Posts Tagged India

RIP John McCain & RIP Atal Bihari Vajpaiee


World lost two leaders this month, in world’s two greatest democracies, India and the USA, and were fondly remembered in many tributes. RIP #JohnMcCain & RIP #AtalBihariVajpaiee . Regardless of the party and ideology, these conservative career politicians remind us that democracy rests on the shoulders of men and women who dedicate their lives for making a case for their principles and then accepting the verdict that comes from people and serving with grace, regardless of the outcome. These men sought to unite the people under their leadership, served with integrity, and chose to be guided by their conscience and tried to build bridges, when they could. Some highlights from the lives of these two men – specifically their centrist moves — something that is inevitable in a democracy and something we need an ardent reminder of, in these polarizing times.

Image result for atal bihariAtal Bihari Vajpaiee: Under ABV, BJP moderated its extreme conservative Hindu nationalism. India conducted 5 nuclear tests during his time in office but Vajpaiee simultaneously softened hard stance towards Pakistan, inaugurated Delhi-Lahore bus service and in fact traveled to Lahore by bus and made a push for full scale diplomatic peace process. Unfortunately Pakistan’s incursion into India’s borders, into LOC (line of control), led to bloody Kargil war during his time. Pakistan was forced to withdraw, after suffering heavy losses. ABV took oath for the office of Prime Minister of India 3 times and served thrice in that capacity for varying lengths. Indian airlines flight was hijacked when he was PM. But the biggest political disaster hit his government in 2001 when there was destruction of Babri Mosque & VHP wanted to lay foundation for a temple at the site. Thousands gathered but it ended peacefully. In 2002 however, when Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train returning from protests in Ayodhya, the resulting anti-Muslim sentiments led to intense violence and deaths of thousands of Muslims and destruction of their homes and property, in the state of Gujarat.  In his last years in the parliament, ABV made last efforts to achieve peace with Pakistan, he also visited China and China-India relations improved greatly. ABV’s government introduced many domestic and economic and infrastructural reforms to encourage foreign investments, reduce governmental waste and encourage R&D and privatization of government owned corporations and introduced efforts to improve quality of education. ABV was recipient of Bharat Ratna, India’s highest award for exceptional service.

Beverly HIlls, California, USA; May 28, 2008; Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain speaks during a press conference at the Beverly Hilton.John McCain: Although generally a conservative, McCain disagreed with his party, when guided by his conscience to do so. Most recent example was when he voted against the repeal of #Obamacare. He was a member of bipartisan “Gang of 14”. McCain made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns that eventually led to passing of the McCain–Feingold Act. McCain also chaired the Senate Commerce Committee and opposed pork barrel spending. McCain lost his party’s nomination for president once to George W. Bush and once he lost his bid for the highest office to Barack Obama. McCain invited both his previous opponents Bush and Obama to give eulogies at his funeral. That is a mark of a man who does not hold grudges and seeks to build bridges. When McCain served in the Vietnam war, he endured fractures and almost drowned and was then captured by the enemy in 1967. He was held by the enemy forces for over 5 years. When his father became commander of US forces, the enemy offered to release him but McCain refused saying “I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy”. As a prisoner, he endured severe solitary confinement, had dysentery, was repeatedly tortured, severely beaten (once on a schedule of every 2 hours), and planned to commit suicide when he reached his breaking point. McCain survived, became a vocal opponent of extreme torture, and later joined politics. McCain married his first wife Carol, adopted her two children and had a daughter. But after his return from Vietnam, both had changed, he had extra marital affairs for which he took full responsibility and later he and his wife amicably divorced and he married his second wife Cindy in 1981. Cindy and John had three children and later adopted a girl from Bangladesh and named her Bridget. McCain was recipient of several awards. McCain’s many contributions and his often choosing to be guided by his conscience rather than by party and politics were mentioned and remembered today by his many friends, as he was laid to rest.

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India Trip – Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra: People, places, possibilities, pant suits & palazzos – Oct-Nov, 2017


IMG_20171109_163518289.jpgThis time my India trip was all about people.  I had many discussions around religious beliefs, stayed in many homes, debated and discussed what needs fixing (and there is a lot and mostly I did not bring this up) and what works and why and of course enjoyed world’s most incredible diverse range of cuisine available; enjoyed gawking at incredible, ever evolving, new fashionable clothing like gowns, pant suits and palazzos, and breathtakingly gorgeous jewellery.  

