Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: To go cashless, India must take lessons from Africa

A selection of reader's opinions.

Digital divide

Although going cashless may have its benefits in the long run, by insisting on using smart phones and internet, the government is barking up the wrong tree (“Phones as wallets: Three reasons why Modi’s cashless drive will not happen in a hurry”). India should, like Africa, use the mobile money route to go cashless. Using basic phones and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data systems, Africa has been able to make majority of its transactions non-cash. In a city like Dar es salaam, more than half the payments made by commuters to the city bus is through mobile money. If Africa can do it, there is no reason why India can’t. – Ajith Kumar

Even if a cashless economy becomes a reality, do we have firewalls to protect account holders from hackers? Credit card fraud is rampant. Which agency is going to going to offer security to the country as a whole? – Prasad Jacob

Food for thought

What I have seen and experienced across Gujarat, from the top down to the level of Food and Corporation of India warehouse labourers, is that people are working in tandem to pilfer food meant for the poor (“Can biometrics stop the theft of food rations? No, shows Gujarat”).

They don’t feel ashamed for what they are doing, on the contrary, they proudly narrate the tricks they employed to deny poor people their rightful share. It is akin to vultures feasting on a body. Morality at it lowest can be seen in society and the rot is so deep that rooting is out is next to impossible. – Sultan Surti

Ideological divide

The author’s allegation about Rajiv Malhotra’s plagiarism is false
(“From social media to summits: How India’s right wing is trying to create its own intellectual space”). Those who think they are left- leaning intellectuals do not seem to have the knowledge, wisdom, courage and guts to have an open and honest debate with Malhotra to settle matters. It is sad that they hide in their ivory towers and enjoy mud-slinging. – Krishna Chadalavada

Editor’s note: As this tweet by Rajiv Malhotra demonstrates, this letter writer is makin an inaccurate claim.

Demonetisation conversations

This a fine article in which Ajaz Ashraf’s “radical leftist” friend explains the wide acceptance for demonetisation (“Why the media doesn’t understand the widespread support for demonetisation”).

But the repeated use of the words “radical leftist” was jarring and interrupted an otherwise fine read. You did not have to make that pointed repeatedly. It leads one to wonder whether
this radical leftist is for real. What is the harm in naming her, especially if she is radical? (She did not anything that would put someone’s life in danger in any case). – L

Number crunching

Modi’s claim, dutifully echoed by his acolytes, that 70 years of corruption would take time to remove is poor arithmetic (“How are you seizing crores in new notes every day if banks say they don’t have money, SC asks Centre”). To begin with, August 15, 1947 to November 8, 2016, is closer to 69 years. More importantly, Modi became prime minister two-and-a-half years ago. So, according to his own arithmetic, his current term was within the 70 years, meaning he is party to the corruption and black money.

Most importantly, according to his arithmetic, the RSS, the Jana Sangh and later the BJP, as well as powerful chief ministers like Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Keshubhai Patel, to leaders at the Centre such as LK Advani and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, did nothing to fight black money and corruption.

Modi’s core rhetoric is personalised and he is the sole crusader. He is above the law. Legal requirements have to be fulfilled before demonetisation. He has not done that. Further he has had the Swachh Bharat slogan printed below Gandhi’s picture on the Rs 2,000 note. That is also illegal. – Kamal Chenoy


I have been an avid reader of Scroll.in for a year now but lately, I can find only biased news from countering the government. I expect articles to give the whole picture of the prevailing situation, rather than just projecting one side of the coin, as they did in the past. – Charan GV

Question marks

In his article on S Gurumurthy, writer Mohan Guruswamy makes an erroneous claim (“Why Gurumurthy has to employ voodoo economics to defend demonetisation (and attack Manmohan Singh)“). He says that:

In his recent column, Gurumurthy blandly writes that the National Democratic Alliance I government of Atal Behari Vajpayee created 600 lakh jobs during its five years, while the UPA I and II just resulted in 27 lakh jobs. The reality is quite the opposite.

However, Guruswamy has misquoted Gurumurthy, whose original statement in the Hindu column is as follows:

In the first and best six years of the UPA (2004-’05 to 2009-10), ... how many jobs did UPA’s high growth produce? Believe it or not, just 27 lakhs against 600 lakhs during NDA’s five years, according to NSSO data.

This has been fact-checked here and been found to be reasonably accurate. – G Jayendran


In this article, Mohan Guruswamy, says that “according to the Economic Census, ‘new jobs grew at an annually at 3.2% between 2005 and 2013 (UPA period), faster than the annual pace of job growth of 2.78% between 1998 and 2005 (NDA period).’” Where is he getting these numbers from? Both the Economic Times as well as the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation confirm S Gurumurthy’s numbers and not Guruswamy’s.

He further says that “Gurumurthy argued that ancient India had all of the technologies needed and we need to just draw from them.” Gurumurthy, in all of his lectures, has never claimed anything of this sort. What he has always claimed is that ancient India was the most technologically advanced among all ancient civilisations, which is completely different.
Guruswamy needs to substantiate his allegations he can’t be allowed to get away with fabrications and half-truths. – Rahul Joshi

Wearing thin

The hardship being faced by people due to the mismanagement in the banking system and the distribution of new currency may have lost the BJP some supporters but but people are still hopeful of happy ending (“Amit Shah loses temper at BJP meeting as party leaders say demonetisation could cause a backlash”).

