“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein
Close your eyes for a minute and try to imagine a world without music. When I do that, life without music evokes in me visions of being forced to trudge through a dreary and endless desert under a scorching sun with no water and no food. Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century German philosopher said “Without music, life would be a mistake”. Many centuries before him, Plato is quoted as saying “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” And Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese-American poet and a contemporary of Nietzsche, wrote “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”
No, not that type of fan– the star-obsessed weirdo, the one who tried to attract Jodie Foster’s attention by shooting President Reagan decades ago, or the jilted look-alike trying to destroy his idol in SRK’s 2016 Bollywood release.
Not the old–fashioned wooden or cane punkha either. Neither the small hand-held ones we used during power-cuts a few years ago nor the majestic ones described in old novels – those that presided over the dinner table at parties and solemnly swayed to and fro when the fan-boy tugged on a rope.
India annually imports medical devices worth over Rs. 30,000 crores, most of them unaffordable and unsuitable for local population. There is a need to indigenously develop high-quality yet affordable devices for local manufacture and use. Biomedical Engineering and Technology (incubation) Centre or BETiC at IIT Bombay is bringing the relevant stake-holders together for this purpose.
As a child, I observed my Mother would never throw down anything on the pavement. Like her, I carry home a banana skin, a used paper napkin if I cannot find a dustbin. Everyone thinks they are the only ones flinging out a tiny piece of uneaten apple out of the car window.
But when many hands do that, it becomes a smelly heap.
Long years ago, in what now seems like a previous lifetime, I used to drive every morning to work, and listening to the radio was an enjoyable distraction from the crazy traffic and a way to keep up with the latest music. Now I work from home and along with driving, listening to the radio has become a rare occurrence! But this morning I was in my car driving after a long time, and switched on the radio. Every single advertisement had something to do with illness – ads for medicines conveniently delivered at home, ads for new super speciality hospitals opening up, ads which tell you not to ignore stomach pain as it might turn into cancer, ads for health insurance which will cover not only the cost of your treatment abroad but also fly you and a companion there by business class! Just listening to the ads is enough to make you sick.
An attractive opportunity develops: About a decade ago, during an evening visit to the neighbourhood garden with her friends, my mother heard about a Vitamin E supplement that improved the quality of one’s skin and hair. One of the elderly ladies in the group had been prescribed the tablet by her doctor. My mother and all the other ladies in that group ended up checking with their doctors and then taking the Vitamin E supplement too.
One hot and idle afternoon in late May, I received a forwarded message from our Mumbai Chapter’s Rural Initiative Group (RIG) WhatsApp group.
भुरिटेक गावात पाणी पोहोचवल्याबद्दल तुम्हा सर्वांचे शतशः आभार.
OK, what’s so great… you would think. But it is a great thing, and I must tell you the story.
Yoga started in India, was exported to the West, became wildly popular there, and is now seeing a resurgence in interest in India. Ayurveda, on the other hand, has not become anywhere near as widely accepted in the West as yoga has. Passion, patriotism and antipathy to big pharma make an objective discussion on alternative remedies like Ayurveda somewhat difficult. What is tougher still is focussing the discussion on “genuine” Ayurveda and ignoring the myriad products that simply claim to be Ayurvedic.
Today, we see great innovations and unforeseen interventions in the area of medical sciences and healthcare – whether these are low-cost sanitary napkins or highly sophisticated implants. The research community have even ventured into producing organs and artificial meat in the lab. And it won’t be wrong to say that materials development has contributed immensely to this disruptive development. Recently, I was reading about nicotine patches which basically function to satisfy the urges of mind and body, while avoiding the adverse effects of smoking. Transdermal patches like these also have one particular advantage, that is it reduces the need for frequent dosing, causes lesser systemic side effects and offer overall good patient compliance. Of course, bringing something like this to the market involves two things: one to make such interventions possible technologically and second cost optimisation to make it accessible to the people.