Kerala: Diversity of fruits, plants and foliage all growing together and jostling for space and thriving alongside each other in Kerala is just astounding... And amidst vast tea plantations, valleys full of cardamom trees, are bamboo, jackfruit, coffee, Cocoa, plantains, banana, cloves, tons of green peppercorns, cloves, supari, papaya, guava, sitafal, mango and more. And all these teaming with equally diverse animal life including taher mountain goats, elephants, possums and vast vast varieties of birds like maina, bluebirds etc. My friend who accompanied me was like a walking encyclopedia on all native plants and pointed out each variety as we passed them by.  Enjoyed chilling in house boat at Alleppey and enjoyed touring amazing Thekkady, Munnar in “God’s own country”, Kerala.

 

 

God-crazy India – Slightly with a sense of alarm and slightly lovingly, I wonder if India has gone God crazy.. I  found that there is a segment of Indian population that has clearly become more secular and refuse to partake in religion fueled divisiveness. Then there is a substantial segment that has become clearly much more religious. In the early morning of the day I landed and went to a small eatery, the waiter went and poured tea on a nearby tree and when questioned by me, explained that first tea has to go to the tree. Gods, rituals, and shrines keep multiplying in India and practically every Indian has a real ghost story. In one city, the government installed artistic statues of deities in the middle of four way streets to beautify the place. Very soon people began to go there and started praying there. I found catholics fiercely differentiating themselves from their closest siblings, the protestants.  A Shiya Muslim cab driver was staunchly asserting that Hindus don’t understand the differences but all terrorist acts are always carried out by Sunnis and unequivocally stated there can never be peace between Shiyas and Sunnis. When my friend asked the cabbie to stop at a spirits store to purchase a bottle of alcohol, he said we should have said it earlier and then he would not have accepted us as passengers because it was against his religion to enable people to drink.

 

A Hindu woman protested the assertion by Jains and Buddhists to be counted as separate religions because according to her they are all offshoot of Hinduism. Jains fear being swallowed and losing their identity in the amorphous and boundaryless system of Hinduism and equally staunchly assert their identity. And finally, as a most interesting experience, a Jain woman asserted how important are the differences between two sects of Jainism. One of the outward difference between the two sects of Jainism is that God keeps eyes open in one and halfway closed in the other. When I said it was a superficial difference, she explained how significant it was that the God kept the eyes halfway closed (never mind, that the statues are made by people).

I came away feeling more like Ron Reagan Junior (an active atheist). One atheist famously has said, “most people are atheists anyway about most religions, I just go one religion too far”.

Clothes Crazy India: Somehow I came away feeling like all of India and not Paris should be dubbed the fashion capital of the world. Incredible innovation in clothing styles and jewellery has made every Indian woman a fashionista, be it a cleaning woman, a beggar on the street or one living in a big mansion. There are incredible styles of clothes available to suit every pocket, everyone’s choice of color, style and size. In amazement, I stared at billboards and loved gawking and people watching at airports, hotels and on streets.

Enormously hospitable and friendly India – During this trip to India, I stayed in many homes, connected with my cousins on mother’s side, father’s side, with friends and neighbors from early childhood and from school and college days and with friends visiting from California and their families and friends in India. My cousins, friends, neighbors, friends’ friends and families and strangers in whose orbit I came, accepted me as their own, and at the same time, gave me the best things, fed the best items. My heart was filled with love and gratitude in each home that I visited, and in each interaction. Even when people held different beliefs than mine, even when I questioned and debated, in the end, I was in their orbit and I was accepted based our similarity as humans.  Over and over people told me that they loved to have me because I was so genuine and adaptable and I responded always that how can anyone not adapt when surrounded by such love and hospitality? I left eagerly for my homeland, but I left my motherland with a heavy heart. As I reminisce, I don’t miss the noise (it seems in India, there is a competition to rise above the din, bells in the temples are loudest, cars and scooters honk for no reason, people burst reams of firecrackers that last full 2-3 minutes when you cannot talk with the person sitting next to you inside a home, and even babies cry louder here). I don’t miss the air pollution (I yearned for a deep breath of fresh there). I don’t miss the dirt and grime (though there is considerable improvement in that). But I do deeply miss and remember people and their love, possibilities that exist, palazzos and pantsuits, gorgeous gowns, sarees and fashionable blouses that I wasn’t able to take my eyes off, the potential that India holds.

 

 

 

 

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Toba Tek Singh: Play Review (naatak.com)


Toba Tek Singh is yet another example of NAATAK company’s efforts to bring bold and audacious plays in Indian languages or with Indian theme, on stage.  Very special credits for this amazing production go to brilliant director Sujit Saraf who adapted the original story for stage, to brilliant producer who wears multiple hats, Soumya Agastya and to brilliant music director, Nachiketa Yakkundi. Based off of the original story written by Saadat Hasan Manto, Toba Tek Singh focuses on exchange of inmates in a Lahore asylum, after the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. The ensuing conflict between India and Pakistan displaced nearly 15 million people and nearly 1 million people died during the migration, leaving behind a bloody legacy. The story of Toba Tek Singh is not only a powerful satire on the events that transpired in the aftermath of the violent division but when observed through the eyes of a madman, one can’t help but feel that he was the only sane person questioning the ridiculousness of the entire situation, in a sea of complete and utter lunacy.

