Monday, December 31, 2007

Advertisers need to respect human rights, a learning from year 2007

This year August in Intel, the computer chip maker, had rightfully withdrawn an international advertisement which was criticized as racist. The ad, which was for a new generation of micro-processors, showed six black sprinters crouched in the start position in front of a white man wearing a shirt and chinos in an office. Above the image was a slogan which read: "Multiply computer performance and maximize the power of your employees. Blogs were quick to spot the same, resent and Intel had pulled it back.

An advertisement in India of ‘Happydent teeth whitening gum’ was on various TV channels this year and had displayed worst for human right violation, and is still there. May be call to action. The ad was shot in princely environment of Rajasthan and lights apparently consuming no energy resource but human resource to illuminate the city. By the way if the advisement is really true, which is not then sparkling white teeth could be used by all of us to light our houses by switching on a smile and save energy which is the call of the day. The ad displayed worst form of human exploitation. The 80-second ad with Muskura le, jagmaga le begins with a man in a dhoti and turban cycling furiously. His front tyre falls in the river and he tries to take a ride from a passing car and car has two human headlamps. The driver doesn't stop and the man rushes on. Entering the palace grounds, he passes lamp-posts with men hanging where the bulbs should be. Inside the palace, too, are men in place of light bulbs. The man reaches a balcony from where he swings onto a chandelier and is up other men already on chandelier. Right under the chandelier is the dining table and the ‘king’ is ready to begin his meal. Our man pops a piece of gum into his mouth and smiles, song "tera dil roshan, tera man roshan" comes up and all the "bulbs" in the ad are human chandelier, which light up.

This advertisement may be to promote oral dental chewing gum but also portrays worst from of human rights violation, portrays ‘zamindari’ system which exploited rights of being human being and should be condemned. It promotes discrimination and exploitation. Am not sure what did the ad maker wanted to show via this advertisement but issue is what it is promoting inadvertently and what message we are giving it our young ones on our history. May be this ad is ‘out of the box’ in advertising world but promotes human right violation something which we should be watchful and resent. Companies to have their social responsibility and they should not be promoting use of human like this.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Urgency needed in tobacco control in India

According to data, 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. An urgent call to take action is needed in India to focus more and more on the issue.

At present, the issue to publish pictorial warnings on tobacco products is being debated in the country. Several researchers of the World Health Organization (WHO) and others stated in a special report in the Lancet medical journal that widespread efforts to cut salt intake, curb smoking and to ensure those at risk of heart disease take needed drugs could prevent millions of deaths each year. They looked at prevention efforts in 23 low and middle income countries including China, India, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, Poland and Nigeria in which 80 percent of global deaths from chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes occur. The study said that implementing tobacco control measures, reduction of salt intake and strengthening public awareness efforts would prevent nearly 14 million deaths over the coming 10 years.

The Government of India has 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.

The Government is planning to revise its Packaging and Labelling Rules, 2007, wherein grim pictures like cancerous tumours or an ailing infant may be printed on the packet on smoking and non-smoking forms of tobacco. In revised guidelines a tobacco product can now carry the warning ‘tobacco kills’ along with a picture that shows one of the following ‘smoking causes cancer, your smoking kills babies, tobacco causes painful death and tobacco causes mouth cancer.’

But in India the conflict between the tobacco lobby and the government is essentially a conflict between economic interests and health priorities and moves to control tobacco get diluted. This recent move to make pictorial warnings on tobacco products mandatory which was just one of the step has too been stuck in litigation.

Though use of pictorial warnings on tobacco products have been proved to be effective in 15 countries across the world where tobacco consumption has drastically gone down, especially in Thailand, which has now become a model for its success in curbing smoking. But In India this alone may not be sufficient and it needs to be backed up by a powerful public information campaign and many other means. Issue like smoking needs more stress in India. Increasing trend among young generation to get on to smoking in early age too is a matter of great concern. A recent survey conducted on college students in Delhi, showed that two per cent of them smoked their first cigarette before attaining even 10 years of age.

