Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Pune Trivia – 3

Posted in Pune by Amit Paranjape on April 29, 2009

Continuing in the series on Pune Trivia (please also check: Pune History Trivia – 1 and Pune History Trivia – 2)  , here is the 3rd article. I invite readers to update more specific information & comments around these items.


1. Amongst the major forts in Pune district, Torna is the tallest at around 4700 ft. Rajgad comes in at #2 at around 4500 ft, Purandar is #3 at around 4400 ft and Sinhagad is #4 at around 4300 ft.


2. ‘Vetal Tekdi’ the tallest point on the hill behind ILS Law College, is also the tallest point in Pune city; at a height of around 800 M. (Pune Station Height is 550 M).


3. The main building of the National Defense Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasala, Pune is named ‘Sudan’ Block. The donation made by the King of Sudan in 1941 (to honor Indian Soldiers who fought in North Africa in WW II) was used for the construction of this building.


4. The Synagogue opposite B.J. Medical College Ground (also referred to as ‘Lal Deul’) near Pune Camp is one of the largest Synagogues in Asia. It was built by David Sassoon in 1867.


5. Probably the most ancient route from the Arabian Sea to the Deccan Plateau was through the ‘Nane Ghat’ just north of Junnar in the Pune district. The present day motorable ‘Ale-Malshej Ghat’ is built just a few kilometers near the ‘Nane Ghat’. Recently quite a few historic artifacts (dating all the way back to the Greek/Roman period…) have been discovered near Junnar by archaeologists.


6. The Aga Khan Palace was built by Aga Khan III, in 1892. It was an infrastructure development project specifically designed to generate employment for the famine struck neighbouring areas. Mahatma Gandhi was put under house arrest here in the 1940s. Kasturba Gandhi passed-away at this palace, and her Samadhi was built here.


7. Apparently (someone please confirm…) the large towers arrays complex that you see lying vacant for years, on Nagar Road, just past Kalyani Nagar are Short Wave Radio Towers used for international communications, prior to the advent of communication satellites! Talking about satellite communications, one of India’s first major satellite communication ground station was built in Arvi (near Junnar) in 1971. Until recently when under-sea optical fibers took over, this center was the primary gateway for India’s international telecom traffic.


8. The ‘GMRT’ Giant Meter Wave Radio Telescope is also located near Junnar and is the world’s largest array of meter wave radio telescopes. It was completed in 1995.


9. One of the oldest photos of Pune can be found in the book ‘Krishna-Dhaval Pune’ is that of Parvati Lake in 1857. Can you suggest any other older photos?


10. The Mobos Hotel was one of the more popular hotels Pune in the 1950s (and earlier). Later on it was converted into a government building, housing multiple offices. Years of neglect has resulted in its present dilapidated state. The Mobos Hotel has to its credit Pune’s first drive-in restaurant and discotheque (both in the 1960s). Any idea when this hotel was built?


11. Sadhu Vaswani Mission in Pune was established by Sadhu Vaswani in 1949-50. He moved to Pune from Hyderabad (Sindh, Pakistan) after the partition. The Sindh Society (near Aundh) was also established shortly thereafter – which at that point of time was way outside Pune City.


12. Probably the oldest library in Pune dates back to 1818, the year the British defeated the Peshwe Empire. This library – ‘The United Services Library’ is located near Pune camp.


13. The oldest hospital in Pune is Sassoon Hospital. It was established with the support of David Sassoon in 1867. The other old Pune hospital, KEM was established in1912.


14. The Erandwane Gaothan (original settlement) is located on the banks of the Mutha River, just off Karve Road and Mhatre Bridge (very near the new Persistent Systems Campus).


15. Here is some information I gathered about famous old schools in Pune that were established in the 19th century.


Bishops – established 1864

St. Mary’s School – established 1866

St. Vincent School Pune – established 1867

New English School – established 1880

Nu Ma Vi – established 1883

Huzur Paga – established 1884


15. The Ranade Institute on Fergusson College Road was established by Gopal Krishna Gokhale (founder of Servants of India Society) in 1910. It was named ‘Ranade’ institute in honor of Gokhale’s guru, Justice Ranade.

Issues With America’s HealthCare System – A Patient’s Perspective

Posted in Current Affairs, Healthcare & Medicine by Amit Paranjape on April 14, 2009

I had the misfortune of suffering from an extended illness in America and experienced firsthand the many problems and issues with the American HealthCare system. In this brief article, I will try to list some of the major ones that I can recollect from my personal experience (See list below – points are in no particular order).


Please note that I still believe that the American HealthCare system is amongst the best in the world; especially when it comes to treating really tough medical conditions, and performing complicated surgical procedures and emergency medical services. It still retains some of the best doctors and other medical talent in the world.


My issues are more systemic and process related. In the end, one would expect a little more from world’s most advanced and expensive healthcare industry! Note these are my personal observations – whether some of these points can be generalized further needs more data points from other patients and consumers of this healthcare system.


1. Cost of HealthCare Insurance – The cost of healthcare has undergone a major increase over the last decade. The increasing insurance premiums have forced many private sector companies (that offer health insurance to their employees) to increasingly pass on a bigger chunk of these costs to the employee. This increase has been significantly more than the rate of inflation, and has resulted in no perceptible change in the service quality.


