Musings for a responsible society




Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my life...in vain!
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Great Indian Gall Bladder Stones Scam



This incident happened when my son was around eight years old. He complained of pain in his abdomen. Since home remedies did not help in reducing the pain, we showed him to a pediatrician. He suggested us to meet a pediatric surgeon. (I wondered what the role of a surgeon at that stage and I never knew that there was an exclusive surgeon for each age group!) The pediatric surgeon examined and suggested an ultrasound imaging (sonography). We got it done. After a while, I was asked to meet the doctor again. While waiting outside, I could see through the glass doors, the doctors (Pediatrician, Pediatric Surgeon and the Radiologist) sitting inside and jovially discussing the report. So I felt relieved assuming that everything was fine in the ultrasound report. I entered the room and one of the doctors asked me to sit. He said that there are stones in his gall bladder and surgery needs to be done. I asked them when I have to get it done. They said, ‘earlier the better’. They also told me the cost. It was about 4 times my monthly salary. They tentatively fixed a date for the surgery. My wife, who is a doctor suggested we consult another hospital, where at least the cost will be reasonable for a surgery.

                                    Image: ok.ru

We went to another hospital where we knew the doctor. He checked and said that he doesn’t suspect any issue in the gall bladder. He said it is only an infection and everything will be alright in a few days. Since he was very weak, he was admitted for two days. On our insistence, one more ultrasound imaging was done and we were told that there are no stones in his gall bladder!

I remembered the above incident that happened several years ago, when a person known to me shared his experience recently. Mr. Sethuraman felt a mild pain in his abdomen area continuously for a few days. The treatment given by the physician in the hospital in his town could not mitigate the condition. Ultrasound reports indicated that everything was normal. Since Sethuraman was a very rich businessman, his children wanted a detailed checkup done in the best hospital in the capital city rather than in the native town. He was brought to the corporate hospital where the doctors suggested one more sonography. . After seeing the report, he told Sethuraman that there are stones in his gall bladder and they need to be removed. They fixed the date of surgery. Meanwhile, the doctor at the hometown continued to maintain his position that there is nothing wrong with his gall bladder that demands an immediate surgery. They ultimately did not do any surgery and the pain vanished within a few days.

It is not just my son or Sethuraman, there are many others who had similar experience. This does not mean that all surgeries for removing gall bladder stones are not warranted. Surgical operations are effective and safe wherever there are genuine needs. The alternate remedies like ‘flushing out’ through olive oil therapy and other ‘natural’ medicines could be dangerous.

This question lingers in my mind: Why one set of doctors found many stones in the gall bladder and suggested immediate surgery and another set of doctors never found anything that requires a surgery in the cases reported above?

The words ‘Caveat Emptor’ (Buyer beware) is applicable in medical profession as well. But in this context, patients are knowledge deficient. They do not have the capability or opportunity to analyze and decide on the desirability of a treatment or procedure or any other medical intervention. I wished, there is an independent expert body one can rely on if there is confusion. Medical Council of India is a self-regulatory body which functions substantially for the welfare of the doctors than the patients because none other than doctors decide anything there. No patient or their relatives are in a stable emotional situation to seek justice in any consumer court. In a study conducted by MediAngels.com in Mumbai it was found that about 44% of the 12,500 patients for whom surgery was recommended were advised against it by their chosen doctors, from whom they sought a second opinion. In an ICMR sponsored study in Delhi recently it was found that substantial numbers of Caesarean-section surgeries are unnecessary. In his book ‘Medical Racket’, Martin L Gross wrote about the situation in America (Page 176): Millions of victims face unnecessary surgery, whether performed by doctors who operate out of ignorance, self-delusion, or simple greed. This 'has long plagued medicine and today still reaches epidemic proportions'.


Tailpiece: My Father-in-Law was admitted in a hospital in the same city where I work, and he was found to have stones in the prostate.  The specialist surgeon conducted a ‘successful’ surgery and reported that he removed all stones. Though the hospital bill was exorbitant, we felt relieved once the pain reduced and he got discharged from the hospital. He left to his hometown within a week. However, the pain reappeared within a week of reaching there and another expert surgeon said that there are still many stones! (Such incidents could result in loss of confidence of mother-in-law on her son-in-law!) Doctors continue to smile in a stony world!

© Sibichen K Mathew         Views are personal    sibi5555 (gmail)
Comments can be posted below.