Exposure to smoking activities, easy availability of cigarettes in and around educational institutions, message of smoking getting reinforced in films, advertisements, attracts youths towards smoking. Another survey, carried out among youths with support of WHO and Centre for Disease Control in Madhya Pradesh in year 2003, showed that the tobacco habits including smoking take start at very early stage in life. The survey says that the prevalence of tobacco use in young ones in the Madhya Pradesh was observed to be 12.8%. Out of the total of 1,692 students, which participated in the survey, one in six students (16.5%) had ever used tobacco in any form.

That was the story of year 2003 and now after our years, the ’anti-tobacco’ activists say that tobacco prevalence has increased among young generation. They say it is not only smoking but even use of tobacco has significantly increased. Same survey added that some of the psychological factors mainly leave impact on youths to start tobacco use. They start tobacco habit after watching people surrounding them (Parents and friends) using tobacco. Bidi smoking is one another area, which can be attributed to around 32 per cent of tuberculosis deaths in India, needs more stress.

This is the main reason why several people in IndiaIndia. But how it would be possible is the biggest question, when one gets stuck on every step in this direction. There is a need of multi pronged approach to fight with this problem. But more than this, the issue needs recognition of urgency not only by one person or group but also by large base of people especially who make decisions and influence the process of implementation. advocate for taking different preventive strategies for different target groups if they wish to bring down tobacco use in

Contributed by Anil Gulati

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fiery red chilli… Bhopal's bittan market

This one at today’s Bhopal’s Bittan vegetable haat market was special. Red Chilli especially for those who enjoy fiery Bharwaa Laal Mirchi Ka Achaar (stuffed red chilli pickle). They say it is easy to make !! Bhopal haat markets are flooded with winter vegetables like carrots, peas, cabbage, raddish, cauliflower, beet root, turnip etc.. though they still remain expensive and have not come down at the last year’s level, inspite of the competition within vendors.

Delhi’s metro train is now five year’s old

Delhi's traffic capillary - the metro train is now five year's old

It has been now five years ago since Delhi wala’s were introduced to this new experience of Delhi metro. In Year 2002 it was just between Shahdara and Tis Hazari and six stations which now have expanded to 59 stations. Construction is on to add 79 stations and 500 trains to the Delhi Metro network. The day it was inaugurated about 12 lakh people landed up to travel on this small metro and with the much hyped inaugural it had a tough time. Trains broke down, ticket counters were not open and escalators stopped midway. But today Delhi metro five years hence, it is still relatively clean, it has now expanded to three lines network has a total length of 65 km, 59 stations and is transporting thousand every day in Delhi.

According to a study conducted by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), the metro system would have saved Delhi over Rs 20 billion (approx $507 million) by the end of this year. The amount was calculated by quantifying various indicators like the amount of fuel saved, reduction in the commuting time and cost of maintenance of vehicles. According to experts, any new public transport system for commuting not only has to be successful in shortening the transportation time for passengers but also has to be an effective engine for economic growth. Though, one major complaint against the Metro has been its high average fares, compared to buses, making it not so appealing to the poor. Delhi Metro, with its limitations, is certainly not the magic wand to solve the ailing public transport crisis in the capital but is helping Delhi to ease out with its traffic congestion, may be with incoming new expanded network it may help further…

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is it safe ?

Pitching ghat, District Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh, India.

More than twenty people on board on just one motor boat crossing Narmada River with absolute no safety equipments, life jackets, nothing on - board ? A call to action.

Local Ingenuity

(In picture - young boy on the Sethani Ghat holding magnets tied to a rope)

Hoshagabad District in Madhya Pradesh have famous Sethani ghat which are popular for sacred bath along the banks of holy river Narmada. As part of their prayers devotees immerse coins, coconuts etc in the holy river Narmada. About fifty local young men and boys have their own ingenuity to collect the coins being immersed by the devotees. They use number of magnets tied as one and then to a rope to collect the coins. Coins of rupees one, two and five get stuck to the magnets, when they are thrown in the waters of the river. This is part of their earnings for themselves and their families. Rajesh, one of them told the blog that they normally earn about Rs 100- 150 a day which may varies and also increase during or after the time mela is held. We are about fifty of them who earn by this way while some others dive in the river to collect coconuts as immersed by devotees as part of their prayers, he added.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Missing guides of Sanchi !

