Your edit ‘Kings and rooks’, Mint, 30 May, on the reasons for the lack of reasonable-size private equity deals in India, is apt. Private equity players are offering loose change here, given the size of the business worldwide. The reasons for overstretched valuations and promoters’ unwillingness to ease control on ‘their’ companies are correct, too. Indian promoters are slightly more emotional about diluting stakes and losing management control. Private equity players put strict governance and management caveats, which are not liked by Indian business. But, given its growth trend, there will be a time when private equity players will write billion-dollar cheques for India.
‘Coaxing cancer researchers to take your money to find a cure’, by Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, published in Mint, 30 May, is not only touching, but also illustrative of the fact that individual initiatives are needed to mobilize resources for finding a cure for the disease. Almost all cancers are incurable, though a degree of remission may be noted during the initial treatment. Once it is diagnosed, the patient, relatives and even the doctors start talking in terms of survival time.
I have been a cancer patient since early 2005. Though I became cancer-free after an operation and multiple cycles of chemotherapy, the disease again showed up after a year and a half, with new and enlarged lymphadenopathy. I can claim to have some first hand knowledge of the subject. I also did quite a bit of desk and field research.
The initial diagnosis is based on a microscopic examination of the biopsy, and its reliability depends on who is looking into the excised material. I believe in most instances, a textbook approach is adopted. Subsequent reviews and opinions generally follow. A lot of time is spent in going through the process, leading to aggravation of the disease in the meantime. If the initial diagnosis is wrong, it plays havoc with the health of the patient as the treatment itself can lead to malignancies where there were none. Accurate and timely diagnosis is a grey area and needs a lot of attention.
I also found that some homoeopathic and Ayurvedic physicians claim to have a complete cure. But people don’t rush to them because (i) Protocols or treatments are not well established and authenticated, (ii) Treatment is doctor-specific and over-priced and (iii) Information is not widely available. As far as diagnosis is concerned, these doctors do use modern technology, but the treatment is kept a well-guarded secret. The doctor practising modern medicine brushes aside any mention of the alternate systems of medicines.
I, therefore, believe there is need for integration between various systems of medicine with a view to finding protocols which will ultimately help patients. A holistic approach to the treatment of this dreaded disease should be developed. In India, individual initiatives, such as that of Kaufmans, may hardly work. With a view to ensuring missionary zeal, transparency, time frames for various tasks, and effective delivery of information, a foundation could be formed under the aegis of trade bodies such as CII, Ficci or Assocham.
I am afraid the existing NGOs working in this area are not up to the task given their track records. Will, therefore, one of the trade bodies like to consider this proposal and take up this challenging task of enhancing the capacity of the medical profession to treat this disease?