UK flees NHS for BLR

More on how islands of quality are proliferating in India — the Guardian covers British medical tourism (via Political Animal):

Last year some 150,000 foreigners visited India for treatment, with the number rising by 15% a year… Naresh Trehan, who earned $2m… a year as a heart surgeon in Manhattan… said that his hospital in Delhi completed 4,200 heart operations last year. “That is more than anyone else in the world. The death rate for coronary bypass patients… is well below the first-world averages… Nobody questions the capability of an Indian doctor, because there isn’t a big hospital in the United States or Britain where there isn’t an Indian doctor working…”

“Everyone’s been really great here. I have been in the NHS and gone private in Britain in the past, but I can say that the care and facilities in India are easily comparable,” says Mr Marshall, sitting in hospital-blue pyjamas. “I’d have no problem coming again…”

As in most of India, the well-off live very comfortably after walling off the world outside:

“When I was in the car coming from the airport we got stuck in really heavy traffic… I thought, ‘Oh hell, I’ve made a mistake.’ ” But once in his airconditioned room [in Bangalore], with cable television and a personalised nursing service, the 73-year-old says that his stay has been “pretty relaxing. I go for a walk in the morning when it is cool but really I don’t have to deal with what’s outside”.

But high-end private hospitals far outstrip public ones in quality of care:

“The poor in India have no access to healthcare… We have doctors but they are busy treating the rich in India… For years we have been providing doctors to the western world. Now they are coming back and serving foreign patients at home.”

The island effect is natural, the public sector usually lags the private. But the disparity can become a flashpoint in the long run.

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The Bay Area edition of has been buzzing lately over one woman’s post in the Rants and Raves section. Apparently the number of responses she has gotten has inspired her to start her own blog. Normally I would never consider linking to a blog that is so young that it only has two entries, but I have a nose for controversy and thought I’d help this woman by sending some traffic her way (and start a gender war as a bonus). Yes, I am a troublemaker. From her post:

I can tell you the reason why most girls, desi or non don’t like to go for Indians. I have heard more than 100 stories in the last few years from every woman I know who has dated or tried a relationship with a desi guy.

1. There is always that, let’s have a relationship now and I love you and I want to marry you but I won’t tell anyone of my friends or family that you even exist. You are just a friend and then one fine day, make a trip to India to “visit” family and the guy either comes back married or engaged and his answer is “sorry but they forced me and now I can’t do anything.” Some get even worse and then say, I always told you my parents would never approve of anyone that I found and other b.s. things like that. My point is, desi guys tend to want to lie and are dishonest about long term futures even when things are going well and they don’t have the balls to stand up for someone even if they love them. <<<-------- This is the BIGGEST reason why I know most women wont even look at a desi as a serious relationship matter.. What good is it if he can't be a man?

2. They are too cheap. I have actually had a desi guy ask me to split a bill at Taco Bell.. I mean, hey I don’t mind going dutch but ocassionally it would be nice to see a guy actually making things a little romantic than finding the cheapest way to a date.

3. They are NOT romantic. They have no concept of how to treat a woman period. They don’t know about bringing flowers on special occassions or sometimes, just cuz. They don’t know how to show their emotions and care for someone. Their idea of a date is sitting at home or at Naz, watching a Desi movie over a dinner at an indian restaurant. They have no concept of doing something to please a woman and let’s face it.. desi or not, women love romance.

Have you heard enough or are you thirsty for more? Needless to say I think this girl is wrong in most of her generalizations. We are victims of our own designs when it comes to dating and love. I am also pretty sure that some Indian male is going to come up with a counter list. It won’t be me however 🙂

I don’t mean to generalize but most women will give you a reason or reasons between the above mentioned ones as to their experiences with a desi guy. Since there aren’t that many desis to go around, once a woman has one or two experience like this, they stay away from desis in general.. Hence, anyone who may not even fit in to this catagory will suffer because of your fellow desi men who have used and abused these above mentioned criterias too much.

You bastards!

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Desi Sex in the City

sx291200513110.jpgAn interesting premise that seems to have gone nowhere

SaharaOne’s much hyped show, Kuch Love Kuch Masti, a spin off on the global hit Sex and the City may not live long enough to see its end. The show about three urban girls who have no qualms discussing love and sex started off with alot of razzmatazz. The media and audiences were curious to see if the show lives up to the comparisons made with its foreign counterpart.