“Hindustan ka Dil Dekho”, is one of the brilliant eye catching advertisement undertaken by the State of Madhya Pradesh to bring in more tourists to the state’s rich cultural heritage. But on other hand, state lacks infrastructure which can match the tourism growth. Apart from bad connectivity, places to stay in tourist destinations, what tourism in Madhya Pradesh is also lacking is limited number of well-trained guides to help tourists in understanding the rich heritage of the State. Interesting figures have come up in media from Sanchi, which eight officially licensed tourist guides but only three are normally available rest five are always missing. Sanch is the stupa village, situated 45 km away from Bhopal and is World Heritage Site. The locals say that the license was given to guides who are not the locals and are hardly there to guide tourist visiting the heritage. Also they don’t know much about the stupa. Stupa is visited by large number during winters and needs to match by equal number of tourist guides. A tourist guide not only leads groups of people around the venue and provides a commentary on the features, history of the destination but contributes considerably to the perception of the destination. Tourist guide helps in promoting the cultural and natural heritage and also helps to ensure its sustainability by making visitors aware of its importance and vulnerability.

In fact CII in its reports on tourism lays special importance on tourist guides and a need to train them. Guide's knowledge of local stories, history and culture adds value to the interest of the visiting tourist and which one remembers for years to come

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Schools without teachers in Betul

December 18, 2007 Dainik Jagran, Bhopal edition in its column ‘Letter to the Chief Minister’ had carried a letter written from Malkapura, Betul district. The letter raises an important concern and informs that 54 middle school and 14 primary schools in Betul district don’t have teachers. The person writing from the district also brings up another important issue that even if there are teachers, rather then being in school, they are attached to other departments and are undertaking administrative work. This letter to the head of the State calls for immediate reversal of the same. It rightfully questions that if schools don’t have teachers then who will teach?

It may be pertinent to mention that this blog had written about ‘the column namely letter to Chief Minister’ in two newspapers of Bhopal which gives space to people to raise concern with the political head of the state. This is one such example. Now more important is that this letter is noticed and immediate action is taken. This problem is not only in Betul but in all districts of the state. Numbers of teachers are less, if they are their many times they are compulsorily engaged in other jobs except teaching. Here it a call to media, here is the hard story, please do the needful, students of the state will benefit. A call to developmental agencies working in the State to keep raising this issue and bring teachers back to school, and then only we can expect students to be back.

Teachers are meant to teach, it is important that all schools should have teachers as needed and they should be teaching and imbibing education to students or
else there is no point of saying school chalein hum!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Youth using edu-phone in red ribbon express parked at Habibganj

Dec 17- 18, 2007 - Red Ribbon express, a seven coach HIV awareness train flagged on Dec 1, 2007 is at Habibganj Railway Station in Bhopal and is attracting thousands. This is initiative
of National Aids Control Organisation, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and is being supported by State Aids Control Societies, UNICEF, Indian Railways and NYKS.

In picture (photo credit - Anil Gulati) - A youth using edu-phone - a way to educate the young ones on right information on HIV.

Monday, December 17, 2007

PM expresses his concern over rural – urban divide and inter regional divide

Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh while speaking at the inaugural of Golden Jubilee function of the Institute of Economic Growth on Saturday expressed concerned about imbalances that persist in our growth process. He said that the performance of Indian economy has certainly improved in recent years but rural-urban divide and inter-regional divide are the areas of concern. He added that Government has initiated several policies aimed at bridging the rural – urban divide. The investment being made in rural infrastructure, rural education and healthcare and in promoting non-farm employment in rural areas and it should help. But, the task is Himalayan and there is much that State governments will have to do in this regard. He added that Inter-regional imbalances in developments have both economic and political causes and consequences.

