Work at BR Hills!

BR Hills from Krishnayyanakatte reservoir

Vivekananda Girijana Kalyanal Kendra is looking for an MBBS doctor to work at their 20-bedded hospital and community health programme at BR Hills. The doctor will be a part of a community healthcare delivery team in charge of outpatient work and fairly light inpatient work. The person will have several opportunities to learn and work with other community health and public health professionals on ongoing research projects on Sickle cell anemia, Buerguers disease, non-communicable diseases research and health systems research. Candidates looking for exposure into public health research are especially welcome.

Location: BR Hills, Yelandur taluka, Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka. The

Soliga girl from Muttugada Gadde Podu. Photograph by Kalyan Varma

hospital is located within a tiger reserve and is one of South India’s top wildlife reserves with high biodiversity. The place is also ideal for medical graduates who are preparing for post-graduate examinations. BR Hills is about 80 km from Mysore and 190 km from Bangalore. Direct buses run from both these places. 

Accommodation will be provided on campus.Food could also be provided.

Salary: 25000 to 35000 per month. Negotiable based on experience of candidate


Ayurveda practitioners can also apply for a challenging project to promote use of Ayurveda in and around the villages near BR Hills.

Share widely among potential candidates. If you are interested, write to Dr. Tanya Seshadri (tanya AT


Arvind Kejriwal was quite a phenomenon. In spite of being a late adopter (a hopeless romantic that I am, I was waiting for a Mac among politicians, but agreed to settle for an Ubuntu), I slowly allowed myself to drift and get carried along the gentle AAP-tide. The crest wasn’t too tall and the trough was quite deep.

After being one of the most promising and refreshing of political movements that India saw (with comparisons to the Arab Spring and such), the party’s adolescence couldn’t have been more unsettling than the way in which they are handling “governance”, the proclaimed anarchic traits of the Delhi chief minister and the rowdyish moralising of their crew, who are out to apply their moral judgements in street-level judgements.

Couldn’t hold myself back from penning a quick mail to Team AAP, when they sent their Thank you mail for enrolling in their party. Some just and some jest too…

Dear Team AAP,

Thank you for notifying me about my membership and asking me to update details.
After my initial enthusiastic decision to enrol and subsequently experiencing a sense of accomplishment at making a new beginning on political engagement with AAP, I watched with utter disbelief the panning out of Arvind Kejriwal’s childish pranks and your Delhi Minister’s rowdy prattle.
Please count me out from any further volunteering. The motley Anna pales in comparison to you. Anna was merely like a misdirected child with some unnecessary piety and shrill chatter. But you are like a Dennis the Menace crossed with Calvin, except that the terrible parts of both crossed instead of their comic part that comes through in the newspaper strips.
That said, I shall not (yet) withdraw my membership and will keenly watch the anarchy (or hopefully the lack of it) unfold.
Reagrds, and best wishes,
PS: Don’t share this mail with SOmnath Bharthi, now that I gave you my address while registering. I am frightened that he might come outside my house with Delhi Police and demand my arrest or such.
On 06-Feb-2014, at 7:21 am, Aam Aadmi Party <> wrote:

Dear Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas,

You are a pillar of strength for AAP. It is your support that has brought us all so far.

These are historic times and now we have an opportunity to contribute in eradicating corruption and entrust ourselves with a just and equitable society.

This can be done by contributing your time with AAP as volunteer, and become actively involved in the fight for overall systemic change.

Your membership number is <cut> and the phone number you gave while registering is [MOBILE]. Login and update your details at <cut>

One small step of yours would ultimately mean a Giant leap for our Nation.


