Monday, December 26, 2016

Your Child Is Fine!

One of the biggest concerns for young parents is the health of their little ones. Just as the pleasure of seeing a child grow has few equals, watching them suffer during their illness has few equals in pain. The problem is somewhat muted when there is elderly support at home. The experience of the earlier generation in seeing through such difficult times acts as a balm to the young couple. If such comfort is not available to young parents, they are left to fend for themselves and see the child recover to normal health. It need not be any serious illness that requires long hospitalization; even a bout of severe cold or fever makes young parents very uncomfortable. The problem is even more acute for parents who are both working, with similar working hours. 

Forty years ago, health care was not this advanced. Working women with no elderly support at home had to take the help of creche or daycare facilities to tend to babies and toddlers when they were to be away at offices. These centers neither had adequate facilities for tending to sick children nor was any element of professionalism in running them. These were run by either people who desired to supplement their incomes or those with service mind to some extent, save for rare exceptions. Income levels of working mothers was also not sufficient to afford good daycare facilities. A sudden telephone call from the creche (mobiles were not heard of then) would make the mother (or father in some cases) drop all the work at the office and run to the creche to take the child home. Caretakers were naturally not willing to risk the health of other kids by holding back a sick child. 

With the sick child at home now, the parents had to wait for the doctor's shop to open for medical help. They had to wait in the normal line with other patients. Each moment of wait at the clinic was a torture for them. The medicines prescribed by the doctor were sometimes not available at the Medical Shop. There were instances when the parent had to search the entire area by going from shop to shop to get the prescribed medicine. The medicines had some side effects as well. When the problem became acute in the middle of the night, waiting till the morning for the doctor's shop to open was indeed an endless wait for the anxious parents.

Parents were much better prepared for dealing with sickness of the second child. The invaluable experience in dealing with the troubles of the first child would have given them both strength and patience to manage the situations. Suffering was no less now, but the ability to withstand the suffering would have increased. We all old timers went through these anxious days at one time or the other.

Observing developed childcare facilities today is indeed an experience. Cost of treatment has no doubt increased manifold, but income levels have also gone up at least for some sections of the society. Medical insurance has become an important part of our lives and provides some relief to sick patients and young parents. The type of facilities provided and support extended by hospitals in advanced countries is indeed an indicator of the quality of life there. Some visits to the childcare hospitals accompanying young mothers and their kids recently was a very educative and heartening experiences. Some of the highlights are as under:
  • Records of the child's birth and all subsequent visits are maintained by the children hospitals on their computers. The information can be viewed by the parents as well. There is no need for searching volumes of paper records when you take a sick child to the hospital in an emergency.
  • All details of immunization requirements are mapped in advance and available for scheduling appointments at the appropriate time. In case of difficulties, appointments can be changed over phone.
  • Medication is generally discouraged and the emphasis is on developing natural immunity. Taking the child immediately to the hospital is also somewhat discouraged. Anxious parents can speak to the nurse or hospital for guidance. For normal cold or fever, no medication is recommended. A child is to be taken only if the temperature crosses 105* F. 
  • Parents can call the helpline and summon ambulance with paramedics at all times of day and night. 
  • Emergency facilities are open 24 hours and sick child is attended immediately.
  • There are separate waiting rooms for children with regular appointments and those who arrive on sickness emergencies. Mixing of sick kids with other children is totally avoided.
  • There are a series of examination rooms at the centre. A trained nurse receives the child in one of these rooms and checks temperature, weight and other desired parameters. The details are fed to the computers in the room and the nurse proceeds to the other room to see the next child.
  • The Pediatrician arrives thereafter and verifies the data in the computer before examining the child. The examination is courteous and smooth. 
  • There is no dispensing of medicine through paper prescriptions. The doctor enters the details of the medicines, method of administration and time intervals in the computer. Details of the items are mailed to a pharmacy of the parent's choice immediately.
  • Sick child and the parent do not come into contact with other children and parents at the centre in examination rooms as well.
  • By the time the parent drives the child to the Pharmacy on the way home, pharmacy keeps the items ready for delivery. The parent can pick up the prescribed medicine from the Pharmacy on the way home.
  • In case of any problem of dispensing the prescribed item by the pharmacy, the issue is sorted out by the pharmacy with the doctor directly.
  • There is no requirement for payment at the pharmacy if the amount payable is within the insurance coverage available for the child. Only the difference amount is to be paid in case of necessity.
  • Pharmacies have drive-in facilities for picking up medicine. This prevents the parent from taking out the child from the car seat and take it inside the pharmacy. There is least inconvenience to the child and this also helps in avoiding contact with others at the Pharmacy.
  • Follow-up medical care can be had through telephone contact with the centre.


