Sunday, November 28, 2010

Inclusive strategy needed to sustain current growth rate'

V. Sajeev Kumar, Kochi, Nov. 27, The Hindu Business Line
The Union Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has said that the present growth rate has to be sustained for the next 10-15 years to address major problems such as poverty, illiteracy, diseases and other backwardness.

To address these problems, it requires inclusive growth strategies that must be enacted, implemented and lead to entitlement and rights of the marginalised section, he said.
The Finance Minister was delivering the inaugural address at the 42 {+n} {+d} Regional Conference of Southern India Regional Council of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India here on Saturday.

The Government has ensured certain essential rights for the people. Right to Information, Right to Job, Right to Universal Education, are some the measures taken up by the Government.
Mr Mukherjee said the Government is also contemplating public private partnership (PPP) models that are the best for sustainable growth for 120 crore people. Such efforts needed to be in place by identifying the challenges and opportunities.

He said that the economy is on a growth path at a rate of 8.5 per cent, despite the global financial crisis and internal slowdown. The booming stock market, resurgent manufacturing sector, expanding financial sector speak of the economy's growth.On the proposed Direct Tax Code Bill, he said the Bill is now before the Parliament Standing Committee, and has been put on the website of the Government last year. Based on the suggestions by the people, necessary modifications have been made and presented before the Standing Committee.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

372 million : India's poor

372 million Indians will be categorised as poor in the proposed National Food Security Act, the Planning Commission said on Saturday. The new poverty estimate — based on access to food, education and health — will not change the urban poverty figure but for rural India, the number of poor would increase from 28.3 per cent to 41.8 per cent. It would mean that additional 97 million people would get subsidised food grains, once the proposed law is implemented, increasing the government’s food subsidy bill by around Rs 20,000 crore, to Rs 75,000 crore.

The proposed law guarantees 25 kg of food grains only to below poverty line families. As of now, 275 million poor Indians get up to 35 kg in subsidised food grains from the government-run fair price shops. The Right to Food campaign rejected the decision, saying “entitlement to food should not be linked with poverty estimation”. “We insist access to food should be universal,” said campaigner Anuradha Talwar.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Right to vote for patients and indoor attendants

Bhopal this week had urban body elections. While the election fever was on peak and post election everybody is ‘waiting in wings’ for the results. Dainik Bhaskar, a hindi daily of MP had brought an interesting issue to discourse in its supplement DBSTAR on December 12, 2009 a day after the election was over.

Reporters had surveyed 17 district hospitals of Bhopal and calculated that more than 5547 people could not vote either they themselves were in hospital or they were attending a patient in Bhopal. Out of the hospital surveyed 1564 were patients while 3983 were their attendants. It is not that many did not want to vote, they wanted but there is no mechanism in place to do so. One who were recovering in the hospital were keen to be part of the main process, ones who immobile but still wanted that they should vote. For some it was missing the boat as they were attending to near and dear ones, which was more important. Many of them as per the media report felt that if there is some facility like mobile voting unit or postal ballot, they would like to vote.

If one looks back, election commission had set up a voting station for one voter and three voters during general elections, here in Bhopal it is 5547 voters, figure would go in millions if one adds in cities which needs to look into it. It is their right. It is not that all will favor, it may have opposition but a debate which needs to be taken forward !

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Death, illness and daughter's marriage push families to poverty

Death, health and social shocks identified as key reasons for households falling into poverty; People falling into poverty undermining impact of anti poverty measures
World Bank Report 'Moving out of Poverty : The Promise of Empowerment and Democracy in India' analyses questions like How do poor people define poverty? Who is poor and who isn’t? What factors, according to the poor, help them escape poverty and what push them into it. The Report brings together voices of more than 30,000 women and men from 300 villages across Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal between 1995 and 2005. It focuses on poor people’s interactions with local level institutions, social, political and economic and how these facilitate or hinder attempts to move out of poverty.
According to the study, poor people in the four Indian states cited well-functioning local democratic structures such as rural panchayats as critical in helping them move out of poverty. People in Uttar Pradesh reported that an improvement in the local government’s attention to citizens’ concerns increased their likelihood of moving out of poverty by 6 percent. By contrast, they felt that an increase in a household head’s education level, from illiteracy to primary schooling or from primary to secondary schooling, improved the family’s chances of moving up by only 3 percent.
Among the factors that depressed their chances of moving out of poverty, corruption was rated by them as lowering the likelihood of moving out by 10 percent. Jobs (26.6%), individual initiatives in agriculture (19.8%), individual initiatives in non-agriculture (13.7%) and multiple sources of income (12.0%), were cited as the key reasons for families moving out of poverty. Interestingly, a large number of youth interviewed, showed low preference for agriculture as a future career, opting instead for business and government jobs. In Uttar Pradesh, 41% wanted to start a new business, while 37% of the youth showed preference for government jobs. In West Bengal and Assam, these two options together accounted for 76% and 83% respectively. The study also explored the various triggers for households falling into poverty.
According to the people interviewed, death and health shocks (34%) followed by social shocks including family divisions and expenses towards marriages of children (27%) and financial setbacks such as high debt or the failure of crops (18%) were some of the main reasons for descents into poverty. Even in the household survey data, such shocks along with a decline in the overall state of the local economy emerged as strong associates of falling. Many of the poor people covered by the study reported that their initiatives to change their conditions often came up against blocked opportunities. Local democracies, they said, made a difference only to a chosen few as governance at the local level often descended into no more than a contest for spoils. Who benefited and who lost – in terms of access to markets, business licenses, jobs or support - depended largely on the local context. In Uttar Pradesh for instance, the local people suggested that caste affiliations played a role, while in West Bengal, they considered membership in the ruling party to be critical. The report finds that while India has continued to record steady progress in reducing poverty in recent decades, vulnerability remains a major issue. Focusing only on aggregate data can lead to sub-optimal policy actions as it masks the process of churning at the grassroots, where some people manage to climb out of poverty while others fall into it.
The study finds that when responsive local governments and economic opportunities match individual initiative and hard work, poor people’s journey out of poverty can be greatly facilitated. A combination of fair elections, improved access to information about local government programs, and collective action through organizations like women’s self-help groups can go a long way in unleashing the power of local democracy. The research also stresses the importance of reducing the rates of fall into poverty and underlines the urgency of devising new strategies to do so – including social and health insurance programs as well as improved access to savings and credit instruments.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

India's H1N1 situation update

Press Information Bureau release, June 13, 2009 - World Health Organization has reported 29,699 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza A/H1N1 infection from74 countries as on 12th June 2009. There have been 145 deaths. (No further update is available from WHO). Health screening of passengers coming from affected countries is continuing in 21 International airports. 47339 passengers have been screened on 13.6.2009. Around 26482 passengers were from affected countries. 221 doctors and 111 paramedics have been deployed to man 76 counters at the above airports.
The six year old girl child who travelled from New York reflected in yesterday’s report has also tested positive at NIV, Pune. One and half year old brother of this girl who travelled in the same flight has also tested positive. Both children remain admitted to the identified health facility and are stable. So far samples of 240 persons have been tested of which seventeen have been tested positive for novel Influenza A [H1N1]. Of these, two are indigenous cases who got the infection from the positive cases traveled from abroad. The rest of the samples have been found negative for the novel virus. Among the 240 tested, 82 were identified through health screening at International Airports and the rest were samples from persons who have self reported. Of the 17 cases nine have been discharged. Rest of the passengers are all stable and remain admitted to the identified health facility. The situation is being monitored.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

After Aila, cyclone in North Indian Ocean will be called Phyan

The next cyclone to hit countries in the north Indian Ocean region will be called Phyan. The one which hit West Bengal and Bangladesh was called Aila. Aila was name given by Maldives while Phyan is a name given by Myanmar.The practice of naming cyclones began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms.
Cyclones derive their names through a systematic procedure laid out by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Met officials in fact have decided the names of cyclones till 2009-end. Eight north Indian Ocean countries - Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand - have prepared a list of 64 names. When a cyclone hits these countries, the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC), housed in the IMD office in New Delhi picks up the name next on the list. The RSMC has been set up in Delhi by the WMO for forecasting tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. Since 2004, the eight countries have faced 19 cyclones. The countries take turns in naming the cyclones. The last six were: Sidr (named by Oman), Nargis (Pakistan), Rashmi (Sri Lanka), Khai-Muk (Thailand), Nisha (Bangladesh) and Bijli (India).
All these countries meet once in two years and review the progress of cyclones and how many cyclones there were. Every country reports its assessment of the cyclones and then they arrive at a mutual plan of action, which includes creation of a database for the names to be given to tropical cyclones.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ragging: Can we ever solve this problem?

