October 15, 2009

Obama Care

Posted in Kamal's Kolum at 11:13 pm by Kamal

Some people I know appear to support the public option in the Obama Health Care plan.  I have a few questions regarding this issue; perhaps the proponents could address my concerns.

(1) Let me get this right; if there is a public option that has low premiums, covers all preexisting conditions, and cannot be denied or declined to any American, who in their right mind would choose private insurers?  I can probably see why some people are worried about a government takeover of healthcare.

(2) So let us say there is a public option, or even a government takeover of health care.  That might be a good thing, especially if I am out of a job and have no medical insurance.  However, if I am working hard and earning well, some of my hard earned money goes towards the health insurance of the uninsured.  Did I get this right?  I seem to be doing this anyway, because the uninsured end up in the ER, and us taxpayers end up with the bill.

By the way, I am not opposed to a government takeover of healthcare, or helping out those in need of healthcare.  However, did you know that about half of the American Population does not owe federal taxes?  The tax burden is unevenly distributed towards the upper middle class, who end up shelling a greater portion of their income even compared to the affluent.  If all that the public option does is to tax the upper middle class more to ensure health insurance for every one, I am opposed to this option.  Any insights or clarifications?

June 5, 2009

India students in Australia

Posted in Kamal's Kolum at 12:54 am by Kamal

Like a whole lot of other people, I was shocked at attacks on Indian students in Australia.  Attacks on students of any nationality anywhere should be condemned, and action should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.  My heart goes out to those students and families who have to suffer through these unexpected and unreasonable circumstances. 

Having said this, I now want to look at certain discriminatory practices in India.  It is important that you know my background before you read my personal views.   I grew up in an Indian state where I was a linguistic minority.  I went to school in a reputed national institution, and currently live in New Jersey, US.  The following observations are based on my personal experiences only.  They do not have to be true or accurate.

1) Violent attacks on first year students occur routinely in most colleges in India.  The attacks go under the guise of “ragging”.  The prevalence as well as the extent of harm/humiliation caused by ragging incidents far exceeds the incidents that occurred in Australia.  While condemning the recent attacks on Indian students in Australia, it is important for the Indian Education Ministry to protect the interests of Indian students both across and within the borders of our country.

2) Discrimination is fairly prevalent in India.  I have either experienced or witnessed discrimination involving: (a) color of the skin (b) part of the country (for instance, North Indian versus South Indian), (c) Caste (d) language (e) financial status. 

3) While living in the US, I have found that people of African American origin are the most affectionate and welcoming compared to any other ethnic group, including others of Indian origin.  I have never seen anyone in the Indian community acknowledged this.

4) Discrimination is really a state of the mind.  We could be perfectly happy with a pet snake, rabbit, or dog, but have a problem with our next door neighbor who speaks a different language. 

5) Discrimination is a primitive instinct, and studies could trace it back to certain apes.  The idea is to form a group and see that group as different (and supposedly “superior”) compared to the group next to you.  Which group you are in depends on where you are.  In a national institution in India, the big issue for discrimination is North Indian versus South Indian.  Within South India, the issue because language (telugu, tamil, kannada, malayalam, etc).  If you speak telugu fluently and live in Andhra pradesh, it is your accent ofcourse.  The point I am trying to make is that, as human beings, we are inclined to discriminate.  It is important for us to acknowledge rather than disqualify this as non-existent.  Our goal should be to make a sincere attempt to exclude discriminatory behavior from social behavior and rational decision making.

May 13, 2009

IPL T20: twenty steps forward

Posted in Kamal's Kolum at 1:20 am by Kamal

When I was growing up in India in the 70’s and 80’s , pursuing competitive sports was not an option.  The reasons were simple.  Few people were interested in anything other than cricket.  For those who were interested in cricket, you had to reach a team of 11 in a billion.  Otherwise your options for earning a livelihood were bleak. 

The Indian Premier League, or IPL is a major step forward in changing the future of competitive sports in India.  First, by establishing several teams on the lines of major cities/states, the league provides cricketing opportunities to several budding sportsmen from our country (I believe each team has to have at least 7 people of Indian origin).  Second, the presence of “stars” such as Sachin Tendulkar, Bret Lee, Matthew Hayden, Ishant Sharma, etc on every team, the several newer cricketers of Indian origin have the opportunity to play with outstanding sportsmen.  Third, by not selecting team members on racial, national, or ethnic lines, IPL enhances the sporting experience while limiting national fervor and emotion associated with Indian cricket.  Finally, the league provides a great example and vision for the development of other sports in the country — this could be the way to slowly pick on others such as basketball, soccer, etc. 

I am watching the IPL with delight, as each game continues to be filled with fun and action.  The cheerleaders seem a little overboard to an old fashioned guy like me, but hey, it all can’t go the way I want it to.  My favorite team is the Deccan Chargers, but this is just because taking sides makes it all the more fun.  If you haven’t checked these games out, it might be a good idea to start.  It takes a little time to get a feel for the teams and their players.  Once you start following, I promise that you will get hooked on these games.

March 10, 2009

Elections in India: Is it time?

Posted in Kamal's Kolum at 10:45 am by Kamal

India used to be a great nation.  Considered once among the earliest “modern” civilizations known to humankind, India boasted a rich culture and heritage with significant advances in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, spirituality, literature, and education, to name just a few.  The people who developed this civilization had to be brilliant, creative, and innovative to establish what they did; and all this happened as early as 2000 B.C. or earlier. 

Then, suddenly something went wrong.  The descendents of those “brilliant thinkers” decided to stop this free thinking, acknowledged the brilliance of their ancestry, and decided to simply follow them instead.  We went from a nation of innovators and creative thinkers, to a nation where the average individual would prefer to follow the “righteous path” set by our “knowledgeable elders” rather than think on their own.  This led way to deteriorating moral and ethical values on issues such as the caste system, dowry, Sati, etc, and we eventually turned into a society routed in superstition and ancient beliefs that were not always validated by scientific logic.

I look at India today; a nation of over one billion people, or one sixth the global population, who hold less than 2 percent of the global wealth (of course we count out the Mittals, Ambani’s, and the Tatas).  If you are proud of being an Indian, you are most probably boasting about our ancient culture rather than our grandfathers/great-grandfathers setting up factories, businesses, or discovering new drugs to treat major illnesses.  What happened to our nation of great thinkers — where did all those creative thinkers go? 

I hope the new elections will bring forth some fresh and bold ideas to move our country forward.  I know that the glory of ancient India will be restored at some point, because if we did this 4-5 thousand years ago, we could certainly do it again.  I only hope that it will happen during my lifetime.

March 3, 2009

CEO Pay

Posted in Kamal's Kolum at 10:15 am by kailash

I am writing to express my outrage over the CEO abuses of taxpayer money. There was a time when I had a lot of respect for CEO’s as I believed they were essentially running companies successfully, and that their ENORMOUS paychecks were justified considering the fact that so many people depend on the decisions they make.
Read the rest of this entry »

Next page