Efforts on to standardize Ayurveda

In response to a feature in The Times of India: “Efforts on to standardize ayurveda,” “Medicinal plant cultivation: Change in approach needed,” “Not enough facilities to ensure quality of medicines,” Feb. 22, 2016.

Achieving full potential of Ayurveda [2, 3, 4] medicines require a much broader approach than what is currently in use. Trying to fit Ayurveda into the existing framework used by modern medicine is less than optimum. The organizing principle for modern medicine is “treatment of diseases.” With gross simplification, modern medical model for pharmacology consists of:

  • diagnosing, identifying symptoms and causes of diseases,
  • identifying, discovering substances and compounds that can alleviate the symptoms, and
  • treatments for symptomatic cure.

In contrast, the organizing principle in Ayurveda is “normal health.” And the fundamental idea is to assist the body to return to normal health using naturally occurring substances. Hence, the benefits achievable using Ayurveda system with a disease-oriented model, will be less than its full potential. Better results are possible with a personalized, helath-oriented framework.

In modern pharmacology, once the active ingredients are identified and dosages determined, standardization and quality assurance are straight forward.

But dependence on natural substances by Ayurveda inherently makes standardization and quality assurance methods used in modern pharmacology a misfit, due to natural variations in the substances used. A personalized health/wellness centered framework is better suited for Ayurveda. Developing such a health-centered framework is necessary to help achieve the full potential for Ayurveda.

Over dependence on traditions may not always by helpful. In addition, incorporating current medical knowledge, biochemistry, theories of human physiology and clinical practices can help enhance Ayurveda’s effectiveness.


‘Slow mover’ Kochi faults survey

In response to a report in The Times of India, “‘Slow mover’ Kochi faults survey,” Feb. 18, 2016. [2]

A senior Kochi Corporation official was reported as saying, “.. we received just 210 out of 400 marks for waste collection and 60 out of 200 for processing and disposal of waste. It is to be noted that Thiruvanthapuram [2, 3, 4], where there’s no waste processing and disposal taking place currently, received 302 and 182 marks respectively. What’s the logic behind this?”

The report exemplifies the loss-of-clarity-of-mission common in Kerala government and its various agencies. There are several reasons. Foremost among them is the culture present and promoted by education institutions in the state.

The purpose of education in Kerala, as practiced, is not gaining knowledge and developing skills. But passing examinations with high scores and getting top rank in various state and national tests. And there is a whole ancillary “tutoring industry” [2, 3, 4] operating to help students achieve high scores in many entrance and other examinations.

The official seems to be reminiscing about the education system.

The purpose of a government agency is to achieve its mission goals and generate outcomes that are relevant to the residents of the city. The points in surveys may be helpful as a performance measure, but definitely not the yardstick for evaluating how an agency is fulfilling its mission.

Ask a tourist or an affected resident, they will tell you that the garbage disposal, waste pile-up, sanitation facilities and cleanliness of public places in Kochi are deplorable.

Now, don’t start finding excuses like, “We’re at position 55! … There are other worse places. And last year we were 4th …”


Smart City: Oppn flags user-fee trap

In response to a report in The Times of India, “Smart City: Oppn flags user-fee trap,” Feb. 16, 2016. [2]

You may have been wondering when you read that the Kochi Corporation accepted “Free Consulting” from a London based firm for preparing the Smart City proposal (“Smart Cities Project: Kochi to Get UK Support“). Kochi Smart City project is part of a larger program by the Government of India.

Ponder no more! You have the answers now. You will be asked to pay again for the “Smart City” facilities as “user fees.” (If you didn’t have questions about the “free consulting,” it is high time you paid attention to what your elected representatives are doing in your name.)

In an economy there are two types of activities: solution-seeking and extractive (Please see, “Extreme Inequality = Economic Collapse“). In a regenerative economy, “circulation and investment in human capital and solution-seeking leads to systemic vitality and well-being for all.”

Kerala economy consists mainly of extractive activities. Hence the pathetic state of the Kerala economy. Kochi Corporation’s Smart City project is an example of a plan for private capture of public resources.


French kissing

In response to an op-ed in The Times of India, “French kissing,” Feb. 1, 2016.

Democracy was a gift to India by Mahatma Gandhi [2, 3, 4, 5] and Jawaharlal Nehru [2, 3, 4]. We have now an “institutional democracy” — operated by the political parties — largely for the benefit of the “ruling class.”

