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Jharkhand mine collapse: Death toll rises to 13, as rescue operations continue

Godda (Jharkhand): The death toll climbed to 13 in the coal mine collapse at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), with the recovery of two more bodies on Saturday.

RR Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary told PTI, “We have recovered two more bodies. We are carrying on the rescue operation in a systematic manner so that the situation does not aggravate as the debris is too much and it should not fall.”

Thirteen bodies have been recovered from the collapsed mine in Jharkhand. AFPThirteen bodies have been recovered from the collapsed mine in Jharkhand. AFP

Thirteen bodies have been recovered from the collapsed mine in Jharkhand. AFP

Danger zones have been declared around the place of incidents to restrict the entry of people there. Moreover, the district commissioner has also stationed police and CISF officials to restrict entry of people in the danger zone, Mishra said. “We have also called experts from outside to help us in the rescue operation. We have fully ensured that the rescue operations are done with proper safety measures. We have also come up with standard operating procedures which would help us in proper operations so that there is no loss to lives.”

Heavy machinery was deployed as rescuers, including those from the NDRF, toiled through the day extricating bodies and looking for survivors. Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL), the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd, has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 metres, the statement said.

Mishra said the incident occurred at around 7.30 pm on Thursday, when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately. Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.

Thirteen excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered. The All India Trade Union Congress has condemned Ministry of Power and Coal India for ignoring mine safety norms in open cast mine of ECL in Godda district.

This is the first big open coal mine disaster due to utter negligence of safety norms, it said. The mining was being operated by a contractor to whom Coal India had outsourced mining operations of the area, the union added. AITUC has demanded thorough inquiry and adequate compensation to the families of killed workers and observance of proper safety norms.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 19:00 IST

IIT Madras websites hacked, institute says ‘examining’ issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Some auxiliary websites of the IIT Madras here have been found hacked and the institute on Friday said it was examining the “vulnerabilities” that led to the hacking episode.The institute said it runs a “main website and auxiliary sites,” and these were “maintained by different entities,” such as “centres, labs and student bodies.” “While the main website of IIT-M has not been hacked, some of the auxiliary sites were hacked yesterday. The hacking was discovered early in the morning and the auxiliary sites were taken down and subsequently restored,” the institute said in a release.”The institute is examining the vulnerabilities that led to the hacking of the auxiliary sites and is taking steps to address them,” it added.The hacking episode is also being debated in social media.

IIMC faculty sacked for allegedly backing Dalit labourers, objecting to appointment of course director

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An academic associate at Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) was terminated by the institute allegedly for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit labourers working at the campus and against the recent appointment of a course director. The institute has also debarred him from entering the campus premises, saying it would “vitiate” the peaceful atmosphere.According to Narendra Singh Rao, who was working as a contractual employee at the institute from 2012, he had been abruptly thrown out of the institute while he was on medical leaves. “I have been victimised for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit employees working at the campus. Also, I objected the illegal appointment of a course director as she was neither qualified nor experienced for that post,” Rao told DNA.The institute, however, denied the allegations saying Rao’s termination was completely based on clause 1 of the service contract, which says that “services of the employee can be terminated at anytime without assigning any reason”.“Shri Rao while accepting appointment had duly put his endorsement on the terms and conditions of his appointment,” the institute said in a statement.A letter issued to Rao by the institute on December 21, said that his services were terminated with “immediate effect” under clause 1 of the contract signed by him on September 23, 2013. It, however, stated that he would be paid salary of one month in lieu of the notice period.According to sources at IIMC, the administration had received complaints against Rao, accusing him of propagating indiscipline at the campus. “As many as ten written complaints were received against Rao for misbehaving with his colleagues and trying to disturb the peaceful environment at the campus,” they said.This is the second incident of its kind in a year, where a faculty member has accused IIMC of curbing voices of dissent on campus. Earlier this year, an associate professor at IIMC, Amit Sengupta, had also resigned from the institute after he was transferred to Odisha, for allegedly supporting students of JNU, FTII and speaking about the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula at HCU.“IIMC has turned into a playground for right-wing forces where any voice other than that is being silenced,” Sengupta said. According to him, Rao has also become a victim for raising voice against the right-wing forces prevailing on campus. “Because of his academic qualification and his immense popularity among students, he had become a thorn in the flesh of an institute which is driven by the utter mediocrity,” he said.Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) is one of India’s premier institute for journalism. Besides Delhi, it has five other branches in Odisha, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

Demonetisation is only part of clean-up of economy: Bibek Debroy tells Firstpost

Much before economists like Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya weighed in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies as Gujarat chief minister, Bibek Debroy stirred a hornets’ nest by praising the Gujarat development model. Debroy was then working in the Congress’ think tank — Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies. Needless to say, Debroy had to quit. But that did not stop him from speaking his mind. Debroy drew close to Modi prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and played a critical role in shaping up his economic policies. He was drafted as a member of the Niti Aayog after the extinction of the Planning Commission. In the mean time, he was tasked with reviewing the functioning of the Indian Railways.

At the moment, Debroy wears many hats — one of them as a defender of demonetisation. He has been valiantly defending the government’s move to make currency notes of the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 illegal tender. He says that it is just a beginning to clean up the entire economic ecosystem. In a wide-ranging interview, Debroy explains the rationale and long-term impact of the move.

Here are some edited excerpts:

Since the demonetisation drive is coming to a close, can you explain for us the objectives, benefits and travails that the exercise entailed? As an economist and policy analyst, how do you sum it up?

One should not look at 8 November (the date on which Modi declared currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 as illegal tender) in isolation. The reason I am mentioning this is because there are various other things that have happened outside 8 November and will continue to happen outside 8 November. And the day should be considered from this broader perspective. Let me give some example of that. The creation of this new black income and I am deliberately using the phrase ‘black income’ because we are talking about specifics. And there is wealth which from an economist’s point of view is stock, and there is income which is of flow.

So far as the issue of creating fresh black income is concerned, 8 November was not meant to address that. There are other instruments to take care of that, like negotiating and re-negotiating agreements with Mauritius. This has already happened. Take for instance the restriction on cash transactions above Rs 20,000. Take something like the Real Estate Bill, which among other things promises that it would transform the real estate sector from unorganised to organised. It will not happen overnight but over the period of time. The prime minister has already indicated that many such measures will be introduced. And remember in the background of this the income declaration scheme has already happened.

