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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Speed breakers or Life breakers - II

The drive was undertaken as reported in my previous post.

It seems to have had its effects on the Corporation. Within a week of reporting the sorry state of speedbreakers in our locality, the BMC has woken up and done a touch up job on few of these humps. 
The ones that were in dire straits were reconstructed as per the specifications. But what about the rest?

 Does this translate as a victory for us? Or do we still have a long way to go before we celebrate!!

"The woods are lovely dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep...."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Speed breakers or Life breakers?

Speed breakers are raised areas of pavement designed to slow down drivers. Although they can improve safety, they have many drawbacks. The process of slowing and diverting traffic is often called traffic calming.

Speed Humps
Speed humps differ from speed bumps.
Speed Bumps
Speed bumps are 3-4 inches high and 1-3 feet long and have typically been used in parking lots and on private roads. To pass over speed bumps without doing damage to the vehicle or causing discomfort, the driver must slow down almost to a complete stop. The effects of speed bumps are diminished by passing over them at excessive speeds in a vehicle with loose suspension.

Speed humps are 3-4 inches high and 12-22 feet long. They are found on residential roadways. To avoid driver discomfort, the driver slows to a speed of 15-20 mph. Unlike speed bumps, at excessive speeds, the effects of speed humps are increased to the point of jolting both the driver and their cargo.

The procedure for installation begins with the residents’ request and continues with traffic engineering studies to determine the need for speed humps. These studies include but are not limited to: safe sight distance, pedestrian studies, vehicle classification, traffic count, and average speed. Current land use, school routes, "as built" plans, other control devices, and stop sign compliance should also be examined.

If it is determined that speed humps are the best solution for a roadway, then the installation can begin. The humps installed should follow the design criteria, have accompanying warning signs and be painted with a pattern that makes them visible to drivers and provide a safe and reasonable sight distance.

If designed, installed, and maintained properly, speed humps can be a safe, effective method of reducing vehicle speeds through residential areas.

To be effective along a section of roadway, speed humps should be placed in series at 200-600 feet intervals when considering the geometries of the roadway.

As per the Indian Road Congress (IRC) specifications, the central height of humps should be 10-12 cm. Their shape should be a parabola and should have 3.5 metres in width and length should be the same as the road width.

The list of drawbacks could go on and on if the breakers are not made with the correct specifications.

To name a few drawbacks......

  • If improperly lit, they could potentially cause fatalities.
  • They are damaging to the spine, to say the least.
  • The constant wear and tear of vehicles could be another big disadvantage.

A very interesting use of these breakers that hasn't been well utilized is:

A large amount of energy is generated at the speed breakers through friction, every time a vehicle passes over it.

This Mechanical energy is then converted to Electrical which can be used for charging batteries and to light up the streets, etc.

The existing source of energy such as coal, oil, etc may not be adequate to meet the ever increasing energy demands. These conventional sources of energy are also depleting and may be exhausted.
This project is a step to the path of exploring the possibilities of energy from several non- conventional energy sources.

Motivated by the activities undertaken by our leading dailies, I decided to chart one such myself. I travelled the highly congested stretch starting from Mazgaon circle upto JJ Hospital signal, via Noor Baug. It is a distance of a mere 1.3 km but the number, shapes and distances between speed breakers installed on this stretch is appalling.

Within 100 mts
100 mts
300 mts
400 mts
450 mts
500 mts
600 mts
900 mts
1000 mts
1050 mts
1100 mts

This may be a similar plight on many other roads but it is upto the local authorities to take up these tasks and ensure corrective action before we witness any casualties.

"Yes Officer, I did see the 'speed limit' sign, I just didn't see you."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Organ Donation: Choose to live beyond your life

I have dedicated this post to this auspicious day of 13th August - The Organ Donation Day.
Going through the news a few days back I read about this near approaching day.
Though I wasn't unaware of this concept entirely, I had never been curious enough to delve deep into the matter and get my facts correct. My first reaction to this was " Why not ". But as prudence set in, I realised that this wasn't as simple as it seemed. Even if I did pledge to donate my organs after death, I had to inform my near and dear ones and and answer their queries. As far as I am concerned, religious hurdles are least obstructing to me but it always pays to be religiously correct as well.

