really know. What we need, instead, is a plan to recover money, clean up processes of banks and provide for independent and transparent decision-making with accountability. This is also essential to rebuild confidence in the banking system. Can the government do it?

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COMMENTS

sundararaman gopalakrishnan

5 months ago

Why are NPA's low in well managed private banks like Kotak,HDFC as against massive NPA's in Public sector banks..Top PSB bank officials are at fault ..Either inefficient or corrupt or not bold enough to withstand politicians calls.

B. Yerram Raju

5 months ago

It is time to discuss issues to resolve them on a firm footing and the watch words of transparency and accountability voiced by the author should anchor the future for banking sector in particular. Right or wrong, I feel that there has been intense lobbying behind REXIT as he has brought to surface the NPAs hidden under the carpet in the banking sector.
Foremost is the credit risk assessment. Second is the group lending/ consortium lending. Third is the PPPs of the industries with the government over the supply of goods and services by the India Inc and SME sector. Fourth, is the lenders'liability. Fifth, is the speed of justice in matters relating to debt in all the Court cases. Sixth, the RBI should rethink its model of universal banking where cross-selling of products has weakened the financial system. Seventh, digital banking transformation should be not at the cost of customer service. Eighth, PSBs should not throw social banking to an insignificant corner consigned only to pleasing the powers instead of serving the sectors. Ninth, Banks should devote greater attention to the HR risks more succinctly. Tenth, discerning eye on frauds and cyber risks is imperative.

MG Warrier

5 months ago

I am keying in these comments after reading the response from Iyer and Nadkarni also. Perceptions can differ. They depend on the constituency to which the person belongs. In public interest, all of us need to try to protect institutions, even while trying to bring back on track the individuals who stray away and try to score their points. Some of them may still continue to bark at the wrong tree. That is part of the game. We are going through interesting times. Rexit (the brand name given to Dr Rajan’s expression of intention to go back to academia once the present tenure gets over on September 4, 2016, while simultaneously telling us he will be available to the nation when needed) has done wonders. It has woken up India. The quick announcement of some reform measures, GOI’s expression of willingness to activise existing laws to handle tax evasion, change in procedure for selecting RBI Governor and open debate on the role of different authorities and institutions are all positive outcome from Dr Rajan’s message to his colleagues on June 18 which was made public by RBI. Dr Rajan has not resigned as alleged by Times Now on June 20 (The channel alleged that Dr Rajan ‘leaked out’ his resignation to RBI staff, before informing GOI!).

MG Warrier

5 months ago

I am keying in these comments after reading the response from Iyer and Nadkarni also. Perceptions can differ. They depend on the constituency to which the person belongs. In public interest, all of us need to try to protect institutions, even while trying to bring back on track the individuals who stray away and try to score their points. Some of them may still continue to bark at the wrong tree. That is part of the game. We are going through interesting times. Rexit (the brand name given to Dr Rajan’s expression of intention to go back to academia once the present tenure gets over on September 4, 2016, while simultaneously telling us he will be available to the nation when needed) has done wonders. It has woken up India. The quick announcement of some reform measures, GOI’s expression of willingness to activise existing laws to handle tax evasion, change in procedure for selecting RBI Governor and open debate on the role of different authorities and institutions are all positive outcome from Dr Rajan’s message to his colleagues on June 18 which was made public by RBI. Dr Rajan has not resigned as alleged by Times Now on June 20 (The channel alleged that Dr Rajan ‘leaked out’ his resignation to RBI staff, before informing GOI!).

Shrikant Dattatraya Sahasrabuddhe

6 months ago

Very sensible and realistic. A list of all those involved in decision making of bad loans must be compiled and followed up by regulators for possible recovery from their(bank employees)accumulated wealth.

Milind Nadkarni

6 months ago

I, like any other salaried Indian, will be satisfied if such offenders are brought to book in reasonable period of time and are punished maximum under the law. Those employers who deprive the employees their due wages simultaneously spending plenty of money on personal parties, photoshoots etc. should be the first ones to be tried in the court of law.
However, I have my grave doubts about such persons ever getting tried and punished, especially in reasonable period of time.

