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An RTI activist from Pune, Col Suresh Patil (retd) remarked, “Dr Rajendra Prasad donated his land to Vinoba Bhave and here we have Pratibhatai Patil taking away the land for of her own men
Consider this: Eight hundred jawans of the Territorial Army (TA) are presently posted in Pune but there is residential accommodation for only 14. This being a family posting (a bonanza offered after a harsh field station posting), each jawan desires to bring his family, otherwise left behind in his hometown, when he is guarding the nation’s frontiers, often in a challenging geographical terrain. However, due to lack of official accommodation, a jawan is asked by his seniors to refrain from getting his family to Pune. Those jawans who decide to get their families to Pune nevertheless, live in slum-like conditions in one-room dwellings, near the Pune cantonment, with no drinking water facility. In addition, paucity of residential accommodation for hundreds of soldiers and officers in the Indian Armed Forces in Pune is causing great inconvenience to the families.
Now consider this: Pratibha Patil, president of India and the supreme commander of the armed forces is building a palatial home for herself on a whopping 261,000 sq ft of land in Khadki Cantonment in Pune (out of which the bungalow occupies about 4,500 sq ft). The land belongs to the defence. It will now have a fortified home, the construction of which is nearing completion.
The president is eligible for only 2,000 sq ft bungalow in any part of the country if he/she wants the government to hire a home for him/her, after retirement. Otherwise, he/she is entitled to a government-owned Class V bungalow (around 4,500 sq ft) if it is available. He/she is not eligible to build a home on government land. Some former defence personnel from Pune who are campaigning against this illegality are taking strong objections to the fact that Ms Patil is constructing her house on government land, when hundreds of jawans and officers are facing official accommodation crisis.
This revelation under the Right to Information (RTI) Act was procured by Col Suresh Patil (retd) and founder of Justice for Jawans (JFJ), RTI activist Anup Awasthi and Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) who are campaigning against Ms Patil’s ‘snatching’ away land meant for soldiers and officers.
The RTI application was sent to the president’s office. As per the reply, under the President’s Emoluments and Pension Act, 1951 and rules framed under the President’s Pension Rule, 1962, “where suitable government residence is not available for allotment to a retired president, the size of the residence to be taken on lease to be provided to a retired president shall have a living area not exceeding 2,000 sq ft”.
“A place where government-owned accommodation is allotted to a retired president, the size of the residence is comparable to a residence allotted to a minister in the Union council of ministers and if the highest type of government residence available as a particular place is less in size than a residence allotted to a minister in the Union council of ministers, the highest type of accommodation available at that place shall be allotted to the ex-president. At present, a minister is entitled to a plinth area of the bungalow as 4,498 sq ft”.
The reply under RTI also stated that she is eligible to drinking water and electricity supply, free of cost, throughout her life.
States commander Ravindra Pathak, member of the IESM and who invoked the RTI, “taking away more than 2.5 lakh sq ft of defence land is sheer looting by Ms Patil. We are sending a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to take up the case suo moto. We have no money to pay for lawyers’ expenses.”
Col Suresh Patil (retd) elaborates, “Two defence bungalows have been pulled down to make way for Ms Patil’s bungalow and the vast expanse of land, over 2 lakh sq ft has been fortified for her. We are saying that let her keep the 2,000 sq ft she is entitled to and give away the remaining land for constructing official accommodation for soldiers and officers. Otherwise, there are numerous bungalows in the three cantonments of Pune and she could have been given accommodation in one of these.”
No other president has made such claims for personal gains, alleges Col Patil. He adds says, “Dr Rajendra Prasad donated his land to Vinoba Bhave and here we have Pratibhatai Patil taking away the land for of her own men—after all she is the supreme commander of the armed forces.”
RTI in this case provided information but who’s going to tie the proverbial bell round the cat? Hence, we need a strong anti-corruption law.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])
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Patients seem relieved and comforted that they needn’t go through repeated tests and torture as supported by our obsession with evidence-based medicine. They can enjoy their lives that have been prolonged by simple things like exercise, reasonable diet, and patient-centered goals
We proclaim from house-tops that modern medicine is evidence-based and all other systems are not. What is this evidence base that we talk about; that too in a “risk factor arena”? Let us examine one such commonly talked about evidence base for hypertension treatment. Elevated blood pressure, which is at best, a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, etc, has now been elevated to a full blown “silent killer” disease status, thanks to the pharmaceutical lobby. Let us analyse its “so called” evidence base very calmly from the beginning.