Most organ donations for organ transplantation is done in the setting of "brain death".
Brain death is not the same as coma. In coma, a person is unconscious but alive. He may be breathing on his own, has a few brain reflexes present and shows electrical brain activity. As compared to this, a brain dead person has a heart that is beating on its own without impulses from the brain. There is no activity in the brain and no respiration. In effect, a brain dead person is DEAD.

I had to now analyse the religious aspects of Organ donation.

All major religions either accept organ donation or accept the right of individual members to make their own decision. Most religions like the Roman Catholic Church are in favour of organ donation as acts of charity and as a means of saving a life.
Jains, who regard compassion to be a main principle of their faith, donate organs pro-actively. It has been reported that in Mumbai, 85-90% of all organ donations including eye donations, are by Jains and Gujaratis.

Life after death is a strong belief of Hinduism and is an ongoing process of rebirth. It is a perpetual circle of birth and rebirth. So, the physical body is insignificant.

Judaism encourages organ donation but the views are divided as regards the definition of death. One school of thought which defines death as the complete stoppage of heart beating and not brain death, opposes the transplantation of the heart from the brain dead person as that is tantamount to mercy killing. However, the other school which believes brain death to be the actual death of the individual irrespective of a beating heart, encourages donation of vital organs for the sake of saving another life.

Islam has conflicting views on this subject.

According to a number of Muslim scholars organ donation is not permitted. They consider that organ donation compromises the special honour accorded to man and this cannot be allowed whatever the cost.
The proponents of organ donation quote the following:

“Whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”
Holy Qur'an, chapter 5 vs. 32

"Whosoever helps another will be granted help from Allah."
Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)

Resolutions of the Islamic Fiqh Council:
1.It is permissible to transplant an organ  but attention must be paid to ensuring that the expected benefits outweigh any possible harm.
2.It is permissible to transplant an organ from a dead person to a living person whose life or basic essential functions depend on that organ, subject to the condition that permission be given by the deceased before his death, or by his heirs after his death, or by the authorities in charge of the Muslims if the identity of the deceased is unknown or he has no heirs.
3. It should be noted that the agreement on the permissibility of organ transplants explained above is subject to the condition that this is not done by selling the organs, because it is not permissible to subject human organs to sale under any circumstances.
Therefore it is very clear that in Islam:
"Organ donation is a very personal choice.

The demand for organs significantly surpasses the number of donors everywhere in the world. The only way this gap can be reduced is by encouraging organ donation. A kidney for a person on thrice weekly hemodialysis, a liver for a swollen and bleeding Hepatitis B positive patient, and a cornea for a blind person who hasn’t seen the world, is priceless.

"Don't think of organ donation as giving up part of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It's really a total stranger giving up almost all of themselves to keep part of you alive".

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

To register, click here 
Register now. Donate for yourself.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Female Genital Mutilation: No health benefits, Only harm

The recent fatwa by a Jihadi organization in the Middle East has yet again brought to the fore this sensitive issue. 
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons".

There are 4 types of FGM in increasing order of barbarism: 

1. Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris. Also known as "Sunnah".
2. Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora.
3. Infibulation: excision of part of or all of the external genitals. Afterwards , the remaining parts of the outer lips are sewn together leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual flow. The scar needs to be opened before intercourse or giving birth, which causes additional pain. Also referred to as “Pharaonic Circumcision”.
4. Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia. 

It is carried out in girls between infancy and 15 years of age. It is generally performed by traditional midwives, healers, barbers, nurses or doctors without anesthesia and unsterilised equipment. 

Although its origins are pre-Islamic, it became associated with Islam because of the religion's focus on female modesty and chastity, and is found only within or near Muslim communities. It is widely practised in African countries- Egypt Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and others; parts of Middle East- Yemen, Oman, Iraq; amongst Bohra Muslims in India and Pakistan; and a few Muslim populations in Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Outside Islam, FGM has been practised by the Christian Copts in Egypt and Sudan. It has also been practised by the Beta Israel of Ethiopia. This is the only Jewish group known to have practised it; Judaism requires male circumcision, but does not allow FGM.