Harsh Agarwal

In July 2008, CURE analysed the ragging incidents of past 5 years and did a comparative study with the cases reported after the Supreme Court judgment in May, 2007. It was shocking to know that even after the SC judgment, 11 cases of death due to ragging and 5 cases of attempted suicides were reported by the media and there was no significant decrease in ragging. After making so much effort to curb ragging, whenever a fresh case is reported it makes everyone think as to why we are still not able to successfully deal with this menace? It makes us feel disappointed to comprehend the fact that the most educated section of our society is involved in one of the worst form of human rights abuse. Let us understand some of the important fundamental issues associated with ragging which are essential to be understood and addressed if we really want to get rid of this social menace. These are the issues which have been ignored or have not been addressed with the right spirit.

Anonymity of the Complainant: This is the first step to solve the menace and one of the key elements if we want to encourage the fresher to report any incident of ragging. There is tremendous fear in the minds of the freshers and huge possibility of backlash because of which the fresher decides to tolerate ragging and as a result almost 99.99% of the ragging cases go unreported and problem remains suppressed. Provisions like putting a compliant box or expecting the fresher to report the incident to anti ragging cell/committee don’t work because such provisions fail to convince the fresher of complete anonymity and his /her safety.

The best way to tackle this problem is by making it mandatory for every college in the country to do a weekly/fortnightly anonymous survey of the entire first year batch to find out if any sort of ragging is taking place in their college. The idea is to encourage the students by approaching the entire batch and maintaining absolute anonymity rather than waiting for a whistle blower to come forward and report the incident. Unless we make this important provision, the college authorities will continue to live in oblivion and feel that ragging is not a problem in their institution.

Awareness: This is another key element in solving this problem. Ragging is still not considered as social evil and law cannot help in doing so but awareness can. Though ragging has been banned but since the time it has been banned there is an atmosphere of confusion prevailing in the campus. There is confusion as to what is ragging what is not; what will happen to the senior–junior interaction in the absence of ragging. Reason as to why ragging has been banned, what are the ill effects of ragging, what is its origin? Where did it come from? – These questions have not been answered and can never be answered by simply distributing pamphlets giving details about the provisions of punishment or about the contact details of anti ragging committee members. Perhaps that is why several students still believe that this ban has been unnecessarily imposed on them. It is therefore very important to disseminate right information about ragging, about its origin, highlight its ill effects, and why is it irrelevant in today’s time. Also, we need to introduce alternative and healthier methods of interaction to replace ragging to break the ice between the seniors and freshers.

Psychological Menace: Ragging is more of a psychological problem than anything else. Ragging is perhaps the only Social and Human Rights problem in the world in which the victim himself/herself becomes the perpetrator of this crime in a short span of one year. This problem can best be solved by going into the roots of this menace and understanding its psychology. Psychological concepts like Stanford Prison Experiment, Miligram Experiment, Stockholm syndrome, which have close similarities with the psychology of ragging need to be studied carefully to understand this problem and look for appropriate solution.

Role of Media: Be it publishing a front page picture of a Delhi University boy giving rose to a girl to portray ragging or writing only about the provision of FIR or quantum of punishment with regard to ragging, media has failed to disseminate the right information and essential knowledge about ragging. Since the Supreme Court judgment in 2007, the role of the media with regard to ragging has been more to spread sensation. Though there is a long list of guidelines made in the Raghavan Committee report but media chose to highlight only few sensational ones. Today all that the country knows about the Raghavan Committee report is about provision of filing an FIR or about provision of sending director of a college to jail but is completely ignorant about the dozens of other important recommendations/guidelines which can be key to solve the problem of ragging.

Hard Approach: This provision should be used as deterrence and as the last resort when all the other softer efforts fail to curb ragging. Firstly, we need to look from a 17-18 year old fresher’s perspective and understand that a young student who joins the college with a dream to become a doctor or an engineer will find it extremely fearful to use the provision of FIR and later get involved in a court case. Secondly, gathering evidence to prove any ragging incident has always been very difficult as nobody comes forward to testify. Thirdly, we need to ask ourselves that is it easy to de-recognize an institution or stop its fund if it is several decades old and there are several hundred students studying in it? What will happen to the future of those innocent students who were not involved in ragging? What will happen to several hundred crores of the public money spent on building that college? And when ragging is so rampant in our country then how many Medical or Engineering colleges will we de-recognize? How many Directors of such institutions would we send to jail? Fourthly, successful implementation of hard approach depends largely whether various stakeholders of ragging are convinced that it is bad. Presently ragging is seen as an age old ritual by the college community, there are conflicting views about ragging, for some it is a painful torture whereas for others it is a healthy interaction or a personality development exercise. When knowledge about ragging is so low then how will we be able to implement these harsh measures?

Unless and until we act on the above issues seriously, college authorities will continue to label ragging deaths as suicides due to academic pressure; majority of the ragging incidents will continue to go unreported; seniors and teachers will continue to believe that ragging is a healthy interactive and personality development exercise; media will continue to report only sensational stuff about ragging; parents, relatives and society will fail to understand the pain of the ragging victim, and as a result of all this, the harsh provision to curb ragging might soon loose its deterrent effect and we may never be able to solve this problem.

(Harsh Agarwal is a Co-founder of Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education CURE and a former consultant to Raghavan Committee on Ragging and can be reached at

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Let’s stop ragging

IANS reports that hundreds of people marched and held candle-light vigils in New Delhi and Himachal Pradesh's Tanda town on Saturday evening to demand justice for Aman Khachroo, a medical student who died after ragging. Aman died on March 8 after he was beaten up in the name of ragging allegedly by four final-year students of his medical college in Tanda. Police said he died of wounds in head and other parts of body. Relatives, friends of Aman, and their hundreds of supporters marched from the Jantar Mantar observatory near Connaught Place on the Parliament Street in the Capital and on the college campus and within the Himachal town.

"I am thankful to everyone present here for their support. The movement for justice will continue not only for Aman, but also for other victims of ragging," said Aman's father, Rajender Khachroo, in Delhi. The protesters also demanded the implementation of existing laws and passing of an anti-ragging law. Meanwhile, a team of the Medical Council of India (MCI) is visiting the medical college next week to inquire about the incident and the steps taken by college authorities to check ragging.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Man donates rare Gandhi photo for just Rs 500

This story is in today's Times of India, and has been written by Ragini Bharadwaj from Ahmedabad. It is great one hence we are putting this on the blog.

On a day when liquor baron Vijay Mallya doled out US $ 1.8 million in New York to bag five belongings of Mahatma Gandhi, an antique collector visited the Sabarmati Ashram, once the abode of the apostle of peace, and walked away with a Rs 500 note. Initially, he refused to take the money from Amrit Modi, director of Gandhi Smarak Sangralaya, in exchange for a rare photograph of Gandhiji in his early teens. But then Radheshyam Ajmeri (55) is made of stuff different than those who are trying to make money out of Gandhi memorabilia. “After much cajoling, he took the token amount. He has been bringing a lot of Gandhi-related articles to the ashram in the past,” said Modi. The framed picture, presumably clicked in a studio, shows a young Gandhi donning a Kashmiri topi and posing with two friends.
Ajmeri spotted this rare picture at the weekly Gurjari Bazaar held every Sunday on the banks of Sabarmati. A regular visitor at this scrap market, where he looks around for hidden treasures, he bought it along with two paintings of Gandhi for Rs 200 last Sun-day. The seller didn’t realise this was a Gandhi photograph. “I am a regular visitor to the ashram where there are many photo-graphs of Bapu in his young days. So I could identify Gandhiji eas-ily,” Ajmeri told TOI.
Ajmeri supplies plastic bags for a living and says it is his hobby to collect articles of historic importance. “I donate articles related to Gandhiji to the Sabarmati Ashram because it would add value to the thousands of Gandhi fans who visit ashram,” he says. A visibly excited Modi said, “This picture is rare. Even the inno-cence of childhood is evident on Gandhiji’s face.” The photograph of the teen-aged Gandhi’ is now an addition to the ashram’s collec-tion of around 8,000 photographs of Bapu.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

West Bengal and UP to get premier medical institutes

Indian government sanctioned Rs.16.46 billion ($340 million) for setting up two more premier referral institutes on the lines of the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

Government also sanctioned Rs.7.50 billion for upgrading five existing government medical colleges. The five government medical colleges being upgraded are located at Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh), Amritsar (Punjab), Madurai (Tamil Nadu), Nagpur (Maharashtra) and Tanda (Himachal Pradesh). The new referral institutes, to be established at a cost of Rs.8.23 billion each, will be located at Raiganj in West Bengal's North Dinajpur district and at a site to be chosen by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Each institution will have a 960-bedded hospital, with 500 beds for the medial college hospital and 300 beds for its speciality and super speciality departments. This apart, 100 beds will be set aside for the ICU and accident trauma department, 30 beds for physical medicine & rehabilitation departments and 30 beds for the Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) departments.

