Malpractice in medicine and journalism

Dr. Dipak Desai, a wealthy gastroenterologist in Las Vegas, had his medical license suspended in FebruaryAhmedabad
for allegedly endangering his patients.

Authorities investigating a
cluster of hepatitis C cases had observed clinic nurses reusing
syringes in a manner that contaminated vials of medication and, they
believe, infected patients. This dangerous practice, according to city
investigators, was done at the direction of Desai and other

Desai’s medical license has been suspended as authorities continue
to investigate eight hepatitis C cases linked to his Shadow Lane and
Burnham Avenue clinics. [Link]

If he’s guilty, he deserves to be punished severely. But as unfortunate as Desai’s alleged malpractice is, so is the hatchet job done by Paul Harasim of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Desai’s hometown of Ahmedabad, with help from an anonymous Indian businessman who grew up in Africa.

“You do have to remember that he
came from a city in India, Ahmedabad, that is hell on earth,” recalled
a California real estate investor who said he attended college and
medical school there at the same time as Desai. “Students studied hard
to get the hell out of there so they could leave and make their

The businessman, an Indian who grew up in Africa, said when he and
Desai attended Gujarat University in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
there was no escaping the unsanitary conditions and corruption.

“You squatted over a hole in the ground when you had to go. There
was no tissue so you used a wet hand to clean yourself,” he said. “It
was disgusting. In a 115-degree heat, you couldn’t get away from the
smell of human waste.”

Bribery was a way of life.

“Just to get on the bus you had to bribe the conductor with extra
rupees,” he said. “There were always so many people waiting. It got so
I’d climb in a window in the back to get on. … You had to pay someone
to get a job.” …

Nearly a quarter of the population, according to United Nations
reports, lived in slums so filthy that people washed in streams where
excrement and garbage were visible. There was no air-conditioning.
Meanwhile, heavy industries and thousands of kerosene-fueled rickshaws
belched black smoke into the air, the classmate said.

And without an infrastructure in place to deal with heavy rains,
monsoons regularly left water four feet deep in much of the city.

“You had to wade through the water to get where you were going,” the
former classmate said. “You’d go to school with wet clothes. There
would be snakes all over the place. The frogs would croak so loud you
had a hard time studying.” …

Desai was able to live at home
rather than in college dorms, his former classmate said. He stressed
that even if Desai lived in an area where sanitary conditions were the
norm rather than the exception, Desai wouldn’t have been able to escape
the primitive side of Ahmedabad.

“Bugs literally became part of your meals,” he said. “Cockroaches
and flies were baked into your food. There was no way to avoid it. The
government did nothing to kill them.” [Link]

Oh my goodness … using a wet hand … bribing the bus conductor … snakes all over the place … cockroaches and flies baked into your food.

If you’re a doctor who grew up in Ahmedabad, please turn in your medical license immediately. How can you even think of being a good doctor when you used a wet hand?

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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