2. High costs for the un-insured, and the under-insured – This issue is extremely critical and has already been discussed ad nauseum in every media outlet, by numerous experts.


3. Insurance Claims Processing – Even for patients that have some of the best insurance coverage, the process of settling claims is far from perfect. Discrepancies and errors are common. In certain cases, interpretation of ‘what’s covered vs. what’s not’ is not clear. The 3-way communication across, Doctor’s Office – Insurance Company – Patient, further adds to the process complexity and mismatches. I personally had to deal with many of these claims related issues. To resolve these, often times you end up spending hours on the phone with the insurance company.


4. Impact of ‘medico-legal issues related complications’ on behavior? – I am not a legal expert and cannot pass explicit judgments here, but sometimes one gets a feeling that the entire medical staff’s (not just the Doctors, but also the Nurses and other support personnel) interactions with a patient are biased by a ‘medico-legal’ angle. Most answers are very generic, vague and filled with ‘disclaimers’. I understand that this is a big issue, but it is a bad trend if it affects the medical staff and patient communication. This communication channel needs to be one of those most ‘open’ ones!


5. Accessibility of a doctor – Most doctors work during the regular office hours and are not available on evenings and weekends. Hence seeing a doctor often times results in a forced half-day vacation during weekdays for many patients. Evenings and weekends are out of bounds and if you are in urgent need to see a doctor, in most cases an Emergency Room is your only option.


6. Difficulty in getting to a specialist – Often times it’s very difficult to schedule an appointment with a specialist. Many are booked out weeks into the future. And if you can’t see them right away, and are in some serious trouble, the standard answer that you might get is ‘Go to an Emergency Room!’


7. Difficulty in asking any simple follow-up questions to a doctor – If you have the most mundane follow-up question, it is still very difficult to directly ask your doctor. Even if you call during office hours, your call is routed to a nurse who often has no background about your particular case (except for some case-papers). Typically, the nurse is very busy and answers a simple – ‘I will get back to you’. If you call outside office hours, then your best bet is an answering service! I agree that many times it is not feasible for a busy doctor to directly talk to the patient. But some intermediate solution needs to be worked out. After all, I think that the most expensive healthcare system in the world should have at least some ‘personal touch’.


8. Information Technology in Healthcare – I get the impression that the Healthcare industry hasn’t leveraged IT to the fullest extent as compared to many other industry sectors. This can be seen in hospitals as well as in doctor clinics. From basic things like Electronic Medical Records (also referred to as Electronic Health Records), to a better integrated hospital management system (across billing, insurance, clinics and service providers) a lot of improvement is needed. Even today, there’s hardly any electronic data interchange of a patients reports, health records and doctor’s notes across practices and hospitals.


I have had to fill in volumes of paperwork every time I went to see a new doctor. Why can’t there be some automation of a patient’s insurance records and medical history? Why does a new patient have to arrive at a new doctor ’15 min early’ to fill out reams of paperwork, many times when he is not in a mental/physical condition to be dealing with this? A patient has to maintain an increasingly heavier load of files, and paper documents, and make it accessible to any new doctor that he might be seeing.


9. Difficulty in Scheduling Simple Procedures – Even simple diagnostic procedures (e.g. Ultra-Sound, Endscopy, etc.) can sometimes take days or even weeks to schedule. I don’t really know why this happens. Is this merely a scheduling problem or a supply scarcity of resources?


10. Newer patented drugs are regularly being introduced and are prescribed in many cases. Not sure if the incremental benefit that some of these provide over the existing older (and still under patent) or off patent/generic drugs can be weighed against their exorbitant costs. I am not an expert and cannot make this judgment, but do think that this is something that needs to be researched further. Again – since the US consumer is supposedly the ‘richest in the world’ he has to pay the highest (in most cases) for the patented drugs compared to other developed countries. This is another issue that has been a big point of contention, with lot of discussions in the media.


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Pune based Tech Mahindra wins Satyam bid

Posted in Financial Markets/Economics, Information Technology, Pune by Amit Paranjape on April 13, 2009

According to news reports today, Pune based Tech Mahindra has won the Satyam bid. Here is the coverage in The Economic Times “Tech Mahindra wins bid for Satyam Computers”


The other rivals in the race were L&T InfoTech and the American billionaire Wilbur Ross. This news is already being covered in great detail in all the national business media and I doubt if I can add anything new.


My thought would be from a Pune angle. Pune has been amongst the leading IT cities in India for a while now. Infosys and Wipro have plans underway to expand their Pune centers into their single biggest facilities. Yet, a ‘Pune-based company’ has never been in the big league!


It’s worth noting how Infosys started in Pune in the early 1980s and then moved on to Bangalore. In some sense this void can be filled today! Tech Mahindra has its roots in Pune for many years. Here are a couple of links that provide more information about the company profile:


Tech Mahindra Wikipedia Link

Tech Mahindra Official Website (About Us Link)

First 180 Days of Blogging

Posted in Uncategorized by Amit Paranjape on April 4, 2009

This week, I completed 6 months of blogging. Has been a very interesting experience, and I strongly urge y’all (as they say in Texas J ) to try your hand at it.


Thanks for all your feedback, comments and support. Keep it coming!


Special thanks to PuneTech’s founder  for getting me started with this.

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