Team AAP<powerphplist.png>

Reply to Team AAP

Reply to Team AAP

Counting system losing count

In continuation of a campaign to free public data (and potentially public data), this opinion piece published in Business Standard on 21 Jan 2014. Also see similar advocacy articles on public data across health and natural history. More to follow…

In 1921, laying the foundation for a leading newspaper’s entry into data journalism, its editor C P Scott wrote,Comment is free, facts are sacred“. Over the years, the use of data and analysis has moved much beyond inaccessible research journals to the domain of public policy. Newspapers and media majors in many countries routinely produce data-driven analysis on matters of public policy under the term data journalism. In India, data collected by public authorities are subject to statutory disclosure according to the Right to Information (RTI) Act. One of the largest repositories of public information is

Opinion page on Business Standard

Opinion page on Business Standard

the civil registration system, the system through which we get our certificates of births and deaths. The civil registration system in India begins with the village accountant at the village level, with designated officials at each of the block/taluka and district offices. Entire departments are dedicated to this enterprise at the state level.

In Karnataka, for example, in each of its 30 districts’ zilla panchayat offices, every year, the district statistical officer totals up the births and deaths reported the previous year from all the villages in the district. Certificates of births and deaths issued in villages record vital events. In addition, they also record the probable cause (in the case of deaths) and such information is routinely sent upwards to the district level in paper reporting formats, and collated for annual state level reports of births and deaths. In most of our states, an entire department headed by a chief registrar of births and deaths oversees this massive enterprise.

As a parallel enterprise of creating a unique identity for each Indian citizen is going on, one would imagine that sufficient effort has gone into making use of this elaborate information being collected through this system. Access to the information collected through this system is crucial, for instance, for health planning. It could also contribute to the analysis of health outcomes of disadvantaged communities. Researchers or journalists could use this data to analyse and engage in discussions on public policy and reflect on the impact of policies and reforms in particular districts or regions. Unfortunately, it turns out that such information is not even available to the government themselves, let alone journalists or researchers. At least, the information is not in a format that is usable by them for decision- and policymaking.

Village-level data that come in paper formats are totalled and sent in prescribed formats to the state level, and produced as reports that are published on the websites. In the absence of computerisation or at least, entry of such important data into a database, a district health officer cannot obtain disaggregated data on the types of deaths in a particular block or village, or among people below the poverty line. Officers can only get state-level totals based on the format prescribed under the Act. All other data, though available, are lost in totalling. In response to a campaign using RTI queries, I met with denial of information, not because it was not collected, but because the collected information was lost in a process of completing paperwork prescribed by the births and deaths registration Act, and the bureaucratic procedures of producing annual reports, instead of putting the data out in public domain. In response to a letter I wrote to the registrar general of India, there was a direction to all the chief registrars of states to put in place steps to make this data easily accessible to health care workers and policymakers. Over a year has passed since the letter. The data continue to be collected, aggregated and the effort wasted since no disaggregated data is available to the health system or the public.

It is time to take a moment and ask why we collect information on births and deaths in this elaborate manner. In India, the foundation for the civil registration system was laid by the then colonial British administration following millions of deaths in the Great Indian Famine (1876-78). Subsequently, independent India passed its own Act in 1969, making reporting of births and deaths mandatory. The information collected by the mammoth enterprise ranging from the registrar general of India in Delhi to the village accountant in each of our villages, meticulously record births and deaths. However, the entire system is focused only on producing the reports in the particular format stipulated by the Act. Below that level, all the information is totalled up without any effort for creating a database that can be used by the government itself, if not by researchers or journalists.

Accurate information on causes of death can help build an effective health policy. For instance, routine data from civil registration in the UK contributed in identifying the causal association between smoking and lung cancer in the 1950s. Due to the lack of a database of vital statistics based on our civil registration systems, the long-term social, economic, and demographic impact of major diseases in India can only be estimated from statistical models or resource-intensive surveys. Ranging from a lack of awareness among people on one hand, to poor demand from policymakers on the other, many issues plague the Indian civil registration system. However, there appears to be a lack of vision in taking forward our archaic registration system beyond its colonial origins into the information age. We must make the information we collect available in a disaggregated manner, making it available for health care workers, policy makers, journalists and citizens.