I thought I’d share some Indian cultural healing that has been a part of my life since I was a child. In India, there is a cultural belief in an energy called “Nazar” which naturally accumulates in people over time. Nazar is the product of the world’s inequality- only some people do well which inevitably creates jealousy or ill-feelings in others without their control. For example, if our best friend won an award, we would naturally feel both happiness for him/her and a bit of jealousy or disappointment in ourselves. Indians believe it is these negative feelings that all people experience that get transferred to those who are doing well, thus maintaining the world’s karmic equilibrium. As a result, everyone periodically has their Nazar removed here through a variety of techniques, all of which include waving an object around one’s head in a circular motion. Objects that I’ve personally had waved around my head include: an egg, a pan with a flaming newspaper, and most recently, a live, black chicken. The object supposedly takes in the Nazar–poor chicken!
I just finished Healthcare, Guaranteed, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel’s book about the failure of the American healthcare system to provide accessible, affordable, and effective healthcare. I think that in general, most people are aware that our total healthcare spending ($2.6 trillion in 2010- the most in the world absolutely and as a % of GDP) is exorbitantly high without the expected health outcomes that such high spending should procure (the World Health Report by the WHO ranked the U.S. 37th overall in health systems rankings). However, in the complicated mess that is American healthcare, I think it is important that we at least have a basic understanding of why our system is the way it is. In this post, I want to review some of Dr. Emanuel’s main points about our systematic failures and also present his alternative, the Guaranteed Healthcare Access Plan (GHAP), as well as my thoughts. Excuse the length of this post, but I do think these are all important points that everyone should understand. For the experts, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the GHAP. Continue reading
I just returned from Delhi where I attended a conference for the launch of Academics Stand Against Poverty, a very interesting initiative started by a group of academics to facilitate the translation of academic research related to poverty into practice. After the conference ended, I heard an all too familiar tap at the window of our van where a young girl with dirt spread across her face and bandages wrapped around her wrist held out her hand, hoping for some spare change. Having studied poverty manifestations extensively and knowing about some of the basic ploys used by Indian criminal organizations to steal money (watch Slumdog Millionaire if you want an entertaining, Hollywood-esque depiction of some of these), I declined to offer any rupees. The money would, after all, land in the hands of some crook who essentially kidnapped this girl and now forces her to beg on the street. Feeling particularly good that I had not been duped like so many well-intentioned tourists and foreigners, I recounted the incident to a professor later that evening. His response is the reason for this post.