File image of Bibek Debroy. Image credit: Forbes India

File image of Bibek Debroy. Image credit: Forbes India

There was a greater scrutiny of people who might have had black income. So when people are criticising the demonetisation it should be understood that there are other measures which are meant to check the creation of new black income and nobody is saying that this is the only way all the issues can be addressed.

Let’s take a new target and let me define the term ‘black’. There are two different uses of the term black. They are not quite the same. The first is when the activity is illegal like crime or drugs. The other type of black is when the activity is not illegal. So the income generation is perfectly illegal but the tax that ought to be paid was not paid. Nobody is denying that black exists in non-cash forms like gold or property. There are instruments that have been introduced to tackle this and will continue to be introduced. Just because the substantial part of this black income is in other forms does not mean that it (the matter of black cash) should not be addressed.

Let’s take the third point. In India, cash is used substantially. And it is obvious as India is not a developed country. No one is expecting the use of cash in India to disappear overnight. But look at the ratios. The GDP-cash ratio in India even till last year was 13 percent. Some 15 years ago it was nine percent. Someone needs to explain how this ratio increased from nine percent to 13 percent. Even if I assume that we need cash, it should be understood that when a country develops, the use of cash reduces. Then how and why did we witness this increase?

I look at countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. What is the GDP-cash ratio in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka? It is five percent or three percent. Even in Pakistan, it is nine percent. So let us accept that there is too much cash around. Let us also accept that there have been deliberate compulsions to use cash. Take for example the Payment of Wages Act. Section 6 of the Act, which has been there for years, has said you must pay wages in cash unless you have concurrence from the employee not to do so. Who will do so? Why should we have such a rule in this age? It is only now that things have changed; it should have been done years ago.

And take for instance the high fees on non-cash modes. Someone should have objected to the rates they charge. So let us also recognise that there have been disincentives not to use cash. Let us also remember that Jan Dhan Yojana accounts have already been made. So we have now more than 260 million accounts and many have RuPay cards. But sadly for them it is just a piece of plastic that will be used at ATMs as they have not been still educated and convinced that these RuPay card can be used for something else also.

Someone will come along and say, “Look at the unbanked population in India” and add that he doesn’t believe in Jan Dhan figures. So my response is that you shouldn’t believe in these figures. But here is the survey conducted in August — not by the government, but by a private institution, and it states that 97 to 98 percent of both rural and urban populations have bank accounts. Now, if one says that all of them are not using bank accounts, I may agree. But don’t say that they don’t have bank accounts.

How much exactly do the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 account for in the economy? And how much of it have we got back?

There is a lot of confusion around as people are using two different bases. One is the RBI balance sheet figure which is slightly old and which puts the number at Rs 14 lakh crore. The other one is the figure on 8 November. It is the latest figure and it puts the number at almost Rs 16 lakh crore. Let’s stick to the Rs 16 lakh crore base. Now out of this how much was black? How much is going to come back into the system? To the best of my understanding, no one in the government has predicted or projected anything.

How much has already come in? We don’t really know. There are all kinds of figures floating around. These figures may not always be final.

Let’s take the example of fake currency. The fake currency check goes through three different layers. Once it has gone through all three it is very unlikely that it will be deposited in the banking system. But today when you are looking at the figures it is perfectly possible that fake currency was deposited earlier. Alternately, you go and take old notes at petrol pumps. It may be showing up in the accounts that petrol pumps maintain with the bank. It may also be showing up with the report that BPCL is giving to the government. So until the figures are final, one really does not know.

But the last figure I have is Rs 12 to 12.5 lakh crore. Which means, I personally think, that most people who were going to deposit it have already done so. Even if I accept that Rs 14 lakh crore comes in by the end of the month, the remaining Rs two lakh crore is not the indicator of success. A lot of criticism is happening that only Rs two lakh crore will be left. To the best of my knowledge, no one in the government has said that it is the criterion of success. And that’s because the money that is coming to the system has not become white. It will invite taxes and penalties if required and will have deeper scrutiny. Just because it is in the banking system does not mean it is legitimate.

I mentioned earlier that people who are holding cash are being dissuaded to do so. So it is good that it comes into the system. I think it is a success as people are realising that this initiative is a serious one. So there is not much point in my hanging on to cash. To my understanding, it is an attempt at cleaning up the entire system. So if I look at it narrowly just from an economist’s point of views, I am missing the true picture. This is the beginning of an attempt to clean up the gold market. I am not talking about jewellery market, which is different. It is also an attempt to clean up the financing of capital market transactions and real estate. And also, one has got electoral reforms as part of the debate agenda.

I am not saying that something substantial has happened, but it is part of the discourse. It should be seen as part of the broader process. You can dispute the survey figures. One survey says that 60 percent of the people are supporting you, another says that 80 percent back you. What you find across all surveys is that a large number of people are supporting the measure and it is because, I feel, they have realised that 8 November was just a small piece in the process.

My last point is when you are doing something like this you can plan perfectly. But when you do plan perfectly, it becomes impossible to preserve secrecy. To preserve secrecy, I may take some decisions, you in the same position may take some other decision. It cannot be the case that my decision will be perfect as I may not be able to assess all eventualities. But if you are in my place, you might also take decisions that might not have been perfect.

Obviously, there was inconvenience.

Let me divide it into different parts. One, the task was to get enough new notes to banks; two, naturally when there is a shortage there will be rationing. So in this scenario it is decided to take smaller denomination notes to rural areas; and three, it is one thing to get the notes to the bank and it is another to take it to ATMs. As a government you do not have much of control on how the banks take the money to the ATMs because it is outsourced. So there is a problem with banks and ATMs. I think, purely anecdotally as there is no data, that bank problem has decreased day-by-day even in Delhi and Mumbai. ATMs? Yes, there are still problems. I have no idea how long it will take.

From where did the word “windfall” gain currency in this entire exercise?

Right from the beginning, I have followed what the finance minister and the finance ministry have been saying. I have seen that there was a recognition that there are three different channels through which money will come. One is the money that does return. This reduces the liabilities of the RBI. When liabilities of the RBI are reduced that is not automatically the money that in any fraction has gone to or will go to the government. It is for RBI and finance ministry to take decisions. Today, sitting here we do not know how this part will be handled.

