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.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Safe Homes above Water

The Bangladesh Cyclone in 2007 damaged over 920,000 houses in 39 districts
of the country. Most of the houses were damaged as a result of water levels
rising over five feet.)

In response to the damage, Humanity in Habitat (HFH) proposed to build
houses on stilts that would raise the houses above water levels. Bamboo
columns were inserted in the foundation of the houses. The emphasis was on
using recycled and indigenous materials such as bamboo reinforced with
recycled tires, a fill with adobe blocks and sand for stability against
running water.

The houses were elevated on pre-cast stilts to as much as 2.30 meters above
the ground. Bamboo panels were used for the walls and thick bamboo strips
for the deck of the house. Wall panels were made of jute attached to bamboo
and covered with earth plaster or stabilized mortar mix. Implementation of
these houses were done through mobile Habitat Resource Centers (HRCs) which
provided guidance on construction technology, repair/renovation support and
worked with local communities. These mobile centers were successfully used
by the organization for reconstruction work even in Pakistan after the 2005

These houses which have been constructed in Bhuapur, Bangladesh are now
safe from flood. It just takes three days to build a bamboo house over a
stilt. In no time 120 bamboo houses were completed.

For further details:

This has been contributed by Habitat for Humanity,Bangladesh.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

After Gandhi, Shahrukh gets the honour at Grevin wax museum

In recent times, it is two Bollywood stars and their wax statues, which are making news. Both of them are Khans and have their names starting with ‘S’. These wax statues are also reflection of growing global popularity of these two Khans.

Earlier in the year 2007, Shahrukh Khan had unveiled his own wax statue at Madame Tussauds wax museum and the latest buzz is that he will have his second wax statute coming up in France. Paris’ Grevin wax museum will have King Khan’s wax statue in coming weeks. This is almost a year before his wax statue was unveiled at Madame Tussauds, London. He will be the first Bollywood icon to have two wax statues in the two world’s most prestigious wax museums.

This year in January, another Bollywood Khan ‘Salman Khan’ had his wax figure unveiled at Madame Tussauds. Tussauds website states that “Salman brings with him an exotic flavour of the East and adds a little extra spice to Madame Tussauds.”

These wax statues are also reflection of growing global popularity of these two Khans. Shahrukh is quite popular and well recognised in France; earlier French government had felicitated him with the prestigious French honour, The Order of Arts et des Lettres and now his statue in Grevin. Shahrukh will be the second Indian celebrity after Mahatma Gandhi to have a wax statue in Grevin.

A 19th century French journalist Arthur Meyer conceived Grevin’s wax museum. He collaborated with Alfred Grevin, a cartoonist, sculptor and costume designer to work on the project. Wax museum was open to the public in June 1882, and it became a grand success. Some of the wax statues in the Grevin collection include Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Pope John Paul-II, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.

Salman’s growing popularity internationally and his fan following got his statue a place in special Bollywood section along with Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan in Madame Tussauds museum. They hope that this will result in attracting more Asian visitors both in Britain and international tourists to the museum.

Contributed to anil

Meet the butterfly woman

ANI, Jamshedpur: When the tourists arrive at Butterfly Park in Jamshedpur to take a close look at the hundreds of the winged wonders flitting across flowers in their cages, they more often than not come across a spindly woman moving diligently in the enclosures checking out the foliage there. She checks the leaves and the flowers, collects a few samples and then moves on.

Meet Malti Majhi - the tribal woman who shoulders the responsibility of breeding butterflies for the Tata zoo. A dedicated worker, Malti devotes her time wholeheartedly for the breeding of the winged creatures. She collects eggs found on the leaves of the vegetation in the park and transfers them to small baskets at a larvae-breeding chamber. When the larvae grow into pupae, she shifts them to the butterfly breeding house.

It is her responsibility to see that the creepy larvae take the right food at the breeding house. For this, she arranges for over a dozen species of green plants. She also prepares a mixture of honey and water in the right proportion for the butterflies to feed on. The cycle of breeding eggs to putting butterflies for exhibition has to go on without a break.