Click to related related articles in Cyber Diary below


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ten things that make leaders envy Narendra Modi

(Isn't it worth to pick up some of these to sharpen our leadership skills?)
(This is not a ‘political’ article, but an academic writing on leadership styles)

  • When I say leaders, I don’t mean only political leaders. Senior bureaucrats, corporate CEOs and even religious leaders included here. 
  • When I say things, I don’t mean only attributes, but also attitude, advocacy, lifestyle, oration, and even silence.
  • When I say envy, I mean it in its ‘verb’ form and not the ‘noun’ form. So it is not covetousness, enviousness or jealousy that I am talking about, but a feeling of desire that emanates within self to emulate and replicate, though there is an inherent displeasure to the self for not treading such a road earlier. 
  • When I say Narendra Modi, I am not just talking about the one and only Narendra Modi about whom people talking about across the globe, but anyone who tries to reinvent governance with a vigor rooted in clarity of thought, a vision that is lucid, stable and long-term, and strategies that are radical and transformational, yet without any radical departure from the objects and ideals already established. 
  • I would not be giving specific examples or instances to underscore my point for three reasons: a) Some (most) of the tasks/policies are just evolving and cannot be subjected to an empirical analysis, b) Most of you will understand what I am talking about, though I don’t mention it vividly and c) This article is not aimed at giving a political critique or a governance appraisal. This is purely an academic exercise in the area of leadership.

(Since the focus is on the personality of Narendra Modi and not on his position as a Prime Minister, with due respect to that honorable position, I address him Mr Narendra Modi in this article)


1. The Grit

                                                             Image: PTI/firstpost.com
“Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our
fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only
a small part of our possible mental resources. . .men the world over
possess amounts of resource, which only exceptional individuals push
to their extremes of use”.
(William James wrote in his article titled  ‘The Energies of Men’ in 1907)

One needs the grit to push things in the dormant minds and mindsets. To put it differently, we need men of Grit to sustain the dream of every man and to ensure that they don't lose hope. 

A gritty individual’s path is not one that is smooth. But his passion for long term goals gives him energy and vitality to overcome the hurdles. 

Mr. Narendra Modi  does not talk about years but about an era. According to him, his vision is not limited to this century, but to an infinite future. 


2. The forbearance

                                                                  Image: Dailymail.uk

The forbearance may not be an important attribute if the society or the state exists in a unipolar, homogenous and mono-cultural environment. The going is tough in a multipolar, heterogeneous and poly-cultural environment. In a society that has historical, structural and cultural stratifications, disparities and prejudices, it is a herculean task to promise oneself as the cure for all related issues. This requires unlimited patience, unconditional preparedness to collaborate, and tolerance to ideas and ideals one was not familiar earlier. 

The biggest challenge is to slow-pedal on the sensitivities  that brought an individual the power, without displeasing the individuals and institutions that cling to a unipolar view. 

Mr. Narendra Modi has taken conscious efforts to transform himself from a mono-cultural, unipolar and homogeneous worldview to one that is inclusive. Many times, the transition that is slowly happening in the thought process is expressed not in as many words but in silence. 



3. The unpretentiousness

                                                   Image: dailymail.co.uk

Simplicity, modesty, naturalness,  and effortlessness (I mean, the ease) in interactions are hallmarks of unpretentious leaders. 

I don't refer here to a person’s words, dress (there was too much unwarranted sensation surrounding it), or even lifestyle. One need not demonstrate his modesty or simplicity by showcasing a Fakir-like way of life. It is not the way one dresses, the mode one chooses to travel or the house one stays that really symbolizes one’s simplicity or humility. People could use such symbolism to deceive the people with mediocre definitions of austerity and modesty. Real simplicity and modesty lie in a person’s ability to assimilate ideas, to respect sentiments, to take steps to become more tolerant and to be inclusive with people who try not to come near due to lack of trust.

Mr Narendra Modi has a personality that continuously strive to be less pretentious by taking conscious steps to reach out to people who are still not convinced about his credibility. 


4. The indefatigability




The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. (Robert Frost) 

Indefatigable spirit exists in anyone who persists tirelessly to reach any goal. It can be an attribute for a king as well as a thief. But the quality gets recognition and the individual gets reverence if the goals pursued are for the common good and achievable only with considerable mental stamina, inspirational leadership skills and ability to guide others to cross all the hurdles on the way. 

When the battlefield is tough, the objects are far, the environment is unstable and the time is limited, one has to run a marathon without slowing down. 

The promises of Mr Narendra Modi have implications and ramifications that are long term,  are aimed at changes at both micro and macro level, and can achieve only through transformation not only at the level of state, society, institutions and communities but at a very personal level of each individual. This requires continuous and simultaneous efforts at all levels.  He could be accused of ignoring one level or focusing on another level. The challenge lies in prioritizing the right one at the right time and convincing all stakeholders about that. To satisfy everyone, there is a need to work more and more, alternating between different levels. 