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standingPerformed with live music and phenomenal dances by women in colorful costumes, the lunacy of the bloody events feels even more stark. Toba Tek Singh is the largest production in Naatak’s 22 year history.  It is amazing and delightful to see the huge entire cast perform their roles flawlessly. But it is the live musicians, under the leadership of Yakkundi and amazing dancers under the leadership of choreographers, Shaira Bhan and Snigdha Singh that this special story was transformed into a grand musical.

Image result for partition, india, pakistan
When the British
left India divided and splintered, clear borders were not announced until after the division, throwing millions of people into chaos and confusion. In an immediate aftermath, there began one of the greatest migrations in human history, as millions of Hindus and Sikhs began the trek towards India and millions of Muslims in the opposite direction towards Pakistan in the West and East. While millions and millions were displaced and left homeless, nearly a million never made it as people were massacred during migration, some were abducted and many were raped, forced into sexual slavery, and left disfigured and dismembered. But lunetics housed in the mental asylums were safe from this madness.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sittingThe story of Toba Tek Singh begins in 1948, a year after the partition, when the governments of India and Pakistan decide that the lunatics living in the mental asylums must also be exchanged so that Muslim lunatics in India may be sent to Pakistan, while Hindu and Sikh lunatics in Pakistan may be sent to India.  One of the lunatics is a Sikh inmate named Bishan Singh who is to be sent under police escort to India from Lahore. Bishan Singh wants to remain in a country where his home village Toba Tek Singh remains and he asks several people where Toba Tek Singh is.  He is alternately told it is in India and then told it is in Pakistan. When he finally believes that his hometown Toba Tek Singh will be part of the new Pakistan, he refuses to go to India and lies down right in the middle, in the no man’s land.

When you watch the play, you somehow feel that Bishan Singh is the only man true to his feelings, unlike Naidu or Jinnah or Gandhi or Nehru or Mountbatten or Edwina or Godse who are all caught up in their own self serving versions and visions of the event.  Each one of the other characters use multiple tactics and strategies, plot and craft to manipulate and maneuver the events to fit their vision. Bishan Singh simply wants to live in a place he has known as home because home is where the heart is and to get uprooted from homeland is like getting  your heart ripped out.

Toba Tek Singh will be running in Woodside, CA till July 29, 2017. Get your tickets at www.naatak.com .

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2016 Year-end Review – Theme: Devastating Losses & Memories to Savor


Every year, I write end of the year review. However, this year has been for me, a year of devastating loss, and it has been hard to write the review of 2016.  Well now into 2017, I have finally decided to write year-end review of 2016.  As we bid sad adieu, let me first say, thank you Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden and team for leaving an awesome legacy to serve as our guide going forward.

The deepest of my personal loss is that of my mother who left this world and went on to explore newer shores, on December 30, 2016.  My mother was my rock, my inspiration, my greatest champion and I miss her so very deeply.  Prior to that I also grieved deeply at the election loss of Hillary Clinton (you may contest my counting her as a personal loss and I accept if you mourn with me). I also lost my love, my jelly bean as I called her, my daughter Neesha who colored my life with many gorgeous hues from the time she was born.  She is gone to study at U Penn and I am proud of her accomplishments.  My son Neil continues to work at Cisco and is thankfully living closer to me. As I write this on the eve of historical impending change hanging in the air, I am however also grieving with many of my friends, the loss of an incredible team of talented, bright, compassionate, good hearted people at the helm of our country. Not just our nation but many in the world will miss Mr. Obama, Mrs. Obama, Mr. Biden and the entire team.  Adieu and good luck.

The year was indeed sprinkled with many beautiful events, situations, and deep ties that left indelible marks and created a tapestry of beautiful memories.  I spent beautiful 15 days with my mamma in India and just a week after my return, she peacefully passed away.  During my stay, my spunky, adventuresome mamma was in the best of spirits and loved our twice daily outings. Every morning I gave her oil head massage and a bath and then took her in the wheelchair for an hour in the neighborhood. Every afternoon, we went for a car ride and every evening I brought hers and her sister’s favorite ice cream. I will treasure those wonderful memories.  Our nation will cherish the legacy of President Obama, now leaving White House with very high approval in the country and in the world.

Hillary Clinton nearly shattered the glass ceiling, and from the grief and determination is emerging a pantsuit nation of women warriors, committed to preserving her legacy and her memory with the power of action, in favor of respect, unity, and diversity.

