Citizens' Issues
Sachin Tendulkar’s Bharat Ratna and Mission Mars: Some uneasy questions

Our stars, who are the Gods for the younger generation, promote bottled sodas and desiccated milk drinks both of which are dangerous to human health, while Mars Mission eats up the tax payers' hard earned money. This is exactly why inexpensive health measures are not encouraged by the powers that be. They want more diseases to get more money for the sickness industry!

“The principle that human nature, in its psychological aspects, is nothing more than a product of history and given social relations removes all barriers to coercion and by the powerful.” - Noam Chomsky


Forty seven million children in India do not have even one good meal a day and suffer from a fatal disease, Nutritional Immune Deficiency Syndrome. (NIDS)  Our government does not have the money to feed them and children die like flies. Good for statistics and population control! We had tons of money to go to the moon. Now our proud “scientists” are trying to explore the Mars with their mars mission; not from the near orbit but from a large elliptical orbit, if we reach there, that is.

One of the great things I learnt from one of our venerated scientists is that the mars mission to be able to predict all the future storms and earth quakes! Every Indian rupee spent is done for the good of the common man, he said! USA and Russia should have been able to predict all their calamities with their multiple moon and mars missions! Who are we pretending to fool in the name of this Golem, called science? Let us know that huge money was spent for the moon mission although the mission failed? How many people became rich by selling the satellites to private players?

Another one of those great leaders felt that people spend more money for Deepavali crackers than the mars mission. He conveniently forgot that Deepavali spending is personal money. Mars eats up the tax payers’ hard earned money in preference to giving food for the dying hungry kids! No one builds a statue for those who struggle for the welfare of the poor and the downtrodden, those who prevent diseases to the extent possible. That is exactly why the inexpensive health measures are not encouraged by the powers that be. They want more diseases to get more money for the sickness industry! Yet, if we feed all the kids, if they are healthy and happy, it does not make headline news. But, by accident, if you land a space ship on the mars it will be hailed as a great feat.

I wonder why such crooked thinking is encouraged. Many a time I wonder how bootleggers, crooks, the mafia dons, scoundrels in the guise of netas thrive and enjoy life. The reason is very clear now, thanks to the concept of the KaliyugaAnrita meva jayathe-Na satyam. In the Kaliyuga, falsehood only thrives and not the truth!

The following is exceprted from the Sanskrit texts the Vishnu Purana and the Linga Purana:

Thieves will become kings, and kings will be the thieves. Rulers will confiscate property and use it badly. They will cease to protect the people. Base men who have gained a certain amount of learning (without having the virtues necessary for its use) will be esteemed as sages. There will be many displaced persons, wandering from one country to another. Predatory animals will be more violent. Foetuses will be killed in the wombs of their mothers. People will prefer to choose false ideas. No one will be able to trust anyone else. People will be envious. There will be many children born whose life expectancy is no more than 16 years. People suffering from hunger and fear will take refuge in underground shelters. Young girls will do trade in their virginity. The god of clouds will be inconsistent in the distribution of the rains. Shopkeepers will run dishonest businesses. There will be many beggars and unemployed people. Everyone will use hard and vulgar language. Men will devote themselves to earning money; the richest will hold power. The state leaders will no longer protect the people but, through taxes, will appropriate all wealth. Water will be lacking.

The noble profession that I belong to has degenerated to such a low level, that we want people to be sick to benefit us. Health promotion which is both inexpensive to the tax payer as also beneficial to the common man is never encouraged. I was happy that an eminent chemist, CNR Rao and the star attraction of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar have been awarded Bharat Ratnas. I extend my hearty congratulations to both of them. May God bless them. That brings to mind the editorial in this week’s British Medical Journal which talked about the international acclaim for Sachin’s cricketing prowess but made a very pertinent point about these cinema and sports stars promoting unhealthy foods and drinks.

Here is what the BMJ (British Medical Journal) wrote: “I wonder what might be said about promotion of soft drinks by cricketers though. Easily one of the largest sponsors for cricket in the country, the soft drinks industry has grown unchecked. In the latest BMJ poll on regulation of India’s soft drinks industry, an overwhelming majority concur: not enough is being done. Ruling on a petition to regulate misleading advertising of soft drinks, particularly those targeted at children, the Supreme Court directed the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India to ensure greater enforcement of regulations in the larger interest of "protection of human life and health".