He sought support from people at the meeting to look at newer and creative and rational solutions to this problem of imbalances and growth. He said that What are then the other pathways to progress? How can we reduce the persistent imbalances in development? How can we increase rural incomes and modernise the rural economy? How can we empower our farming community and invest in its capabilities and productivity? ‘I think we need a new wave of creative thinking on these issues. Old ways of thinking seems to have run their course.’ Can we find more rational solutions to the problems of imbalances and inequities in growth?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

India per capita income still very low: ADB

India which despite being a trillion dollar economy which now has increasing number of billionaires in the country, has a growing sensex, has been ranked low and is behind four countries in Asia in terms of per capita income, a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report said. Brunei topped the list of Asia's richest economies by per capita income and Hong Kong emerged as the biggest spender. Nepal, meanwhile, was the region's poorest by both measures. The report is part of the World Bank’s 2005 International Comparison Programme (ICP), a data standardization project for 146 countries that will make evaluating incomes and expenditures across the globe easier.

Brunei is followed by Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Apart from Nepal, the poorest countries include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos and India. The study covered 23 economies, excluding Japan, South Korea and East Timor.

The latest study, in which India and China took part together for the first time, uses the Hong Kong dollar as the base currency and 2005 as the base year. China meanwhile, ranked above average with its per capita income of 23,267 Hong Kong dollars ($2,986).

The study has ranked countries in terms of per capita gross domestic product (GDP), actual final consumption expenditure (AFCE) and gross fixed capital formation (GFCF). AFCE is the sum of consumption expenditures by households and government, and according to ADB is the best available measure of household living standards; GFCF measures the investment levels in the economy.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kerala CM to intervene in retaining British library in T'puram

Sharing concerns of book lovers over the British Council's decision to close down its British library in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala's Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan has promised to take up the matter with the authorities. On a visit to the library on Saturday, Achuthanandan said to media that the Council's decision to wind up the library, a part of the city's culturescape for over four decades, by the end of next March, has come as a blow to students, academics and the public at large.The Chief Minister said he would take up the matter with British Consulate officials. The government was also ready to offer whatever contributions it could make for the continued functioning of the library.The British Library was set up in the city of Thiruvananthapuramin in year 1964 and it has over 6,500 members now.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bhopal's British Library to close down

British Library Bhopal will be officially close its operations in Bhopal on February 29, 2008. The blog had covered the story where people in Bhopal and media had expressed anguish and shock. Above is photograph of the poster pasted across British Library Bhopal. This is one of the hundreds pasted there after the announcement of its closure this week. In fact students of Bhopal have started a blog to express their concern while another popular web site his having live debate on its web site on the issue.

Members of British library and many others feel the need of debate on this decision, i.e to debate on the reasons of it closure. Many feel that State Government should intervene. Bhopal media for last three days has been carrying out stories of shock and anguish expressed by people. British Library on other hand has stated that this decision is part of their strategy to continuously adapt to range of services which it offers to ensure that resources are directed into news areas as they emerge. The closure of this library does not signal the end of a relationship. The public will be able to access the services of British Council and it will be holding seminars and briefing for perspective students. The British Council is changing the nature of its work and its reiterates its commitment to people of Bhopal and will remain in close contact.

Though many in the state had offered to take it over, not sure, if this is possible, may be a remote. Looking at the condition of other libraries in the city this was 'the best', professionally managed, well maintained, had a decent collation of books and off course great staff ! Kudos to the staff members of the Library who were always helpful to its members and readers who used to visit the Library. The events and happening at the library used to make it very live.Bhopal will surely miss this asset, after Feb 29, 2008. May be if someone has 'will ' and resources it could set up a similar business model.

Is Bhopal Van Vihar safe for animals?

Gautam, a five year-old male tiger died on last Thursday at Van Vihar, National Park of Bhopal, in Madhya Pradesh. This is not the first death this year, if we look at figures two tigers and one white tiger have died this year in Van Vihar. Particularly disturbing is that deaths of these ‘big cats’ have being happening in regular intervals since from October 2006. A total of six ‘big cats’ have died here. This includes two white tigers, one tigress, two tiger and one lion. In the post-mortem report conducted on Gautam’s body and as shared with media states that the main reasons of the death was vector borne disease. Now this raises another question about safety of other animals in Van Vihar. Though as a precautionary measure, blood samples of the other carnivorous animals of the park have been sent for testing. But is that enough?