People are yet to understand the essence of democracy — beyond casting votes in elections — and how to hold elected representatives accountable. True democracy requires people to internalize “liberty, equality, fraternity” and develop the will to assert their rights. Traditional Indian cultural norms are an inhibiting factor for achieving true democracy.

The hope is, being inherently multicultural, Indian people will develop democratic skills by internalizing “liberty, equality, fraternity” — better than French people even though they started the rebellion.


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Police decide to free ‘free lefts’

In response to a report in The Times of India, “Police decide to free ‘free lefts,'” Feb. 9, 2016.

Implementing the ‘free lefts’ as suggested in the report is illogical and likely to make the congestion and traffic disputes worse.

If there are dedicated left ‘turn lanes,’ then “enforcing free lefts” could be beneficial. Trying to “enforce free lefts” at any junction without a ‘left turn lane’ would be inviting chaos. This simple question will identify the problems:

How far back from the junction should a motorist stay clear of the ‘free left area’ when there is no left turn lane?

If the traffic authorities are interested in educating motorists better traffic sense, there are other areas that would provide better results. Here are two:

  • Make motorists understand and follow the concept of “yielding,” and
  • Stop the “bigger vehicles have right-of-way” driving.


Yielding means allowing the opposing traffic pass even when you have the right-of-way so as to avoid blocking traffic or causing accidents. Now, many motorists in Kerala insist on having right-of-way (even when they don’t have the right-of-way, according to commonly accepted traffic rules) causing unnecessary traffic jams and accidents.

Having drivers who understand the concept of “yielding” along with some common sense and civility can help avoid many traffic jams and accidents.

“Bigger vehicles have right-of-way”

Two common paradigms in play in Kerala roads are:

  1. “Rules of the jungle,” and
  2. “Road as a racing track.”

“Bigger vehicles have right-of-way” is a manifestation of the “Rules of the jungle.” With this paradigm, pedestrians have to yield for all traffic. Bicycle riders should stay off paved road. Two wheelers should not inconvenience cars and autos. Cars and autos should get out of the way for buses (especially KSRTC buses) and trucks.

With the “road as a racing track” paradigm, the purpose of driving is to find out who gets to the next stop light before others.

A better paradigm for improved traffic flow is: “Safety first for all road users.” In this paradigm, safety of all road users is the first priority. Pedestrians always have right-of-way, subject to prudent behavior. Two wheelers (including bicycles) have the legal right to use the full lane, just like any other motorized vehicles. Two wheelers should not treat roads as a racing track. Lone car drivers should feel guilty driving alone in a vehicle meant to carry 4 or 5 people, and should offer rides for others who also need to travel. Bus and truck drivers should not try to entertain themselves by trying to run over smaller vehicles, or treat roads as a racing track. Government officials and ministries need to remember that their position does not give them additional “road rights,” and should follow “rules of the road.”

If this “Safety first for all road users” paradigm is promoted and Kerala drivers are made aware of it, Kerala will have to live with loosing top spot in lists of “States with most road accidents in India.” [2, 3, 4]


The green signal for change

In response to a feature in The Times of India, “Kochi on track,” Feb. 8, 2016.

Your glowing adulation, “The green signal for change,” Feb 8. 2016, about the Kochi Metro is detached from reality. You say, “The Kochi Metro Rail signals a big development in transforming into a new economic order that will be driven by world-class infrastructure creation.”

For an example of a futuristic world class infrastructure, please review: “Going Underground: Our journey to the future.”

Actually, Kochi Metro project is a missed opportunity. Kerala lost an opportunity for capturing a significant industrial venture, while implementing a transportation system. There wasn’t even a thought, let alone effort, to bring rail manufacturing in Kerala as part of the Kochi Metro initiative.

All engineering/manufacturing activity related to Kochi Metro are being done in Andra Pradesh.

Kerala government could learn some economic development lessons from the Kochi Metro project. Significant part of the Kochi Metro financing is being provided by the French government. This enabled the French company Alstom to bid for the project below other competitors.

The reason is, unlike the Kerala government, French government understands that having a rail technology development and manufacturing center in France is far more valuable than some financial numbers in a banking/treasury ledger. Or, for that matter, industrial and manufacturing assets are more valuable than any financial assets or instruments from an economic perspective, which is what the Kerala government should be interested in.

Kochi Metro project demonstrates, yet again, the ignorance and inability of Kerala government to look after the economic interests of the Kerala state and its people.