SuchindranathAiyerS

6 months ago

Nor is Government, for that matter, fit to run any commercial enterprise that services a customer. For example, does Government service the citizen? Of course not! All Government does is exploit and extort from the citizen for the benefit of VIPs. Government is not fit to run Government. In India, just like the Government crept on to the country, trapping the hapless citizen in a seventy year long Thaharoosh Jamiya, the Indian Courts have commenced the same on Government. In a nation that springs from a foul constitution that enshrines inequality under law, exceptions to the rule of law , and many Nations to foment a perpetual state of civil war (aka Social Engineering), in which some are plundered, lawfully for the benefit of others, The Indian State is founded on non accountability and the confiscation of others' wealth and freedoms for the personal pelf, pleasure, perversions, pomp and perpetuation of the PANGOLIN * Politician-Bureaucrat-Judge-Police-Journalist-Crony Kleptocracy constructed, for the most part, from those Constitutionally Certified to be Congenitally Backward. This is the fate of all of India which is now Bharath Sarkar ki Sampathi. Air India happens to catch the eye.
It is also typical that the Kleptocracy will frame a fall guy to distract attention from the real perpetrators who are Kleptocrats to a man. Speaking of Air India, consider the case of Mr. Vijay Malya:
While Kingfisher is a typical legerdemain of Indian Crony capitalism, one must not forget the Ice Berg that sank the Titanic. Kingfisher was addressing a specific market segment. The Business Traveller who was sick of the insouciance of India's public sector carrier and different from the other private Indian operators who were addressing the low cost market. Kingfisher was doing quite well until it hit the turbulence created by Sonia Gandhi's Sharad Pawar's Praful Patel (Yes, the same member of Manmohan's "Coalition Dharma" aka "parivar-that-loots-together-to-stay-together who bought Honest Antony's wife's paintings for Air India).
Patel bought an enormous number of Boeing aircraft that nobody wanted and Air India's plans and estimates did not warrant for Air India that drowned the Indian Air Passenger market with excess capacity sinking Kingfisher. Air India would have drowned too. But, because it is a Public Sector, it has been kept flying at the cost of India's growing deficit, inflation and other tax payments. Praful Patel then went on to sell Air India's newly acquired Aircraft at far below cost to Etihaad Airlines. He also sold several of Air India's prized and high potential routes and landing rights. The people of India have and are paying far more for the Air India black hole that Sonia's Pawar's Patel made than The King Fisher debt which is merely a part of the whole.
Who arm twisted the Banks to finance Kingfisher on the collateral of a "Brand" (A first anywhere in the World). Chidambaram or Pranab Mukherjee?
It would be good when superficial Journalists, Bankers, Central Bankers and Politicians refer to Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher, they also refer to the Senior and bigger of the Siamese Twins that has drained the Public coffers. Praful Patel's Air India. (I wonder whether Pawar's Baramati and Mallya had a spat over booze leading to the enormous bill presented to Indian Citizens by Praful Patel ?)
*Note: PANGOLIN: An enemy of India who believes in inequality under law, exceptions to the rule of law and persecution of some for the benefit of others. At present, the sole purpose of the Indian Republic, Constitutional or otherwise, is to pamper and provide for certain constitutionally preferred sections of society who the British found useful to hold and exploit India at the cost of those who the British hated and persecuted. The Pangolin is a creature that is unique to India and feeds on ants that are known in nature to be industrious and hard working if not quite as fruitful as bees who flee to better climes. (PANGOLIN is an acronym for the Periyar-Ambedkar-Nehru-Gandhi-Other (alien) Religions-Communist Consensus that usurped the British Mantle and has worn it with elan to loot, plunder, and rape India since 1921 and re write History and laws to their exclusive benefit since 1947)

India's Economy too has been ruined with more than six decades of unaccountable profligacy and corruption that have swollen the deficit and reduced the Rupee to a point where China and Pakistan have to reassess the cost-benefit of forging Indian currency to corrode the Indian economy. Rajan is sleepless on a bed of others' making.

The First Governor of RBI Mr Rama Rau was sacked by Nehru Government after he had a disagreement with TT Krishnamachary. Nehru refused to intervene and save Rama Rau from being publicly insulted by TTK.
S Jagannathan was sacked by Indira Government for refusing to increase credit limit of Sanjay Gandhi's pet project Maruti.
KR Puri was sacked by Janata Government because they thought he was too close to Sanjay Gandhi.
Manmohan Singh was given marching orders by Rajeev Government because he was considered too old school.
RN Malhotra resigned after the FM in Chandrasekhar Government Mr Yashvant Sinha hinted him to do so

Indeed the rates must be far higher than they are to cover sixty years of corruption, bad loans and state profligacy reflected in the deficit and inflation . But Rajan needs to go for entirely other reasons.
Rajan began his run up to his quitting very, very thoroughly. If he hadn't quit, he should have been fired.
As I wrote several weeks ago:
1) Rajan is Anti-National.He joined Obama's tolerance chorus like any Body Shopping Magnate or other PANGOLIN* Notable, Awardee or other Camp Follower. This is unacceptable in a Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. In doing so he has abused Indian hospitality like a worthless Black Yank or Italian Bar Maid,
2) Instead of doing Central Banking, which should be felt not seen, he is seen and not felt. For example instead of watching M2 (Money supply), he is conducting public classes in Dosa Economics to distract the already diseducated public from the menace of inflation.
3) Instead of auditing Banks and Banks' lending norms and methods, he is raising political canards against individual borrowers like a politician or a PANGOLIN* journalist.
In brief, Rajan seems more of a Bollywood Khan, a Tendulkar Group Captain or a Nehruvian Romila Ashokan than a Central Banker. India already has too many of these.
And as I wrote several Months ago:
Raghu Ram Rajan should remember that he is a Central Banker and neither a politician nor a Nehru-Gandhi "Economist".
Central Bankers should not be heard but be felt in the value of the rupee, the fiscal discipline of the Government and the integrity of the Banking system.
Instead of taking time off from his work to lecture on inflation and dosas or wag a "tolerance" finger at the Prime Minister as part of the Obama-Sonia "parivar-that-loots-together-to-stay-together" chorus of Fifth Columnists, he should study M. H. De Kock, R. S. Sayers, Beckart, Altman's "Z", Tamari's Index of Risk etc. and learn to measure up to his job. Unless, of course, he is as erudition, integrity, culture and arithmetic challenged as India's Indian educated Judiciary, Bureaucracy, Police, Professors and others appointed and promoted on the basis of birth and Tehsildar's certificates.
His instruments are OMO, BR, Audit, fines, systems and methods, metrics and capping government over drafts. Not his mouth.
*Note: PANGOLIN: An enemy of India who believes in inequality under law, exceptions to the rule of law and persecution of some for the benefit of others. At present, the sole purpose of the Indian Republic, Constitutional or otherwise, is to pamper and provide for certain constitutionally preferred sections of society who the British found useful to hold and exploit India at the cost of those who the British hated and persecuted. The Pangolin is a creature that is unique to India and feeds on ants that are known in nature to be industrious and hard working if not quite as fruitful as bees who flee to better climes. (PANGOLIN is an acronym for the Periyar-Ambedkar-Nehru-Gandhi-Other (alien) Religions-Communist Consensus that usurped the British Mantle and has worn it with elan to loot, plunder, and rape India since 1921 and re write History and laws to their exclusive benefit since 1947)

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