When faced with accusations of copyright violations, the show’s producer responds in tres Desi fashion – indignant denial –

When asked about the show drawing inspiration from the global hit Sex and the City, he is quick to claim, “I don’t know why these comparisons are made, but the show is definitely not a take off on Sex and the City.”

Having seen Indian Superman, call me a skeptic. 😉 Continue reading

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“Street Cred” as a ladies man

“With great power comes great responsibility.” So Spiderman’s uncle tells him. Raj Bhakta knows just what Uncle Ben was talking about. From the Vail Daily:

Since starring on “The Apprentice,” local Raj Bhakta has earned some major street credit as a ladies man.

Raj was a special guest doing commentary at the ceremony where Yahoo announced its earnings. Raj was chosen because he had the most hits on Yahoo out of all the characters on “The Apprentice.” He even pinned a bow tie on the CEO.

“A group of three guys, Indian guys – who are not the smoothest guys with women, generally – come up to me afterward and they were asking me, seriously, about what to do to get girls,” said Raj. “Like I know what the hell I’m doing. I’m saying things like ‘pony up’ on national television.”

Ahh yes. I too share in Raj’s pain. What? I have street cred. Fine, whatever.

“I don’t do anything differently than what all other guys are thinking of doing. I just do it. A guy sees Anna Kournikova. Anna Kournikova is a beautiful sex symbol in America. You want to try to take Anna Kournikova out. So what the hell, try.”

In addition to disseminating advice to the young playas out there, Raj would like to continue with his political venture,

His long-term ambition is to serve the people in a political realm, inspired by his successful immigrant parents who have given him a unique perspective into the greatness of America.

“America has one sacred duty to all of its citizens and that is to give them a fighting chance. There needs to be a middle of the road, representing young people – rational people – who believe in small government and freedom. Things that we all hear about that are slowly being stripped away,” said Raj.

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Girish Soni: Foreign agent or just “crafty”?

The New York Times recently reported that Democratic Congressman Anthony D. Weiner’s (who is running for Mayor of New York City) office has come under scrutiny for a series of suspicious mayoral campaign donations, all brokered by one Girish Soni.

Mr. Weiner collected more money orders in the last six months than any other Democratic mayoral candidate, all of them turned in by a New Jersey pharmacist, Girish Soni, who has raised thousands of dollars for Mr. Weiner’s Congressional campaigns since 1998, according to federal and city campaign finance records.

Mr. Soni gave the Weiner for New York Committee 29 money orders for $250 apiece on Nov. 24, along with two checks totaling $2,000. Each contribution was in a different name, but 25 of them included no information about the person’s profession or place of employment, as required by campaign finance laws, and several of the donors could not be located at the addresses provided.

Two people whose names appear on money orders said yesterday that they did not recall making the contributions.

Smita Parekh of Queens said she knew nothing about it and referred questions to her husband, Dilip Parekh, who expressed bewilderment at learning that he and his wife were listed as contributors to Mr. Weiner.

“I didn’t send in any money order, no sir,” Mr. Parekh said in a telephone interview from a grocery store he operates in Manhattan. “My wife works for Mr. Soni’s friend. Maybe that has something to do with it.”

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Bashir ordered to testify in Jacko circus

The judge in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial ordered journalist Martin Bashir to testify as a government witness against the pop singer, despite his attempts to avoid participation.

From the Sunday Mail:

The TV reporter — whose documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” triggered the investigation against the star — has been called as a “necessary witness” in the trial, which starts (Monday).

Bashir, 42, had tried to get out of giving evidence by citing a law that protects reporters from having to testify about things they see while working on a story.

Bashir became the first desi network correspondent for one of the big three broadcast outlets when he joined ABC’s “20/20” in December. His debut story for the news magazine was an interview with BALCO head Victor Conte, who admitted to supplying illegal supplements to some of the sports world’s most successful athletes.

This year’s trial of the century kicked off today in southern California, and the mainstream press is in the process of wetting itself, because there really isn’t anything else of importance going on in the world.

Sunday Mail: Jacko on trial: Bashir in the box
The Smoking Gun: Bashir a government witness in Jacko trial?

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Who gets the microphone?

