Citizens' Issues
Saradha investors block trains in West Bengal

Investors were protesting as they failed to get money following the Saradha scam

Hundreds of people who had invested in Saradha and suffered due to the scam, on Friday blocked rail traffic in Sealdah rail section in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district.


Picketeers blocked rail traffic at several places in the Sealdah-Ranaghat, Sealdah-Bongaon and Sealdah-Barasat section for several hours.


Rail traffic was disrupted before the police cleared the lines following which train movement resumed, superintendent of rail police, Sealdah, Utpal Laskar said.


The investors were protesting as they failed to get money following the scam.


Book Review: Good Medicine by Patrick Holford

 A nutrition-based approach to health that offers safe remedies for 75 health conditions

Most of us depend on the modern healthcare system, comprising pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and medical practitioners. From simple medicines, like antibiotics, to new drug discoveries and improvements in surgical procedures, lives are getting saved and overall human lifespan is getting longer, thanks the modern healthcare system. But, there is a dark side to it. As eminent cardiologist Dr BM Hegde has been highlighting in Moneylife for years, commercial motives have permeated the system that was, at one time, supposed to be noble in its objectives. Pharma companies are bribing researchers, academics and doctors to push their new products; five-star hospitals are exploiting their patients in every way possible; and many doctors simply do not give enough thought before prescribing medicines.

In the words of Patrick Holford, author of Good Medicine: “In truth, so-called modern medicine has been hijacked by the pharmaceutical industry and many doctors, unwittingly, have lost the real art of medicine and communication, and spend much of their time simply dispensing drugs. Some spend more time looking at their computer than looking at you! We have now reached the crazy position where people who are not sick are being prescribed drugs at vast expense to the taxpayer, only to suffer significant side-effects as a result. What is more, in the US, medical intervention has become the fourth leading cause of death. If we had accurate figures for all countries, the same may be true where you live. Thousands die from medical drugs, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, experience adverse side-effects. Here is just one example: taking statins to lower your cholesterol increases your risk of diabetes by up to 25 percent, and creates memory problems and muscle aches, but it does very little to reduce your risk of heart disease if you didn’t have it in the first place. The vast majority of drugs intended for long-term use and ‘management’ of chronic conditions don’t pass the first law of good medicine, which is: first do no harm.”  

What is the way out? While we cannot do without the modern healthcare system, we need not be blind to its problems either. Popping pills, taking shots and going under the knife are options we should keep for serious ailments. Meanwhile, we should do two things: prevent diseases and try milder options when we do fall ill—through a combination of natural products and supplements.
The basic premise of this book is that “the vast majority of health conditions you are likely to suffer from in life, especially the chronic diseases, are primarily the result of too much ‘bad stuff’ and not enough ‘good stuff’. As Hippocrates, (c.460-c.377bc) had pointed out more than 200 years ago: “When enough sins (against nature) have accumulated disease suddenly results.”

“Such sins include poor diet, a lack of exercise, stress, poor posture, smoking and drinking, pollution, lack of sunlight, insufficient sleep, and a lack of love and fun.” Once your body is afflicted by disease, however, simply addressing those problems would not eradicate all your health issues, argues Holford. “You would need a great deal more of the good stuff and virtually none of the bad stuff to rebalance your health and to undo the damage.”

Seems sensible; but this is not the way modern medicine works. By and large, it works to suppress the symptoms. It blocks some function or the other of the body to ‘set right’ a body that has already deviated from the nature’s design. For instance, doctors try to control acidity and reflux by blocking the production of stomach acid. Asks Holford: “Would you rather restore your health by conforming to your body’s natural design or gamble on taking a hi-tech drug that has been designed to block some part of your body’s natural chemistry?”

“Real freedom, health and happiness come from conforming to your natural design, not trying to cheat it. Drugs are not, by their very nature, part of the body’s natural design. Of course, there is a role for short-term medication, such as antibiotics, and life-saving operations, but this should be a small part of medicine, not the mainstay.”

The mainstay should be a combination of natural remedies and supplements like vitamins and minerals. The author is not a doctor. So, where does he get the confidence to propose his cocktail of remedies? “I believe in good science and you’ll find that every remedy and recommendation made in this book is based on good science. It is proven and works.” Holford is a nutritionist and the author of 30 books, translated into 20 languages, selling a million copies. In 1984, he founded the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, “an independent educational charity, with his mentor, twice Nobel Prize-winner, Linus Pauling, as a patron.”

This book does not propose alternatives. It works with the range of proven medicines and strongly advocates the right diets and supplements to help the body regain its natural balance. For instance, if your problem is arthritis, the best foods are oily fish, red onions and garlic, turmeric, olives, berries, and vegetables of dark colours. The worst foods are sugar and refined carbohydrates (promotes inflammation), dairy products, meat and coffee. The right supplements are omega-3, glucosamine, multivitamin-minerals and vitamin C. The book is arranged alphabetically by condition, starting with acne and ending with weight gain & obesity. It also recommends the right diet for perfect weight and blood and sugar control. A very useful book that should find a place in every home.


Book Review: Romance of Commerce by Harry Godon Selfridge

Thoughts on business and life, of the man who founded the famous Selfridges department store

Most people have an innate disdain for merchants. But, as Harry Godon Selfridge argued 100 years ago: “The preacher, the lecturer, the actor, the real estate agent, the farmer, the employee all, all are merchants, all have something to dispose of at the profit to themselves, and the dignity of the business is decided by the manner in which they conduct the sale.”

This is an abridged version of a classic text on business and life, by Selfridge who started his life in the US in poverty and died in obscurity. In between, he became one of the most famous men of Europe. He transformed the idea of a department store, changed advertising forever, and was engaged in a series of affairs with some of the most glittering beauties of his time.

At 21, Selfridge was working for a store in Chicago, Marshall Field, where he coined the classic advertising line ‘Only ___ shopping days until Christmas’ and possibly the phrase ‘The customer is always right’. Selfridge then moved to London, opened his own store which became an instant hit attracting a million visitors during its first week.

Selfridges was a unique store. Massive space was given to ‘services’—library, a restaurant, a hair-salon and a smoking room. Later, it put up large displays of everything—from a monoplane used in the first flight across the English Channel to a seismograph. The first public demonstration of TV was at Selfridges, in 1925. However, heady with commercial success, Selfridge led a dissolute life, having a string of affairs, got addicted to gambling and was, eventually, ousted by the management. He slipped out of sight and passed away in 1947.

This book is filled with his thoughts about business leadership, customer care, advertising, risk-taking and so on. Apart from the idea that ‘customer is always right’, Selfridge also understood that employee loyalty is  key to successful retail operations. He was also an advocate of ethical advertising and argued: “Why should a statement be subject to question? Is it not infinitely wiser to make every statement dependable beyond the chance of question? Why pay for space and then fill it with matter, which must quickly be discovered to be false? Why thus reduce the value of every future statement?”

An array of such statements and powerful aphorisms appear throughout the book, challenging the centuries-old prejudice against commerce.


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