In addition to several road trips and other vacations, I also had a wonderful theater filled vacation in Ashland.  My trip to Morocco http://bit.ly/1SXk80T, walking in the markets, sipping mint tea, riding the camel, and holding little goats will be one of the most memorable vacations.  Later in the year, after I visited mom, I enjoyed a vacation with my cousins and their children at Pondicherry and Trivendrum in Kerala, India.

Other bitter-sweet events of 2016 include thawing in US-Cuba relationship and Chicago Cubs overcoming their World Series curse.  In an effort to root out black market corruption and terrorism financed by black money, India took an unprecedented, bold step of demonetization, wiping out nearly 80% of its currency in circulation, giving the citizens only days to exchange the money in their possession. Indians and the world will closely watch its long term impact. Let’s end on an uplifting note – the fact that women of color made history on election night in the US, as the highest number got elected from their respective states. Certainly, all signs point to the coming year being marked by optimism, activism, dynamism, liberalism, and humanism at the grass roots level.

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Jobs – August, 2015


Please see below some of my immediate opportunities.  Post doc and contract opportunities are for candidates located in the United States.  But there are some new opportunities below that are located in India, for anyone wishing to do a stint in India, in very exciting, cutting edge multinational.  When sending your resume, please include details on your current compensation and compensation expectations.  Also, include in the email a short summary of your background and your key strengths. Please send resumes to wd_darshana at hot mail dot com.

Post-docs – Engineering – ME, EE, Biochemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences – CA & TX
Requires excellent and proven hands-on problem solving skills.

Immediate contract Engineering Opportunities – San Jose, CA

  • Electrical Engineering & Software
  • Analog Design
  • PCB Layout (FR4, Flex etc.)
  • ASIC Design
  • Embedded Systems
  • TI MSP430, ARM, Cypress
  • Software (Windows, Linux, C++, Android, iOS)
  • Sensors
  • RF Communications
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, GPS
  • Antenna Design
  • RF Test Labs
  • Test Engineering
  • Test Hardware & Software

OPPORTUNITIES IN INDIA

Architect – MRI System and Signal Processing Development (Pulse Sequencing) – Bangalore, INDIA

SUMMARY
Job includes performing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system simulation & pulse sequence design for fast simultaneous MRI imaging schemes and developing MRI image reconstruction algorithms
Academic Requirements include: Ph.D. degree and 5+ years of R&D work experience or BS / MS degree and 10+ years experience,  Major in Biomedical Engineering, Bio-Information System Engineering, Computer Science, Optics Engineering, or related areas.

Required experience includes: 5 – 15 years experience in MRI signal acquisition and/or image reconstruction, Comprehensive understanding of MRI system and pulse sequence design.  Also required, knowledge in MRI system development, MRI signal acquisition & MRI image reconstruction.  Strongly preferred: Knowledge in Simultaneous/ quantitative MRI & Compressed Sensing MRI

Job responsibilities include: Developing ultra-fast MRI imaging technology, MRI system modeling, Pulse sequence design (signal acquisition), Image reconstruction algorithm development & Compressed sensing for MRI


Architect / TL / PL – Bangalore, INDIA

Requires 5-10 yrs exp in C, C++, (QT, Boost); image processing, visualization, algorithm development, signal processing, & UI development. Requires experience with tools like VTK, OpenGL, ITK, CGal, OpenInventor, OpenCV, OpenMesh ImageJ, DICOM; proven application development record in image processing & visualization; domain knowledge of MR (Stroke, Metastatis, Cartilege, Dementia related clinical applications); and experience working with clinicians for development of software applications.  C++ (QT, Boost, Design Patterns).

Visualisation Architect – Bangalore, INDIA

Requirements include experience & knowledge in:  C++ (QT, Boost, Design Patterns), Data Analytics, Algorithms, Image Processing, Visualization techniques.  Highly desired: Proven research record & high quality publications in image processing, visualization or related areas; experience in one or more of the following: VTK, OpenGL, ITK, CGal, OpenInventor, OpenCV, OpenCV, OpenMesh, SPM.  Academic requirements include: MS or Ph.D. in Computer Science or related with emphasis on visualization & image analysis & good software development experience. Experience in medical imaging applications in CT or MR is nice to have.

Roles and Responsibilities – Developing & supporting visualization platform, Clinical image processing algorithm development from concept to productizing, Integration of algorithm & development of end to end clinical application with the team, Support clinical collaboration with hospitals to do competitor bench-marking & validation of algorithms and clinical application and Support system integration & system verification issues for visualization platform & clinical applications.

R&D for Computed-Tomography Segmentation Algorithm Development – Banglore, INDIA

Job includes: Organ-specific segmentation technology development for computed-tomography (CT) clinical applications (image processing).
Requirements include: 5+ years experience in computed-tomography (CT) image processing, CT image segmentation, Feature extraction and Pattern recognition & Classification.  Also required: Specialized Knowledge in signal processing, digital image processing, probability & statistics, programming in C/ C++, MATLAB.

