Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: How much pollution is linked to Diwali alone? What about the rest of the year?

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Without a bang

The ban only addresses pollution during Diwali (“Five reasons why the Supreme Court’s fireworks ban is misguided”). How much damage can one or two days of the festival cause? What happens during the remaining 363 days of the year, when there are no firecrackers, but pollution persists? What’s more alarming is how such big decisions are being made and enforced so frequently.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes at an odd time and does not seem to take into account how it would be implemented and what impact it would have on those linked to the fireworks industry.

The decision should have been taken up and made earlier and enough time should have been given to implement it, so that traders, employees and investors in the firecracker industries would not be so badly affected. The community could have instead proposed alternatives, like how the entire society should have a common fireworks show with a limited number of crackers. Also does the Supreme Court have data showing how much crackers alone are the cause of pollution?

The judiciary has thrown a spanner into the celebrations without taking into account the views of people who will be affected, the executive or the legislature. – Sajjan Agrawalla


Please put yourself in the shoes of a parent or a child suffering from asthma to understand the relevance of this ban. I have to take my four-year-old out of Delhi on Diwali because otherwise doctors prescribe steroids to avoid pneumonia. – Rajiv Chauhan

Ragging row

I spent 18 years at the IIT-Kanpur campus where my father used to teach (“IIT-Kanpur suspends 22 students for ragging juniors”). The times were different then. The campus was a close-knit community and everybody knew everyone else. Life was good, safe and peaceful. Ragging would happen even in those days and I have witnessed such interactions, but there was never any talk of intimidation or vulgarity. The turn this practice has taken pains me. It is painful also to see the brightest minds falling prey to such detestable acts. I don’t think there will be any use of their engineering degrees to them . How will they show their faces on campus after their suspension ends? The entire student community should learn a lesson from this incident. – Jayant Sharma


Well done, IIT-Kanpur administration! It is high time strict punishment is meted out to such offenders. – Dharmapriya Sinha


In all likelihood, the suspended students will launch an agitation and will get support from IITs all over India. If the ragged students also start a stir, there will be a civil-war like environment. In both scenarios, Scroll.in will get a chance to target the Modi government and Centre for the problem, as it always does. – Balasubramanyam K


If all institutes take such strong action against ragging, several student suicides can be prevented. – Shailendra Tiwari


Well done. IIT Kanpur is known for the severe and inhuman ragging. – Kailash Gahalot


It’s great that the students behind the ragging were suspended and this will surely send a strong message to seniors. This decision has maintained the decorum along with the reputation of the most prestigious institute of the country. The decision also takes into account the future of the suspended students as it allows them to rejoin the institute after their penalty period ends. – Renu Arora


I welcome the move. It can make those who indulge in ragging realise the purpose of college life. I thank the institution for taking such a bold move despite the damage it could have done to its image. – Abinayah Kannaiah


I welcome the bold decision. This should act as a deterrent in future. It is inhuman to treat the juniors like this. – Raveesh Chokanda


This is a welcome decision. It will be an eye-opener for students from other colleges too. – Dvlkrao Deshpande


This is a wise decision. It will deter students from being involved in such heinous acts in the future. – Atanu Chakravorty


As an IIT-Kanpur alumni I appreciate the decision made by the institute’s Senate. It will certainly send out a strong message. – Prakkash Porey


This is a correct decision by the authorities that will surely help bring down incidents of ragging. – Lakshminarayana Tadepalli


The suspension of students for three years is very harsh. I feel fortunate that I studied in institutions where teachers were extremely strict but had a compassionate side behind their tough exterior. The punishment should fit the crime, not destroy the students’ careers. – Navneet Mehta


The suspended students should be ashamed. The IIT management should have immediately filed complaint with the jurisdictional Police station as ragging is a cognisable offence. The perpetrators should be brought to book immediately and the law should be allowed to take its course. Nobody is above law, including students from institutes of excellence. –Lolaksha


A long awaited and bold decision by an academic body. This will hopefully comfort the new students and warn prospective raggers. – Dibakar Chakrabarty


It’s shameful that after spending huge amount on their education, students are involved in such practices. Such students should be immediately suspended. – Anuradha Wahi


I appreciate the decision taken by the management. This is a lesson to other students. No relaxation should be given to the accused. – Rajan Dn


As an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur, I congratulate the Senate for taking the right decision. They must have come under a lot of pressure not to take such a step. but did not waver, sending out an exemplary message. Ragging cannot be justified on any grounds except perversion. It must be rooted out. – Udaya Bose


The suspension will definitely send a strong message to other students. However, if the institute puts up the photos of the suspended students on display boards, it may find that to be an even stronger deterrent. – Susant Choudhury

What’s in a name

As this article points out, the word secular is a very problematic one in today’s context (“Proposal to remove M from AMU, H from BHU shows that India doesn’t really understand secularism”). Everyone is trying to interpret it for their own political gains. I doubt whether removing “Hindu” from the name of Banaras Hindu University and “Muslim” from Aligah Murslim Univesity will improve the standard of these two premier universities and truly make them more inclusive.