AIIMS became functional in 1956 as an autonomous institution through an act of Parliament, to serve as a nucleus for nurturing excellence in all aspect of health care. In 2005, the government had approved five similar institutes at Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Patna (Bihar), Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and Rishikesh (Uttarakhand).

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Nine-year old Singaporean kids writes iPhone application

Reuters report that Lim, a student of fourth grade, writes applications for Apple's popular iPhone. His latest painting program called Doodle Kids, already has had 4,000 downloads times from Apple's iTunes store in last two weeks, as per the same report. The program lets iPhone users draw with their fingers by touching the iPhone's touchscreen and then clear the screen by shaking the phone. Lim, who is fluent in six programing languages, started using the computer at the age of 2. He has since completed about 20 programing projects.

His father, Lim Thye Chean, a chief technology officer at a local technology firm, also writes iPhone applications. The boy who enjoys reading books on programing, is in the process of writing another iPhone application - a science fiction game called "Invader Wars."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dolphin rescued by villagers in East Midnapore, West Bengal

This January 13, a 12-year-old dolphin had strayed into an irrigation canal in West Bengal's East Midnapore district, when villagers rescued it. People of village stood guard overnight to ensure that the mammal reached its habitat. Dolphins straying into irrigation canals from rivers in West Bengal's East Midnapore district was common and the forest department was virtually dependent on villagers for rescue of the Schedule-I endangered mammal.
Divisional Forest Officer, East Midnapore, Rabindranath Saha lauded the role of villagers in Tilkhoja area and said to media that it was remarkable that the mammal was in perfect health despite spending over 24 hours in a pond after local people rescued it from an irrigation canal. Saha said the Gangetic dolphin had separated from its group and possibly strayed from Rupnarayan river into an irrigation canal and was stuck there because of low tide.
Villagers rescued the dolphin and put it in a pond while standing guard all night before the forest department personnel took over and eventually released it 42 km away next morning.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nano laptop’ set to take computing to rural India

DAY BEFORE yesterday, I was at Purulia in West Bengal and met Sakina Khatun, Ruksana Khatun and Tyab. These children were trying out their little fingers on a laptop. Though it was not theirs but belonged to the assistant labour commissioner of the district, who was happy to share his laptop with these kids. These children are part of child activist programme being run by district labour department, district administration and Zila Parishad, which is providing an opportunity to voices of children who were once child labour but are now back in school. But in the coming days things may change, may be they have a laptop of their own.

This has been made possible by National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology. It is set to unveil on Feburary 3, a ’nano laptop’, which will cost only Rs 500. A boon for many in India and will help in taking the power of computing to interiors of the country. This has been made possible due to efforts of students of Indian Institute of Technology, scientists in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT-Madras and Semiconductor Complex, a Public Sector Undertaking. Though it may take some time till the dreams of the little kids may get realised but nevertheless, it is a great hope in coming days.

The National Mission on Education through ICT has been envisaged as a centrally-sponsored Scheme to leverage the potential of ICT, in providing high quality personalised and interactive knowledge modules over the Internet/intranet for all the learners in Higher Education Institutions in anytime, anywhere mode. The mission plans to extend computer infrastructure and connectivity to over 18,000 colleges in the country and growing appropriate e-learning procedures, providing facility of performing experiments through virtual laboratories, online testing and certification, online availability of teachers to guide and mentor students
Contributed by Anil Gulati

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Photoblogging getting trendier

- Anil
If you feel you have a ‘photo-bug’ in you, photo-blogging on the internet could be your way to show the world what you are. It is about sharing and publishing photographs on specific themes on the blogs. It is expressing oneself through photographs..

BUT IT does not mean that it is without text. Text accompanies photographs but is all about the photograph or supports the photograph. It is the photograph which is essentially conveying the message; be it nature, pets, flowers, birds, travel, city or street food. If you feel about something passionately, photo blog is your way of sharing that feeling. Thanks to digicams and mobo phones, photo blogging is getting trendier. There are many ways one can photo blog.

One can have one’s own domain weblog; alternatively, one can create a free photo blog on sites like or Now with many social websites offering numerous options one has immense potential for photo sharing. Sites like flickr, merinews, fotothing and fotolog come to one’s mind. Uploading is easier and faster but one has to upload in a size recommended by the site. There are some theme-based sites like which are devoted to nature. On many of these sites, one can contribute only one picture a day, but they attract visitors with similar interests who comment on your creativity. With an individual blog, how much and how frequently you want to load and control the layout and display is for you to decide. You can load the photograph in its original size too but you will need a broadband connection. If one has an individual domain one needs to make it popular and push it on search engines so as to attract traffic to it.

With packages like piccassa and many others available on the net, you can easily work on your photographs, make them look better. With options provided by blogging and social sites it is getting simpler and popular. One other reason why it is getting trendier is that it has the power to showcase your talent or just share your feelings on the net not only with your friends but also many others you do not even know about. Some caution and ethics are needed for photoblogging. So you have to take the consent of the subject of the photograph, if you are taking his or her photographs and using them. Sites like, and help you share your photoblogs with others and make them popular. As it happens, no rule applies to blogging; probably its success owes it to this major factor. So it is not that photo blogs will use only photographs; any blog or any entry may use photographs but to be listed on various photoblog sites and marketed as photoblog, one needs to use photographs as the central theme.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stress!! You must be joking!!

So they had a stress management workshop for all the army wives in the cantonment the other day (in Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India). A noted psychologist was invited to speak on the occasion. All the ladies of the station were invited except the separated families!!

I felt these are the ones who needed the workshop first and the foremost. These are the ones who spend long, lonely, anxious hours day and night. But no! this time again I missed the point!! I have a friend whose husband is posted in Siachen. Few days back when we met she was having severe hypertension which resulted in endless sleepless nights. She was upset because due to security reasons her husband and his men were supposed to sleep in bunkers. Siachen has low oxygen levels plus staying in a bunker reduces them further as a result he was pretty unwell. It seems for all our serving officers and their better halves here in the station thought that she actually didn’t need a stress management class!!

There’s another lady who has not been able to talk to her husband for the past ten days due to difficult terrain. He is deployed at a far off mountainous post. She has two daughters one of whom is a severe case of asthma. The authorities very rightly felt that this mother didn't need a stress management class either!!

Another separated army wife was forcibly made to vacate the accommodation only because of the reason that some serving officers in the station were still living in temporary accommodation. While she a meagre separated wife with two small kids was living in a permanent one!! How could she? Her husband was not serving in the station but at the country’s border, how can she claim to live in a huge comfortable house!! No not done. Plus whats the need to need a stress management class! So let’s see who all need stress management class.

Firstly, are the ones who play mah-jong in the mornings to tear away the previous night’s party’s strain. You know how stressful it is to sleep late and get up late! Second are the ones who need to show off the brand new dress, oh! It can become really stressful when you don’t have an occasion to show that latest addition in your wardrobe.

Third are the ones whose hubby’s promotion is due and you just can’t apprehend how stressful it is if the boss’s wife doesn’t smile back!!Yes! I think these ladies need a stress management class more then seperated ones. You see army is never wrong!!

Contributed by Ambreen from her blog

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Smoking ban in India ?

India has banned smoking in workplaces from October 2 onwards. The aim is to discourage smokers, to make them reduce or quit smoking. Those flouting the ban will face a fine of Rs 200. The law is impressive, but would it work?.

OCTOBER 2 onwards, India has banned smoking in workplaces, public places, hotels and restaurants, offices, courts, banks, schools, colleges, libraries, cinemas, auditorium, restaurants, shopping malls, parks, monuments, railway stations, airports, bus stops, buses, taxis.

The new Smoking in Public Places Rules 2008, which was notified this month come into effect from October 2, birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The only places where one can smoke will be smoking lounges at airports, restaurants with over 30 seats, smoking rooms and of course or your own home. The fine for violating the ban is Rs 200.