5. The diligence

                                                        Image: Indiatoday.in

There is nothing extraordinary about doing something that one is supposed to do or completing a task that is assigned to one. But performing it diligently merits recognition. Diligence characterizes proper understanding of the task, taking an ethical position, commiting to produce the best, determining to excel in the task at hand, avoiding latent and unintended consequences of the action, reducing the harm to the minimum, and ensuring long-term benefits and sustainability even at adverse conditions. 

Every leader aspires for applauses, votes, and awards and these can be grabbed easily when the people are looking for quick results, short term gains and magic formulae.  It is not difficult for smart leadership to give what people want. It can satisfy the ‘dominant’ interests with relative ease. However, what is difficult is to provide solutions that are enduring, inclusive, aimed at common good and that inflict least harm. 

Mr Narendra Modi is trying to have an attention to detail so that policies are comprehensive and offer enduring solutions. The challenge is to maintain a speed that cannot compromise the ‘substance’ while giving wide publicity to the ‘form’.  Only through diligence can one work on each task, if one is not craving for instant populism. That might be the reason that no work could be initiated on certain promises until the tasks at hand are given proper shape to implement. 


6. The fastidiousness



If you want to deliver something that is very challenging and exceptional, you can’t have a -‘please-all’, lax and ‘anything goes’ - leadership style! You cannot keep condoning mistakes. You cannot dilute the tasks or the strategies. 

It is not a blind pursuit for perfection, but a determination to follow the blue print, if that is absolutely essential to achieve the goals. 

Mr Narendra Modi, puts his iron hand on certain things irrespective of the criticisms. There is a danger! Satisfying the specific interests and becoming vulnerable to pressure groups could make him deviate from what he wants to do. 

7. The ethnocentric globalism



Ethnocentrism has a negative connotation in sociology and anthropology. They say that it is characterized by cultural relativism. The simplest definition of ethnocentrism could be this: to judge other cultures by the standards of the culture one has brought in or one is affiliated or one admires. In an era where cultures are corrupted through ‘unhealthy’ acculturation and assimilation, there is nothing abnormal if one tend to uphold one’s cultural values, if they have the potential to be inclusive and are aimed at happiness and  prosperity and can ensure peaceful coexistence of various communities and cultures. 

The negative connotation of ethnocentrism vanishes when the proponents, advocates and practitioners of a particular culture takes the finer universally productive attributes to a wider world and during the course, internalizes the virtues of other cultures and integrate the same in the home culture. 

Mr Narendra Modi, according to me, is a passionate advocate of what I chose to call ‘ethnocentric globalism’. He is keen to explore, recognize, appreciate and accept values and ideas dissimilar to the home traditions and culture. He becomes a winner when he identifies and successfully promotes the universally replicable knowledge rooted in his home culture and when people globally take note of them. 


8. The eloquence



What is eloquence? The dictionary meaning is ‘the ability to speak or write in an effective way’.  In a quote attributed to William Jennings Bryan, it is said that, ‘Eloquent speech is not from lip to ear, but rather from heart to heart’.

A leader is to demonstrate his eloquence in his speeches not by his exceptional language proficiency, his British accent, well prepared speeches (by ghost writers or otherwise) or by the captivating body movements. All of these may be important to some extent, but not central to a successful speech. A good speech comes straight from the heart, has clarity in expression and impresses the audience. 

Mr Narendra Modi has demonstrated to various national and international audiences that he can speak from his heart effortlessly in a language, style and content that most people understand and get inspired. 

9. The resoluteness


Firmness and determination are not ‘electives’ for an efficient leader, they are essentials. The leaders should be commanding. For this purpose, he should command respect from most people in his team, though some in the team could be jealous and over-critical. 

Resoluteness coupled with ethical sturdiness can bring in credibility. A leader who has faith in his own capability will not waver when faced with tough situations. 

Mr Narendra Modi, so far, has given an impression of being a resolute leader who is strong, firm, focused and goal-oriented. There could be accusation of ‘one-man show’ or dictatorial style. But these are natural responses when the leader wears the shoes of path finder himself with not many sharing his strategies initially, though might catch up later. 

10. The devoutness



The cult of leadership nurtured by spirituality has not been well received in recent history. That is mainly because of its link with religion. Thus, spirituality became one of the most misinterpreted words across cultures and disciplines. Though religion and spirituality could be inter-related, it cannot be used interchangeably. Spirituality has a strong status independent of religion.

Plato could not visualize a leadership other than a spiritual one. Nietzsche also believed in a spiritual leadership by the philosopher-king. According to Professor Philip Sheldrake, modern spirituality deals with the ‘deepest values and meaning by which people live’. It need not be essentially religious in nature.

