August 14, 2013

Liberal arts & Technorati

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:29 pm by chait83


Writing this blog on the auspicious Independence Day, trying to understand what freedom truly is.

This question is lingering for a long time, probably since I was a kid who ran wild errands wherever he went. Superficially it appears simple, but for me it probably it’s the very question of my existence.

Fortunately I was raised in a family and school which respected freedom of expression above all the virtues. Crisis began when I went to college. No longer could I write things the way I pleased, it had to be written in a specific format with each checkpoint carrying some weight. Back in school things were different. Writing things in creative manner was often appreciated and following status quo reflected badly on the mark sheet. Folks mugging up guides and journals could never compete with me & free spirits always posed a challenge.

The question was what is more important? Freedom of expression or status quo. In quest of the answers, I did nothing. Didn’t do well at college and lost my freedom of expression. The moral crisis became severe each year and the worst part was I could not understand what was happening. Job experience was even worse, since it had more stringent processes monitored by even more stringent process ;-). Ultimately a time came when it became unbearable. I quit the job just like that, without thinking about future and still failing to understand what the crisis actually is. Over a period of time, opensource lent me the support.

Now each day is some revelation, probably bringing me closer to the answer I had been seeking for a long time. The most amazing experience was when I gave an assignment to my interns.

They were supposed to introspect and find answers to these questions. It turned out to be quite a revealing experience for me as well. More things might unravel as we go through more iteration.

The questions asked were

  1. What is freedom of expression?
  2. What is liberal art?
  3. What does opensource mean to you?
  4. What do you want to achieve through this project?
  5. How would benefit from your project?

Every question was linked to subsequent question. The assignment started with as formality with eloquent words with no thought, similar to a school essay on “my pet” considering the fact that some of us never had a pet. They had to repeat the assignment, till something of value was extracted out of it.

Just summarizing the answers:

  1. Freedom of expression: Express oneself ourselves completely, without any inhibition.
  2. Liberal art:     A civic virtue essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life or contribute to the society.
  3. Opensource: Code which is free and written to express ourselves.
  4. To develop cognitive skill in designing, to develop solution to real world problems.
  5. My favorite one and perhaps the most candid answer. Who would benefit from this project? I would 😀 This is probably the first principle of product design. Would you use the product you designed in the first place? People who got this right are the ones who poured life into their ideas.

Later I pointed out things that essentially did not imply by above definition.

  1. Lack of purpose voids the very premise of being free.
  2. Liberal art may or may not benefit the society. Society may or may not perceive your contribution beneficial. Important aspect is your contribution.

Achieving anything of significant would essentially mean that at some point going would go tough. Passion for our profession helps us overcome the highest mountains and the deepest oceans and end of the day still keeps us fulfilled and happy.

Freedom is certainly not limited to British troops leaving Indian shores for better, but standing upright for our values we cherish from bottom of our heart.

Probably Gandhiji was already enjoying his freedom when he stood firm and said, “They shall do what they want, but they shall not have my obedience”. Freedom is certainly not stooping low on morale to garner jobs, reservation, perks. Freedom is not about being a corporate stooge for fat salary and materialist life, but probably about pursuing your heart and leading a fulfilled life.

History has witnessed that liberal art of any form, be it music, painting, drama, literature, etc. has always put civilizations on a new pedestal. History has also witnessed the dark ages when liberal art was

Over a period of time paradigms change, but the core values don’t. The paradigms of liberal art have changed, but the core values remain the same.

Not that I am Linus Torvalds, but probably someday my efforts would contribute to take human race forward.


August 1, 2013

Ankur arora murder case

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:15 am by chait83

I Recently saw this movie “Ankur Arora murder case”. The movie is about a kid who dies after his surgery because of negligence of the doctor, who is subsequently prosecuted and ultimately truth triumphs over evil bollywood style. I am engineer, but still feel that it’s too harsh a critique on the surgeons.

Let’s assume that a particular surgeon is an evil money monger as shown in the movie, but some facts.

It takes lot of dedication to be a skillful surgeon and at least 10 years of academic training.
We all make mistakes at times in a very critical situation and so do surgeons. The surgeons have very less room for error compared to most of the other professions and is associated with severe consequence for trivial mistakes.

Now coming back to the movie, our antagonist Kay Kay Menon is a top class surgeon, arrogant of his abilities and his status in the medical fraternity. In a surgery he forgets that the kid has eaten biscuits before the surgery which he shouldn’t have. Post-surgery the kid goes in coma and the doctors know that he will die soon. They cover up the situation by putting him on a ventilator and give some techie explanation to the mother, who obviously fails to grasp the situation. As predicted the kid dies. There is a court case and the hospital is made to pay 10 cr to ailing mother, plus imprisonment for the doctor. So what purpose does it serve, the kid is already dead and hospital is deprived of a good surgeon however arrogant he might be.

This could have been easily averted had the mother taken caution and prevented her kid from eating anything before the surgery. Now there is a scene where the lady signs the consent form for the surgery just like that, without giving it a second glance. Lady you are not creating an email account to ignore the technical terms, you kid’s life is at stake literally and the doctor is not god to trust blindly (Anyways blind faith is always bad).

I have heard stories similar to this one, although never witnessed one. I am sane enough to understand that these things are not rare occurrences in India. Most of the surgeons do make fatal mistakes similar to our surgeon here in the movie. The issue here in India is great disparity between no. of skillful surgeons available and no. of patients, who are unaware of their legal rights and whose life is too cheap for legal experts to give a second thought. Even most of our literati won’t be able to distinguish between civil and criminal court, let alone their legal rights and with a huge population of illiterates or barely literates the doctors in India are rarely prosecuted in such cases.

As my grandfather use to say “a wise man never goes to court”, we have to be proactive and take some preemptive measures in such situations. Dragging surgeons to court is certainly not the solution to our problem and the society will have to bear the brunt of putting surgeons behind the bars. However trivial a surgery might appear, we have to be absolutely sure of what we are getting into. Sometimes a patient can die because of anesthesia administered to pull out their tooth.

So here’s that we can do when our dear ones are going for a surgery. We need to spend at least a day or two understanding what are the implications of the surgery, what are possible risks, refer to friends and acquaintances who are expert in that domain.

Two most important things that I would do in such situations:

Cross question the doctor on every single word that I don’t understand on the consent form, also make the surgeon aware that you have done some solid homework as well. This should indicate the surgeon that you are not someone who can be taken for granted. A doctor who is not willing to spend time with me for this procedure is either arrogant or incompetent, in either case not worth the risk. Find another doctor who understands that it is important to spare time for this process.
Understand all the possible risks that might arise and their mitigation. When both the doctor and the patient are on the same page, this should make the doctor’s job easier. I feel we should be little more empathetic towards surgeons as well in worst case scenario. An unintentional mistake of the surgeon should be forgiven. If the risks are too high/many, maybe we might not go for surgery.

Miracles can happen people can survive worst kind of errors made in the surgery, preoperative and postoperative care. I would rather trust my common sense more than an divine intervention.