Though an appeal was filed before the Supreme Court, it upheld the government ban on smoking in public places from October 2. The government of India had earlier tried to control tobacco use through Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution Bill, 2003. Key provisions of the law include prohibition on direct and indirect advertisements of tobacco products, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors and prohibition of smoking in public places. But one can see many who smoke in public places. Also cigarette packets sold in India are required to carry pictorial warnings along with the text saying smoking is injurious to health and smoking causes cancer in both Hindi and English. But I still have not seen any pictorial warnings.

India is good in making laws, they look good when drafted and announced, but somehow implementation of these laws is a major challenge. It is not about one sector or area, it is across board.

India had banned children below 14 years of age from work, but go to any state, any city one can see children working in dhabas, restaurants, petrol pumps,brick kilns and as domestic labour etc. Hardly anyone gets punished! India has banned sex selection under Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act, but the reality is quite different.

Tobacco laws have been there in India, but still more than 250 million people in India use various tobacco products like gutka, cigarettes and bidis and millions of them die, many suffer with heart and lung diseases because of this habit. The data says one in two Indian men and one in seven women use tobacco in the country. Tobacco causes 40 per cent of all cancer disease in India.

So the fact is that law is good, but the issue is of implementation. I am not sure if we have the manpower to implement this law. Do we have necessary structures, people, mechanisms in place who can implement the laws or will it remain as yet another good policy level declaration, which is not implemented on ground.

Contributed by Anil Gulati

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WHO’s World Malaria Report, 2008

The advent of long-lasting nets and artemisinin-based (artemisinin is the miracle drug of Malaria) combination therapy plus a revival of support for indoor residual spraying of insecticide, presents a new opportunity for malaria control..

A WHO (World Health Organisation) report (called the World Malaria Report 2008) released recently speaks of not only the progress made in controlling malaria but also the challenges posed by it. The global burden of malaria remains enormous, though progress in malaria control has accelerated dramatically since 2006. The report states that half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. An estimated 247 million malaria cases out of the 3.3 billion people at risk in 2006 caused nearly a million deaths, mostly of children under 5 years of age. Malaria was endemic in 109 countries in 2008 and 45 of them were within the WHO African region. 86 per cent or 212 million (152–287 million) cases were from the African Region. 80 per cent of the cases in Africa were detected in 13 countries and over half were in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya. Among the cases that occurred outside the African region, 80 per cent were from India, Sudan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Pakistan.

The World Malaria Report 2008 describes the global distribution of cases and deaths. It also explains how the WHO-recommended control strategies have been adopted and implemented in Malaria-endemic countries, the sources of funding for malaria control and recent evidence that prevention and treatment can alleviate the burden imposed by the disease. The report states that the advent of long-lasting insecticidal nets and artemisinin-based (artemisinin is the miracle drug of Malaria) combination therapy plus a revival of support for indoor residual spraying of insecticide, presents a new opportunity for large-scale malaria control. Some salient features and points raised in the report are:

1. It talks of renewed efforts to control malaria worldwide; elimination in some countries is founded on the latest generation of effective tools and methods for prevention and cure.

2. The report raises concern that little children remain by far the most likely to die of the disease.

3. It puts forward policies and strategies for malaria control - the various national malaria control programmes have adopted many of the WHO-recommended policies on prevention and cure, but with variation among countries and regions.

4. It talks about prevention of malaria – it says that despite big increases in the supply of mosquito nets, especially of long-lasing insecticidal nets in Africa, the number available is still far below the requirement in most countries.

5. On the issue of treatment of malaria, the report says that the procurement of anti-malarial medicines through public health services increased sharply between 2001 and 2006, but access to treatment, especially of artemisinin-based combination therapy, was inadequate in all the countries surveyed in 2006.

6. It states that funding for malaria control in 2006 was reported to be greater than ever before, but it is not yet possible to judge from NMCP budgets which countries have adequate resources for malaria control.

7. It also brings out the impact of malaria control - some countries that have implemented aggressive programmes of prevention and treatment in Africa and other regions, have reported significant reduction in malaria incidence. For the first time, three African countries reported dramatic reduction in malarial deaths - by 50 per cent or more. Eritrea, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe achieved this result between 2000 and 2006/2007 through a mix of bednet (protective netting) distribution, indoor spraying, improved access to treatment and advances in disease surveillance.

Contributed by Anil Gulati

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Orissa floods - situation grim while R & R stepped up

Situation remains grim in the flood-hit 17 districts of Orissa, while rescue and relief operation were stepped up including air dropping of food packets and essentials for people affected by the deluge that had claimed 16 lives.
Describing the floods as that of "rare severity", a senior official that nearly 20 lakh people in 110 blocks in 17 districts were affected by the calamity.The situation continued to be grim as Mahanadi and its tributaries which were in spate for the last four days caused at least 32 breaches.Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas, has asked the Centre to declare the floods as a 'National Disaster' and immediately release Rs 1500 crore assistance from the National Calamity Contingency Fund for relief and rehabilitation.The government machinery geared up to intensify relief work and and air dropping of relief materials, medicines and water pouches in different flood affected areas, the sources said.Describing the recent flood as the most furious in last 55 years, the engineer-in-chief of water resource department H C Behera said the maximum flow of water at Munduli near Cuttack was this time recorded at 15.81 lakh cusec against the previous highest of 15.80 lakh cusec in 1982.Water level in the Hirakud dam near Sambalpur in western Orissa stood at 629.50 feet this morning as against its maximum capacity of 630 feet, they said.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

22 lakh affected due to floods in Orissa

220,000 people have been affected in villages of Orissa in 17 out of 30 of its districts as incessant rains caused a river to breach its banks in several places. The breaches on the embankments of Mahanadi and its branches in the delta have affected people in these 17 districts. Indian Army has been asked to stand by for rescue and relief work. As many as 46 of the 64 sluices of Hirakud dam had been opened to discharge over 6.93 lakh cusec water even as Angul, Kendrapara, Puri, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur districts faced the deluge. The road link between Bhubaneswar and Puri as well as Cuttack and Paradip was disrupted due to major breaches at several places. Light vehicles and two wheelers were not allowed to ply on Puri-Bhubaneswar road due to a breach by Debi river near Pipili, media reports quote.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Indian corporates promote brands online

Internet is an inseparable medium for acquiring information. Several Indian companies have started using websites as effective venues for promoting their brands (products or services). They are also supporting online portals for consumer education.

With Increasing reach of Internet and our dependence on it for information, companies are using websites as a medium for promoting their own brands. In addition to online promotion and by hosting one’s own site, corporate houses are also supporting online sites for consumer education, which also subtly pushes their brands in the market that is already getting crowded. Pepsi and Coca Cola are already in this segment. Coca Cola’s website myenjoyzone is its version for teens wherein one has to be a member get to games, jokes and snap shots of movies etc. Pepsi’s pepsizone is for young ones wherein one can see and download Pepsi Deepika, Ranbir and Shahrukh on your desktop.

New websites to come up in this segment are from Hindustan Lever, the consumer goods company that is in segment of home, personal care products, food and beverages. It has set up a new portal called cookitup. As per the website, it endeavours to make cooking a pure pleasure for women and men who’d like to cook it up for their families, friends and for themselves.
Off course, it has recipes, cooking tips, contests, some tools for help in kitchen like how to plan a weekly menu and obviously it has links to Hindustan Lever Limited products.

Meanwhile, Buchanan Group, a global company in third party branded advertising is now in India with its website called brandpower wherein corporates can advertise products.
But, it is different from traditional advertising as it focuses on providing rational information about the products. As per the company, the aim of brandpower is to provide customer facts and value through information. As of now products like Stayfree, Pepsodent, Cadbury, Bournvita, Surf Excel, Domex and Hamam Abhyanga Snan are being profiled and reviewed on the site.
But, whenever one talks of these portals, one needs to remember that they are promoted by corporates for brand promotion.

Website like these, give consumer an online platform to speak out, write and read reviews about products, services. One can also compare the product they intend to buy with others, which gives power to the consumer.

By Anil Gulati

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

India gets bronze in wrestling at Beijing - a repeat performance after 1952

Sushil Kumar free style wrestler of India won the bronze medal after beating Kazakhstan's wrestler in a play-off in the men's 66 kg freestyle wrestling through repechage round at the Beijing Olympics. This gave India its second medal in the on going Olympics. Earlier, Sushil Kumar lost to Ukrainian Andriy Stadnik on points after being pegged down 3-8 on technical points. This is repeat performance after 1952 when Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, who gave the country its first individual Olympic medal, something which has been repeated this year in Beijing.

Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav or KD Jadhav was independent India's first individual [[Olympic Games when he won the wrestling bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki games. Since 1900 when Norman Pritchard won 2 silver medals in athletics, India had won gold medals only in field hockey, a team sport. In fact many don’t know about KD Yadav, now when media will talk about Sushil’s achievement they will remember him too and give him some recognition. This medal will also help to revive wrestling in India, wherein India can do wonders.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cocaine use among young in UK soars

Cocaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid usually extracted from the leaves of the coca shrub and is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. Its popularity is growing among teenagers and young adults, which is a point
of concern for British society
ALMOST TWO million people take illegal drugs at least once a month. A Britain newspaper The Independent quotes government sources for these shocking figures. Cocaine popularity is growing majorly among teenagers and young adults, which is a point of concern. In fact, recent report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a UN agency has stated that how film actors, sports stars and rock musicians influence young people and it states that use of cocaine by celebrities is encouraging more young people to take the drug. This is an area of concern not only in United Kingdom (UK), but across many countries.

For UK report of The Independent, adds that two million people in Britain take illegal drugs each month while one in three adults has tried banned substances, but what is of concern is that one in four school-aged children has used drugs. The reports state how commonplace drug use has become in modern Britain, which has some of the highest levels of abuse in Western Europe. More and more people are using cocaine or ecstasy at the weekend, and this number is growing.
Cocaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid usually extracted from the leaves of the coca shrub and is powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The drug is a strong central nervous system stimlant and its abuse affects include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Experts state that if the drug is taken repeatedly and at increasingly high doses, it may lead to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This can result in a period of full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the user loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations. Plus there is many more complication including cardiac, affect on respiration and even gastro-intestinal tract. Cocaine abuse during pregnancy is an important public health issue. Recent research states that neonatal exposure to cocaine causes neocortical cytoarchitectural and neurobehavioural alterations in the developing brain.

The media report quotes government data, which showed that the number of under-25s admitted to hospital with mental and behavioral problems linked to illegal drug use has risen by around a fifth in a decade, something which is associated with the drug abuse. It is high time that world agency needs to do something concern to reverse this trend or we are moving ahead in tough times, with the way its drug use in soaring.

Contributed by Anil Gulati Source

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Food safety a concern to prevent diseases

Food safety is a major concern. With increased debate on avian influenza this area gets more focus, for which serious steps are been taken by WHO in increasing awareness and educating people, including children on safe food handling.

RECENTLY MEDIA reports state on the need for creating awareness about food safety and services. There have been reports on making Goa a "safe food town”. Food safety is a major concern with increased debate on avian influenza this area gets more focus. Not only avian influenza even diarrhoeal diseases alone kills an estimated 1.8 million children annually, and most of these illnesses are attributed to contaminated food or water.

Proper food preparation can prevent most foodborne diseases. As per World Health Organisation (WHO) food safety is a public health priority, millions of people fall ill every year and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Serious outbreaks of foodborne disease have been documented on every continent in the past decade, and in many countries rates of illnesses are increasing significantly. With increase in trade, imported products are getting common in countries and the fear of spread of contamination due to lack of food safety is crossing borders.

WHO states that disease-causing organisms in food are transmitted far and wide by today’s interconnected global food-chains - escalating how often and where foodborne illnesses occur. Rapid urbanisation worldwide is adding a risks to it, as urban dwellers eat more food prepared outside the home that may not be handled or prepared safely - including fresh foods and fish, meat and poultry.

Key global food safety concerns include -- spread of microbiological hazards (including such bacteria as Salmonella or Escherichia coli-e. coli); chemical food contaminants, assessments of new food technologies (such as genetically modified food) and strong food safety systems in most countries to ensure a safe global food-chain.

WHO has developed a global food hygiene message with five key steps that promote health, and the five keys to safer food are
-Keep clean-Separate raw and cooked food
-Cook thoroughly
-Keep food at safe temperatures
-Use safe water and raw materials
It also states that increasing awareness and educating people, including children on safe food handling behaviors will help in preventing food borne diseases today and in the future.

Contributed by anil

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The unwelcoming Delhi

Commonwealth Games are just a couple of years ahead. But is Delhi ready to play the good host when, everyday, new arrivals to the national capital get an unsavory welcome by overcharging auto rickshaw and taxi operators..

IF YOU land up in Delhi from outside by train, the autos and taxis of Delhi may have unwelcoming surprise for you and for some it could be a nightmare. This happens to not only the one who is ‘not a Delhiites’ but with everyone. Delhiites have got used to it and can navigate with them and bargain. For a non-Delhiites, it could end up scaring them for a lifetime.

For example, at Nizamuddin railway station, one of the main railway stations of Delhi, there is no pre-paid service available for hiring taxi, which in effect means that you are at the mercy of the private taxi operators. One will have to bargain on the astronomical rates quoted by them. And if you ain’t aware of the routes, you are the one who may get ‘robbed’, a robbery for which you even cannot complain. This is not rare but a routine occurrence. For a taxi fare of Rs 100 by meter, you can end up paying something between three hundred to five hundred, that too if you are lucky. Pre-paid for auto rickshaw is available but that too for namesake. You can buy a pre-paid ticket but may not get an auto. But in case you are willing to pay their desired rate, which is more than double the normal fare, only then will they agree to move. Alternatively, in case you allow them to get one or two more unknown extra passengers on-board on the same auto then they may agree on your pre-paid price. Worst is - even if you complain to police personnel manning the pre-paid booths, they hardly listen except if you are real vociferous and can shout and make them hear.

Though there is a complaint number ‘painted’ on each auto but it is only for namesake. No one picks up the number, especially in the early morning and late night. This is the reality of the national capital of India - New Delhi, which is planning to host the prestigious commonwealth games in year 2010!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Power shortage in MP, for whom ?

Backside of call centre in Indore
This is recent picture of back side of a call centre in Indore which is meant to service 'global customers'. State of Madhya Pradesh may feel happy to bring in centres like these as part of their Global investment agenda, but they take away major share of electricity which is for 'people of the state' when they run on a/c's like these to service 'overseas clients'. Madhya Pradesh has a requirement of 3,500 Mega Units per day and the availability is only 2,400 Mega Units. State is deficit on electricty front and the major burden of the same is borne by people in the rural region of the state not by centres like these as they get the major share of the power generated as part of State's committment to attract global investments ?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Derogatory advertisement by Wipro Smartlite CFL

WIPRO SMARTLITE compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is a brand of Wipro consumer care and lighting that is a business unit of Wipro Limited. It has a range of products from toilet soaps, hair care soaps, baby care products and lighting products.

Wipro CFL has established its presence CFL (lightning market) in India. To promote Wipro Smartlite, CFL Company has roped in celebrity, Paresh Raval, and the advertisement is on air on television now a days. It tries to educate consumers about savings through switching from bulbs to CFL. The ad promotes CFL manufactured by Wipro and tries to dissuade the customer for not using inferior quality, which the ad says consumes more energy. The product is positioned as ‘money saving device’ and itself will act as a savings account (money) for the house.

The advertisement may be right and powerful, but the words used by Rawal do not reflect the same. He says a ‘metric fail’ to the person who is not using CFL or using inferior quality CFL. It is a derogatory word and he does not agree to it. A person who is metric fail can be smart enough too, he adds.

Though the spirit of Wipro places respect of individual and sensitivity at its highest vision and quotes on its website as ‘believe in a society where each citizen sees the ethic of equity, the essentiality of diversity, the ethos of justice, and is thus driven to social action. It is seeing each of us is inextricably embedded in the same social fabric’.

Which parameters did Wipro and its advertisement agency use to define that being ‘metric fail’ meant for not being smart? They are wrong here and probably should withdraw the same from the advertisement. In India, businessmen, though not being formally educated in school and colleges, have made it big in their business. Many big industrial houses of today have been set up by business men who were great, smart and probably have had, owing to some reasons, less formal educational qualifications.