The second part is that there will be some money that will come into the banks, mostly public sector banks. It will ease their stressed assets problems and to that extent, it enables them to lend better. But again, the banks, even if they are public sector banks, are not the government. The third is the money that actually comes into the consolidated fund of India through taxes, penalties and other means.

Now I have two things to say on this. First, I have already mentioned the income declaration scheme. Over and above this, action has been taken by the income tax department. It has resulted in a lot of money coming in. Second, when I declare Rs 100 as additional income then those Rs 100 are not revenue to the government. Only the taxes and penalties are revenue to it. It is this money that the government can use for different purposes. How the government chooses to use it we will know partly on 1 February (Union Budget). I said ‘partly’ because we will not know the figure till the end of March, which is when the window shuts. As far as windfall gain is concerned, I don’t think the government has ever used this word.

When the prime minister announced demonetisation, he laid down certain objectives: Eliminating black money and fake currency, and tackling terrorist activities. But over time it seems that goalposts have changed.

No, I don’t think they have changed. There were multiple objectives. I will give you an example. On this issue, I have been giving interviews to different people. Somewhere, I would have said something to one person responding to specific questions and I would have said something different to another, but that does not mean that my focus changed. You see it is not a single objective. Lot of people are only referring to what the prime minister said after 8 Novembe. My request is that you look at what he has been saying earlier in his monthly radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat. This has been figuring in his speeches for quite some time. It is not fair to say that goalposts are changing.

Take the case of fake currency. I don’t think that the issue is absolute amount of fake currency. In 2014, the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) put the number at Rs 400 crore. There is an Intelligence Bureau (IB) figure of Rs 2,400 crore. It is not about what the exact value of fake currency is, but to understand that it does not take a lot of money for a terrorist attack with a lot of undesirable consequences. Even Rs 10 crore is good enough to cause enough damage. If I am destroying the counterfeit apparatus today there is no surety that it will not reappear in future. It has to be a continuous process.

So you are saying in a way that this talk of changing goalposts is not valid.

I think so. I have been listening to Modi. I think the most important objective here was to clean up the system.

Now the next strike in all probability will be on benami property. How do you think the government will be able to do this? How much impact will it have on real estate? Is there any assessment?

People have been complaining that real estate sector has been destroyed because of demonetisation. I ask what has been destroyed. Is it the value of the property? Is it the registered value of the property? There is a big difference between the two. Is it the black component or the white component? And the invariable reaction of anyone I speak to on this is that what has been destroyed is the black component. In Delhi, 50 percent of transactions use to be in black and 50 percent in white. Right now the system is in shock but I am certain that when it is stable, it will no longer be 50 percent black and 50 percent white. All of it may not go, but the amounts will reduce. Whenever the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is introduced, it will bring a lot more into the net. So it is part of the entire thing and not just 8 November.

The political part — the elections etc — requires a debate. It is not easy. And you have to also see that because of this a lot of poor people have started using non-cash means. So what I am seeing, though it is difficult to get it quantified, is that in many ways middle men are getting eliminated from the system.

How do you think it will impact the tax base?

Indirect tax will increase because of GST. There is a difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Tax avoidance is legal whereas tax evasion is illegal. So to broaden the direct income tax net, you need to take care of exemptions. Today, when a chartered accountant is not paying his taxes it is not always the case that he is evading. Rather he might have legitimate exemptions of which he can avail. I have a feeling that in future there will be a greater degree of enforcing that for certain transactions you cannot pay in cash. The segments that will be then made more accountable will be lawyers, chartered accountants and doctors.

There is another difficult issue that is linked to it: Taxing people in rural areas. Technically taxing agricultural income is a state subject but taxing non-agricultural income of the farmer is not a state subject. There is an issue there that is more about enforcement. So part of it is broadening the base, but also simultaneously ensuring that tax department, both direct and indirect, does not unnecessarily cause harassment to honest tax payers and I feel that we will see something on this line in the budget.

How do you react to reports of people illegally exchanging money? Do you feel that banks did not behave in the manner they were suppose to?

One of the channels that was misused quite a bit was exchange, which is really an RBI thing. I think there were three problems with banks. First, they were not very vigilant about the functioning of the ATMs. They were talking about whether the ATMs were calibrated, but I am talking about how many ATMs were working. Second, from the second day we knew from newspapers that bank officials, though they worked really hard, connived. How do we know that they connived? Because they have been caught. So there is a positive way also to look at this.

I am a little confused about the third as there is lack of information about it. There is a shortage of notes. When there is a shortage, there is a certain principle on which distribution is done. What is the principle that RBI follows in distributing notes to different banks and what is the principle that banks follow in distributing to different ATMs? I don’t have any information about this but I don’t think that this was done in a very rational kind of way. If a bank like SBI has many ATMs then the bank should have information on which ATM is used to what extent and the distribution should have taken place accordingly. Am I (as a bank) doing this with efficiency? I don’t think so.

Even in case of honesty, I am not very sure that it was very efficiently followed. But this is my analysis and is purely anecdotal. I often take this route between Khelgaon and Aurobindo Marg (in Delhi) and there are roughly 20 ATMs. Two days ago I found that 10 of them were working. If there is a general shortage then all should not be working. So I think it should be probed how they allocate money.

But there were so many news reports about how old currency was exchanged for a commission of 10 percent and 15 percent, which later came down to five percent.

If they have got less money, there is some destruction. There has been some tracking of this at aggregate level. Initially, when it happened, it was happening at 35 percent. It has not come down to five percent. It has come down to a 10 or 14 percent level. There is still destruction.

How do you react to the opinion emerging from the world around on demonetisation, some of them are calling it an ‘immoral act’?

I don’t understand what is immoral here. Let us get the principles clear.

Your money is in bank. No one said that you cannot use that money. All that has been said is that there is a limit on withdrawal.

You want to pay through cheque, you can do that freely. You do digital transactions, you are free to do that. So the first principle of criticism that I am being deprived of my property is factually incorrect. Please understand that someone who is based abroad does not know what is happening on ground here. They are forming their opinion on what you people are writing here in the Indian media.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 09:40 IST

Army inks pact with IIT Gandhinagar to set up R&D cell

Ahmedabad: Indian Army on Tuesday signed an MoU with Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IITGN) to set up a Research and Development cell which would focus on the finding solutions for Army’s requirements.