The largest and possibly the longest follow up study, MRFIT (Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial), has just given us the following data, if one were to go by the data alone. The conclusions of MRFIT analysis by Dr Roger W Sherwin is quite shocking: “The original goal of the MRFIT was to determine whether reduction of the risk factors like smoking, cholesterol and elevated blood pressure in high-risk but otherwise healthy men would reduce CHD (coronary heart disease) mortality, non-fatal MI (myocardial infarction) or CHD, cardiovascular mortality and mortality from all causes. (1) Their paper answers these questions thus:
“In conclusion we have shown that it is possible to apply an intensive long-term intervention program against three coronary risk factors with considerable success in terms of risk factor changes. The overall results do not show a beneficial effect on CHD or total mortality.”
In other words, they found that changing the “risk factors” does not apparently change the risks. This necessarily means that the “risk factors” are not as important as they are thought to be. Indeed, it should be concluded that the “risk factors” were no such thing; at least as far as MRFIT trial is concerned.
Uffe Ravnskov’s analysis of survival benefit, Relative Risk Reduction, and absolute risk reduction (ARR) shows our evidence base in very poor light! (5)
Relative Risk Reduction% -20 -21
Absolute risk reduction % -0.8 -3.3 Survival chance without drugs % 96 88.5
Survival chance with drugs % 96.8 91.8
If we look carefully modern medicine deep down is very, very shallow. (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Diabetes—the story is no different!
“But recently part of a large clinical diabetes study was halted after researchers found an increased death rate among those taking higher doses of blood sugar-lowering medication. The ACCORD trial, as it is called, is funded by several US government agencies and the finding surprised many doctors. The New York Times of 27 May 2009 had this to say: “For decades, researchers believed that if people with diabetes lowered their blood sugar to normal levels with drugs, they would no longer be at high risk of dying from heart disease. But a major federal study of more than 10,000 middle-aged and older patients with Type II diabetes has found that lowering blood sugar actually increased their risk of death, researchers reported. The study also stressed that intensive blood pressure and combination lipid therapies do not reduce combined cardiovascular events in adults with diabetes.13
Pregnant fat mothers are now the target for drug companies! They are now pushing to give a dangerous drug, Metformin, which has long list of dangerous side effects like muscle pain and weakness, cardiac arrhythmias like slow or uneven heart rate, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, reduced sex hormone levels, limb numbness, pain abdomen, and even lactic acidosis, a dangerous side effect, to babies to prevent them from becoming diabetics in life even when they are in their mother’s womb. They propose to give Metformin to every obese pregnant lady! I think it is pure insanity. See this report in The Daily Mail: "If the strategy is a success, the treatment could be in widespread use in as little as five years, with tens of thousands of overweight but, otherwise healthy mothers-to-be drugged each year." 14
Routine screening patients with diabetes for occult coronary disease, a bad practice in my opinion, has been shown not to reduce cardiovascular mortality according to the results of large American study.15 We need not scare the common man by saying that he is more prone to heart disease and death if he suffers from diabetes. “Current best evidence requires a change in emphasis in our care for patients with Type 2 diabetes. Clinicians should prioritize supporting well-being and healthy lifestyles, preventive care, and cardiovascular risk reduction for these patients. The randomized trial evidence that we reviewed does not strongly support tight glycaemic control as more beneficial than harmful in reducing the risk for diabetes complications,” 16
I can not sum up this note in a better way than what one of the doctors, Mark Mc Connell, did in the US after all these evidences erupted: “So much theory, so much data, and so little time. Is the care of patients so complicated? It actually seems fairly straightforward unless we have a hard time giving up our past biases that "lower is always better". The patients I meet generally are overwhelmed with testing, clinic visits, finger pricks, and fat bills.”
Patients are happy to be given the good news that they are doing well clinically. They seem relieved and comforted that they needn’t go through repeated tests and torture as supported by our obsession with evidence based medicine—a real boondoggle. Patients can enjoy their lives that have been prolonged by fairly simple things like exercise (daily walk has been shown to produce 80% reduction in premature deaths due to risk factors!), reasonable diet, and patient-centred goals. Unfortunately, we have ‘wise’ doctors who think that BM Hegde is being less compassionate towards modern medicine. They have a right to their opinion, of course. Some might even say that these references are selective, but that is what is being done daily in all science papers, anyway. I will have to pay them in their own coin. Uncertainty is the only certainty in this world. The world is simply a Wirklichkeit (changing drama, reality).
I do not believe in the caste system in healing. For me healing a patient can be achieved by any means which are scientifically authenticated, as long as my interventions do not become worse than his/her original disease. Primum non-nocere! After all, patient care is just CARING for the patient.