The justifications given for this heinous act are aplenty:

  • Custom and tradition. 
  • Religion - No religion advocates FGM. There is no mention of FGM in the Bible or Quran. In 2006, several leading Islamic scholars called for an end to the practice, and in 2007 the Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research in Cairo ruled that it has no basis in Islamic law.
  • Preservation of virginity and chastity. FGM is believed to reduce a woman's libido and therefore help her resist "illicit" sexual acts. When a vaginal opening is covered or narrowed (type 3 and above), the fear of the pain of opening it, and the fear that this will be found out, is expected to further discourage "illicit" sexual intercourse among women with this type of FGM. 

  • Social acceptance for marriage. 

  • Myths - The animist Dogon people of Mali believe that the clitoris confers masculinity on a girl and the foreskin of a boy makes him feminine. 

Complications of the procedure have been unable to act as a deterrent. 
Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, bleeding, tetanus or bacterial infection, urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue.
Long-term consequences can include:
recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections; cysts; infertility; an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths. 

As against female circumcision, male circumcision has religious and scientific acceptance. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the benefits outweigh the risks in males. There is improved hygiene, lesser chances of urinary infection and sexually transmitted diseases and decreased risk of penile cancer. 

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. 

Every 11 seconds, a girl is mutilated. 

"Mama tied a blindfold over my eyes. The next thing I felt my flesh was being cut away. I heard the blade sawing back and forth through my skin. The pain between my legs was so intense I wished I would die."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Day in life without a cell phone

Unimaginable. Unthinkable. Impossible. 

That's how each one of us would react if asked to spend an entire 24 hrs without a cellphone. 
But as always. Life teaches us how to adapt and make the most out of the situations. 
I had no option. It wasn't an experiment nor was it deliberate. The iPhone charger was under the weather since a couple of days. As a result of which, my mobile started getting some hiccups. Acting as a layman I started with some home remedies and kept dragging on. But finally things gave way.

It was a Sunday and a day of relaxation. My initial hospital rounds were over when the phone finally got bedridden and refused to move. 
I was attending a conference when my 24 hrs journey sans my cellphone started. Nobody could disturb me now. I was away from the city and listening to the speaker with full intent. The first 30 mins or so, I kept fidgeting with the sick gadget not still ready to believe that it wasn't working. The auditorium was packed with a full capacity crowd. After the initial couple of hours, the silence of the phone started to get deafening.  Case discussions, debates, cross questions. It was all happening. But the mind didn't seem to focus anywhere else now. When would I be able to restart this techno? I finally accepted my fate and thought that it would be a good idea to make the most of this situation and learn how to live life without it. So, there were no further attempts made to restore normalcy.

Before hitting the sack, I realized that the day had passed off very peacefully. No pesky calls. No patient worries. Indeed it was a relaxing Sunday. 
The entire night I kept dreaming about the charge of the phone. Whether it was 20% or less didn't matter. What was important was that after so many years the dreams has been so vivid tonight.

There wasn't any alarm to wake me up. My biological clock had already set itself to 630 hrs since years. The morning didn't begin with the usual greeting messages. There was no whatsapp status updates nor Facebook status uploads. After a quick shower and breakfast, I left for work early since I had an extra job at hand - Purchasing the charger. 
I couldn't check my schedule for the day. Nor could I confirm my reminders. Panic had started to set in. I had to make use of the hospital landlines to make the necessary calls. Enough was enough. 
As I was set to leave for the Apple store, I realised how badly paralyzed life was without the services of a smartphone. I couldn't decide the best route to reach my destination. I desperately needed the Google maps - preposterous!!

Sanity prevailed and by late afternoon I was back in the company of my partner, my phone. How peaceful was life without the gizmo. I did however dare to turn it off for the rest of the day.

It's worth attempting this venture. Our mind does need some rest. Even on a vacation, we tend to carry it along, either not to miss the so called important calls or to avail the wifi services and keep the important chats going on. We have participated in the Earth day where we have switched off our power for a couple of hours. We have also involved ourselves in No TV day. Let's try a No Mobile Day now. Switch off your handsets and see the difference. 
Enjoy the little things in life for one day you will look back and realise that they were the big things. 