Lt Gen Subrata Saha.Lt Gen Subrata Saha.

Lt Gen Subrata Saha.

“The cell will work with the faculty and research students to identify problems and possible solutions for the
Indian Army,” IITGN said in a release.

IITGN director Sudhir Jain and Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Planning and System) Lt Gen Subrata Saha signed the MoU at the institute’s campus at Palaj in Gandhinagar district.

“The MoU will result in meaningful realisation and efficient transfer of research into customised solutions for
the Indian Army,” the release quoted Lt Gen Saha as saying.

The research cell will deal with Army’s requirements such as lighter and stronger bullet-proof jackets and materials to build bunkers, among other things.

“There is a whole lot of inventory even in the aircraft engines that can be done in India. We are very hopeful that this indigenous effort will take place at a fast pace through such MoUs,” Saha said.

Army will also work with the faculty members and students to find possibility of conducting short-term courses and lectures at the institute, the release said.

Speaking on the occasion, Jain said, “Indian Army, particularly those (personnel) posted in the harsh weather
conditions face diverse problems and we want to understand and address these problems. The plan is to have a Research Centre at IITGN through which our students and faculty can be in continuous touch with the Indian Army in researching and addressing these problems.”

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

Hopeful of GST roll out from coming April: Ananth Kumar

Bengaluru: Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs H N Ananth Kumar on Tuesday expressed hope about the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime from coming April, saying the government is pushing ahead with the agenda.

“Our discussions with opposition parties and GST council is an ongoing process. I’m confident that once we have passed the constitutional amendment bill without any opposition in both houses of Parliament, ultimately GST council will also come out with unanimous decisions so that it can be given a legal framework in the Parliament of India,” he said.

Asked how hopeful he was about GST roll out as one approaches April, Kumar said, “We are pushing ahead with the agenda, I’m hopeful.”

The Union Minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 21st convocation of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) here.

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

The government intends to roll out the GST regime from 2017 April, but there are apprehensions that the date will be missed because the all powerful GST Council is yet to iron out several vexed issues, including jurisdiction of the Centre and state governments over tax payers.

The Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state finance ministers, has so far met seven times after Parliament amended the Constitution for implementation of GST.

The next meeting is scheduled for 3 and 4 January  to decide on the contentious issue of dual control over assesses and the legislation on IGST.

“I am trying my best,” Jaitley had earlier said on the expected 1 April roll out schedule.

“I am not going to bind myself with anything. Our effort is to do it as quickly as possible and I think we are making a reasonable headway,” he had said.

On the demonetisation move, Kumar said the Prime Minister’s direct target was those who are in favour of black money, corruption, fake currency and terrorism that originates with its help.

Stating that people of the country are with Modi in his fight against corruption and black money, he said, “Its echo effect was visible in the by-elections at different places.”

He expressed confidence that people would adapt to the digital economy and cashless transactions in the same way they had to electronic voting machines and mobile communication.

Kumar noted that for 50 days people had peacefully cooperated despite difficulties, keeping their faith in the prime minister and said, “I salute their courage and will in taking this economic reform to its logical conclusion.”

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 18:54 IST

Demonetization a short-term pain, won’t shy away from taking tough decisions: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated a new campus of Sebi-run National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) at Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district near Mumbai, and said that he will not shy away from taking difficult decisions if they are in country’s interest.Addressing a gathering, Modi said that the demonetization is a short-term pain, but it will benefit in long-term.Stating that the government is very keen to encourage start-ups and stock markets are essential for the start-up ecosystem, Modi added,”Our markets should show that they are able to successfully raise capital for projects benefiting the vast majority of our population.”Here are the 12 things PM Modi said during his address # This is time of slowdown in global economy; India is being seen as a bright spot with growth projected to be highest in world.# India’s place as the fastest growing large economy has not come about by accident.# In less than 3 years, government has transformed economy, cut fiscal deficit, CAD; foreign exchange reserves have grown, inflation is lower.# Long awaited GST will soon be a reality; FDI is at record levels.# Financial markets can play an important role in the modern economy. However history has shown that financial markets can also do damage if not properly regulated.# Government will continue to follow sound and prudent economic policies. We will not take decisions for short-term political point scoring.# Will not shy away from taking difficult decisions if they are in country’s interest. # Demonetization is a short-term pain, but will benefit in long-term.# My aim is to make India a developed country in one generation.# India has earned a good name for its well regulated securities markets.# Government is very keen to encourage start-ups. Stock markets are essential for the start-up ecosystem.# Stock markets should help in raising capital for productive purpose; bond market must become source of long-term infra finance.

No TDS on monetary benefits of nuns and priests working for Christian organisations: Madras HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Madras High Court has made it clear that no tax can be deducted at source from the salaries and other monetary benefits given to nuns and priests working in various teaching institutions established and administered by the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and similar Christian organisations.’The high court was deciding upon a batch of 74 petitions seeking quashing of an order of Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Chennai, and consequential circular insisting on the recovery of tax at source (TDS) from nuns, fathers and priests. Justice TS Sivagnanam, in his order, said, “The Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax who was bound by the circulars issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CTBT) in 1977 exempting the missionaries from payment of tax, has ignored and issued the above circular (which) has to be definitely set aside.”The judge cited various Supreme Court decisions and said the Income Tax Department was duty bound to examine as to whether such income reaches the nuns and priests as their income. “…the revenue cannot dispute the fact that on account of vows taken by the nuns and priests, especially the vow of poverty, the income has to reach the congregation to which they belong. Therefore, without considering such aspect merely by referring to the fact that the salary is paid to the individuals on account of their personal skills appears to be applying an incorrect test.”As pointed out in Sital Das/Tirtha Das (cases), there may be obligations in other cases but what is required to be seen as the nature of obligation which alone is the decisive factor. If this obligation is taken into consideration, it is clear that by virtue of the precepts of Canon Law, the salaries cannot be treated as income in the hands of the priests and nuns,” the HC said.The judge, while referring to another judgment of the apex court, said, “It was held that unless they received salary, the question of payment of contribution towards the employees provident fund would not arise.” The judge said, “Revenue (department) has not been ableto point out as to the incorrectness of the circulars issued by the CBDT nor it has been demonstrated as to how and in what manner it is conflict with any decided case.” “In such circumstances, the circulars issued by the CBDT are binding upon the authorities…as long as these circulars and clarifications having not been withdrawn or modified, these have to be followed by the officers subordinate to the Central Board.”For all the above reasons, all the writ petitions are allowed and it is held that no tax can be deducted at source from the salaries and other monetary benefits effected to persons who are the members of the religious congregation and it would be sufficient if the head of the institution concerned certifies the names of the staff members, who were members of the religious body and the period during which they have served and the designation of the post,” the judge said.