“Intellectual integrity made it quite impossible for me to accept the myths and dogmas of even very great scientists, more particularly of the belligerent and so-called advanced nations. Indeed, those intellectuals who accepted them were abdicating their functions for the joy of feeling themselves at one with the herd”—Bertrand Russell (1872-1969)
1) Zukel WJ, Paul O, Schnaper HW. The multiple risk factor intervention trial (MRFIT). I. Historical perspective. Prev. Med. 1981 Jul; 10(4):387-401.
2) Hot Study Group. www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/.../PIIS0140-6736(98)04311-6
3) Rawlins M. The Harveian Oration of 2008. De Testimonio. On the evidence for decisions about the use of therapeutic interventions. Royal College of Physicians, 2008.
4) Hegde BM. Where is the reality?
5) Ravnskov U. Chance of surviving with and without treatment. 18 June 2002 ...
6) Marcia Angell. Patient Preferences in RCTs. NEJM 1984; 310:1385-87.
7) Clarke CJ. Rapid determination of number of patients required for RCT. Lancet 1966; 11: 1357.
8) Cromie BW. Feet of clay of RCTs. 1963; 11; 994-997.
9) Freidman, Howard S. RCTS and common sense. Am. J. Med. 1986; 81: 1047.
10) MRC streptomycin trials BMJ 1948; 11: 769-782.
11) Harris L Coulter. The Controlled Clinical Trials by Centre for Empirical Medicine and Project Cure Washington DC 1991. ISBN 0-916386
12) Sherwin RB. MRFIT study.
13) ACCORD study.
14) Babies treated in the womb for obesity
15) Young LH, Wackers FJ, Chyun DA, et al. Cardiac outcomes after screening for asymptomatic coronary artery disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. JAMA 2009; 301: 1547-1555.
16) Montori VM and Balsells MF. Glycaemic control in Type II diabetes Time for an evidence based-about face? Ann. Intern. Med. 2009; 150: 803-808.
(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. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected])
Sea level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished or is over for most areas and therefore the tsunami watch issued by this center is now cancelled, PTWC said
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC), in its latest bulletin has withdrawn its Tsunami warning issued after the massive earthquake off western coast of North Sumatra with a magnitude of 8.7 on Richter scale in the afternoon (IST).
"A significant Tsunami was generated by this earthquake. However...sea level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished or is over for most areas. Therefore the tsunami watch issued by this center is now cancelled," PTWC said in the release. Even Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency has said there is no detection of low tide that would indicate tsunami in Aceh.
The PTWC issued a tsunami warning across 28 countries, including Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh following a a massive earthquake off western coast of North Sumatra with a magnitude of 8.7 on Richter scale.
For any affected areas - when no major waves have occurred for at least two hours after the estimated arrival time or damaging waves have not occurred for at least two hours then local authorities can assume the threat is passed. Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several hours due to rapid currents. As local conditions can cause a wide variation in Tsunami wave action the all clear determination must be made by local authorities, the PTWC said.
People from eastern coast of India as well as from Bengaluru, Guwahati and Mumbai reported tremors. According to initial reports, people from Chennai felt tremors thrice within five minutes.
National Disaster Management Authority also said that there is no likelihood of tsunami being formed anywhere in the Indian Ocean. "No waves noticed so far in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Tsunami is so far virtually being ruled out, NDMA vice president Sasidhra Reddy told PTI.
Bruce Presgrave of the US Geological Survey (USGS), told the BBC that the nature of this quake made it less likely a tsunami would be generated, as the earth had moved horizontally, rather than vertically, therefore had not displaced large volumes of water. "We can't rule out the possibility, but horizontal motion is less likely to produce a destructive tsunami," he said.
In a bulletin, the Centre issued an Indian Ocean wide Tsunami watch alert effective for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Madagascar, Iran, UAE, Yemen, Comores, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, South Africa and Singapore.
There was an alert issued for Mumbai as well. However, there is a low tide on Mumbai coast at the same that as the projected time when the Tsunami waves would reach. This also means that there is no reason for panic on the west coast of India.
A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off Indonesia on 26 December 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, nearly three quarter of them in Aceh. Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
Here are the preliminary parameters of the earthquake…
ORIGIN TIME - 0839Z 11 APR 2012
COORDINATES - 2.0 NORTH 92.5 EAST
LOCATION - OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA
MAGNITUDE - 8.7
According to the bulletin, here is the possible Tsunami wave arrival time at forecast points. A Tsunami is a series of waves and the time between successive waves can be five minutes to one hour.