Monday, October 23, 2006

aiims - an oasis for india's poorest

An Oasis for India's Poorest
The All India Institute treated 3.5 million patients last year, and charged each a dollar.
By Jason Overdorf
Newsweek International

Oct. 30, 2006 issue - Several hundred poor and middle-class Indians are awaiting screening for dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that has reached near-epidemic proportions in Delhi this fall. Sick and frightened, they lie on straw mats and blankets spread over the pavement in a queue that streams around the ambulance drive and out to the main road. Inside, doctors in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, or AIIMS, are working to fight off the outbreak of the sometimes deadly virus. Mosquitoes are common on the hospital campus, too, and a dozen ward doctors have contracted dengue themselves. One medical student has died.

This is what it takes to be India's best public hospital. Last year the government-run hospital, with about 2,000 beds, treated 3.5 million people, achieving mortality and infection rates comparable to the best facilities in the developed world—for fees that come to about $1 a day for inpatients.

AIIMS can do this because of government funding of about $100 million a year. Because it doesn't waste much cash on amenities, it can afford to buy cutting-edge equipment. Senior residents at AIIMS make about $400 a month. But they stay because of perks—doctors get the chance to spend one or two years working abroad, for instance—plus the opportunity to work with the latest technology and obtain big research grants.
© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

© 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

good with your hands

In a remarkably insightful essay in the New Atlantis, where he is a contributing editor, former electrician and motorcycle mechanic Matthew B. Crawford explodes the notion that we're moving to a "workless world" in which nobody turns a screw or tightens a valve. But to my mind the most important, and interesting, point he makes is his withering analysis of the constant denigration of so-called manual labor--cast as thoughtless work for the brainless--and the enshrining of the white collar work of paper pushers--enshrined as mental gymnastics as though we developed stunning breakthroughs every day instead of forwarding emails and following factory-like prescribed routines.

The whole essay is worth reading, particularly if you've ever wondered what the hell you do all day between meetings and padding back and forth from your cube to the coffee machine, but also if you ever considered your carpenter, plumber or mechanic beneath you on the food chain. For you lazy bastards who -- even though you have sweet f-all to do -- can't be bothered to read a few hundred words, consider this passage:

"Much of the “jobs of the future” rhetoric surrounding the eagerness to end shop class and get every warm body into college, thence into a cubicle, implicitly assumes that we are heading to a “post-industrial” economy in which everyone will deal only in abstractions. Yet trafficking in abstractions is not the same as thinking. White collar professions, too, are subject to routinization and degradation, proceeding by the same process as befell manual fabrication a hundred years ago: the cognitive elements of the job are appropriated from professionals, instantiated in a system or process, and then handed back to a new class of workers—clerks—who replace the professionals."

Monday, October 09, 2006


I discovered a pretty cool TV show--I'm a US TV addict--last weekend called Epitafios. Filmed in Argentina, it's a Spanish-language serial killer serial with subtitles that started on HBO Latino (the US channel for the country's coolest Spanish speakers) and this year migrated to the English-language US channel. No, you won't see it in India--for some reason India's "premium" channels (meaning twice the commercials?) only shows film of the Dumb and Dumberer variety outside of Oscar season. And even in America the literate population has been fairly resistant to the idea of a show with subtitles on the country's hottest TV network. Surf the web, and half the people seem to hate it because it's in Spanish, or because it isn't shot in America, or because the actors are Argentinian. The other half love it.

They're right. With a little of the bleak atmosphere of British crime shows like our belove Wire in the Blood, a little allegiance to film noir, rubber gloves, transvestites and lots of "passion" (pronounced in Espanol), Epitafios looks like an Amodovar movie in which the absurdism of comedy has been replaced by the absurdism of violence. Get it if you can.