Some leaders in the BJP who faced problems and lost their black money may be against demonetisation and no doubt the implementation has been a problem, but it is curable. – PSM


Amit Shah’s reaction indicates the direction in which the BJP, and as a result, the government is headed in the near future. – Siraj Ahmed


The government, after demonetisation, announced one more yojana came in the name of the poor. This is another trick to cheat the poor.

This government has slashed budgets for public health and public education, facilities mainly meant for the poor. Similarly , funds for schedule caste and scheduled tribe sub plans remain unspent or have been diverted to other works. The price of diesel has been repeatedly increased. Now, the BJP is making the false promise that black money would come into the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana 2016. Such lies. – Vipparti Ramamohana Rao

Looking out

I am grateful to our political parties for setting aside their differences to pass this much-needed legislation for people with disabilities (“Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016 passed in Lok Sabha”). In the bill, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and the types of disabilities have been increased from the existing seven to 21. The Centre also has the power to add more types of disabilities to the list.

The bill aims to secure and enhance the rights and entitlements of differently-abled citizens. The legislation, drafted to make Indian laws compliant with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will replace the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. Persons with disabilities will be provided barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and all kinds of public infrastructure, and will not be discriminated against in matters of employment. – Akash Kumar

Weighing words

As a first-time writer likely to publish my book in the next three months, I was eager to read this piece and was hoping for some insightful tips on what to do differently (“What a first-time writer learnt about how to make a bestseller in India”). However, I was disappointed. – R Sridhar

Losing ground

The poor feedback on demonetisation that the RSS has received should not come as a surprise (“Word on the ground: Support for demonetisation is fading in Uttar Pradesh, finds RSS”). Effectively depriving millions of labourers in the unorganised sector, who are essentially daily wage earners, of their livelihood is an act of unprecedented cruelty. The Constitution guarantees right to livelihood to every citizen and it can be successfully argued that the government denied this fundamental right to millions of citizens by pursuing demonetisation in this ham-handed manner.

If elimination of black money was the main target, the government had the opportunity to slash tax rates, ensure tax compliance and fast track legal processes against evaders. Further, the government should have waited for the roll out of GST, which would have increased tax receipts. A large-scale drive to move towards a cashless society could have also been pursued, parallelly. As it stands, the roll out of GST has been delayed as states feel cheated by demonetisation.

Demonetisation is the last option to be pursued, only if all else fails, and even then it should be done only after building adequate infrastructure so that the salaried and daily wage earners are insulated from the shock. A “surgical strike” approach for demonetisation is completely unwarranted and demonstrates only electoral lust. In a democracy, the only weapon available to the aggrieved citizen is the power of the ballot and should the results turn out to be disappointing for the BJP then the surgical strike may well turn out to be a self goal! – Rangacharimohan


I am highly disappointed. This is pure cheating. Political corruption is the mother of all corruptions and scandals. Modi, if he really wants to root out corruption, must get all political parties and NGOs under ambit of RTI and do away with tax exemptions and cash donations.
Believe me, all will support this. – Rakesh Mehrotra

Troubled waters

Hats off to Capt Sanjeev sir for writing this first of its kind article (“How all work and little sleep have left the Indian navy fatigued and stressed”). The first step in problem solving is acknowledging the fact that there is a problem – something that officers of the Indian Navy have been denying so far. Thank you very much for bringing out this important matter on work-life balance, albeit after retirement. I don’t know what you had done to address this issue while in service, but I have seen officers most often speak the truth either after they are grounded or after they retire.

Nevertheless, I still doubt how many serving officers of the Navy are going to buy you views because, burying their head in sand is all they are doing to solve the immense problems being faced by our beautiful organisation. As any acknowledgement of the truth or a deviation from being a yes-man is surely going to cost them their dream of becoming an admiral some day.
Keep writing the truths sir, this means a lot to the Navy. – Manas Hazarika

Capt Sanjeev Kumar has rightly acknowledged the most important but least talked about factor which plagues not only the Navy but all uniform services. I truly admire his concern and hope there will be zero accidents in the future if the fatigue of workers is looked into. – P Vijayakumar

Fact or fiction?

These are all Savitri Devi’s fantasies (“Writings of French Hindu who worshipped Hitler as an avatar of Vishnu are inspiring the US alt-right”). No where in the Hindu scriptures is it mentioned that someone would be born to pave the way for Vishnu’s last avatar, Kalki. And neither has it happened for his previous avatars. Vishnu doesn’t need a mediator. It’s all one person’s fantasy and should not be given any importance at all. No more time should be wasted in writing some fantasies. Please don’t insult the oldest living religion in the world, Hinduism, by associating it with some person’s fantasies or imagination. They are being given so much importance just because she is a white. Please stop publishing such nonsense. – Hersh Mauskar

Leadership vacuum

This finance minister lacks the wisdom that this country expected of the BJP, with the RSS’ intellectual support (“India not a ‘fragile economy’, has the capacity to fully implement demonetisation: Arun Jaitley”). His expressions here are boring and laborious. Demonetisation, except for temporarily halting terror funding in Kashmir and sleeper cells across India, has only harmed the Indian population by varying degrees.

What India needed was a change in the direction of our economy, efforts to increase the contribution of agricultural produce to the GDP, free education, investments in science and technology, mass transportation and rural development, among other things.

The BJP and the RSS should give the finance minister post to Dr Swamy, who would have addressed the aforementioned things and would have caught the big thieves of all parties, including the BJP. I have been writing to Modiji on some implementation strategies for the past two years with no acknowledgement. – VTC

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

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Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.