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Holiday

" The Holiday" - heralds the end of the Holiday season. Starring, the mighty Akshay Kumar, as the Indian Army officer who has come home for a holiday and gets involved in saving Mumbai from the throngs of terrorism and Sonakshi Sinha, the not so petite girl whom he woos for marriage. 

The movie starts off very interestingly, and keeps the audience hooked to their seats with the thrills. However, the execution falters big time. The script is promising but doesn't live upto expectations. The romantic overtures between the lead pair lack chemistry. The romance is practically non existent. Songs are pleasant to the ear but highly misplace
While, Akshay does look convincing in the action stunts, Sonali just plays an extended special appearance. Wonder, why she accepts such non substantial roles. Is it a result of her rigid non-kissing policy on screen? 
Farhad, as the debutante Villain would have made Johny Lever look more apt as the terrorist. 
Entertaining in bits and pieces, the other release Filmistan, would have been a better choice. 

The Holiday -, the other version would have been more appealing.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Whatsappitis: An inflammatory chat

It's finally official.
Whatsapp, the most popular social interacting messaging system has carved a niche for itself. It has been honored by the renowned medical journal, Lancet, by dedicating an illness to this chat service. 

Whatsappitis is what it has been called. 
A 34 yr old doc developed severe pain in both her wrists
on Christmas Eve due to constant messaging with both her thumbs on Whatsapp for a period of 6 hrs. The diagnosis was bilateral extensor pollicis longus tendinitis of the thumb. She was treated with analgesics and advised rest to the wrists which she failed to follow since she was again on duty on New Year's Eve and whatsapping again. 

In 1990, Nintendinitis, a similar term was coined for video games related strain injuries. 

Heavy cellphone users have earlier been found to suffer from ringxietyPhantom ringing or Phantom vibration syndrome, a phenomenon in which users imagine their phone ringing or feel it vibrate when it actually doesn't. 

Tenosynovitis caused by texting with mobile phones could well be an emerging disease. 

So, WhatsAppitis is to smartphones as Carpal tunnel syndrome is to keyboard. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Save our Souls: We are Indians, firstly and lastly.

As I was scouring through my photo roll searching for my latest DP, a picture happened to catch my eye.

It had inadvertently reached my album through the whatsapp downloads. It screamed of a national pride "Arvind Kejriwal as Time magazine's person of the year". I did feel proud since the AAP has been my only hope this Lok Sabha elections. But alas. This feeling was short lived. 

I somehow have a penchant for not easily accepting so called facts. 
My search through the Time magazine links revealed the true facts. 

Time has it's annual feature where it declares the most influential person of the year. Though it is preceded by an online opinion poll, the final decision is a jury based nomination. Our favorite AK (definitely not referring to Aamir Khan), has for sure topped the opinion poll with a big margin. This is no mean achievement. He thus found his way to the Time 100, which is the top 100 list of most influential people of the year declared on April 24, 2014. 

However, Beyonce Knowles, found herself on the US cover and Robert Redford, Jason Collins and Mary Barra on its international covers.

So, Mahatma Gandhi, back in 1930, still remains the only Indian to feature as the Time -person of the year, till date. 

This reminded me of a similar hoax message that was doing the rounds few months back.

When India Today wrote to the UNESCO asking for details and clarifications regarding this 'announcement', Sue Williams (Chief, Editorial, Press Relations and Unesco Courier, Bureau of Public Information, Unesco) wrote back that no such award has been announced. 

So why is this elaborate hoax?

If you would have clicked on any of the images,
you would have been directed to the registration page of a yahoo groups site called 'MumbaiHangOut'.

Vested interests ??

Sure, these are achievements you would have thought. But why have there been no official announcements or any celebrations? After all it was a UNESCO or TIME award, and not a joke.

But that is exactly what these are. Rather imprudent jokes, playing with the sentiment of millions of Indians.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just Dial - Tread with care

It's election fever pan India. everybody is taking help of the social media  to get their thoughts across. It could be for personal gain or a part of social activism. Not to be left far behind, I thought I should also join the circuit, albeit for a different cause. 
The subject here may not be that important, but it is quite relevant to our medical fraternity. This message needs to reach far and wide at the earliest to stop this farcical practice initiated by JUST DIAL- one of the finest search engines. 