The UGC need to focus more on improving the educational standards in these and other universities rather than on their names. There could be a political motivation behind the move. – Arun Philip Simon SJ


I agree with Shiv Visvanathan. The UGC committee has strayed away from its mission. Being a BHU alumni, I can apprehend the disastrous impact of this suggestion if it is implemented. I hope good sense prevails over the UGC and the government. – RN Mishra

Taxing times

This article reflects the ground realities after the implementation of the GST (“‘This government is killing our businesses’: What small, medium enterprises think of GST revisions”). As small manufacturers of incense sticks, we too are facing the same problem. Our working capital is getting blocked under GST. This shows that the government is immature and inexperienced to handle the situation. They are changing the rules daily, adding to the confusion. And the rules are not practical.

For instance, if my the business of my supplier is worth is less than Rs 1.5 crore, he will need to file returns every three months under the new tax regime. But if my turnover is more than Rs 1.5 crore, I will need to file returns every month. How can I file my GSTR-2 every month when my supplier is filing it quarterly? I will then have to pay additional tax and wait for three months for him to file his returns to get back that amount. – Venkatesh TK


GST was implemented with the involvement of all parties. So, when criticising its implementation, I hope you too are criticising all parties and state governments, not just the Centre. If you are trying to single out one or two industries, that too before there is clarity on the new regime, and using their examples to show problems in the system as a whole, that is wrong. – Mallikarjun DVR


It is not a question of GST. The community should be made to realise that it is a nation-building exercise. Corruption and resultant suffering have existed for long. Teething troubles with the new system are inevitable and must be addressed, but as things get going, these creases will be smoothened. If GST helps generate sufficient revenue through indirect taxes, it may even help the government to get rid of Income Tax. So, we should put all our heads together to get India out of the rut of corruption and take it to a different trajectory. Let us not be misled by short-term inconveniences and petty leaders. – Krishnan VC

Urban mess

India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have some of the dirtiest (and most congested) cities in the world (“A rough monsoon has left India’s ramshackle cities more decrepit than ever. Get used to it”). There is also rampant land grab. Initiatives like Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan are good but may not have the desired impact because they require sweeping changes. But I don’t entirely agree with the author. There will be good news. Our cities will become better. – Surajit Som

Indian element

I did my BA in Psychology from the Delhi University and then a Masters in Socio-Cultural Psychology at the London School of Economics and can thereby vouch for the fact that the syllabus in DU needs to be revamped (“UGC says psychology syllabi ‘not rooted in national ethos’, sends universities revamped syllabus”). It is old and outdated.

We also need to develop a psychology grounded in Indian culture. The psychology we practice in India is divorced from Indian philosophy and Indian Sociology. This is not the same as saying that the psychology syallabus is not in “national interest”, but perhaps the UGC used the phrase wrongly? Perhaps it was making the more nuanced argument that it should be linked to Indian thought? We do need psychologists in this country to develop and integrate a more holistic idea of India in their practice, but we don’t need a nationalistic science. – Monisha Dhingra


The committee should work according to the ethos of the subject. Psychology, in a social context, considers input of data and samples from various sources, not tentatively from some dictating force. – Ajay Kumar


Teachers are sometimes are lazy about syllabus revisions. They don’t want to take the effort of acquainting themselves with the new syllabi and want to continue teaching what they have been teaching for years, with their outdated notes. – KS Gupta


Having been associated with this field for more than two decades, I too always felt that the DU syllabus did not equip students well enough. I have raised my voice and given feedback to academicians about the sheer waste of the programme in its present shape. The UGC’s view is perfect, even if a tad delayed. They should edge out those who unionise or prevent the change from taking place. – D Sabharwal

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

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.

At the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, visitors don’t have to worry about navigating their way across the complex hospital premises. All they need to do is download wayfinding tools from the installed digital signage onto their smartphone and get step by step directions. Other hospitals have digital signage in surgical waiting rooms that share surgery updates with the anxious families waiting outside, or offer general information to visitors in waiting rooms. Many others use digital registration tools to reduce check-in time or have Smart TVs in patient rooms that serve educational and anxiety alleviating content.

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.