And she does it with a smile on her face. The Tata zoo management has even felicitated Malti for her good work. "Here I was taught how to nurture butterflies. I had to learn a lot of things fast as the Butterfly Park had to be readied for inauguration.

I am happy that I can now handle the work myself," Malti said. "I have a knowledge of butterflies as I am a garden worker.But I had did not worked in a laboratory kind of an environment. This is the first time I have learnt to nurture butterflies in-house.

I am happy that the park authorities have entrusted me with the responsibility," she added with a smile. "She is very dedicated and puts in hard work from morning to evening at the Butterfly Park. Breeding over a dozen butterfly species is not easy. There are various factors like temperature and humidity that also have to be taken care of.

Malti showed her keen interest in the job, and she did it with success," Dr M. Palit, veterinary officer of the zoological park said.

"When the plan for the Butterfly Park was first mooted, we looked for a suitable hand for the job. But we did not find any, as male staff members of the zoo do not have knowledge of butterflies. We chose Malti for her knowledge in the subject and her dedication," Dr Palit added.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Can ‘Maaza’ really replace mangoes?

A TV ad promoting a mango drink – Maaza – is also impeding the importance of real mangoes. An advertisement should promote a commercial product but that must not end up disadvantaging use of a product that is an important part of our ecosystem.

COCA COLA, in its new communication for its mango drink - Maaza, talks about the experience of tasting a mango, without its seed. The buzz theme in the advertisement is ‘Bina guthli wala aam’ (ie seedless mango), which is on air on various TV networks.

Maaza, the ‘Bina guthli wala aam’ has Satish Shah in the lead playing a mango expert. In the ad, a child questions Shah, ‘the mango expert’, for a seedless mango. Shah, in an attempt to look for seedless mango, dwells into books, travels, but all in vain and in turn, end up learning from the kid that the ‘Bina guthli wala aam’ is nothing but ‘Maaza’ – the Coca Cola drink. At the end of the ad, he starts offering his clients two kinds of mangoes – with and without seeds.

Not undermining the importance and with full advantage of creativity to Leo Burnett and Coca Cola, I hope this ad does not, in any way, play a role in undermining importance of mango seeds within evolving young minds that watch and consume this drink.

Mangoes can be grown from seeds, though better and commercially are grafted or budded onto seedling rootstocks. In addition to it, mango seeds indeed have its importance. These are quite valuable in diarrhea. Seeds collected, dried in the shade and powdered can be used as a medicine. Mango seeds are considered useful in certain disorders connected with women’s reproductive organs. Also, spongy tissue in Alphonso mango - one of the widely known and considered as the ‘king of the mangoes’ – was traced to its seed, which due to its recalcitrant nature, switches over to germination mode during fruit ripening phase drawing nutrients from the mesocarp.

In any case, if we don’t have mango seeds, may be we will also not have on earth the ‘mango seed weevil’ (sternochetus mangiferae). It is, though, a pest species, but breeds only in mango seeds and cannot survive in other fruits.

So, we can have an advertisement to promote a commercial product but that must not end up disadvantaging the use of a product that is needed and is an important part of our ecosystem. The advertisement also shows kid with no interest in mango but in Maaza, probably something, which should not be promoted. Maaza can, in no way, replace the real mangoes. Mango is Mango, and is not Maaza.

Contributed by anil

Bird flu resurfaces in West Bengal - fresh cases in Murshidabad villages

Fresh cases of bird flu have been detected in two Murshidabad villages. This is a month after authorities had said that they had contained the virus and had lifted the state-wide ban on selling chickens and ducks.

Bhopal’s High Security Animal Disease Laboratory reported fresh bird flu cases in West Bengal. The laboratory confirmed that the blood samples sent from Nayamukundapur in Raghunathgunj Block II and Dohapara village in Murshidabad-Jiagunj block were infected with the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu virus.

The two areas- where about poultry birds died in the past week. 60 rapid response teams would start culling chickens and ducks in the affected areas soonest said state official.