IIT-Kharagpur students protest increase in fees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Protesting against the rise in semester fees, several officials of IIT-Kharagpur including the director, deputy director, dean, and registrar were gheraoed by students of the premier institution for about 15 hours.The gherao was lifted Wednesday morning after intervention of officials from the Hijli outpost located on campus. Students however, maintained that their protest would continue.On December 7, a notice was issued by the IIT administration saying that there would be a hike in the semester fees by about Rs 7550. “As a result, the expenses for research scholars and M Tech students would shoot up to Rs 37,000 from being a little over Rs 29,000 at present. We have to pay semester fees every six months,” said one of the protesters. He also alleged that faculty members have retorted to their protest saying that if they were so unhappy with the fee structure they should not have come to study at the IIT.It was found out that a research scholar and an M Tech student get a stipend of Rs 25,000 and Rs 12,400, respectively.A student said that given the stipend it was as it is very difficult to manage, especially for those who came from economically weak families. “In a recent development, the menu of the mess here has been generalised and we don’t get to choose what we eat and will have to eat off a set menu, and on top of that we have to pay Rs 90 daily for food,” said another protester. He also alleged that the fee hike was only for IIT-Kharagpur and no other IITs of the country have done so.Students chanting slogans and holding placards demonstrated in front of the Director’s building yesterday at about 10pm, preventing officials from leaving.Institute officials said that the fee hike was owing to the payment of salary to some of the institute employees. “The director and the registrar have talked to the students’ representatives this morning and it has been decided that the problem would be solved through a dialogue. Although the fee structure remains as it was according to the last notification, there is possibility of a restructuring after another round of meeting with the students’ representatives,” said a senior official of the institute.Later, talking to DNA, registrar of the institution, Pradip Payne said that the protest was mainly against the rise in charges for the hostel and hostel mess. Maintaining that there was no police intervention he said,

Demonetisation: Chidambaram may be right in calling note ban a non-reform, but he shouldn’t forget the past

P Chidambaram, four-time finance minister and a senior Congress leader, has been an aggressive critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 8 November demonetisation drive, much like his colleagues in Congress party such as former PM Manmohan Singh and Vice president Rahul Gandhi. On Tuesday, inaugurating the Prof T D Lakdawala lecture series at the University of Mumbai, with a talk on ‘Twenty five years of Economic Reforms and Challenges Ahead’, Chidambaram escalated his attack by stating that the authors of note ban lacked elementary knowledge of economics.

“Whoever planted the idea of demonetisation should enroll in a graduate school of economics,” said Chidambaram. Chidambaram argues why demonetisation is not an economic reform but a ‘man-made tragedy’. To support his argument that why note ban isn’t an economic reform, the former FM said an economic reform can be defined as a new model whose effectiveness could be measured with its outcomes. “A reform can be judged on the parameters of enhanced output, efficiency and distributive justice,” Chidambaram said.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambram. AgenciesSenior Congress leader P Chidambram. Agencies

Senior Congress leader P Chidambram. Agencies

Some of the landmark reforms of last 25 years Chidambaram picked in his speech include 1991 foreign trade policy, doing away with industrial licences, moving away from fixed exchange rate to a market determined rate, direct reforms, private public partnership, capital market reforms, initiating Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer.

Chidambaram concludes his reform talk saying the aim of many of these reforms was to end poverty. “Given the capital, the technology and the human resources available in the 21st century, if any country is poor, it is because of its own faults and failures,” said Chidambaram is quoted as saying by the Indian Express. Pro-demonetisation economists will cry foul with Chidambaram terming demonetisation as a non-reform. Note ban critics will cheer him.

Strictly going by Chidambaram’s definition, i.e if a reform is measurable by tangible output and efficiency of implementation, then demonetisation may not qualify to be called as an economic reform. Some of the stated gains of this exercise—rejuvenating the economy by recovering black money, ending corruption involving cash exchange, choking terror funding and as an effective trigger to nudge the society to non-cash transactions—can be evaluated only in the long-term. Reports of fresh cases of black money, fake currency seizure and terror attacks even before the demonetisation exercise over casts shadows on the effectiveness of the demonetisation exercise on these fronts.

As this writer had pointed out in an earlier article, it is naïve to imagine that swapping currency alone would kill illegal cash build up in the system, curb corruption and end organized terror. Also, at this stage, any tangible, meaningful gains for the exchequer out of demonetisation look doubtful considering the massive pain it will inflict on the economy in the approaching quarters.

A 1.5-2 percent slowdown in the GDP on account of cash-ban resulting in paralysis will be a major drag on the economy. The impact of job losses, slowdown in manufacturing and services will have cascading impact across the economy. Apart from the quantifiable impacts, the pain on the common man on account of prolonged cash crunch too should be taken into account when one does the final cost-benefit analysis of the demonetisation exercise. Unless positive results are proven in the long-term, not many can dispute Chidambaram if the former FM refuses to call the note ban an economic reform. It is more of a cleansing exercise and an economic experiment. Till hard results are visible, the fate of Modi’s demonetisation gamble, hangs in balance.

But, the problem with Chidambaram’s Tuesday talk arises where he begins to sermonize on the eradication of poverty as the end result of any major reforms and criticise the failure of the state for its failure to end poverty despite having all tools—capital, the technology and the human resources—at disposal. This is where the Harvard educated lawyer-turned-politician should perhaps also introspect the success of the UPA-regime in the last decade or so to achieve this critical end result. Facts should speak rather than political claims and counter claims. One of the major characteristics of that regime was a phase of jobless GDP growth.

