Monday, January 31, 2011

Sexiest Woman of Asia: A Fit femme fatale

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With an enviable body and a desirable aura, the 'Sexiest Woman of Asia' couldn't get better than this. The poster child for fitness in Bollywood, Bipasha Basu, drops in some health and fitness tips in a conversation with Spriha Srivastava.

Modeling by chance!
I Bipasa Basuwas planning to pursue medicine and modelling happened by accident. I was waiting for my results of board examination and I used to frequent Park Hotel with my friend. I had gone for lunch once and that time the preliminary round of the supermodel contest was taking place.

That's when they asked me if I would want to participate. They asked me to fill a form and just for the fun of it, I did that. Then I got a call and I was selected among 100 girls. I had then forgotten about it and one day my parents got a call that your daughter has been selected for the finals and she has to come for a month. I convinced my parents because I was having holidays anyway. My dad wanted me to pursue academics because I was very good in studies. My mother has always been very flexible. It was a paid trip and we had to do nothing. So I went for it, won it and that's when I decided that I like this independent life and I'd like to continue it. I intended to settle down in New York earlier. With this, medicine took a backseat.

The drift to be fit'
I was a complete lazy ass! You know, my parents never encouraged me for sports as a kid because I was a big bookworm. I hated anything that sounded active. So all I did was model, eat and live a very comfortable life. I was not very lean. I had a nice puppy-fat face. You know it was my face that got me a lot of work in modeling because I had a chubby face. When I started acting, life was not very comfortable because that involved long working hours, like 18 hours a day without any break. That's when my health started deteriorating. I was falling sick almost every day! When one is younger, one's metabolic rate is high. It's only when you grow old, you have to work hard on your body. This goes for both men and women. I became unhealthy with the business of Bollywood because I was eating just anything and everything that was available on the sets. I wasn't exercising. I wasn't sleeping well. And I was working very unhealthy number of hours. I guess there's an alarm clock in everyone that rings and tells one that you're not healthy and it's time you do something about it. That happened to me. So no matter how good your genes are or how healthy you are, if you start leading an unhealthy life, it will catch up on you.

Modelling and malnourishment'
There was a time when models would nBipasa Basuot be very skinny. When I had started modelling, I did not see such lean girls in the business. I think this skinny thing has come into fashion very recently. I never had to starve and I haven't seen any of the models starve when I did modelling. It's sad to notice, but now models starve to get all the possible flesh out of their body. I'd say it's not healthy because ultimately you'd feel weak because of not eating and working for those long hours. When I look at these models today, it feels like some clothes have been put on a hanger!

Is John an influence to stay fit?
Oh no, not at all! You know, people have this wrong notion that John is a fitness freak and that John has turned me into one. Let me tell you that it's all my effort. John is equally lazy, but yes he does pay a lot of attention to his health. And so do I. I think it's more important to be healthy than to be fit. And John doesn't push me to work out. He, in fact, says that he likes me however I am'thin or fat'however.

Eat healthy, live healthy
I usually do a lot of cardio and I try to work out four days in a week. I have really toned up my body for my fitness video, but I didn't exert myself to get into that shape. During the time when I'm shooting and I'm outdoors, fitting in workouts in the schedule becomes a little difficult. But otherwise, I'm very regular and disciplined. I love to eat and I'm not very choosy. So I'd say that those who're a foodie, should not quit eating, but just control their diet. Eat the right food. Also, I've seen that a lot of people concentrate more on their bodies'the shape of the body' but forget about being healthy. I don't have a body fixation but I want to be healthy and that's what I concentrate on. Having a great body and having a healthy body are two different things. My video also promotes health. So eating right, exercising and a good sleep are the essentials of a healthy and fit body.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Over-full Lamhaa

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Rahul Dholakia is a well-meaning director. His last film 'Parzania' threw light on the plight of Gujarat's 2002 communal riots. With 'Lamhaa' he brings to the fore the scores of issues (corruption within the Indian government, the sorrowful state of Kashmiri Pandits, the government's apathy towards people searching for their missing relatives ' the works) that trouble the people of this beautiful valley. But while Dholokia's deep understanding of the subject is apparent, the numerous concerns of the film only serve to confuse the audience.