Mr Narendra Modi, is a devout Hindu from his early childhood. He has been brought up learning scriptures of that tradition and got trained through strict discipline. He has decided to contribute his life in the service of the nation. As any person getting into any vocation could be influenced by his education, training and background, Mr Narendra Modi also could be influenced by the value systems and awareness internalized by him while formulating effective means to achieve the goals. If the devoutness boosts his creativity, efficiency and understanding of society, and if it is not against public interest and does not harm common good,  it is very positive and need to be appreciated. 

Disclaimer
The aim of the above article was not to showcase Mr Narendra Modi as a saint or as Mr Perfect, as there is none who qualifies for such adjectives in this world. This article does not proclaim that all his predecessors were imperfect or they never had any of these qualities. I am not a sympathizer of any organization that is political in nature. 

© Sibichen K Mathew    
Sibi5555 (gmail)                                                                                Views are personal.

More on Leadership by the author: Read When the Boss is Wrong

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Voice of the Hunted: A Review of 'Wisdom of the White Mountain'


                                                                Book Review: 'Wisdom of the White Mountain'

The voice of the hunted are suppressed. In every society and culture there are individuals who are destined to live the life of a serf. They are considered ever dependent even when sheer hard work made them step on their shoes. They are used to the humiliating experiences. They continue to bend their heads before the mighty and ever willing to lick what is thrown from the table of the lord even when there is no necessity. They are forced to sing eulogies to the immature successors of the breed of the masters.

The protagonist whom people called ‘Vella Pottan’ in the novel touched me so deeply. This is the story of an intelligent person who is made to believe that he is a dumb moron and in all obedience he acted cleverly foolish throughout his life. His childhood was marred by extreme poverty, discrimination and abuses and there was none to love him. He craved for legitimacy. Gradually he suffered an existential crisis which forced him to question the very meaning of life.

The novel clearly busts the hypocrisy of the social and political institutions and double standards of organized religions including the ones that claim to be the denomination of the suppressed.  The stratification within the religion that preached equality underscored the ubiquitous existence of discrimination against the low born.



The blurb of the book tells the theme very succinctly:
 “Some powerful men-including performers of black magic, underworld gangsters, sleuths, extremist zealots, and sellers of spirituality-chased a powerless, low caste man from a Kerala village through Mumbai, Karachi and Delhi till he finally escaped into the mountain ranges of Himalayas. All of them wanted to capture this man alive and keep him with them! However, none of these men could catch and keep this elusive man, as he always found his way to freedom. In the process of working out his escapes this man also unearthed some important mysteries of human life! Why did some powerful men continuously chase a low caste man? How did the man always find his way to freedom? What are the riddles he solved while he was trying to escape from his captors? Wisdom of the White Mountain is a suspenseful and adventurous story told in the cultural, spiritual and philosophical context of the South Asia. It is also about Karma, Kama and Jihad! It ultimately unravels greed and selfishness of powerful men who mix religion and politics to manipulate common people for advancing personal interests.”
This is a novel that would captivate you for its good narrative. It was very exciting to read the chapters and the book provided curiosity all along. This is the second novel of the author, though looked like a sequel (because of the similarity in the title) to his first fiction ‘Dolmens in the Blue Mountain’. I found this one much more deep, unconventional, and meaningful. It is not about pursuit of happiness, but pursuit for freedom.

The hunted themselves were made to be the weapons in the hands of the mighty to massacre others. They became life-less guns triggered by someone else. They crave for freedom and fight incessantly to reach a free world. However after each battle they realize that they entered another stage of bondage. History tends to repeat itself as the powerful continue to use the powerless for their advantage. This novel has the potential to become a globally acclaimed work for its theme and the presentation.

The author, Kandathil Sebastian holds a doctorate degree in Public Health and Social Sciences from JNU. He is a consultant for various international organizations.  Wisdom of the White Mountain is published by Frog books, an imprint of Leadstart Publishing. Pages 183. Rs 145. US $6. It is available in most online stores.


© Sibichen K Mathew      Views are personal          Share the post if you like it

Friday, January 30, 2015

The whimpers from the ventilator

Most people do not want their loved ones to reach the stage of eternal oblivion or them to get transformed to an extraterrestrial status in any heavenly or hellish surroundings so soon. Even when they are in their late eighties or in the nineties, we would like to have them with us. Death is a reality which we would not like to accept so easily. 

My grandma loved to live life ‘king size’. She took care of her health meticulously for several decades without missing her medicines even once.