Van Vihar, Bhopal national park is kind of pride of the state and host number of animals, including white tiger, panther, lion and tigress. But deaths in last year and half have raised a concern in the state, among wild life experts, media and many others who love and care for animals, that there is a need to increase steps to prevent these deaths to happen. Madhya Pradesh is tiger state some wild life experts feel that there is a need of wild life health centre in the state and also build capacity within the state on the knowledge levels on wild life. Gautam’s deaths has once again brought this discussion to forefront, but hope this remains and some steps are taken in this regard or lest we forget Gautam’s death and till next time which may or may not even give us this opportunity ?

Friday, December 07, 2007

India's progress report on MDGs - GOI

In September 2000, the member States in the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration in the meeting of the General Assembly. The Millennium Development Goals commit the international community to an expanded vision of development, one that vigorously promotes human development as the key to sustaining social and economic progress in all countries, and recognizes the importance of creating a global partnership for development. The goals have been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress. Following consultations among international agencies, including the World Bank, and the specialized agencies of the United Nations, the General Assembly recognized the Millennium Development Goals as part of the road-map for implementing the Millennium Declaration. Following are the eight millennium development goals, which are to be achieved by 2015 -

Goal 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2 – Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3 – Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality
Goal 5 – Improve maternal health
Goal 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Goal 7 – Ensure environment sustainability
Goal 8 – Develop a global partnership for development

These are goals pledged by 189 Heads of States to adopt measures in the fight against poverty, hunger, illiteracy, gender inequality, disease and environmental degradation. The eight goals are divided into 18 targets comprising 48 indicators. The achievements with regard to various goals for India as per press note of Press Information Bureau Government of India which was released on December 6, 2007 are given below

Goal 1: As per Planning Commission estimates, the poverty ratio declined from 36 per cent in 1993-94 to 27.5 per cent in 2004-05. Regarding hunger, according to Report of the NSSO entitled, “Perceived Adequacy of Food Consumption in Indian Households 2004-05”, in the rural areas, the percentage of households where all the members reported enough food everyday throughout the year rose from 94.5 per cent in 1993-94 to 97.4 per cent in 2004-05. For urban areas the percentage of households who reported enough food everyday throughout the year increased from 98.1 per cent in 1993-94 to 99.4 per cent in 2004-05.

Goal 2: The number of out of school children declined from 32 million in 2001-02 to 7.1 million in 2005-06. The literacy rate increased from 52.2 per cent in 1991 to 64.9 per cent in 2001. The gross enrolment ratio in primary education crossed 100 per cent mark for both boys and girls.

Goal 3: Female-male proportion in primary education improved from 71:100 in 1990-91 to 88:100 in 2004-05. Similar proportion in secondary education improved from 50:100 to 71:100 during the same period. The gross enrollment ratio of girls increased by nearly 20 percentage points in the period, 2000-01 to 2004-05.

Goal 4: Under five mortality rate (U5MR) declined from 125 deaths per thousand live births in 1988-92 to 98 in 1998-2002. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) declined from 80 per thousand live births in 1990 to 58 in 2005.

Goal 5: The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) declined from 407 per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 301 during 2001-03. The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel increased from 33 per cent in 1992-93 (National Family Health Survey – I (NFHS-1) to 48.3 per cent in 2005-06 (NFHS-III)

Goal 6: The prevalence of HIV among pregnant women declined from 0.74 per thousand pregnant women in 2002 to 0.68 in 2006. The death rate associated with TB declined from 42 deaths per 100,000 population in 1990 to 29 in 2004. The prevalence of Malaria declined. The proportion of TB patients successfully treated increased from 81 per cent in 1996 to 86 per cent in 2005.

Goal 7: As per assessment made in 2003, the total land area under forests is 20.64 per cent. The reserved and protected forests constitute 19 per cent of the total land area. The percentage of households having access to safe drinking water (water supplied from a tap, hand-pump/tube-well) increased from 62.3 per cent in 1991 to 78 per cent in 2001. The proportion of households having toilet/bathroom facilities within the house increased from 23.7 per cent in 1991 to 36.1 per cent in 2001.