The incident came to light yesterday when a close doc friend of mine who was leisurely holidaying abroad, called me - panic stricken. He reported some unruly behavior happening at his clinic and asked me to look into the matter.  
Apparently, a couple of patients had been given appointments for his consultation through the services of Just Dial even though the doctor was on leave. These patients were creating a ruckus outside the clinic premises claiming that the appointment was routed through JD but was given by the doctor's secretary. There seemed to be something spooky about this whole affair since the secretary in question blatantly denied giving any such fixtures as the doctor was on a planned vacation. 
It was up to my sleuthing to uncover this shady business. I called up the Just Dial service at 10 PM, wanting to get the contact number of Dr Shabbir Baldiwala. I was very politely asked if JD could book an appointment for me. Since I agreed, they apparently transferred the line to a person, some Mr Vijendra who claimed to be Dr Baldiwala's secretary. I asked for a Saturday appointment knowing fully well that the clinic is closed for consulting on Saturdays. I was promptly given a time for 5 PM. When I tried to reconfirm whether the doc would be available on Saturday, I was told by Vijendra that the time was confirmed since he was speaking from the clinic itself. Phew. 

Messages were exchanged and the appointment booked. The SMS sent to Dr Baldiwala does mention the client's phone number. So it is now the doctor's job to call up the patient and make the necessary clarifications. In all this exercise, who is being inconvenienced? The patient, the doctors or both??

Just Dial needs to answer this question before it is slapped with the CPA. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Save our souls: The PR stunt

Just a thought lingering in my mind since yesterday. 

Who is the most popular figure person in the Muslim Bohra community? 
Is there an iota of a doubt about that? 

Who is the most popular figure person in the Non- Bohra Muslim Community? 
With just a little doubt, Salman Khan. 

Isn't it too much of a coincidence that Mr Narendra Modi has met both these personalities within a span of 15 days. 

His intentions are crystal clear. Aren't they? 

The elections are looming large. With just a couple of strong contenders for the most coveted PM position, Mr Modi has come up with this brilliant PR stunt. 

Kudos to APCO, the PR consultancy handling his histrionics. 

At the face of it, no public figure would endorse a political party unless he or she is overtly associated with it. Thus, these seemingly evident encounters, would help NaMo to gain lost ground amongst the Muslims. 

The ball is now in our court. Whether to elect a person out of choice or out of compulsion. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Save our souls: The half mast controversy

We have been getting a flurry of images depicting our country's and others' flags flowing at half mast due to the death of our beloved Aqa Maula, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. 
As always, not to be easily convinced, I decided to do a small research and check out the facts before accepting them. 
It didn't take me long to get to the bottom of it all. 
Let's take our Indian flag. No better proof than first hand information. I went to Mantralaya myself and got a few pics to prove my point. As expected, our flag was not flying half mast.
Mantralaya as on 1630 hrs 19.01.14
Wikipedia has clearly stated the conditions when the flag is flown half mast. 
"The flag is flown half-mast nationwide on the death of the president, Vice-president or prime minister. It is flown half-mast in New Delhi and the state of origin for the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Union Ministers. On deaths of Governors, Lt. Governors and Chief Ministers, the flag is flown at half-mast in the respective states and union territories."

Also, the picture that is being fluently forwarded by one and all depicting our Indian flag at half mast is actually dated 14th Aug 2012 at the death of former CM- Vilasrao Deshmukh ( Note the image of the bird flying in the right corner of the image). 

To make matters worse, the US flag has also been shown at half mast. 

"Wyoming Governor Mead has ordered the United States flag and State of Wyoming flag lowered to half-staff statewide from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, January 18, 2014 in honor of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Andrew L. McAdams who died serving our country in the line of duty in Afghanistan on Friday, January 10, 2014."

Enough is enough. I am not going to individually check all flags of various countries and the reasons for their half mast. If people love and are happy with false information, so be it. But I won't accept things lying down. I thought it was my duty to make the gullibles be aware of the facts. But I don't think, this will ever stop. And probably my work would also never end.