 In my ‘Letter to Grandma’, I wrote:

 “You liked medicines, regular hospital visits and long chats with your favourite physician, Dr Ravichandran, a man of very few words. When one had to wait patiently for a word to come out of his mouth and lend the ears completely and place them in proximity to his mouth, and struggle to watch closely his lip movements to decipher what he says, how could you spend such a long time with him who was known for his irritating silence and expression-free face? Your unstinted faith in the doctor and in the Allopathic medicines made you feel better from a host of ailments for many decades. I used to see you popping several tablets of different colours into your mouth since your early forties. That is my earliest memory which I can recall as a nine year old boy, who used to spend my days in your house, skipping school faking headaches. Even when you were in the hospital, you never missed to apply Pears face wash, Ponds face cream and ‘Cuticura’ talcum powder. You always went to the surgery table with a smile after handing over the keys of your treasures kept in your room to the nurse and not to any of your children or grandchildren”

From the above extract, I am sure you could understand the ‘persona’ of my Grandma. She loved a royal life and appreciated the creator and the creation. 

Neither she nor we, the close relatives, realized when she was admitted to the best corporate hospital in the district with the complaint of a skin infection on her legs that she would not return to her home. Within a few days, she developed respiratory tract infection. Her heart worked fine with her third pace maker. But the chest infection became serious and she could not breathe normally. She continued to be in the Intensive Care Unit. As her condition worsened, the doctors briefed the situation. They asked her children whether they can move her to the ventilator, though the survival is difficult even with ‘life support’. As all of them wanted it, she was put on a ventilator. Most of the children and grandchildren who are around, sat outside the room for days together.  They went to see her one by one during the permitted time every day. 


She took hold of the hand of one of her sons and scribbled something with her finger on his palm. She looked at him and having realized that he didn't understand what she wrote, took his hand again. She ‘rubbed’ what she wrote earlier with her fingers and wrote again slowly. The son could make out what she wrote: ‘Pace Maker’. Everybody knew why she wrote that. She had thought that the current problems are because of the pace maker or its battery and it needed to be replaced. She knew about the huge cost and wanted the children not to hesitate in ordering the device thinking that it is of no use at the old age. She didn't want to leave this beautiful world. “At any cost, I want to be back at home”, that was the expression.

Slowly, it was conveyed to her that pacemaker was working well. She realized that something else was seriously wrong. Whenever we met her inside, we saw tears flowing down. She might have felt claustrophobic with the mask and tried to pull out the wires and tubes. As days went by, she felt that survival is bleak and her eyes pleaded us to remove her from the life support. She couldn't tolerate the pain, suffocation and the state of helplessness. But, for her children, they wanted to trust the words, ‘10% chance of survival’, given by the doctors even if each day in the ventilator added huge amounts to the hospital bill. For a person who loved life and who was always optimistic, they thought, nothing should be left without trying. 

       Photo by Dr. Vanita Mathew

There is a roll call for all of us to leave the world. There is no exception. And my Grandma died in the early hours of the day. After the funeral, we came back to her home and found two sheets of paper in her cupboard where she had neatly listed her treasure and clearly written who will take what as per her assessment of the needs. She wrote: ‘Dear children, you should never fight and you should take care of each other. Please do not forget to offer Holy Mass every year on the day of my death and pray for me at my cemetery’. 

I can’t tell that it was a peaceful death. I am sure she went through her worst in those days than during her entire lifetime. Though she had an ardent desire to live, the ‘artificial’ life with the help of ventilator would have made her hate the world. I ask myself: Were we right in putting her in the ventilator for weeks? Shouldn't have we given her an opportunity to leave the world naturally while at her home with all of us nearby? 

A few months back, I came across an excellent and thought provoking article in the ‘Malayala Manorama’ daily by Dr Suresh Kumar, a passionate speaker and writer on the subject. He is the Director of Institute of Palliative Medicine, Calicut, Kerala.  The article is in Malayalam. I have given below a few valuable points he made in the above article. 

‘Whenever I took classes to the Doctors in India and abroad on Palliative Care I asked this question: ‘Are you ready to die the way your patients died at the hospital bed?’ Most of them told me they weren't. They are very much aware that hospital is not a place for peaceful death. Why then so many people made to spend their last days in hospitals? To this question, they say ‘external pressure’.
There are many types of pressures. If we ask the doctors, they would say that there is pressure from the relatives of the patients. In private conversations, at least some doctors would admit that there is pressure from the hospital management. If we ask the relatives of the patients, they would say that what public will think if we take our dear ones home without trying all available facilities at the hospital, though they knew that won’t help.
For patients, spending their last days in ICU is a very traumatic experience. One could imagine, how these patients felt, as they were made to spend their last days amidst a few machines, wires and unfamiliar people. They would have wished to see their near and dear ones at those moments when they had to leave the world.
There is a mind-boggling economic dimension to the above scenario. Statistics indicate that in Scotland, half of the annual income of a hospital comes exclusively from the patients who spent their last days in that hospital. As per the estimates from the medical insurance sector in the United States, people incur majority of their medical expenditure in the last six months of their life.
I don’t say that one should not go to the hospital for a major ailment. Hospitals can certainly provide necessary relief. However, the society should also think about the significance of peaceful death at the most comfortable and happy environment. Person should be made aware of the fact that the death is nearing and there is no way it can be prevented. That awareness can make her prepare for the inevitable eventuality through an introspection of her life. She might want to talk to others and share many things to them. The dear ones would get a chance to be near her.’