As per many experts, smartness is an essential personality factor to manage things. Interestingly, business schools today tell their students that the current job market does also need being ’street smarts’. This use of word in its tagline by Wipro is wrong, and by the means of this piece I would like to draw the attention of other fellow citizen journalists and of advertising standards council of India towards this advertisement.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Politics stand with collective, which can make a difference

Getting grass root issue within the construe of political discourse is a big challenge. Though simple issues like primary education of children, high infant mortality, increasing crime against dalits women, malnutrition, no roads in SC/ST villages etc. Though these issues impact people, and it is not that political leaders are not aware of them. They are, especially the local ones, but it hardly affects them. Why as it does not impact them, their image and above all their voting constituency. And if the issues impact weaker sections, children, women, it will never make it to political discourse until and unless someone pushes it. System systematically or authoritatively makes sure that they cannot raise their voice and in case it happens, the system will try to curb that voice. Issues like these are not raised in the place they should be – i.e. state assemblies or parliament. But why? Political discourse is polemical. It speaks for collective a ‘polis’. So if the issue impacts that collective it still does not become part of that discourse. Reason is that it does not threaten the existence and values of that collective and does not impact existence its political leaders. Yes the day that threatens them, it will become part of the discourse. It is but natural that collective that votes for them and brings them to power gets so much affected and impacted that it impacts their voting pattern, - which is life line to their existence – the issue will become political. They will find way to make it political but that too for their advantage? It is clear that it is that collective of people which makes votes can make a difference. The need is to bring some together and catalyze that ‘collective’ on the issue which impacts them. But how, that is not easy – this collective has lot of aspects like distribution of power; interests of people involved, formal and informal rules that govern the interaction among different players in the process. It needs recognition of the power of collective, empowerment, and collective to understand the problem, may be solution and how they together can raise concern to seek solution of the problem which is workable and suitable.

SC/ST atrocities highest in MP

5,711 cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 have been registered in Madhya Pradesh in the year 2006, while in Rajasthan the number was 4,877, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday. Madhya Pradesh has registered largest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes closely followed by Rajasthan.

In Uttar Pradesh, 4,838 cases were registered, 4,579 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,918 in Karnataka, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. Northeastern states of Meghalaya and Mizoram registered zero cases of atrocities against SC/STs and similar was the case with Lakshwadeep and Puducherry, she said.

Jano Re Abhiyan resents RTI amendments in MP

'Jano Re Abhiyan' is a civil society movement being supported by various NGOs pushing to create awareness on Right to information in the state of MP. Recently in Madhya Pradesh some changes have been made in Right to Information act. In which the provisions for BPL have been altered .The state government has made changes in fees and appeal rules. The amendment states that photocopies of document upto only 50 pages would be provided to the BPL applicant if the information seek by them were not directly related to them .It will now be very difficult for an uneducated and illiterate rural person to argue with a government official for proving the legitimacy and relevance of the information being seeked by him.

Janu re abhiyan is resenting the same. They say that that the amendment will now provide an excuse to the government on the pretext of above changes. The genuine rights of the poor and marginalized of the country will be denied.

Keep up the pressure !

If social organizations want they can make the issue of people to bring it to attention of eyes and ears of people in power. No doubt it is tough and requires a sustained effort, but it is possible.

Recently survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy who had been continuously pushing the impact of the suffering of the people impacted by Bhopal Gas Tragedy went on a 38 days of padyatra from Bhopal to New Delhi and then had to sit on 20 day "dharna" at Jantar Mantar to rake up conscious of the GOI over their pathetic plight of children who are suffering from by ground-water contamination in Bhopal as impact of Bhopal gas Tragedy. This campaign was organized by three NGOs namely Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action working for the survivors of Bhopal disaster.

Finally they were able to meet the Group of Ministers in GOI who had assured them that it would endorse and forward their demand for a special commission to address rehabilitation, and for legal action against Dow and Union Carbide, to the Prime Minister. In the meeting while emphasising that it had never conceded the Madhya Pradesh government's request for inclusion of 20 additional municipal wards in Bhopal as gas-affected, the GoM members clarified that it had requested the State government to submit data on gas-related deaths and injuries in the 20 wards. But no such data had been submitted till date. Chemical and Fertilizers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan who met the delegation, assured that the government would continue its efforts to make the Dow Chemical pay Rs. 100 crore as advance for environmental remediation. Hopefully it will bring some results, but one would need to keep the pressure till the time people get justice.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indore traffic chaos solution - PIL

After hearing Public Interest Litigation rightly done by a citizen about the rise in encroachments and roaming animals which cause immense traffic problems in Indore. Indore is the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh High Court has issued notices to the Mayor and other top police and administrative officials for alleged mismanagement of the city, with increasing encroachments and animal menace causing problems for the locals. Indore has a major problem over parking of vehicles on wrong sites, issues of encroachments and it his high time that district administration tale some steps.

Hopefully some steps on issues of parking arrangements, but am not sure if major issue of encroachment will see any action (Pressure from the big – wigs f the city !) or may be more PIL’s will be needed to make sure that traffic of Indore can breathe easily.

Public health infrastructure in MP needs an urgent attention

The State of Madhya Pradesh has the highest rates of malnutrition among the children in India. As per the latest National Family Health Survey 60 % of its children in age group of 0 – 3 years are under nourished. Madhya Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate and 3rd highest maternal mortality ratio in the country. 76 out of every 1000 children born in the state die before their first birthday and approximately 24 women die everyday in the state. Though the state has introduced many schemes to help combat the same, but is not yielding the desired results for children and women. As per state's health department web site Madhya Pradesh for its population of 60.38 million (as per 2001 census) has the following health infrastructure:

- District hospitals 48
- Civil hospitals 54
- Community health centers 270
- Primary health centers 1149
- Sub health centers 8834
- Sanctioned beds in district hospitals 8945
- Sanctioned beds in civil hospitals 2775
- Total licensed blood banks by state 41

Activists have been strongly advocating to call attention on the issues of maternal and infant survival in the state. An analysis taken by civil society organizations on rural health infrastructure versus the population in the state reveals that there is just 'one bed per 5.6 villages' in the state which indeed is alarming!. It is not only the issue of beds or buildings. Even where there are structures or health centers they lack basic minimum facilities as needed and defined by rules and are not sufficient enough to save lives or provide for better health care to its people.

As per Reproductive and Child Health District level household survey (2004) data, out of the 386 primary health centre's surveyed in the state only 224 had drinking water facility. This means that only 58.3 percent primary health centre's had drinking water while others have no such facility. Similarly in case of community health centre's out of the 46 surveyed only 10 had facility of drinking water. In case of vehicles like ambulances out of the 386 primary health centers surveyed only 35 had vehicles which were in running condition and out of 46 community health centre's surveyed 31 had vehicles in the running condition.

Infrastructure investment does not only mean building equipments etc. It does includes human resource, which is the core in health, and needs to be focused upon. State needs to fulfill vacancies of doctors, para-medics, and nurses but also provide them with facilities to support them to provide care for the people. The State needs to peg health of its people as priority number one, transform on immediate basis which is not only limited to public proclamations and announcing schemes but also delivering results at ground level.

The dangerous roads ?

Driving on Indian roads is not an easy call. Every day, many lives are lost on roads all over India. The number of people, who die on road accidents, has been increasing every year. However, this can be prevented by adopting some safety measures

The World Road Statistics, 2006, which provided the data for the year 2003 in respect of India, indicated that the number of persons killed per lakh of population in India was 8.08. As per the preliminary tentative data shared by KH Muniyappa, minister of state for shipping, road transport and highways, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, as per the press note released by Press Information Bureau on December 6, 2007, which covers the majority of States and Union Territories, the number of deaths due to road accident is estimated at more than a lakh (1,01,439) during the year 2006, as compared to the figure of 94,968 deaths for the year 2005. This clearly indicates that Indian roads are perilous.

Looking at the data for year 2005, the capital city of India, Delhi, had reported 1,717 deaths on its roads in year 2005, which was highest in India. Among other cities, which reported the highest number of deaths on roads was Chennai, the second highest behind Delhi with 1,055 deaths, followed by 835 in Bangalore, 787 in Mumbai, 598 in Kanpur, 577 in Hyderabad, 495 in Jaipur and 484 in Kolkata. It may be pertinent to note here that two third of people, who died on road in the year 2005, were in the 15-44 age bracket, meaning we are loosing lives at young age. And it is not that only heavy vehicles, which are responsible for this, data revealed that smaller vehicles, like cars and two wheelers contribute virtually as much as heavier vehicles like trucks.

But it is not that we cannot respond to this and let people die on its road. China has been able to bring down its road death tally. In the year 2005, 98,738 people died on road accidents in China, which came down to 89,455 in year 2006. China has reported a drop of 10.8 per cent in road accidents for last four consecutive years staring from 2003, despite registering a growth in the number of privately owned cars. This means it is possible, maybe something we can learn from them.