Sanjay Dutt, in his cargo pants, dark glasses and streaked hair, is the Indian undercover intelligence officer and is perhaps a bit too casual for his role. Bipasha Basu is impressive, despite being a terrible choice for the role. For its setting, 'Lamhaa' does little justice to the viewer failing to deliver a story as breathtaking as the scenery.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Economic development and health insurance are meant to go hand in hand

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Yet in the Indian context the economic development remains the leading indicator. But with healthcare becoming costlier than ever, that needs to change soon

Times have changed and India is moving fast from public healthcare system to the realm of private healthcare. Be it in terms of quality or reach of services, the truth is that people now prefer to go to a private hospital rather than one run by the public authorities. It is more obvious when you consider that 80% of the amount spent by the country's citizens on healthcare goes to the private sector. This may be an inspiring trend for many, considering that people now aspire for a higher quality in the healthcare segment, but the rising cost of private healthcare keeps it out of reach of millions who need it so desperately. Going by the reports, India today spends nearly 6% of its GDP on health, one of the highest among the developing nations. But the worst part is that 80% of the same is out of their pockets, which means an average Indian today loses a good portion of his annual income on healthcare alone.

And how do we react to the same? Well, like for almost every other problem, we blame the government for not doing enough and keep burning larger holes in our pockets without even contemplating a solution called health insurance.

The general notion that prevails in the country is that health insurance is meant for the rich, educated or those in business' and benefits hospitals more than policy holders. Owing to such a negative perception, the health insurance market in India is still grossly under-penetrated with only around 2% of the billion plus population possessing a health insurance cover. But why so? Answers Frederick D'Souza, Senior Vice President, HDFC Standard Life, 'In a savings oriented society like India, people view protection as an expense. Once they pay for insurance, they will look at making use of the insurance which leads to misuse of the service and higher costs to all.' Another roadblock for the industry's growth surfaces from a communication gap between the insurer and the insured. Quite often, it is noticed that people who opt for a health insurance policy either ignore or are not enlightened about the details related to definition of pre-existing diseases/critical illness et al, for which insurers deny to pay the latter when they go with their claims. As per records, annually 30% of health insurance claims are rejected and 90% of these rejections are due to pre-existing diseases. Such situations create a wrong image about the insurers among the mass. In the Pink of Health Nevertheless, better late than never. The herd mentality has started mending its course and the health insurance sector has shown some real resilience over the past few years. Explains V. Vaidyanathan, MD & CEO ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd, 'Increasing awareness, rising healthcare costs, and detariffing of the general insurance industry have been key drivers for health insurance industry.' As a matter of fact, the industry has recorded total health insurance premium of Rs 8,100 crore (a 23% improvement over the previous year and more than twice the level seen just two years ago). Moreover, for the last six years, the health insurance industry has been growing at a CAGR of over 30%, and as put forward by experts it has the potential to become a $3 billion industry by 2015. But then, there are few glitches. As J. Hari Narayan, Chairman IRDA puts it, 'The growth in numbers is also fraught with numerous challenges of ensuring accessibility, affordability and efficiency in the health insurance system, which requires sustained and focused efforts on the part of all stakeholders.'

Rightly so, if the industry has to grow, keeping in mind the Indian demographics, then it is pertinent that apart from educating the masses, the communication between sales force and policy holders must increase. Moreover, insurance companies also need to make a conscious effort to come up with more and more tailor made products to include different groups of masses like the senior citizens. The importance of such products can be well understood from the fact that regular health insurance schemes are highly unaffordable for senior citizens as the cost of insurance increases with age. Unless the product is cross subsidised it is not possible to make health insurance affordable to all senior citizens. But senior citizens of the present day did not have an opportunity to buy insurance in their young age as such plans were not available at that time. So, as Frederick D'Souza puts it, 'They (senior citizens) have to be supported by some subsidy either from the government or the industry so that affordable insurance can be made available. Pricing is one of the issues that leads to very few senior citizen plans in the market.'

Considering the huge untapped potential present in India's health insurance segment, new players are flurrying into the market with every passing day and those who are already present are leaving no stone unturned to race ahead. But instead of competing on features on products and bombarding the same on a very restrictive audience, health insurance companies should concentrate more on consumer education, sales processes and control of healthcare expenses; thereby making it affordable for a larger market. Moreover, regulators and insurers must also see to the fact that there are standard definitions and lists of critical illnesses and non-medical expenses. This will not only enhance customer understanding of these terms, but will also help smoothen the interaction between patients, hospitals, TPAs and insurers, minimise ambiguities and generate higher level of faith.