Pandemic plausibilities at landscape level: case of High Asia

An invitation to join a bunch of ecologists who’re working in High Asia led to this perspective piece that traces plausibility of spillovers turning into pandemics in what is considered relatively low-risk (a literal “coldspot”) for zoonotic disease oubreaks due to its relatively sparse populations and large and unihabitable landscapes. However, as we argue rapid land-use change, macroeconomic (even geopolitical!) pressures could create new niches and open up vulnerabilities for spillover events.

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Birds of BR Hills

If you came for the checklist of birds of BR Hills, directly scroll to end of this post.

Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve

Map of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve showing BR Hills (marked as BRT WLS on map), north of the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (marked Tailaimalai RF on map) and through Sathyamangalam, contiguous with Bandipur and Mudumalai Tiger Reserves (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

 

My journey with the Biligirirangaswamy temple hills (BR Hills) is an old one. It was during my medical school days, nearly 15 years back that I first went to the hills on a then trendy Yamaha RX 100 (2001 monsoon months). At the time, the frequency of buses were few and Veerappan was alive. Continue reading

Hinduism by Kshiti Mohan Sen

With a foreword by his better known grandson, Amartya Sen, I picked up this Penguin

Detail of mother and child from 5th century AD now at the LA County Museum of Art

Detail of mother and child from 5th century AD now at the LA County Museum of Art

paperback 2002 reprint of Kshiti Mohan Sen’s 1961 book last year at a Kochi bookshop. With only 138 pages for a very grand title “Hinduism”, the book seems overambitious from its cover itself. Yet, I found it to be a fairly comprehensive account of the history and (then in the 60s) present of this religion with which many people in the subcontinent identify themselves with. Continue reading

Universal health coverage in India: muddling through the quagmire

A guest editorial I co-wrote with Upendra Bhojani and Werner Soors on the International Health Policies blog on the quagmire of Universal Health Coverage issue and how it is unfolding in India.

Ever since the Indian government’s Planning Commission’s (PC) high-level expert group (HLEG) came out with their 300-odd page report on universal health coverage in October last year, how to reach that much desired universal health coverage has become the central question. Continue reading

From questionable social subsidies to unquestioned corporate welfare

An unusually punctual gathering on the dais greeted me at Rotary Club. Thankfully, this was a gathering of unimportant people both on and off the dais; none of those species of “Very Important People” often sporting Anna-like caps were invited to the gathering and things started on time. P Sainath was supposed to be speaking on “Rural India after two decades of liberalisation” and the gathering included a fair mix of people across age groups, occupations and stereotypes, yet so unrepresentative of rural India. A lot of those ‘civil society’ types that Sainath loves to decry and dissociate from were there too. Continue reading