In West Bengal, the H5N1 virus that causes avian influenza had hit parts of 13 out of 19 districts. About 1.8 million people stay in the affected areas, Rahman had said.

Bird flu was confirmed in West Bengal on January 15. The affected districts were South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Birbhum, South Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan, Bankura, Malda, Cooch Behar, Purulia and West Midnapore.

India has not reported any human bird flu cases, but the earlier outbreaks had badly hit poultry businesses in West Bengal and had a limited effect on poultry sales elsewhere in the country.

‘Nano’ is no longer with Tata’s

‘NANO’ suddenly has become one of the most popular words this year, which any brand would envy for, though generic brand name now is no longer with Tata’s anything that is small (and economical – not necessarily) is being called as Nano.

Nano suddenly has become one of the most popular words this year, which any brand would envy for. Though ‘Nano’ is not a new word, it has been taken from the Greek word ‘Nanos’ - meaning ‘dwarf’. This is also a prefix, which is used in the metric system to mean 10-9 or one billionth (1/1,000,000,000). But recently, with the launch of world’s most economical car named as ‘Nano’ by Tatas, this word has hit headlines across the globe. From a generic word, it has become one of the most popular international brands, a prestigious one, a brand, which has made a mark in the field of automobile engineering. Since then, it has become a worldwide hit. It has become the drive to big dreams. The car still has to hit the roads but it is a big name to reckon with today.

Though words like ‘nano technology’ - the application of our ability to manufacture atomically precise devices and control processes on the nanometer scale, ‘nanolithography’ - writing on the nanoscale like ‘small writing on rocks’, ‘nanomachine’ - mechanical devices so small that the parts are single molecules etc. were being used in science and arts, but with the unveiling of Tata’s Nano, the word ‘Nano’ got instant and huge popularity, that it no longer was left within realm of Tata’s. It has become a brand for anything small, not necessarily ‘nano’ size but small in its product category and which you want to have immediate attention on. A tactic used by advertisers to leverage advantage gained by someone else and ride on the bandwagon for commercial gains, and which happens. A mini laptop becomes ‘Nano laptop’ or ‘Nano-top’, ipod becomes ipod nano. And not to be left behind were garment retailers who too are associating brand nano with small size, and of course, smart looking garments. But the best one which I saw was ‘Nano paan’ - cheap, small and gives you the same taste in your mouth, which a big one would!

contributed by anil

Sunday, March 09, 2008

TV channels on the Bollywood bandwagon

What are today’s news channels up to? To outshine others, these channels are serving only (mainly) Bollywood, cricket, crime and politics – strictly in that order. What about other happenings that hold more importance but are overlooked?

Bollywood is a fascination, which helps to promote everything, right from fabric to soaps to potato chips to cold drinks and even sells magazines and newspapers. Not to be left behind are our TV news channels. For these, it is the news stories (and of course, the gossips), which are needed to push their Television Rating Points (TRPs).

Prime Hindi TV news channels are more prone to this phenomenon. Sanjay Dutt and Manyata hook up stories, with all the ‘spicy’ details, were a special saga for a full day, as if nothing else had happened in the country that day! Story of Saif-Kareena, their possible link-up or break up, was an exclusive story for the news channels at a time when lot else was happening in India but got weaned away in this Bollywood glamour.

If something is close to or after Bollywood, it is cricket that takes away the limelight. Next is crime, which now has special late night editions, and of course, politics. In fact, when one sees all this, one gets impression that India is shining, all is going great. But in the race of escalating the TRPs by showing such stories, scores of other stories in this country hardly get any needed space on the prime Hindi TV news channels.

In a country where still a majority earns less then two dollar a day, many die every minute, every second child is malnourished, and we still have starvation deaths – life is not as rosy as it looks on these channels! But for media, Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwaraya Rai marriage was like a mad frenzy. Yuvraj’s rumoured affair with Deepika Padukone hit the headlines for many days. Bollywood with cricket, two big ‘news selling products’ packed in one gossip! Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) has launched Indian premier league, wherein Bollywood stars have franchised two teams. Shahrukh Khan has a team from Kolkata and Preity Zinta has a team from Mohali. Let’s see what would this killer combination bring to the fold for TV news channels.