Which better place to spend the last days than in one’s home?  With whom one can find peace and happiness other than the near and dear ones? As Dr Sureshkumar rightly mentioned, an open debate is necessary on this subject. The government, hospital management, doctors, relatives of the patients and the public should understand that patients who are in their deathbeds have their rights, aspirations and wishes. Of all of them, the doctors under whom the patient is admitted, play a crucial role in advising the relatives correctly, without succumbing to any social or professional pressure or any financial interest, to ensure a peaceful ‘departure’ to those patients whose chances of survival are limited. 

                              © Sibichen K Mathew         Views are personal
Your views and comments may be posted below or send me to sibi5555 (gmail)
You may also like to read: Ageing with grace and dignity

Sunday, January 18, 2015

When 1000 bloggers spread stories about compassion



February 20, 2015

A day when 1000 voices across the world spread stories of compassion!

They will write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, caring for the environment etc.

Blogosphere, for a change, will become a platform that showcases ideas worth spreading to the entire universe to bring in peace, harmony, welfare and happiness.

This unique project is getting ready under the leadership of Yvonne Spence

If you like to join to write a blog post on the theme on the above date, get in touch with 1000 Voices for Compassion


To inspire those who are preparing for their posts on compassion, let me reproduce one of my earlier articles on a compassionate soul, who was a school drop-out, thief and a convict.

Read below: (Do not forget to see the short film at the end)

Auto Raja: An Angel 

Post below what you feel about this or e-mail me at sibi5555 (gmail)

                                                                 © Sibichen K Mathew

Of Writer’s block, Ligament injury and the Lessons on care



‘Is everything fine?’
That was the question from many of my blog readers in the past few weeks.
“Why there were no new blog posts in the last two months?”

Yes, that was the longest ‘Lockout’ in the history of Cyber Diary. The reason was very simple. I was suffering from what generally called a ‘Writer’s Block’. I didn't feel like writing anything in the blog. I was watching my blog rank dropping from the eighties to the seventies and now to a pathetic 62.

There could be many diagnosed and 'undiagnosed' causes for the pathological condition. It is true that I had a fall resulting in an ‘ankle twist’ and ligament injury two months back. My leg was put on a synthetic cast for about 20 days and I walked with a crepe bandage for a few weeks. My mind was active. My body was active too. But I couldn't write anything.

Knowing very well that some of the past New Year resolutions exploded like a rocket mid-air, I had a few for this year too. The one that said I will have a blog post every week has already broken within the first fortnight!

What did my ligament injury teach me? Never say ‘No’, when someone tries to help. I used to politely refuse any help from anyone thinking that it will be a burden for that person. I had thought that I should not get unduly obligated. I now realized that it is nothing but pride that prevents us from taking the help of others. We need to depend on each other. It is necessary for true bonding between people.

My leg was sprained (ligament was injured because of the ankle twist) while I was attending a meeting in an unfamiliar city. I cannot forget the blessings I received through people whom I didn't know till that time. Mahesh and his team took me to the hospital. The doctor who was busy with his orthopedic surgery was kind enough to examine the X-Ray without any delay. As I couldn't move around, it was the local staff who packed my personal luggage. One of them brought an ice-pack and applied continuously on the injured area. Another gentleman went to the station and changed my tickets and got allotted a lower berth for comfortable travel. They brought two pillows so that I could keep my leg up during the travel. When I reached the destination early morning, my colleague was waiting for me with a hot cup of coffee in the flask.
                                                                                                   (http://svdpsm.org)

Back home, my wife and children were too eager to assist me in everything. I enjoyed the privilege of being served meals on the bed. I didn't have to do any house hold chores I meticulously carried out earlier. I didn't have to rush to open the door when the bell rang. I could enter home with the shoes on and could keep them near my bed instead of the shoe rack kept in the balcony. My daughter didn't ask me to iron her uniforms in the mornings. I could blissfully sleep till late in the morning and got out of the bed only after the coffee and the newspapers were placed. My driver John took extra care of me wherever I went.