Some of these facilities may be available at major cities in our country. But smaller centers are still a long way to go. Availability of such facility in all places would enhance quality of life for all citizens. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Author, Writer and Editor

The words "Author", "Writer" and "Editor" are frequently used in the context of Literature and allied discussions. What is the connection and relation between these words? Do they mean the same thing or do they have different connotations? Are they interchangeable or is there a clear distinction between them? What is the right meaning of these words and when and how they should be used? What are the responsibilities of an author, a writer and an editor? Is there someone who can be considered and quoted as an author, a writer as well as an editor having done all the three different types of work at different times? It is indeed worthwhile to spend a few minutes and ponder over these issues to have a proper understanding of them.

In general parlance, the words writer and author are understood with the same meaning. A writer is one who writes something that can be read by himself and others. "Scribe" is the actual word to be used for such persons. A person who takes down what is dictated to him in the form of words is a writer. A stenographer is thus a writer when he reproduces the dictated part in words. A writer may also create a copy of an existing work or document by making a duplicate of it. There is a subtle difference between a writer and an author. Anyone who has a published independent work to his credit, may be in the form of a book (or e-book nowadays), is considered as an author. Thus there is a clear and major difference between a writer and an author. The writer generally has no responsibility of the contents of the document or piece except for a faithful reproduction of what is dictated to him or available in the original document. He is usually an employee and not an independent person. The term "clerical error" can be attributed to him but not to an author. On the other hand, an author has a legal responsibility and also enjoys the associated rights with the creation of the work. What he creates should be a original work. Authoring a work involves a lot of skills and talent and is usually a product of inspiration. Though the word 'Writer" is often used to mean an author, we have to keep this difference in mind while understanding usage of these two words.

An Editor is one who selects and revises available material for publication or wider reading. Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written material for conveying to others. Nowadays, it can also be extended to visual, audio and film medium where the word "editing" is extensively used to indicate bringing out an acceptable form of communication from out of a large volume of material that may be unintelligible in its original form. Editing involves creative skills and precise set of methods. It is not a mechanical work and requires special traits. An editor ought to be studious, have command over the material or contents of the work and subject he is editing. Editing includes collection, correction, condensation, organization and modifications of the contents. All this is to be done without distorting the intentions of the original author or authors. The basic idea of editing is to bring out a correct, consistent, accurate and complete work. Correction includes rectification of errors that may have crept in the work over a period of time and in spelling and grammar as well. 

What are the duties and responsibilities of an 'Editor" and what are the defects that may crepe in while editing literary works? Saint-philosopher Ananda Tirtha Bhagavatpada of 13th Century, well-known as Shri Madhwacharya for his "Dwaita" philosophy, traveled the length and breadth of the country for collecting the various versions of Mahabharata available at that time. After scrutinizing them he authored his celebrated work "Mahabharata Tatparya Niryana", meaning the proper interpretation of Mahabharata. It is interesting to note that he has made a very pertinent observation about "Editing" in this work. He has enumerated the four different types of errors that crepe in while editing a work and summarized them as under:
क्वचित् ग्रन्थान् प्रक्षिपन्ति क्वचित् अन्तरितानापि |
कुर्यः क्वचिच्चव्यत्यासम् प्रमादात् क्वचिदन्यथा ||

Kwachit granthaan prakshipanti kwachit antaritaanapi
Kuryahkwachiccha vyatyaasam pramadaat kwachidanyathaa

Which are the four errors that come up while editing and an editor should beware? They are:
  1. Interpolation: Addition of what the editor desires - these contents are not there in the original work, but added by the editor since he likes it and wants that to find a place in what the reader ultimately gets to read.
  2. Deletion: Removing portions not liked by him while editing. Editor uses his logic and discretion for removal of part of the contents.
  3. Disorder: Rearranging the contents the way he wants and thus violating the intention of the original author or authors.
  4. Ignorance: Errors that crepe in due to the limited or insufficient knowledge of the editor, resulting in wrong content.
An editor would do well to be aware of these four pitfalls to ensure proper and faithful editing of literary and other works, especially of earlier periods. What is the remedy for an editor if he genuinely feels that he does not concur with the original author and has justifiable reasons for such differences? He has the option of giving his views as a suitable footnote. But he ought not interfere with the contents of the original texts.

That brings us to the important issue of whether there is any person who is an author, a writer as well as an editor? Well, there are many scholars who have enriched literature and other fields in many languages all over the world, by their invaluable contributions as authors, writers and editors. But the foremost and the earliest among them is well known to us. Sage Vyasa, popularly known as Veda Vyasa, is an author, writer as well as editor. He is regarded as the person who classified and edited the Vedas and brought them into present readable form from a maze of large volume of complex works. He wrote many of his other works himself and hence is a writer as well. That he requested and got the assistance of Lord Ganesha as a writer (scribe) and became the author of the epic Mahabharata is indeed a very well-known story!