Stories of malnutrition among children, infant deaths, maternal deaths, poor state of primary education, water scarcity, hardly get any major space on these prime Hindi TV news channels. Recently, a president of parents’ teacher association (PTA) of a primary government school in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh (MP) had burnt himself in protest for want of school building for the students. Except few not many covered it, inspite of being a first incident of its kind in India when someone had given his life for the cause of school building for children. Though some are conscious and do cover developmental stories and sometimes exceptionally good ones. But here the worry is that with the growing competition, issues of people might get left behind.

Contributed by anil

Saturday, March 08, 2008

'Barli Ke Dunia' champion gets MP state social service award

Dr Janak Palta McGilligan is being honoured with Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Social Service Award-2007 by the Madhya Pradesh State Government. The same was announced by the State Government yesterday on the occasion on International Women's Day.

Janak Palta McGilligan, Director of Barli Development Institute for Rural Women, Indore ('Barli Ke Dunia', as we like to call it) has rendered dedicated service since 1985 for tribal and rural women'empowerment and has been trying for their all round development.

The story of the Bahá'í Vocational Institute for Rural Women, now known as the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women, is, in fact, the story of many whose lives have been transformed by their experience at the Institute. For the last 23 years she has been imparting six-months to one-year practical training to women with a view to empowering them. Priority is given in these programmes to economically weaker sections like scheduled castes and tribes, other backward class, physically challenged women, orphans, widows and other women who have been dishonoured. She has made this service the sole objective of her life. She had been giving importance to scientific research in her training sessions. These trainees are being further helped by making them appear at the exams of National Institute of Open Schooling.

The women trained by her are employed as trainers also. She also encourages and certifies the works of empowered women by visiting rural areas. In this way the social services rendered by Dr Janak Palta McGilligan proved to be very meaningful. Dr Janak was honoured with an award by All India Women's Conference in 1992 for rendering services for tribal and rural women. She was also awarded by UNEP New York in 1992 and Rio de Janeiro.

She in her own words states - “All the problems relating to the status of women are not only the problems, these are the symptoms of a disease, the root cause is one fundamental barrier, i.e., the attitude of discrimination against women and their devaluation on the basis of gender. To know what is ethical is not enough; the individual must put this knowledge into action in order to become a moral person.” -Janak Palta McGilligan

Friday, March 07, 2008

Poor in 429 cities to benefit from health mission

Kounteya Sinha,Times of India, Times News Network

NEW DELHI: A National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), which will monitor and improve the health of 22 crore people living in urban slums in 429 cities and towns, will be launched in May. The health ministry on Tuesday submitted the project's final proposal to the finance ministry and sought Rs 8,000 crore for the mission during the 11th Plan.

Designed on the lines of UPA's flagship National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) which provides healthcare to the most backward villages, NUHM is aimed at providing accessible, affordable, effective and reliable primary healthcare facilities, especially to the poor and homeless urban population.Health ministry sources said the project had already received an in-principle approval from the Planning Commission.

NRHM's unutilized funds will also go into executing the NUHM. Union health minister A Ramadoss told TOI that the "programme will start a unique insurance medical scheme under which 5.5 crore of the 22 crore people will get an insurance cover of Rs 40,000-50,000 for basic medical care and outpatient facilities in both private and government hospitals. The premium will be paid by the government."

For the remaining population, the government will pay the first instalment of Rs 600 per person a year. The insurance money will go directly to government hospitals, which could use it for improving infrastructure and health facilities. "Those not covered by the insurance policy can avail of it by paying a yearly premium of Rs 600 and get the same medical facilities," Ramadoss said.

According to the minister, the proposal, which is presently with the finance ministry, would soon go for cabinet clearance. "The mission aims to address the primary health needs of those living in slums in cities and towns with a population of one lakh and above and district headquarters irrespective of their numbers.