When we get an opportunity to be served by others, we need to accept that with humility and gratitude. That can motivate us to serve others, including the strangers, with added enthusiasm and sincerity. The world will become a better place when there is continuous caring and sharing between people. A realization that we cannot live without depending on others can strengthen our relationships with others. That can certainly shatter our ego, selfishness and pride.


Wishing all readers a very Happy New Year! 

Post what you feel about this below or mail me at sibi5555 (gmail). 

                                                                     © Sibichen K Mathew

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Most viewed blog posts - 2013

Here are my articles published in Cyber Diary in 2013, which got maximum readership.


1

My attempt is to look at their family backgrounds, the ‘significant others’, their schooling and the immediate social environment and understand the influence of each of these factors on their attitudes, behavioural patterns and views of life


Read:
Edward Snowden, Aaron Swartz, and Julian Assange: Who made them what?


2

The Indian Railways (IR) continued to be the single largest settlement for all rats in the world. That is the impression anyone could get after watching the rats going around inside the trains, around the trains, on the railway platforms, and inside hundreds of offices and commercial outlets in the railway stations. There are innumerable bedbugs inside the berths.




Read:
A  Journey with cockroaches: The ‘static’ Indian Railways and the public woes


3

Auto Raja is a living angel. He rescued more than 5000 persons from the streets. A life worth living.


Read (and view the short film at the end):
With Auto Raja- An Angel for the beggars and the unwanted


4

Instead of going to overcrowded beaches and highly commercialized tourist locations, why don't you explore a very serene place in Southern India?



Read:
Have you ever been to Karwar beach?


5


If ‘Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho was a story about a Shepherd boy following his dream, Benyamin’s ‘goat days’ is a real life story of a young man who pursued his dream and ended up as a shepherd in a sterile wasteland.


Read:
Goat Days: A real-life story of a young man's journey to loneliness



6

Sharwari, the young installation artist, is an inspiration for all, not just as an artist, but as a person deeply involved in spreading a message of freedom to women across the globe, especially those who were victims of abuses.



Read:
Why she loves butterflies? A conversation with an Installation Artist


7

He was very shy. She was very smart. He was an introvert. She was a chatterbox. He didn't care how he appeared. She was worried how he appeared.



Read:
The unborn love

8

The debate on the utility or futility of ‘capital punishment’ is vibrant for several decades. Naturally, following one liner I posted in a social networking site evoked varied responses from a few of my friends.


Read:

'Kill the rapist': The state and the death penalty


9


I was shocked to read the following news item in the paper the other day titled ‘Taunted, ‘skinny’ boy kills self’.


Read:
A few birthday thoughts: The suicide of a 'skinny' boy



10

Most of the gifts in today’s world have more than one strings attached to them. Therefore, the less gifts you receive, the less obligated you are.



Read:
Who hates gifts? Of bouquets, gifts, and mementos


11

Just before the examination, three persons came to the examination hall and inquired with the candidates whether they are willing to pay money for getting the post. If they agree, their roll numbers will be noted and they would be ‘taken care of’ while awarding the marks for the written examination. A few of them went near to those job brokers and whispered their ‘offers’ secretly in public view.


Read:
'Marry my daughter if you want to become a babu' : The corruption in the job recruitment



12

All of us want to lead a healthy life. Yet, we don’t want to forego the tasty stuff! Is there any acceptable combination of abstinence and indulgence in our life?I have heard many nutritionists, dietitians and health experts speaking on this subject. But, when I talked to Atraeyee Suman, I found that there is something unique about what she says. I thought, it should be shared with all my readers.


Read:

Eat well to lose weight: Tips from an enlightened foodie! 

13

Whenever I asked my mother to buy any toy or ice cream, the answer would be, ‘No money, we need to pay for the chits’. Me and my sister hated chits so much, as most of my mother’s salary was drained as subscription to chits.




Read:

Chit funds, my mother and the Saradha scam



14

History and related records show that most popes could not succeed in providing spiritual leadership uncorrupted by the material world and accompanying profanity.



Read:
The return of the fisherman: The new Pope and a few hopes for a third Vatican Council


15

There are many books in this library which are not read even by a single person in the last several years. What a national waste of infrastructure and resources?


Read:
Faceless libraries in a Facebook age: Read what is happening inside some of the libraries



16

There is so much written and talked about the abuse of children by individuals. But very less has been discussed about the institutional child abuses. It is worthwhile to mention about two types of abuses on innocent children by institutions



Read:
The institutional child abuse: What is the panacea? 