BASIC JOB RESPONSIBILITIES
1) Segmentation Algorithm Development including developing organ specific segmentation, reinforcing segmentation applications, and CT image processing.
2) Feature Extraction Algorithm Development including Lesion area enhancement and extraction
3) Technology Development Based on Computer-Aided Detection including Developing pattern recognition algorithms & Developing classification algorithms

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“The Lake Effect” – Play Review


As an immigrant from India, it was a special treat to see “The Lake Effect”, centered around an Indian immigrant family, by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, at www.theatreworks.org .  Randall K. Lum has done a fabulous job with staging, where the softly blowing snow outside the window not only gives an idea of the frigid temperature outside, but serves as a prelude to relationships gone frigid with years of grief and animosity.

Snow blowing from a roof in Ottawa, Ontario, C...

Snow blowing from a roof in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, “The Lake Effect” captures confused notions around immigrant attitudes towards race and struggles between two generations growing up very differently, but without overly dwelling on these issues.  On the contrary, the primary focus of the play is on human issues broadly applicable; complex sibling relationship between Vijay (Adam Poss) and Priya (Nilanjana Bose) and their mixed and unresolved feelings towards their deceased father and mother.

Vijay and Priya meet after a gap of several years, on a snowy, cold wintery day, after their father, a small restaurant owner in New York, passes away.  I did not find it challenging connecting with their characters.  Under their seemingly shallow characters, there is a deep, lingering pain from unresolved issues, that makes them very real.  The play does not dwell on the grief and the pain enough for the audience to build empathy with them.  The focus instead shifts to Bernard (Jason Bowan), an African-American bookie, who had developed a strong friendship with their father, during the children’s long absence from the scene.  Bernard is a simple man.  Having lost his memory in a freak accident, Bernard has little baggage, literally and figuratively.

Bernard talks to his dead mother, shares his pain and his blessings, carries no animosity towards anyone, and forgives easily.  The beauty of Bernard’s character is that it quenches the audience thirst for deeper understanding of why other characters feel the way they do, how they will find resolution of their unresolved feelings of grief, pain and rivalry.  Bernard’s ease in coming to terms with what life dishes out, makes it feel perfectly ok for any distance to be bridged with a simple hug, even with ambiguities hanging in the air.  After all, grief and ambiguities are part of life and complex to unravel, but forgiveness and resolution can be very simple and happen when someone takes an initiative.

“The Lake Effect” is a beautiful play and will be on at www.theatreworks.org till March, 29.  

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2014 – Year-end Review ——- Theme: Confront Reality & Get Things Done!


English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: resear...

English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: researcher is working with the Ebola virus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 2014 is coming to a close.  As I see it, it has been a year to confront the reality and get things done.  Affordable Care Act became law in January, increasing the accessibility of healthcare, in the US.  TIME declared Ebola as the defining issue of the 20th century. It was no more in remote regions of Africa but in the capitals and it landed in the USA.  The reality is that we are living in a global world.  

And then President Obama reminded us that even though some of our neighbors entered the border illegally, they have made their home here, are working hard, supporting their families and they should have NOT amnesty, but an opportunity to make it right with the law, and live here temporarily, AND pay their share of the taxes, because people can’t live in the shadows, in a global world of visibility and accountability.   Long overdue immigration reform will enable many people to come out of the shadows and add to the national treasury – a win-win – what’s not to like?

The same applies to our gay neighbors.  They should not have to live in the shadows.  Majority of the states this year, legalized same sex marriages and US supreme court refused to hear appeals from states seeking to keep same sex marriage ban in place.  Many states also legalized marijuana.  But what about our veterans living in the shadows?  Department of Veterans Affairs got more resources (as house passed the bill, at the end of the year, averting shutdown), and it now has to get its act together and make it right with those who defend our freedom and values.

And what about skin color?  We are confronting the reality that more than 50 years after Dr. King laid out his vision for color-fair society, people are still being judged on the basis of the color of their skin and paying with their lives.  This does not just happen when young men turn 22 but prejudice hits in childhood  http://bit.ly/15EInJ4 and it splinters society.  We can heal and move ahead, but scars made by history, and distrust can only heal when there are no new wounds, when there is real dialog, when each side gets to even briefly experience the reality that the other lives with, and have compassion.  We are confronting the reality and lot of dialog is happening.  Much work remains to be done but the issue can’t be ignored any longer.

And then the lowest of the low, terrorists and those plotting terror.  How do we deal with them?  Report on CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the post-9/11 era reveals that “CIA detainees were tortured”.  When we lose sight of our values, when the boundaries between moral and immoral gets blurry, then we lose, regardless of what we were seeking to gain.  This is a true moment for national soul searching. (the fact some people may be only suspected of being terrorists is whole other story).