I had written earlier about our stars, who are the Gods for the younger generation, promoting bottled sodas and desiccated milk drinks both of which are dangerous to human health. But who cares in the midst of their bloated egos? I am happy that a leading medical science journal also felt the need to warn these stars about their helping the wrong foods for a few crores of sponsorship money. I do not think money is ever a problem with these super heroes. Can they not desist from the lure of that additional income?

Before the advent of money we lived an egalitarian life with universal compassion. Studies of some aboriginal races (Innus in particular) did show that truth in great detail. Today, as Wordsworth wrote:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”


This is Kaliyuga that we live in. I am still not clear in my mind as to why anyone invented the Kaliyuga? I am searching for the teleologic connection without success so far. Why are we condemned to be living in such a hostile time? Can a new collective consciousness of universal compassion change the world for better?


“There is clear industry manipulation of research and political collusion. If it were not for this clear deception, these foods would not be in circulation.”-Jeffrey Smith


(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London.)



Maj Gen Ashok Coomar

3 years ago

Thanks Dr Hegde for this enlightening disclosure at an appropriate time. Even critics of Bharat Ratna award to Sachin, like me, failed to connect the damage done by cricketers and other celebrities to society by promoting harmful food products to add to their millions. That alone should disqualify them from being considered for any award.I hope our countrymen will take note.


3 years ago

Nothing will change. India's sheep will continue to elect wolves and Dr, B.M. Hegde will not throw the Padma Bhushan in the face of the Presiding Wolf.

Abhijit Gosavi

3 years ago

Great article, Dr. Hegde! I just hope more people see your point! All that taxpayer money spent on the Mars mission could have been used to improve sanitation somewhere or build a new road/repair a bridge. Plus, it may all come to nothing if, after all, the probe doesn't reach where it is supposed to reach. It is also questionable how cricketers serve the society. Most of them care only for the deals they get from their sponsors. Are they really good role models for young people? I mean a thousand SRTs will not really transform the nation, will they?

Drugs: Generic or branded? 10 Docs talk about picking medicines

With billions in potential savings for Medicare at stake, ProPublica asked drug experts and practitioners alike why more doctors don't recommend generics when they can

We talked to dozens of experts for our Monday report on how Medicare is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars a year by failing to look into doctors who disproportionately prescribe name-brand drugs. They struggled to explain why some doctors wouldn’t routinely pick cheaper generics.

Name-brand drugs are appropriate in certain circumstances, they said: when there are no equivalent generics, when patients have side effects or if they are particularly sensitive to slight changes in a drug’s composition. But these factors should apply to only a small fraction of cases, they said.

Here’s more of what they told us:

1. Dr. Richard J. Baron, president and chief executive officer of the American Board of Internal Medicine: “We’ve almost glamorized the doctor who uses the latest, greatest, newest drug because that’s the person doing cutting-edge medicine. We’ve glamorized that. I think a lot of people need to get together, and are getting together, on the professional side of this to say, ‘We need a different understanding of what it is to be a good doctor.’ ”

2. Dr. Ashish Jha, professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health: “I have lots of patients who are like, ‘I want brand name drugs only,’ and I talk to them about clinical equivalence and how I would personally take the generics and how I give it to my own family and how it’s just as good. ... I think it’s an abrogation of responsibility to say the patients in my community demand this.”

3. Dr. Joseph S. Ross, assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine: “This is just a pervasive issue and it’s not easy to change. Doctors think the same way. They think if a drug has been approved, it must be better, it must be safer. Otherwise, why would it be approved to be on the market? It’s just better than a placebo and is reasonably safe.”

4. Dr. Alexander Gershman, a Los Angeles urologist who prescribes disproportionately more brand-name drugs than peers under Medicare. “It would be wrong to say to physicians, ‘You have to all prescribe generics’ because I think this will tremendously limit the quality of the drugs to the patients ... To me, I don’t even know how much the drug costs, honestly. If I go to pick up some stuff from the pharmacy, like antibiotics, I don’t even know how much it costs until I go to the pharmacy.”

5. Dr. C. Seth Landefeld, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham: “I think there are very few instances where name-brand drugs have been shown to be beneficial compared to an equivalent generic. We should by and large be prescribing essentially the highest-value interventions that we can, which means, generally, generics over name brands.”