17
A ten year old’s Holy Week memoirs



Read:
ഒരു പത്തുവയസുകാരന്‍റെ വിശുദ്ധവാര ഓർമ്മകൾ


18

The movie 'Special 26' is not based on any imagination. One should know about repeated incidents of fake searches happening in many places. There are many such cases reported and much more go unreported. Most of these fake searches happen in the name of Income Tax Department.


Read:


19

As we both wait in the reception of the school like ‘guilty parents’ waiting for the judgment, there is a little solace; the sight of many such couples sitting there, without uttering a word between them or between the couples. Not even a smile was exchanged!

Read:


20

Here is a story of a young man who successfully implemented a new business model to bring back all the customers who shifted the loyalties to supermarkets owned by large corporates.



Read:

21

Charismatic and captivating presence have instilled vigour and enthusiasm among the people. Most effective instrument that stimulated and influenced millions was the historic speeches made by these great individuals



Read:

22

For many people, microphone is a weakness. The moment a microphone is given, their main mission is to say something that can amuse the people. Very few have the self-control to abide by the time allotted to them.

Read:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Most viewed blog posts in 2012

Following articles posted in my blog in 2012 received maximum readership among all the blog posts.



1

Google  is almost synonymous with internet for millions of people. Many are not aware that every action in the net are tracked, stored and probably shared with others. Google has notified its new Privacy Policy  which will be effective from 1st March 2012. Here is an attempt to critically examine privacy issues in the net and the new Privacy Policy of Google.


Read:
No privacy anymore? A critical look at Google’s new Privacy Policy



2

Unlike other children who uttered 'pa' or 'ma' as his first word, baby Julian cried 'why?'. And the parents (the mother, father and the stepfathers in his life) weren’t shy of his ‘why?’ He preferred books to toys.  Had to stay in more than fifty towns in Australia and studied in more than thirty schools, mostly in the suburbs. So he was always labelled as a ‘new boy’ in every school.


Read:


  3   


A real life story for every aspiring manager!


Read:


4

You are now confused! Whom you should listen: the freewill or conscience?



Read:


5


What a shame for all Keralites and all malayali men particularly. Also what a great lesson she has given to all women who live in and visit Kerala..



Read:



6

I get really furious whenever there is a demand from my children to throw this car. I ask them, in our city, whether it is a Maybach Exelero or a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce Phantom or a BMW, all can go only at the same speed as the Maruti 800.


Read:





7

Most of the employers check the FB before selecting an employee. Nothing you update, contribute, comment or like in FB is erased permanently. Even after you deactivate your account, the data remains



Read:



8

My journey in search of a Christmas Card, though disappointing, was an eye opener about how 'Christmas' has changed over a period of time....



Read:

Most viewed blog posts in 2011


Some of my blog posts of 2011 had thousands of views. I have given below the top 7 articles published in Cyber Diary (in terms of maximum readership)in 2011. Read them if you have missed. 

1
Have we lost our freedom?: The freedom to talk and the freedom to listen; the freedom to walk and the freedom to rest; the freedom to laugh, or at least the freedom to cry in solitude? 



Read: 
Leave Me Alone:   Right to Privacy in a Snooping World




2
I hate March. I prayed, year after year, the impossible! To get rid of March.

Read:
Why I hate March?


3
Most of us face this dilemma. What should I eat? Let me take you through a tasty journey


Read:
Tell me, what should I eat?


4
January 30th is the International day of Peace. The day also marks the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was a champion of peace. What better way to spend this day than with a Nobel Laureate. I could make it to the lecture by Dalai Lama on 30th January 2011 at Bangalore on the topic ‘ Finding Happiness in Troubled Times’. Here are some interesting highlights of his talk.

Read:
A Day with Dalai Lama



5
I still get thorns and sharp glass pieces stuck on my feet. But I continue to walk through that road less travelled. I try to enjoy the pain. But let me confess. Concrete, well-lit highways and colourful landscapes still tempt me.


Read:
Today is my birthday


6
It took many years' struggle to deal with the abuse, as an adult. First I had to confront him, which was easier than forgiving him. I had to forgive him, as I wanted to get rid of the feeling of his touch which I could feel even after years. I finally looked into his eyes with God's power of forgiveness and shook hands with him and made peace.

Read:
Aleph, Paulo Coelho and my Friend: The Journey Within


7
 The police found the television and several household articles trashed. Following was reportedly written in the suicide note signed by both mother and son:
“We are damaging a few things (precious) to us. We have already dumped some things in the Cauvery river along with Kumaresan’s ashes. We don’t want anybody to use these goods. Please destroy these damaged items. Our recently purchased ‘Tata Nano’ car, a bike, chit fund investments and other house hold items may be donated to orphanages or for charity.”


Read:
“If anybody wants to see us, you have to break open the door”!

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