Read To Win

These are the books that some of India’s most acclaimed authors will be reading in 2018

We read them. Whose works do they read?

Everyone feels December is a good time to reflect on all the great books you read in the year gone by, whether you went through 12 titles or 182. It’s also a good time to make “to read” lists for next year. To help build an unusual one, we asked seven authors about the two books they’re most looking forward to reading next year – one that’s being published in 2018 and another that may have been on their list for a while. Of course, as book lovers tend to do, not everybody stuck to just naming two titles.

Anees Salim

I have heard good things about the Japanese writer Mieko Kawakami, especially about Ms Ice Sandwich, which tells the story of a boy obsessed with a sandwich seller. Haruki Murakami has called Kawakami his favourite writer and with the English translation hitting the stores in January we will get to know why she is such an important writer in Japan.

I have been meaning to read My God Died Young by Sasthi Brata since my schooldays. It was the most conspicuous book in my father’s library, a hardback edition with a yellow jacket showing a pitch-black figurine. I don’t know what made me leave the book unopened. But the other day I found out that the book has survived many relocations and is still with me. In 2018, I will discover why Mr Brata’s god died young.

Akshaya Mukul

I mostly read non-fiction and poetry. Among the scores of good books I read in 2017, Upinder Singh’s Political Violence in Ancient India stood out. The book has a contemporary relevance as it challenges our age-old notion and claims of being a non-violent society. Through her deep research and easy accessible writing Singh successfully proves how violence has been at the core of enforcing a highly unequal society. Scholars and ordinary readers must have this book to understand how much of what is happening now has an ancient past.

Another book that I found unputdownable is Sujatha Gidla’s Ants Among Elephants. It was the most awaited book of 2017 and proved to be worth the wait. A searing account of growing up in an untouchable family, Gidla’s book is a must read for everyone. It is as much a story of her family’s struggle, her own travails as much as of the failure of the Indian state. The book stays with you for days.

In 2018, I am looking forward to the first-ever English translation of Sachchidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan Agyeya’s Shekhar: Ek Jiwani. It is sad that the translation will be coming out more than 70 years after the two-part novel came out in Hindi. Among the most iconic novels of the 20th century, Shekhar: Ek Jiwani is the story of a revolutionary, autobiographical to a large extent and among the earliest modern Hindi novels. Translated by eminent scholar Vasudha Dalmia along with Snehal Singhavi, it will finally be available to the English speaking world. I am sure it will create a storm like it did when it first came out.

I am also impatiently waiting for Snigdha Poonam’s Dreamers: How Young Indians are Changing Their World. Among the best long-form journalists in the country, Snigdha’s book is the story of six young Indians in small towns and villages; their dreams, aspirations, anger, frustration and their battles. The book also talks of how this generation has successfully created new options in places that are refusing to move. Through her extensive travels, eye for minutest details and a language that is inventive and lucid, Snigdha has recreated the world we think little about. Snigdha will be the most sensational debut of 2018.

HT Photo
HT Photo

Janice Pariat

Pranay Lal’s Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent, which came out this year, seems terribly timely and pertinent. And I find I’m being drawn to the subject not just out of curiosity about our geographical past but also as a writer who would like to embark on a similar fictional project at some point.

I will also be reading Witold Gombrowicz’s bitterly funny, deliciously scathing, and sometimes just plain bonkers Ferdydurke. Published in 1937 and deemed utterly scandalous, the novel was banned in Poland for decades. Can’t wait.

Jerry Pinto

Next year, I’ll be reading that extraordinary woman, Shanta Gokhale’s memoir, tentatively titled, Here’s Looking at You, Body. It’s a memoir told through the body of a woman and promises to be quite remarkable.

I also just acquired Jean-Paul Sartre: Typhus, translated by Chris Turner. Sartre wrote a screenplay? For Pathé? There’s a night club singer and a disgraced doctor and an epidemic of typhus. This sounds like Greeneland. Can’t wait.

Photo by Ashima Narain
Photo by Ashima Narain

KR Meera

The book I am looking forward to in 2018 is The Death Of Paharia by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar. I have just finished Sowvendra’s The Adivasi Will Not Dance and found it incredibly disturbing and inspiring. He is a talented writer and I wish to hear more stories from him as those stories had never been told before.

The book I have set aside for reading is Preti Taneja’s We That Are Young. I have already started it and because it is a heavy book to carry for my rheumatic shoulders, I feel impatient to be home just to finish the rest of it. It is a brilliant plot and cleverly told story.

Meena Kandasamy

I have an immense TBR pile – part of the reason is that I’m constantly goading myself to catch up with whatever is coming out in India and every week there’s something that I do not want to miss and I keep making a note of it. One of the books that is quite an urgent read for me is (the late) Praful Bidwai’s The Phoenix Moment: Challenges Confronting the Indian Left. I really believe that under the present right-wing government all of us who are on the broad Left have to learn more about the history of communism in India, why we are not yet having a people’s mass uprising given that the grassroots conditions have never been so stark. I want to read this book because I hope to find answers as well as be better informed. I need to wait a little because my partner is right now reading this book, so once he’s done, I’m going to take it up.

In terms of books that are going to be out in 2018, I’m eager to read Nikesh Shukla’s The One Who Wrote Destiny. Having moved to the UK last year I first encountered his anthology The Good Immigrant which became simultaneously a survival guide and a map of emotions for me to navigate. In terms of fiction from India, though they are 2017 releases, I’m eager to read Jeet Thayil’s The Book of Chocolate Saints and Janice Pariat’s The Nine Chambered Heart.

Manu Pillai

One book I have been wanting to read for some time – and of which, in my enthusiasm, I ended up buying two copies in two different places – is Frank Trentmann’s Empire of Things. As the name suggests, the book is about the birth of consumerism and how, of all things in the world, goods and commodities emerged as forces to reckon with and shaped the world we see today, in the course of five eventful centuries.

As for a forthcoming work, there’s a long list but I shall be partial to one fascinating title – Desperately Seeking Shahrukh by Shrayana Bhattacharya. This covers a decade-long journey with working class women, all united, across geography and diverse personal circumstances, by their affection for a favourite film star, who becomes both a channel for escape as well as a catalyst for their own aspirations. I have heard one chapter at a reading, and it was both thoroughly entertaining and intellectually interesting.

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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.

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.