Goal 8: The overall tele-density increased from 2.86 per cent in 2000 to 18.31 per cent in March 2007. Use of personal computers increased from 5.4 million in 2001 to 19.6 million in 2006 and there are 3.5 internet users per 100 population in March 2006.

The Government has not drawn any separate programme to meet the Millennium Development Goals. However, the Millennium Development Goals are quite similar to the objectives and targets laid down in the Five Year Plans. In fact, some of the targets as specified in the Approach Paper to the Eleventh Five Year Plan relating to poverty alleviation, infant mortality, maternal mortality, school enrolment, etc. are more ambitious than the ones specified in the Millennium Development Goals.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bhopalities express shock and anguish on Bhopal’s British library closure

Bhopal's British Library will close for the public from February 29, 2008. Red Pryde Regional Director of British Council disclosed this to journalist yesterday at Bhopal. This has come as a shock to people in Bhopal and even the staff members of the library. People in Bhopal have expressed their anguish and concern on the sudden decisions. It is big loss to students and people of Bhopal said a young student who was an active member of the library. It is one of the finest libraries of the town and I don't understand the reason for this decision added another. May be it is call to people who allowed this decision to happen and to media or else will repent and miss this in Capital of MP.

New website from heart of India is a recent entry on web wires. It is a news based web site with focus on news from dil of India - Madhya Pradesh. It is updated daily, not only gives you news with tadka but also raises issue of social concern which sometimes get lost in the mainstream.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

264 languages in India spoken by less than 10,000 people

As per information compiled by Registrar General of India (Ministry of Home Affairs), from 2001 Census, there are 264 languages in India which are spoken by less than 10,000 people each.

The future of these languages is threatened due to limited number of speakers. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has, therefore, initiated steps to formulate a new scheme for Preservation and Development of Languages not covered by 8th Schedule (Bharat Bhasha Vikas Yojana). The scheme is based on the recommendations of Working Group on Languages and Book Promotion under XIth Plan set up by Planning Commission.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Madhya Pradesh may get a central university while Bihar, Raj. and A.P. may get IIT

It is proposed that in eleventh Five Year Plan, that each of the 16 States which do not have a Central University so far, namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand to have one during the eleventh Plan period. This information was shared by the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, D. Purandeswari in a written reply to a question by Uday Pratap Singh in Rajya Sabha as per Press information bureau press release today.

Meanwhile Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on the occasion of the 60th Independence Day had announced the setting up of eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the country during the Eleventh Five Year Plan. As per Press Information press note Central Government have received requests from various State Governments including Governments of Uttar Pradesh & Orissa to set up new IITs in their States. Based on the recommendation of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, under the Chairmanship of Prof. C.N.R. Rao, the Government has already decided to establish three new IITs, one each in Bihar in the East, Rajasthan in the West and Andhra Pradesh in the South, during the 11th Plan period. Decision on the location of the remaining Institutes has not yet been taken.

No to upgrade Gwalior’s Institute to IIT

But on another question on issue to upgrade Atal Bihari Vajpayee Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management, Gwalior (ABVIIITMG) as an IIT raised by Maya Singh in Rajya Sabha. Minister of State for Human Resource Development, D. Purandeswari in a written reply to this question said that ‘Madhya Pradesh is already having various centrally funded technical educational institutions viz. Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT), Bhopal; Atal Bihari Vajpayee Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management (ABV-IITM), Gwalior; Pt. Dwarka Prasad Mishra Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing (PDPM-IITDM), Jabalpur and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Indore. Further, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) has been approved to be established in Bhopal. Planning Commission has given its ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up a School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal. At present there is no proposal to upgrade Atal Bihari Vajpayee Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management, Gwalior (ABVIIITMG) as an IIT’.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dec 3, 2007 - 23 years after Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and thousands still suffer ?

'Call to action for people who suffer even today - 23 years after the tragedy. This is painted on wall opposite the carbide factory gate, in Bhopal.