According to a 2013 paper — ‘Joblessness and Informalisation: Challenges to Inclusive Growth in India’–by the Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR), a think-tank of the erstwhile Planning Commission, not only has India witnessed jobless growth during the UPA’s tenure, it has also seen millions pushed to become casual labour with little social security. One cannot deny the link of unemployment trends to the poverty graph.

Between 2005 and 2010, the manufacturing sector saw the loss of 5 million jobs, it said. Also, the services sector, which witnessed 18 million jobs between 2000-2005, added only 4 million additional jobs in 2005-2010. Though the larger consensus is that poverty reduction has been quicker in the three-years to 2011-12 but going by the C Rangarajan panel, the fact is that one third of India (29.5 percent) remains poor, way above 21.9 percent estimated by Tendulkar committee. While there are no accurate estimates of poverty in the country, various indicators show a good number of Indians still lack access to labour, shelter and formal financial system.

This raises a key question. Despite the critical economic reform steps initiated in last several decades and despite UPA initiatives to increase social spending, provide employment through MGNREGS, how far India has achieved the desired results to end poverty is a matter of larger debate. While Chidambaram’s remarks on demonetisation are indeed valid, a counter question to him, thus, is why a significant chunk of Indians still live in poverty despite a series of economic reforms and having all tools of poverty eradication at disposal for long.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 14:49 IST

Scientists reveal what caused intense 2015 heatwave which resulted in 2500 deaths in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The deadly heat waves that killed nearly 2,500 people in India and 2,000 people in Pakistan last year were exacerbated by human-induced climate change, scientists including those from IIT-Delhi have found.Researchers examined observational and simulated temperature and heat indexes and found that the heat waves in the two countries “were exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change.”While the two countries typically experience severe heat in the summer, the 2015 heat waves – which occurred in late May/early June in India and in late June/early July in Pakistan – have been linked to the deaths of nearly 2,500 people in India and 2,000 in Pakistan.Researchers used “factual” simulations of the world and compared them to “counterfactual” simulations of the world that might have been had humans not changed the composition of the atmosphere by emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide, said Daithi Stone from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in US.”It is relatively common to run one or a few simulations of a climate model within a certain set of conditions, with each simulation differing just in the precise weather on the first day of the simulation; this difference in the first day propagates through time, providing different realisations of what the weather ‘could have been,'” said Stone. “The special thing about the simulations used here is that we ran a rather large number of them. This was important for studying a rare event; if it is rare, then you need a large amount of data in order to have it occurring frequently enough that you can understand it,” Stone added.Researchers, including those from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, examined both observational and simulated temperature alone as well as the heat index, a measure incorporating both temperature and humidity effects.From a quality-controlled weather station observational dataset, they found the potential for a very large, human-induced increase in the likelihood of the magnitudes of the two heat waves. “Observations suggested the human influence; simulations confirmed it,” said Michael Wehner, climate researcher at Berkeley Lab.The heat waves in Pakistan in late June/early July of 2015 were also similar killing around 2,000 people. The research team also found that, despite being close in location and time, the two heat waves were “meteorologically independent.”

PM Modi to lay foundation of nation’s maiden Indian Institute of Skills

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Monday will lay the foundation stone of the country’s first ever Indian Institute of Skills in Kanpur, the idea of which was conceptualized by him during his visit to Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education.The institute will be opened by the Skill Development Ministry in partnership with the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore.The Prime Minister will also inaugurate the Kaushal Pradarshani (Skill Exhibition) for the youth.The Exhibition will showcase state-of-the-art vocational training practices of various sectors.Prime Minister Modi will also launch a number of skill development initiatives including Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras and Drivers Training Institutes.Later in the day, he will also address a Parivartan rally in Kanpur. This will be the sixth Parivartan Rally to be addressed by Prime Minister in Uttar Pradesh.Earlier, the Prime Minister had addressed rallies at Ghazipur, Agra, Kushinagar, Moradabad and Behraich. There are four Parivartan yatras taking round across the state which were initiated by BJP nationalpresident Amit Shah from Saharanpur.These Yatras will cover almost 17 thousand kilometer journey across all 403 Vidhan Sabha segments in the state.

A miracle rice that saved India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Today Indians are forcibly standing in queues as cash is rationed; 60 years ago Indians were also standing in queues as food was rationed.Staple food like rice and wheat was in short supply; people had to stand in serpentine queues to buy a few kilograms of food grains. Life indeed was tough.In fact most of Asia was on the brink of starvation in the 1950s, then came a miracle plant developed by scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines that experts say “changed the world”.This small rice plant called IR-8 doubled the yields and it led to a farming revolution that saved millions of lives.After the World War II and the horrible great Bengal famine that killed nearly 2-3 million people, a miracle was required to save the lives of starving Indians. Then came this blade of new grass that helped slowly propel India into a new era of food self-sufficiency.Rice in the 1950s was a tall plant that gave few grains and was very prone to lodging or falling over and hence a lot of grain used to get spoilt. The need was to have a short robust plant that had many tillers or grain bearing stems.Scientists at IRRI married two strains of rice one from Indonesia and one from Taiwan and thus was born a plant that saved the world called ‘IR-8’.Gurdev Khush, a plant geneticist and till recently the chief rice breeder at IRRI, who played a huge role in making IR-8 the ‘miracle plant’ says usual plant breeding offered incremental small one to two per cent increases in yield but IR-8 offered an astronomical doubling of the yield.According to IRRI, “The IR8 was the first offspring of these intense breeding efforts. It was a semi-dwarf rice and was the result of a cross between Peta, a tall vigorous variety, and Dee-geo-woo-gen, a dwarf variety.”M S Swaminathan, dubbed as the father of the Indian green revolution and former director general of IRRI, says, “IR made global history as the yield ceiling was broken,” adding it is the Indian farmers who were the real saviour as they were always willing to learn and adapt to new technologies.This ‘miracle rice’ were widely distributed free of cost. The plant was immediately lapped up by the farmers in East Asia.PTI

PM Modi to launch ‘Kaushal Kendras’ tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a clutch of skill development initiatives on Monday aimed at skilling unemployed youth and also lay the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Skills in Kanpur. “Apart from launching 31 Kaushal Kendras which will serve as skilling centres and target mainly unemployed youth for training purposes, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate an exhibition named Kaushal Mahotsav,” a senior official in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship said.”The PM will also lay the foundation stone for the Indian Institute of Skills in Kanpur which will focus on providing industrial training,” the official added.The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is also set to enter into a strategic partnership with the leather and textiles industry in Kanpur to place one lakh youth under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Moreover, the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme will also be launched formally, the official said.The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras are state-of-the-art Model Training Centres (MTCs) which the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship intends to establish in every district of the country. The model training centres envisage to create benchmark institutions that demonstrate aspirational value for competency based skill development training.They would focus on elements of quality, sustainability and connect with stakeholders in skills delivery process. The centres will transform from a mandate driven footloose model to a sustainable institutional model.