Globally, also we are confronting realities.  World’s largest democracy, India, elected controversial Mr. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.  Mr. Modi has reached out to leaders across the world and declared campaigns to clean up India.  My birthplace has so much to offer to the world and if it cleans up its act, under the helm of Mr. Modi, I couldn’t be happier.  Our neighbors need to clean up their act too, even as they rightfully blame the US for its insatiable appetite for drugs.  Capture of “El Chapo” Guzman in Mexico was a HUGE victory that got overshadowed later by disappearance and ruthless murder of 43 Mexican college students.  “#YaMeCanse12”!  Abduction of 270 high school girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls and scores of Yazidi women bought, sold, raped, and murdered, underscores the need to define rape during conflict as a war crime and not a woman’s issue.  By some estimates, more than 7 million (50% are children) are displaced by war in Syria (200,000 are killed) and 100,000+ Yazidis are displaced by ISIS.  Let us continue to keep theses issues in the spotlight.

The year is ending on a rather sad note of the children who lost their lives in #PeshawarSchoolAttack in Pakistan.  Here is my short poem in their memory – http://bit.ly/1wfp47D .  It was heart warming to see India support its neighbor in the hour of grief as #IndiawithPakistan was a popular hashtag on twitter. And also deeply heartwarming to see Pakistan echo the sentiments when #PakistanwithIndia and sepecially #PakistanwithIndiaNoToLakhviBail became trendy topics on twitter as overwhelmingly Pakistani people reacted negatively to their government’s decision to give bail to Mumbai terror mastermind Lakhvi.  May the balanced sentiments always prevail over extremism, because the reality is that we live in a global world and terror can’t be nurtured and targeted because sooner or later it would hit home.  Global world also demands secularism.

As a ray of light and hope, Malala Yousafzai, courageous young lady from Pakistan, spearheading girls’ right to education and Kailash Satyarthi from india, a brave and dedicated activist for children’s rights and against child labor, shared the Nobel Prize, sending strong messages that fight to honor children’s rights will continue.

Personal

wpid-20140920_173123.jpgHard as it is to confront the reality that one’s parents may not be there forever, I was very happy to spend wonderful time with my mother and my aunty (her sister).  I tried to focus on giving them a break from their routines and enable them to have some fun, some unusual experiences.  Isn’t it amazing that when a mother gives, she gives with her heart and soul, but when she receives from her children, she receives with a feeling of enormous debt and gratitude!  Both my children are focused on their careers; wpid-20140805_201145-1.jpgNeil is working with Cisco in IT and Neesha is finishing college this coming year.  Both are my pride and joy :).  It has also been fun hosting my daughter’s friend from UCSD, originally from Palestine, during the holidays, and alternately being “naughty” with the girls, and playing aunty-mom to two daughters :).wpid-20141221_150415.jpg

wpid-20141221_161442.jpgThis year, I also visited Japan (we were hosted by many amazing friends and you can see all details in my travel blogs), an amazingly polite and most efficient culture, with world’s most interesting toilets http://bit.ly/1sYL5qs.  This year I also started travel blogs and you can see my many blogs at www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com.

And finally, here are links to some of the most amazing things that I blogged about, this year.
Best movie – “Last Days in Vietnam” http://bit.ly/1qFIL28
Best play – “Truce” http://bit.ly/1trGhEG and “Andhera Hone Tak” http://bit.ly/1Aij5Rz
Best book – “The Glass Castle” http://bit.ly/1fchcIo
Best biomedical technologies — so many exciting technologies in early to mid stages of development for — treatment of ALS http://bit.ly/1AP2Yd0, for technology for early detection of cervical cancer http://bit.ly/1jalqEz, technology that aims to deliver drugs via inhalation for AFib, point of care solution to minimize prescription filling errors http://bit.ly/1jdfmgr

Wishing my readers, family & friends, and my clients and colleagues, peace and joy in the year 2015.  Best wishes to my many friends in fantastic groups that I am routinely affiliated with (each of them enhance life for many, personally and/or professionally) http://www.bio2devicegroup.org, http://www.eppicglobal.org, http://www.citylights.org, http://www.thestage.org, http://www.theatreworks.org, http://www.naatak.org, http://www.enacte.org, http://www.iwings.org .

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Kultar’s Mime – Play Review


“Is there a price for their deaths?  How shall the price be paid?

Sarbpreet Singh’s poem “Kultar’s Mime”, inspired from Haim Bialik’s poem, “In the City of Slaughter”, forms the basis of the play, by the same name, and thus two cultures miles apart, get bound by unforgettable ties, carved in blood.