The NYT reviews the latest book by Wendy Doniger, a University of Chicago professor who studies Hinduism:

Though sexual imagery is found throughout Hinduism’s baroque mythology, many groups would like to minimize its importance. They have different concerns: some with purity, some with Hindu power, some with minimizing the influence of “Eurocentric” commentators…

… threatening e-mail messages were sent to Ms. Doniger and her colleagues. And in November 2003, an egg was lobbed at her at the University of London… Scholarship about Hinduism has also come under scrutiny. Books that explore lurid or embarrassing details about deities or saints have been banned. One Western scholar’s Indian researcher was smeared with tar, and the institute in Pune where the scholar had done his research was destroyed. Ms. Doniger said one of her American pupils who was studying Christianity in India had her work disrupted and was being relentlessly followed. [NYT]

What struck me about this story is the degree to which the reviewer absolutely, unquestioningly takes Doniger’s side without acknowledging there might be another point of view. She’s pushed the envelope, to say the least, on sexual, Freudian interpretations of Hindu mythology and reportedly called the Gita ‘a dishonest book’:

Sri Ramakrishna, the 19th century Hindu saint, has been declared by these scholars as being a sexually-abused homosexual, and it has become “academically established” by Wendy Doniger‘s students that Ramakrishna was a child molester, and had also forced homosexual activities upon Vivekananda… Other conclusions by these well-placed scholars include: Ganesha’s trunk symbolizes a “limp phallus”; his broken tusk is a symbol for the castration-complex of the Hindu male; his large belly is a proof of the Hindu male’s enormous appetite for oral sex. Shiva, is interpreted as a womanizer, who encourages ritual rape, prostitution and murder, and his worship is linked to violence and destruction. [Sulekha]

This is a hairy issue, so let me tease out various threads here. I’m not in favor of right-wing Hinduism; I’m certainly against any form of academic intimidation. And there are, in fact, rich veins of sexuality in Hindu mythology. It’s one of the ways Hinduism feels more organic, less Puritan to me than the fire-and-brimstone self-abnegation of the Bible.

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Use the shakti, Luke

This post is from the files of Mr. ‘Everything Comes From India’ and the chest-thumpingly nationalist father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

An author who’s a Hare Krishna is penning a tome on how Star Wars was inspired by Hindu myths. In his formulation, The Jedi and the Lotus, the Force comes from Brahma, Yoda and Luke are guru and disciple, Jedi training is yoga and the Jedi rules are the warrior code of the kshatriya.

[J]ust as Star Wars takes place in deep space, most of the battles in the Ramayana take place in sophisticated aircrafts, and Arjuna, too, in the Mahabharata, is said to engage in many battles while in outer space… Ancient Indian myths are perhaps the earliest examples of these world myths, while Star Wars is merely among the most contemporary… I look at George Lucas’ major influences, from Flash Gordon to Joseph Campbell, and how Indian tales form the central core around which his series is modelled.

So much sci-fi rips from warrior mythology (samurai, cowboys), I find it hard to believe a claim of exclusive inspiration, although there’s an interesting argument for the ferengi and Klingons in Star Trek being desi in origin.

Film pioneer Kaul visits L.A.’s REDCAT

The Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) screens the work of filmmaker Mani Kaul on Monday night, and will have the New Indian Cinema trailblazer in attendance for questions.

Some of Kaul’s more notable films include “Uski Roti,” “Siddheswari,” and “Naukar Ki Kameez.” The 60-year-old filmmaker’s work has screened at festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Rotterdam and Pesaro, as well as venues such as New York’s MOMA and Paris’ Centre Georges Pompidou.

The REDCAT is located in downtown Los Angeles at the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. You can kill two birds (if you’re into that sort of thing) with one stone by finally visiting the architect’s recently completed and hotly-debated building.

General admission tickets for the Kaul event are $8, and are available for online purchase.

REDCAT: An evening with Mani Kaul
Indian Cinema Database: Mani Kaul

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The Anatomy of a Spider

By now it is quite well known (see previous post)that Marvel Comics and Gotham Entertainment launched a version of Spiderman for the Indian market. Despite the fact that Peter Parker is now Pavitr Prabhakar the story is very similar. The Weekly Standard quotes Gotham CEO Sharad Devarajan:

It is one thing to translate existing U.S. comics, but this project is truly what we call a “transcreation,” where we actually reinvent the origin of a property like Spider-Man so that he is an Indian boy growing up in Mumbai [formerly Bombay] and dealing with local problems and challenges. I have always believed that the superhero relates to a “universal psyche” already firmly established in India through centuries of mythological stories depicting gods and heroes with supernatural abilities . . .

Though we will remain true to the underlining mythos of Spider-Man, which is epitomized in the phrase “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility,” the character will be reinvented so his powers, problems and costume are more integrated with Indian culture. Unlike the U.S. origin, which is deeply rooted in science, the Indian version is more rooted in magic and mythology.

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