FTII to deploy two armed guards on `special occasions’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Film & Television Institute of India has roped in a state-run security agency to replace a private security agency for guarding its sprawling campus here. In a fleet of 42 security men, two would carry arms on special occasions, it said. “There were instructions from the police department to upgrade the security and carry out a security audit for the last many years. After a letter bomb was received by my office in April this year, we thought of upgrading the security, and to safeguard the students and the staff, we decided to rope in Maharashtra State Security Corporation, a state government undertaking,” said Bhupendra Kainthola, director of FTII.There would be two armed security guards in the team. “Though the two security guards are equipped with .303 rifles, instructions have been given that they will be deployed only on specific occasions such as Republic Day, Independence Day or if there are security alerts in the city,” he said.FTII being a national institute, it was the responsibility of management to safeguard the students and staff, he said.However, a member of students association took exception to provision of armed guards. “Security guards with arms and camouflage attire on education campus is an intimidating image. It seems the government is trying to convert the education institutes into jail or army camp,” he said.FTII had witnessed a 139-day-long strike by the students last year against the appointment of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as its chairman. Police had booked some of the students for `illegal confinement’ of the then director Prashant Pathrabe.

Indus Water treaty: Pakistan to approach India by December-end to resolve disagreements

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan will approach India by the end of this month to address its concerns on the Ratle and Kishanganga projects, a day after the World Bank paused the separate processes initiated by the two sides under the Indus Water Treaty to allow them to resolve their disagreements, according to a media report on Wednesday.”Pakistan’s Indus Water Commissioner would establish a telephonic contact with his Indian counterpart till the end of this month and ask him to address Islamabad’s concerns on the design of Ratle and Kishanganga projects,” The Nation said.Citing official sources, the paper said Pakistan will again approach World Bank in February “if India refuses to accept our demands for change in design of the projects or tries to use delaying tactics.”In September, the World Bank, which had mediated the Indus Water Treaty, had said it was approached by India and Pakistan and it is “responding in its limited, procedural role as set out in the treaty”.The bank said the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960, is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.India had taken strong exception last month to the World Bank’s decision to set up a Court of Arbitration and appoint a Neutral Expert to go into Pakistan’s complaint against it over Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir.”We are announcing this pause to protect the Indus Waters Treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the Treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said yesterday.”We have decided in principle to re-approach India, but will not compromise our position. We also fear India will not change the design of projects according to the treaty,” an official told the paper, seeking anonymity.Pakistan’s former law minister and Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Ahmer Bilal Soofi said the historic Indus Water Treaty was perpetual and cannot be terminated unilaterally.Speaking at a seminar on ‘Pakistan-India: Avoiding a Water War’ organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Soofi said time had come that Pakistani engineers and lawyers need to sit together to interpret the Indus Water Treaty in a holistic manner.

Great news: Sushma Swaraj recovering well after successful kidney transplant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who underwent a kidney transplant three days ago, was today shifted out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at AIIMS and was recovering well. The 64-year-old minister is likely to be discharged in another seven to ten days, senior hospital officials said. “The minister has been shifted out of the ICU to a private ward of the Cardio-Neuro Centre. Her post-surgery recovery is on the expected lines,” AIIMS Director Dr M C Mishra said.He said her recovery is being closely monitored by a team of transplant surgeons, physicians (endocrinologist, nephrologist, cardiologist and pulmonologist) and anaesthesist besides critical care expert, physiotherapist and transplant specialists.”She is likely to be discharged in another seven or 10 days,” Mishra added.Swaraj had undergone a kidney transplant on Saturday with the organ being harvested from a living unrelated donor.According to Mishra, the woman who donated her kidney to the minister is also in the process of being discharged.”During transplant surgeries, the recipient is put on Immunosuppressants in order to lower the body’s ability to reject a transplanted organ.”That is the reason why the minister, after the transplant, was shifted to ICU and kept in isolation to avoid any infection,” a senior doctor at AIIMS said.AIIMS earlier had stated that the surgery of Swaraj was successful and uneventful.Swaraj’s nearly six-hour long surgery was performed by a team of 50 personnel led by Dr Mukut Minz, former head of the department of renal transplant surgery at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and Dr V K Bansal from AIIMS. Minz is currently with Fortis, Mohali. A team of transplant anesthesiologists, nurses, technicians and other support staff assisted them.On November 16, Swaraj herself had posted on Twitter that she was in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Swaraj, who has been in and out of the hospital for last few months, was admitted to AIIMS on November 7.After Swaraj made public her health condition on social media, several people had offered their kidneys to her.