Kultar's Mime Cast     http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/51625844

“In the City of Horrors” recounts the horrific pogrom that was organized, targeting the Jewish population of Kishinev, Russia, in 1903.  Eighty one years later, Delhi, capital of India erupted in violence, after the assassination of Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, by her Sikh bodyguards.  In an organized orgy of murder, rape, and arson, more than 3000 Sikh residents in and around Delhi, lost their lives, others lost their homes and their livelihoods, their parents and their siblings, their limbs, their eyes, and their sanity.  “Kultar’s Mime” makes a valiant effort to capture the horrific suffering unleashed upon a community, and succeeds in forming ties across cultures and communities that have endured such pogroms, in history.

If you ever incredulously wonder, “Did it happen?  Did men become such cruel beasts?” and then wonder how can keepers of the law, allow, sanction, and protect organized thugs to run amuck and unleash such pain, then you will find in history, it has happened and happened, time and again.  With evocative lyrics, the play captures it all – “when I walk the streets of Delhi today, I shall see blood mixed with dirt”; “are you so blind, you can’t see”.  Each child, in the town of Tilakvihar, “has a tale to tell, each of these children is a living shell”.

Drawing on the raw imagery of both poems, “Kultar’s Mime” not only tells a powerful story of human suffering and courage, but the incredible cast (Addison Williams, Allison Matteodo, Cathryn Roberts, Christine Scherer, Michelle Finston) of “outsiders” to the community, bring it to life, against a backdrop of striking paintings by Evanleigh Davis.  Each actor tells the story of a child, in addition to playing multiple other roles.  The actors own their characters, and deliver such a moving performance that the play bridges all distance of language, culture, or community.  This is a story of human cruelty, of human suffering, of history that we must remember and learn from; never to repeat it.

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Rakeysh Mehra, famed Bollywood Filmmaker will speak at TiEcon 2014


Rakeysh Mehra, highly acclaimed Bollywood Filmmaker & Screenwriter, will speak at TiEcon 2014.  Have you registered?  You can register as my guest through the link http://tinyurl.com/kr2hkcw and enter code “TiEvalue” to get $100 off.

The process of filmmaking begins with a great story and then the filmmaker or the producer needs to work with the screenwriter to develop the story or screenplay they have just purchased.  Rakeysh Mehra is an Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, known for writing and directing such films as Rang De Basanti (he won Best Director Filmfare Award for it in 2006) and directing blockbuster “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, starring Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh, India’s legendary runner (here’s link to my review  http://bit.ly/1cUwG4o).  “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” acquired international fame and was nominated for 10 awards. Obtaining the right script and developing it into a good screenplay and then directing it into a successful film, is a highly challenging process, in the cut throat film world.  One needs to understand and develop the characters, ensure the dialogues are not lame, understand the story structure, identify the genre or the blend of genres and Mehra is brilliant, with each of the steps of filmmaking.

Delhi 6 Premiere

Delhi 6 Premiere (Photo credit: muckster)

Currently, India, the largest democracy in the world, is busy with the process of deciding its new leader.  Voting is in full swing, in India.  Mehra has been a critic of the vote bank politics and currently he is campaigning to introduce e-voting to facilitate voting by travelers.  Mehra is also deeply committed to children and the education system in India.  Regarding “Bhaag Milkha Baag”, Mehra said that to see the movie connect with children as young as six and eight, was the biggest part of his success with the movie that he is proud of.  He has criticized marks-driven, education system in India saying that it emphasizes test scores over actual learning and achievement.  Perhaps his next movie will address this issue?  The filmmaker was location hunting recently in Jodhpur, for his upcoming film.  Will there be announcements?  Mehra will give keynote address on the morning of day 2 of the conference.

See discount codes to register for TiEcon 2014, www.tiecon.org and for Health Technology Forum

www.tiecon.org – If you are a professional  in #healthIT, #digital health,  #internetofthings, #cloud, #bigdata or related, then this is the conference, you don’t want to miss – It offers a fabulous opportunity to network with 3000+ professionals and listen to top notch speakers and panelists.  Register for #TiEcon (May 16 & 17 at Santa ClaraConvention Center) as my guest, at link http://tinyurl.com/kr2hkcw  & enter promo code tievalue to get $100 discount.

Healthtechnology Forum conference http://www.healthtechnologyforum.com, focused on exploring pathways to sustainable health, is on May 20 in SF. Please register for the conference as my friend, with the discount code “HTF14-FriendOfOrganizer” and send me your first & last name at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com, to get $150 off the price of the ticket.  Also check out & participate in code-a-thon on patient engagement, for May 8.  Over 20K+ in prizes.