Jan 1- Second line of treatment for PWH will be availble in India

On the eve of the World AIDS Day that the government announced that from January 1 it will launch the life saving second line Anti-retroviral Treatment (ART) for those affected. National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) will be providing the same.
As per estimates India has about 2.5 million people affected with HIV/AIDS and among them only over 1,00,000 are currently receiving first line Antiretroviral AIDS Treatment (ART).

The first- line drugs are highly active and cost effective and is recommended by WHO and adopted by many government ART roll out programmes. But the second- line drugs are more advanced. Many are in urgent need of second- line treatment due to the failure of their first-line treatments, there are a million people in India that need, or will soon need, basic first-line anti retroviral treatment, Dr Mahesh Ganesan, advocacy co-ordinator for AIDS Health Foundation (AHF)/India Cares shared with media.

Dr Chinkholal Thangsing, Asia Pacific Bureau Chief for the AHF while talking to media said that as far as the accessibility of these anti-retroviral drugs for both the regimens was concerned, they are available and accessible. The first line treatment is available at retail vendors and through the ART centers of the government.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

MP needs strong resolutions to counter HIV spread

Let it not remain as one another AIDS day, and let’s make strong resolution for the state this day.

December 1 across India and world is marked as World Aids Day. Madhya Pradesh, central part of India will also hosts number of functions and events in its capital city Bhopal and many other districts to mark this day. Madhya Pradesh was earlier classified as HIV low prevalence state in India by National Aids Control Organization on the levels of HIV prevalence in the state which has now being reclassified as ‘high risk’. Whatever term is used, more than the term the fact is that more than 11,500 persons living with HIV are within the state. This figure has a basis and it is based on the surveillance data as shared in the recently held (Nov 21 & 22, 2007) State Level meeting on HIV/AIDS by Madhya Pradesh State Aids Control Society. There could be a debate on this data too by many in civil society as it is based on the estimates collated from government hospitals and many a times misses out people which depend on the private sector. But without entering into that debate for many of us, these numbers are not just numbers but are families which get impacted by this virus. And out of these only 1300 as of now are being able to avail the support of Anti Retroviral Therapy i.e. drug treatment being offered by the State’s in its two medical collages of Indore and Jabalpur. May be not all need as this is decided by the medical professionals and it should be given under their medical supervision only but may be many more be needing it, may be this could be one resolve to understand and provide for the treatment, care and support of all persons living with HIV in the state, not just few, for namesake. This should be first resolve.

Many seminars, rallies, events are conducted to mark this day which aid in spreading awareness on the issue, which is needed. But more importantly then these events, this momentum which is seen on this day should not remains limited to one day and need would be to let this talk and focus on the issue flow after December 1st. As of now it remains within realm of World Aids day; What after it ? We are way behind a time when this is mainstreamed and is integral part of programmes being managed by various sectoral departments like health, women and child development, social welfare, Panchayati Raj not only limited to State Aids Control Society. One of the major objectives to mark this day is to bring attention of people and media to the issue and raise concern for increased focus on the issue. But we in our state are way behind on this front, may be our second resolve is to keep the discussion going on the topic. The discussion is far behind the levels when it can be debated normally within communities in the state. Stigma, discriminations and hype which get associated with it, both positive and negative make it a topic of few. Probably that is the reason many have expressed cynicism when we talk on this issue, which will wean away slowly but if the debate on the HIV happens within larger spectrum and with much more openness. There is not only lack of access and understanding of right information on the issue only within the departments but even within those who make decisions, both at state and local level, which needs to be strengthened.

Third resolve could be to help make sure that right formation reach all, meaning all especially communities in interiors of the state in the language and manner which is simple and easy to understand. National family heath Survey data reveals that in Madhya Pradesh only 45.3 % women and 68.3 % men had ‘heard’ (please mark the word) about AIDS in the state, and if one looks at urban / rural bifurcation this level of awareness is still limited to urban areas indicating need to strengthen efforts of communication so that we can reach at least certain level of acceptable information in the state. May be that should be our third resolve.

There is lot of talk on awareness but may be the above three resolves tried to look beyond the same and if put practice with commitment will help us fight with the spread of virus by engaging all, which is needed as of today.

Contributed by Anil