This issue raises concern on how lives get wasted in India, which can be prevented. It is matter of roads, road safety; emergency services available post accidents on roads, safety standards, condition of vehicles on road, drivers behind wheels, visibility on the road etc, meaning we need a sustained and multi pronged approach to address this. But the bigger question is that who will do it? Governments of India, passes on the buck to state that this issue fall under state domain, while the state says that it has limited resources and cannot do beyond. Whosever domain it may fall, fact is that India needs to prevent this to happen and guarantee its citizens certain amount of life security on the road and there needs to be accountability for the same.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bhopal bloggers meet..

'Bhopal bloggers' - this is name to a group of bloggers who blog from city of Bhopal. They met for the first time last Wednesday at Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism, Bhopal.It was chance to share, show one's blog, meet and learn from each other's experience. Even the introduction was different, instead of name and organisation etc.. it was by one's name, name of blog and may be blog's short history.

Not many blog in and from Bhopal, but interest is increasing, so is the numbers and new ones to join in include are students of journalism who are getting on it and joining in the league. Bloggers who participated and shared their experiences were -

Shaishanu Mukherjee, he who blogs at and has a lot of information on and about Bhopal, its history and what is happening in and around Bhopal.

CNN IBN's Hemendra Sharma blogs on IBN live blogging platform and his blog is called 'IN CONVERSATION' which has many of his personal experiences during his professional career. His blog is on an open platform where many had commented including critiqued on his posts.

Shela Masood shared her experience on her blog and how many whom she did not knew ever had got in touch due to this blog.

Manisha Pandey who blogs in Hindi on and shares her thoughts, ideas and feeling on women whom she says are left out 50 % percent population on her blog.

Their are many theme blogs from Bhopal like one on agricuklture blogged by Shiv Narayan, who feels that this will serve as a resource base in hindi on issues linked to agriculture which are real important in this part of India.

Other theme blogs include on maternal mortality and

Raju who writes his poetic feelings on www.suratehal.blogspot.comshared on he started it like 'something' as a past time and now it brings you back. He adds that it indeed is becoming an important web platform to share.

Department of journalism, Makhanlal University of Journalism now has its own blog which not only helps us to share information on what is happening on the campus but also helps students to network with our alumni,' adds P.P. Singh, Head of Department of Journalism.

Vedvat Giri of shared about his citizen journalism site and how his site can be important platform to blog. He did offer to all 'Bhopal bloggers' - though some of them are already a part, to be citzien journalist of mynews and they could share their blog stories with the site.

Students of journalism like Siddarth Bhardawaj who blogs on and many other like Shiv who blogs on were present and shared their experiences.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Solar Cooking ki Duniya !

Barli Development Institute for Rural Women, is an non governmental organisation at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. It is helping empower young rural and tribal women to become agents of social change. The institute was started and is managed by the ‘J duo’s’ – Janak and Jimmy McGilligan, both of them, committed Bahai’s.

At the institute everything is cooked on solar cooking systems. Their kitchen, water heating system all is powered by solar energy. Be it a tea,lunch,dinner, or heating of water all is done by harnessing solar energy. It is simply great to see such an extensive and productive use of solar energy.

It was probbaly 1988 when they got the first soolar cooker installed there and since then they not only use solar energy for themselves but serve as laboratory for use of solar energy and propogate the same. Institute also manufactures and establishes solar kitchens for other NGOs. ‘They have to feel the need of the same and have ownership of the same then only it works’ Jimmy adds emphatically. They have established four solar cookers in Dhar and Jhabua .

I have heard a lot on use of solar energy but when one visits the Institute one feels and see the same in practice how it happens and how it can deliver and help conserve energy…..

contributed by anil

Ambulance at doctors residence !

This is the photograph of Ambulances parked at residence of Block Medical Officer of the block hospital in Obdullahganj, Hoshangabad. Though it is in premises of the hospital but still is not allowed. Hope the keys are with hospital staff ?. Need of ambulance can happen at any time and can be crucial in saving one' should be in the hospital and always available on call.......

Children seek protection of rights of Tibetan children

Hundreds of children from India and Tibet joined hands to demand protection for the rights of children in Tibet. Children from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh marched on to the streets of Delhi carrying the plank cards with the specific demands- "Peace for Children and Children for peace", "Ensure free and quality education for all children in Tibet", "Restore rights freedom dignity and education of Tibetan children". Later on they participated in dharna and peace march at Gandhi Smadhi Rajghat and raised their concern on safety of rights of Tibetan children. The demonstration was organised under the banner of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) with the support of other like minded organisations.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ducks, rice root cause of bird flu: Study

Chickens are no more the root cause behind bird flu outbreaks, but it is ducks, rice and people, says a study by a UN agency.

According to a new study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ducks, rice and people are the most significant factors in the spread of avian influenza in Thailand and Vietnam.

Through the use of satellite mapping, researchers looked at a number of different factors, including the numbers of ducks, geese and chickens, human population size, rice cultivation and geography, and found a strong link between duck grazing patterns and rice cropping intensity. In Thailand, for example, the proportion of young ducks in flocks was found to peak in September-October; these rapidly growing young ducks can therefore benefit from the peak of the rice harvest in November-December.

These peaks in congregation of ducks indicate periods in which there is an increase in the chances for virus release and exposure, and rice paddies often become a temporary habitat for wild bird species, the agency said in a news release.

The study also found that these factors are probably behind persistent outbreaks in other countries such as Cambodia and Laos. In addition, with virus persistence becoming increasingly confined to areas with intensive rice-duck agriculture in eastern and south-eastern Asia, evolution of the H5N1 virus may become easier to predict.

The findings can help better target control efforts and replace indiscriminate mass vaccination, the release said. FAO estimates that approximately 90 per cent of the world’s more than 1 billion domestic ducks are in Asia, with about 75 per cent in China and Vietnam.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Neglect of agriculture hits poor - UN- ESCAP

Chronic neglect of the agricultural sector in Asia and the Pacific is condemning 218 million people to continuing extreme poverty, and widening the gap between the region’s rich and poor, according to the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2008, launched at multiple locations today throughout the region by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The Survey is ESCAP’s flagship publication. It examines the Asia-Pacific region’s key short- and medium-term prospects and challenges in macroeconomic and selected social areas, especially from the point of view of minimizing human suffering; be it from economic hardships or social inequality. In addition, the Survey explores critical long-term development issues relevant to all developing countries in the region. This year’s issue also marks the 60th anniversary of the Survey, first published in Shanghai in May 1948.

This year’s Survey, entitled “Sustaining Growth and Sharing Prosperity,” says 218 million – a third of the region’s poor, largely living in rural areas – could be lifted out of poverty by raising agricultural productivity. The Survey also calls for a comprehensive liberalization of global trade in agriculture, as this would take a further 48 million people out of poverty in the region.

ESCAP’s focus on the agricultural sector comes amid signs of rising food prices, pressured by soaring demand for biofuels. The Survey says that biofuels are not only hurting poor consumers in Asia and the Pacific through high food prices, but they are also failing to help the region's poor farmers who do not have the resources to adapt their land to the biofuel crops.

The Survey proposes a strategy to ensure agriculture is both economically and socially viable, contributing to efforts to eradicate poverty in the region and returns agriculture to its rightful place in reducing poverty and inequality.

Agriculture needs revitalization. This requires a market orientation with a focus on improving agricultural productivity. Also needed are reforms in land policies, connecting the rural poor to cities and markets, and making it easier for farmers to access loans and crop insurance. Along with this approach, diversification of skills should complement agricultural development – by empowering the poor, particularly women, improving skills to tap labour market opportunities and by promoting rural non-farm activities and regional growth centres.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Assam launches free cancer treatment scheme

The Assam government on Tuesday launched free cancer treatment facilities, including chemotherapy and anti-cancer drugs. Launching the scheme, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that it was a part of the state government's endeavour to improve the healthcare system through a slew of initiatives undertaken in the past couple of years. The Chief Minister said that with the availability of chemotherapy drugs free of cost in the Cancer Institute equipped with the state of art technology, the patients need not go outside the state for treatment. The Assam Government plans to
launch a host of new initiatives which include free post-operative kidney transplant treatment, spectacles and hearing aids to poor people in the coming months.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Does smoking makes you look cool? Think again...

Recent survey has revealed that teenagers, who pick up smoking at early stage, are more likely to develop hearing disorders and they will have difficulty concentrating in their studies. Smoking at teenage will also hamper the growth of their brain.

As per an article published in the ‘New Scientist’ titled as ‘Teenage smokers risk badly wired brains’, quotes the study of Leslie Jacobsen of Yale University School of Medicine and his colleagues who had used diffusion tensor imaging, which measures how water diffuses through brain tissue to study the affect of smoking in teens. The study reveals that the development of the brain could be hampered due to smoking in teenage.