JOBS: are posted at the link http://bit.ly/1o85CTM

 

 

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OncoProtein based Program for Early Detection of HPV induced Cervical Cancers  


Dr Johannes Schweizer, VP of R&D at Arbor Vita Corporation talked about Arbor Vita’s proprietary OncoE6™ Cervical Test that Predicts Development of Cervical Cancer at www.bio2devicegroup.org event.  Information on 3 great upcoming conferences EPPIC, TiEcon, and HealthTechForum with great speakers on healthcare tracks, is posted at the end of the article.

Arbor Vita was found by Dr. Peter Lu, in 1998 with an aim to apply discoveries of the role of PDZ proteins to the development of novel therapeutics and diagnostics.  Numerous pathogens have been found to cause diseases by binding to a PDZ protein and thereby disrupting normal cell signaling.  The ability to regulate PDZ/PL interactions represents new opportunities in controlling multiple signaling cascades in complex diseases and have recently been a focus for human drug targets.  Arbor Vita has identified nearly all of the PDZ domains in the human proteome and has decoded most of them.  Arbor Vita’s platform technology is targeted towards several diseases.  Its stroke treatment asset was recently sold to NoNO, Inc.  Avian flu Dx is the first FDA cleared rapid Dx test.  At this event, Dr Schweizer discussed Arbor Vita’s diagnostic and treatment technology for HPV induced cancers.

Cervical cancer is a leading cause of mortality, worldwide.  HPV induced cancers are transmitted through sexual contact and kill over 275,000 women, every year.  These do not receive as much attention because the mortality rates are lower in the US and other developed countries.  But mortality from slow progressive cervical cancers peak in developing countries.  In India for instance, every 7 minutes, a woman dies from this disease.  The current mode of detection is through pap smears, which have poor sensitivity and poor specificity.  In the US, out of 100,000 women tested, 23,000 are likely to be hr-HPV positive.  But from these, only 6 women are likely to have cancer.  This indicates that the current screening methods are sensitive but are not sufficiently specific to detect pre-cancerous and cancerous activity and low specificity leads to over treatment.  Pap tests give about 20% false positive and false negative results.  The only reason it still work is because of the frequency of testing in the case of this very slow moving cancer, said Schweizer.  Also pap tests require lot of infrastructure and set up that is often not easily available in developing regions.

Arbor Vita’s OncoE6TM Test is the only test that specifically identifies the viral E6 oncoprotein that causes cervical cancer.  And it is simple to administer with specimen captured with a polyester tipped cervical swab, which can also be captured by the woman on her own as well.  Elevated E6 oncoprotein correlates to cancerous activity and development of high-affinity anti E6 mAb is a key to feasibility.  There are 15 HPV types that cause cancer.  Among these, HPV 16 and HPV 18 are leading causes of cervical cancers, worldwide.  This test is specific to these two viruses.  Further this test is robust and lends to easy storage at ambient temperature.  The entire process from sample collection to getting the results can be completed in 2.5 hours.

Schweizer shared some of the data from its clinical trials.  The data indicates that in a head to head comparison with OncoE6TM, the DNA test results in nine fold over treatment including colposcopies and biopsies.   OncoE6 Cervical Test on the other hand, has high specificity for women with high grade disease cancers.  OncoE6 Cervical Test efficiently identifies women in need of clinical follow-up, among the many more with clinically irrelevant HPV infections.  In a one year follow up, E6TM promised to be a solid predictive marker as high specificity and high PPV are keys to lower referral rates and clinical follow-up.  This was very interesting talk and was followed by Q&A.

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Please see below information on some excellent conferences and events coming up in the Bay Area, in next couple of months.

March 29, 2014 (day after tomorrow) EPPIC (www.eppicglobal.org) is hosting annual conference at SF, Westin.  Panels include Neglected & Rare Diseases – http://bit.ly/1c1vvTR, Innovations in clinical Development of Novel Agents, Point of Care gold rush and there will be speed pitch and SIG networking opportunities.  Promises to be a great conference.

May 16, 17, 2014 TiE SV (www.tiesv.org) will host TiEcon (www.tiecon.org) , the largest entrepreneurship conference.  This year it will feature #healthcare track with focus on Disruptive Technologies in Healthcare.

May 20, 2014 HealthTech Forum (www.healthtechnologyforum.com) will host annual conference around the theme “Pathways to Sustainable Health” at Parc 55 Wyndham, SF and will feature excellent panels and speakers on Medical Research in the Cloud, Patient Engagement in Behavioral Health, Improving Health in Global Underserved Communities and more.

www.bio2devicegroup.org meets every Tuesday and next Tuesday Dr. Russell Pachynski, co-founder, CombImmune, will talk about “Novel approaches to Immune Therapy and Monitoring”.

Check out new job opportunities 1) Embedded Software Engineer – Mountain View, CA 2) Quality manager – Mt Laurel, NJ – http://bit.ly/P1H0QK

 

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