Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hijacked in Varanasi

We pose in front of Kashi Vishwanathji temple

Waiting for the start of Ganga arati at Dashashmavedha ghat

The atmosphere is devout, peaceful and enchanting

The Ganga arati is a magical experience - the mood is ethereal!

At Varanasi a Govt. owned shop sells Bhang (a psychotropic substance), it is considered a substance favoured by Shiva

Our stall was the best! Our stall was admired by many in the crowd. Above: Dr. Medha Dongre - skin specialist, (wife of Dr. Kishore Patwardhan, Dr. Kishore is MD in Ayurveda and Ph D, this intelligent man is at BHU - Benaras Hindu University, and is doing very good in his career. In fact I had blogged about him, earlier - click here!) poses with her children at the first floor of our stall. Dr Kishore was off to Tokyo for a lecture series, so he could not see our stall.

The mysticism of Varanasi: A Yogi Baba with a foreign couple on the banks of Ganga at Dashasmavedha ghat (we were transfixed and watched them for about an hour at night)

The interesting yogis loved smoking ganja!

One of the most fascinating cities is Varanasi or Kasi or Benaras. The crowded lanes, the gullies, ghats and the dirty but holy river Ganga beside Varanasi was a memorable experience. Although it was biting cold at Varanasi - with stinky rooms to stay for our night, our AICOG 2012, Varanasi in-stall activity was nevertheless, truly memorable.

Our transactions with doctors was superb, the crowd of doctors was overall excellent - they were very academic, mature, sober and affectionate (perhaps because the place was Varanasi, a very high quality doctor crowd was attracted to Varanasi); our stall itself was a landmark one, and the night visits to temples of Kashi Vishwanath, Tulsidas, Sankat Mochan and early morning visit to Shri Kaalbhairav were elevating and sobering.

Kashi is a backward holy city. Yet there is something special - very special about the place. In spite of the awful stay facility and other backward features of Varanasi there is something special about the place, there is truly something very great - the vibrations are spiritual and elevating. Kashi is anachronistic.

Kashi is a place where you would want to go back again and again, alone and perhaps incognito. It is a place where you see life in reality - that life is ephemeral. People at Varanasi are quite simple, perhaps that is why corrupt politicians have looted them!

Today, it is the era of doctor in the pharmaceutical profession - this trend is very firmly rooted. Earlier was an era of the MR, since the MR's in-clinic activity was very vital for sales generation. However, it is the doctor who generates the sales today. There is a change in the ethics paradigm. To engineer sales:

a) offer personalized services

b) provide non-clinical services in exchange for sales (like insurance premium payment of doctors' children, payment of hostel fees of children studying medicine and whose parents are doctors, payment of electricity bills etc)

c) think of going beyond MR activity, today there is pressure on MRs to ensure gifting to doctors and exhaustion of budgets as planned!

d) development of intimate relations has become a necessity!


AICOG, PEDICON etc are all medical events that are hijacked! The medical men are no longer in control of these events. They are hijacked by pharmaceutical companies with their agendas, and event managers all eager to get a pool of doctors so they may profit from the setting. Event management companies block hotel rooms in thousands, pharma companies buy these rooms and mobilize doctors to visit the places, tourism is an added attraction for attendees ... the idea is to create an opportunity to oblige prescribers. For the 2013 Mumbai AICOG, Mercury Travels has already booked 2000 rooms and is in the process of blocking more rooms!! So if you want the rooms, don't contact the hotels, contact these middlemen! Even the organizing doctors ask you to contact the middlemen (I wonder why?!)!

Contrast this to the earlier days, where the medical personnel were in charge of such events, medical panel discussions were not the agenda of pharmaceutical companies ... and in-stall activity was the only commercial face of the event. Today, medical events are hijacked by other stakeholders, doctors are just actors playing their role on the platform created by the middlemen and pharma companies.

AICOG, Varanasi has the dubious distinction of attracting negative press in the Hindi daily Amar Ujala - Dr. Lalji Singh, VC of BHU was sad with the state of affairs - he thought it was a pure scientific event. The District Magistrate of Varanasi, too launched an investigation into the alleged acts of omission and commission by middlemen during AICOG, Varanasi.

Still... the AICOG, Varanasi event was an overall successful one for pharma marketers. It was great to promote to some of the very excellent doctors - the place attracted the best people in the OBG profession.

Recommended readings (books one must read before dying!):

1) Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahamsa Yogananda

2) Himalayan Masters, by Swami Rama

3) Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master, A Yogi's Autobiography by Sri M

4) Swami Vivekananda, A Biography by Swami Nikhilananda (Published by Ramakrishna Math)

5) A booklet: Powers of the Mind, by Swami Vivekananda (Published by Ramakrishna Math)

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