6. Dr. Walid Gellad, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh who has compared prescribing in Medicare Part D to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: “The VA requires physicians to really back up their decisions for certain drugs. Some Part D plans do that, but not all of them. It gets into this very interesting discussion: Is medicine practiced better when physicians cannot make unfettered decisions?”

7. Dr. Joseph Newhouse, John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard University: “I just don’t know that Medicare can successfully educate physicians. I think it’s a feasibility question. Medicare should conceivably introduce financial penalties for physicians who have abnormally low generic prescribing rates, along the lines they’ve done with other kinds of pay-for-performance measures.”

8. Dr. Gary Reznik, a Los Angeles cardiologist who prescribes a high percentage of brand-names compared with peers in Medicare: “A lot of elderly patients have learned to recognize medications by their color and shape, rather than by their names. The fact that generics can come from different manufacturers and the pills can be of different shapes and color every month confuses them and adversely affects their compliance.”

9. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School: “Medicare first of all has no idea that this is going on. These guys need to be sent to remedial medical school. They need to be re-educated. It’s not hurting patients, but it’s hurting society and they should realize that.”

10. Dr. Henry Yee, an Alhambra, Calif., cardiologist who also prescribes a higher percentage of name brands than his peers: “I rarely worry about the cost. I worry about what’s best for the patient. ... If a patient said, ‘My insurance does not cover this,’ I would change to generic.”



Wheat exports: Aggressive selling policy needed to reduce surplus stock

Our marketing strategy should be revised and aggressive selling be done to ensure that India exports 3 to 4 million tonnes of wheat this fiscal year

From a position of weakness and depending upon the assistance of PL-480, India has come a long way in being able to meet its entire national requirement and also, export excess foodgrains to other nations. Though this was actually achieved a few decades ago, what is gratifying to note is the building of a huge agricultural recovery programme that has made self-sufficiency a reality and export, a moral, proud achievement.


But the biggest problem that this sector faces now is the continuous bureaucratic bungling in making decisions. Even when we have special and exclusive products like Basmati rice, where the market may come to us, we are better off, in the long run to meet its requirement by overseas selling. We must remember that there will always be a tendency to create similar products, close clones, and, sometimes "healthy" alternatives and cheaper substitutes.


Moneylife has been covering the issues relating to the substantial stocks of over-flowing foodgrains in our warehouses, be it rice, wheat, soyabean or sugar. We have to move with the market, and the times, to confront our competitors.


We cannot establish a "floor price" based on what we would "prefer to get" but we must match or better what the market traffic can bear. The case in point is the inordinate delay experienced so far in marketing huge surplus stocks of wheat, overcrowding our godowns, thus offering a feast to rodents. The stocks are also, vulnerable to pilferage and damage due to varying weather conditions. We have to take care of various types of pests that attack the foodgrains.


Fortunately, in the recent tenders for supply of wheat, offered through three state agencies, such as STC, MMTC and PEC, bids have been received close to the prevailing market prices quoted by other suppliers from Black Sea region (around $290 per tonne), who have been our principal competitors in the past. They still are, and we need to be on guard, before their fresh supplies come into the market. STC appears to have received a firm bid for 30,000 tonnes of wheat at $286.20 while PEC has firm bid for 30,000 tonnes from Singapore at $289.90 and MMTC received a bid for 50,000 tonnes at $285.95. Full details are awaited, but, as a first step, we should accept these and plan for shipments without delay. In fact, should there be a provision to increase the supplies under these bids. Efforts should be made to ensure that these are also accepted for onward shipments in due course.


Our marketing strategy should be revised and aggressive selling be done to ensure that India exports 3 to 4 million tonnes of wheat this fiscal year. The immediate step must be to take every care needed to send the top quality shipments from the country for meeting the above orders.


(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.)



Dr Anantha K Ramdas

3 years ago

I do not know what STC, MMTC and PEC did in regard to the milling wheat tender in Lebanon.I do not know if they even participated in this tender.

For the information of our readers and the above Government
bodies, Rumani won the tender for supply of 20,000 tonnes of
milling wheat at $ 316.60 C&F Beirut, for delivery by 15th Dec this year. They have a total requirement of 40,000 Mt.

Would somebody from the above Organizations say if India at all participated? And what was the quote? We should expect the buyer to come to us; we need to be aggressive and go them to sell and quote workable prices.

Looks like we won't take interest to market our foodgrains that are rotting in our poorly organized godowns!

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