Researchers found that young smokers, particularly boys, are more likely to suffer from hearing disorders. Brain is particularly vulnerable to the effects of tobacco during adolescence, the time when it is rapidly maturing. Some young smokers suffer from hearing problems and also find it hard to concentrate in their studies. The teens studied were a group of young students, aged between 14 and 19. The changes found in the regions responsible for relaying signals to the ear, were greatest in the smokers, suggesting the brain is at heightened risk while maturing during adolescence.

Study also points out that teenagers who smoke, or whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, are also more likely to suffer from auditory attention deficits, meaning they find it difficult to concentrate on what is being said, when other things are happening at the same time. It may be pertinent to mention here that smoking and chewing tobacco contribute to some eight lakh deaths in India every year.

Issues like portrayal of smoking as cool, easy availability of cigarettes around educational institutions, message of smoking getting reinforced in films, advertisements, attracts many young ones towards smoking. In fact, many surveys carried out by many NGOs across India have time and again reflected the issue of increasing trend of smoking among youngsters and teen smokers picking up their first cigarette very early in age and its impact on them. The above study once again brings the same issue in debate and calls for some action. Though study has been carried out in US and not in India, but still it corroborates the fact that we need stringent action on issue of smoking, especially among teens

Contributed by anil gulati

MP gets 14 thousand crores

Annual Plan for Madhya Pradesh for the year 2007-08 was approved today by Planning Commission today at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Delhi.

As per Government of India press release the Plan outlay agreed is to the tune of Rs.14182.61 crores which include one time additional central assistance of Rs.150 crores for projects of special interest to the State. Montek Singh Ahluwalia while commenting on the plan stressed for more attention on human development. He said that social sector needs priority and efforts should be aimed at improving human development index with policy initiatives for creating investor friendly environment.

He added that State Government should avail benefits available under various social sector schemes. Efforts should be made to improve performance in various programmes under Bharat Nirman and priority should be given to schemes related to Bundelkhand area. Power sector should get focused attention as achievement of higher growth rate in Eleventh Plan could be constrained due to power shortage.

The Chief Minister of MP informed the Commission that thrust areas of development policy would be eliminating hunger, mal-nutrition and abject poverty. Livelihood opportunity would be created through generating economic activities based on natural resources. A number of new initiatives have been taken to improve social protection. These include Mukhya Mantri Mazdoor Suraksha Yojana, integrated livelihood programme and Din Dayal Antodya Upchar Yojana.

Fiscal reforms are being pursued with focused attention to ensure good governance. State Government is working to facilitate investments and creating more physical and social infrastructure.

He while stressed that needs of disadvantage including women, SCs/STs and disabled is on the prioty agenda of the government. Efforts are on to reduce dependence on agriculture in rural areas and for this purpose allied areas are being given priority.

Culling in Malda

With less than 50 per cent of the targeted 44,000 diseased chicken having been culled, authorities here have decided to continue the operation for two more days in two municipal areas of Malda district, plagued by bird flu for the second time.

Official sources said 30 animal husbandry department teams, each having six members, were involved in the operation in Englishbazar, Old Malda town municipal areas and adjoining Sahapur, which was earlier scheduled to be over on March 23.

While 15,000 fowls have so far killed in state-run firms, over 5,000 birds were culled in privately-run poultries in nearby areas since Thursday, sources said.

The culling operation slackened due to the weekend festivities, the sources conceded adding the operation will now get momentum. Meanwhile, mopping drive will take place in areas where culling has been completed, from tomorrow, sources said.

Although culling was underway within three-km radius of the affected areas, surveillance was on a ten-km stretch. Blood samples from the two areas sent to Bhopal Laboratory had tested positive on March 19. An avian influenza scare gripped the district following the death of 1,100 birds in a state-owned poultry farm located within the Malda municipal area's ward no. II since March 12.

Malda is the second district after Murshidabad to be declared bird flu-hit in fresh outbreak in last nine days. Avian flu had been reported from two blocks in Murshidabad. The first bird flu attack was reported in the district's Chanchal-1 block in January.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rains play havoc in Kerala

PTI reports that three children have slipped to death in a swollen river in Wayanad district on Saturday as heavy rain continued to lash kerala, taking the toll to 11 since the onset of the current spell seven days ago. Three boys, who were fishing on the banks of the Varadoor river near Panamaram town in Wayanad, slipped into the swirling waters and drowned as the embankment caved in, police said.

While there was a let up in rains in Southern districts during the day, the Northern and Central parts of the state continued to be battered by heavy rain.Large stretches of ready-to-harvest paddy had been lost and the abnormally severe summer rain posed a grim threat to cash crops as well. According to the government, the loss suffered by the farm sector alone would come to at least Rs 100 crore and had sought Central help to tide over the situation.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Media matters : In dark for 60 yrs, MP village gets power

Hemender Sharma / CNN-IBN

Kajrai Society, a Dalit village in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, lived in darkness for the past 60 years. The telecom revolution touched the village like nowhere else. But as there was no electricity, the villagers travelled 20 km to neighbouring Mandi Bamora to get their mobile phones charged.

In December 2007, CNN-IBN showed how these powerless villagers braved odds to stay connected with relatives and friends. And within three months, it's a different story today after three months — the village has been electrified.

"We did not have electricity for the past 60 years. We complained to everyone, approached everyone. But no one listened to us. We had phones. CNN-IBN took it up and showed our plight, and now, within three months the village has been electrified," a villager, Deshraj Ahirwar, narrates.

"We could not study. But thanks to the media, now we have electricity and can study now," another villager, Santosh Ahirwar, states. The district administration admits that electricity is being supplied to the village on a priority basis after reports in the media.

"We are trying to provide electricity to every village and this would be done soon. Village Kajrai Society was electrified on a priority basis as the media had highlighted it," Sagar collector Hira Lal Trivedi said. The villagers have seen the light, but now they want roads, drinking water and other amenities as well. Thanks to the mobile phone for connecting them with development.

(With Sandeep in Sagar)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bird flu scare in Malda,West Bengal

PTI reports - Over 700 chicken died at the National Poultry Farm here during the past few days, triggering a bird flu scare in the district. Official sources said here Tuesday that 145 chicken died during the past 24 hours and the toll is increasing steadily.

This was for the first time that farm chicken have died due to bird flu symptoms in West Bengal as the earlier outbreak of the disease was confined to backyard poultry.

Blood samples have been sent to High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory in Bhopal and the report would take about 12 to 14 days to reach here, the sources said, adding selling of chicken and eggs from the Farm had been banned.

The Farm has about 15,000 chickens, district Animal Resources Development Department said.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Human Proteinpedia – a new portal to promote sharing info on human proteins

Efforts of 71 laboratories of genetics and proteomics worldwide have given rise to a novel, online resource of scientific information called 'Human Proteinpedia'. is a community portal for sharing and integration of human protein data. It allows research laboratories to contribute and maintain protein annotations. It has Human Protein Reference Database (HPRD) which integrates data that is deposited in Human Proteinpedia along with the existing literature curated information in the context of an individual protein. All the public data contributed to Human Proteinpedia can be queried, viewed and downloaded. Registered users will be able to include, retrieve and share data about sequences, structures or mutations validated by experimental evidence. Only those people will be allowed to modify original information who have contributed to that piece of data.

The information deposited in the Human Proteinpedia forms an unprecedented database that helps comparing and interpreting protein sequences supplied by the scientific community. It is believed that this tool will permit to make progress in the study of genes and of the proteins involved in human pathology.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

China has world's largest number of internet users

China has edged past the US in terms of the number of Internet users to reach the number one slot, a research firm said.

China had reported the number of Internet users at 210 million by the end of last year, very close to 216 million of the US.

But, "according to our calculations, China has already replaced the US as the country with most Internet users by the end of last month," Liu Bin, an analyst at the Beijing-based research firm BDA was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily.

The US remained at the topmost position since the inception of the internet in 1969 as a network of computers under the auspices of the US Department of Defence. BDA Chairman Duncan Clark said Chinas Internet population was driven by buoyant economy, massive investments in broadband infrastructure and a strong consumer demand for online applications.

Government-backed research institution China Internet Network Information Centre said China moved to the second position by the end of 2002, when the number of its internet users exceeded 59.1 million.

However, CNNIC said Chinas Internet penetration was a mere 16 per cent last year, lower than the world average of 19.1 per cent.