Ancient cures for a modern world

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is how Tribhuvan Singh Kawar, a “village vegetation specialist” from Algidand village in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district, subdues scorpions: “Get the scorpion to smell black musli by breaking the twig between its eyes. This is dangerous so don’t use your hands, but tweezers or something to keep a safe distance. Carefully watch the scorpion’s tail which has all the poison and which it uses to sting. The tail moves constantly but some time after the scorpion has ‘smelt’ the musli, you’ll see that it has stilled. Then gently pick it up in your hand.”Sounds bizarre, does it?Kawar’s audience — founders/senior functionaries of NGOs with long experience in tribal/local health practices, eminent ethnobotanists and public health experts, etc, who have gathered in Jamshedpur for a conclave organised by Tata Steel on ‘tribal health systems’ — listen without any obvious scepticism. Perhaps, they’ve heard many such fantastic sounding claims over the years? Or perhaps, there’s some basis, yet undiscovered, to what Kawar says – and these experts, aware of how little tribal medicine is understood by modern science, know better than to scoff?After all — and I heard this from more than one expert during the four-day conclave — both the cures known to modern science for malaria, still a giant killer globally, have come from tribal medicine — quinine from the Cinchona tree that indigenous tribes in Peru used; and artemisinin, for which a Chinese researcher, Tu Youyou, got the Nobel last year, from Qinghao, a herb well known in traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia.Promoting remediesBut for all that, it’s hard not to be skeptical as one looks around the tables laid out at the conclave venue, laden with an assortment of strange-looking roots, tubers, shoots, leaves, barks, seeds, fruits, branches, etc; crudely packed zip-lock pouches and used plastic jars of all sizes filled with oils and powders, some of them bearing crude hand-written stickers indicating which diseases they should be used for – some, I see, are labelled “cancer”.In a few stalls, the wares look a little more refined — the powders have been packed into capsules and tablets, or filled in specially designed bottles, with printed labels mentioning the name, address and registration number of the manufacturer, along with a list of ingredients, conditions it may be used for and ‘directions for use’. Evidently, tribal medicine, like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddhi and others, is also trying to reach out beyond its traditional market in rural India.To that end, as the banners behind the tables showed, tribal healers in several regions across the country had banded together into associations, often with the support of NGOs or government bodies, in order to promote their remedies.The Apunba Manipur Maiba-Maibi Phurup or the Manipur State Traditional Healers’ Association, for instance, is more than 40 years-old and has around 1,100 members. “Since 2011, we have been working with the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development in Imphal, which is under the government of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, to validate all our medicines,” says N Tombi Raj, President, Manipur State Traditional Healers’ Association. Similarly, in Gadchiroli, an NGO called Amhi Amchya Arogyasathi has brought tribal healers together to help them process their remedies into packaged medicines sold under the brand-name Aranyak and also cultivate the herbs and plants they use to make their medicines in larger quantities. PALAS India, an NGO which operates in the tribal-dominated forests that line the India-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh runs a similar programme. Deo Chandra Kushwaha, one of the founders, reveals that with unrestrained deforestation, the healers find it increasingly difficult tofind the herbs they need. “They have to go deeper and deeper into the jungles, which means an entire day lost,” he says. PALAS India has also set up several Charak Forest-medicine and Natural Primary Care centres in towns across Uttar Pradesh — Sirsia, Amethi, Ramnagar and Allahabad to name a few — to help the healers earn a steady income.Government affiliationAmong other NGOs doing notable work is Laya, which has been involving the Vaidus or traditional healers of Andhra Pradesh’s East Godvari district, a scheduled area, in healthcare initiatives within their community. Besides, it has set up a network of community herbal gardens and also runs a pharmacy, Vanantharam, to produce and market tribal remedies. Kawar, the scorpion catcher, is himself a member of the Traditional Healers’ Association of Chhattisgarh, which has been marshalling the expertise of these traditional healers — ‘village botanical experts’ they are called — to help improve the health parameters of the state’s tribal population. The initiative, which was honoured with the Equator Prize in 2014, has the support of the state government’s Medical Plants Board, the Centre’s environment ministry and the UNDP. Traditional practitionersFor nearly a tenth of India’s population, the 10.5 crore tribals who live deep inside the forests, the traditional medicine practitioners remain the only recourse for healthcare, says H Sudarshan, a Padma Shri recipient, and founder of Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra. Founded in 1981, the NGO has done pioneering work in the area of healthcare among the Soliga tribals in Karnataka. “Primary health centres (PHCs) are often located 20-30 km away, usually a half day’s journey away. It’s just too far to go unless there’s an emergency. Then again, city-bred doctors and nurses don’t like rural postings, so most PHCs don’t have proper staff or medicines,” he says.There’s also much, says Sudarshan, that modern medicine can learn from tribal practices. “As a young doctor fresh out of a medical college in the 1970s, I was shocked to find that tribal women delivered babies squatting on the floor surrounded by family members. There were no beds and sometimes even the husband helped deliver the child. And now modern science recognises that the squatting position is the most scientifically appropriate for childbirth,” he says. Others like Abhay Bang, renowned public health expert who works in tribal-dominated Gadchiroli district, and is chairperson of an expert group set up by the government of India to work on a comprehensive policy on tribal health, are more circumspect in their endorsement of tribal health practices.“Tribal medicines and other indigenous belief systems must go through the acid test of science,” Bang says. “Undoubtedly, the tribal doctors are close to their patients, they are part of tribal society, their remedies are also appropriate to their culture and accessible. But there’s witchcraft, too, and often exploitative. If a tribal healer comes forward and says he can cure cancer, it is the job of bodies like the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) or CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) to screen those claims for plausibility, to conduct clinical trials, test on animal. “This has been missing — a systematic, scientific national effort to identify and understand the mysteries of the tribals’ jadi-booti medicines. There have been a few initiatives in this direction, such as the 16-year long All India Coordinated Research Project on Ethnobiology (1982-1998) to identify and document the wealth medicinal plants and their uses across the length and breadth of the country. “But there hasn’t been much follow up research on our findings since then,” says Prof P Pushpangadan, the scientist who led the research. Part of the reason could also be the healers’ suspicion of modern science’s moves to usurp their traditional knowledge. In Manipur, for instance, the healers’ association only agreed to share their knowledge with the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development after it had signed an MoU specifying that the latter would help them get a patent for their remedies. Pushpangadan himself has showed immense potential in this area with what has come to be celebrated as the Kani participatory model. “I came across the Kani tribals in north Kerala while doing my research. They lived in the Western Ghats region and became tired going over the hilly region. The Kanis however were not. I discovered the secret was a leaf they kept munching on that would keep them energised. They offered me some and I could vouch for its effects,” says Pushpangadan. Pushpagandan had the plant that the Kanis called Jeevani analysed and found that it had amazing anti-stress and immune-stimulating properties, boosted stamina, relieved fatigue, and activated the body’s immune system. The Jeevani plant was then patented, and a drug formulated at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, where Pushpangadan worked. A manufacturer then bought rights to make the Jeevani medicine, and hearteningly, the proceeds from that were shared with the Kani tribals. “This was the first time that the tribals earned from their traditional knowledge,” says Pushpangadan.That was in 1987; there hasn’t been another Jeevani since.

Security forces targeted using command-wire technique by militants in Kashmir Valley

New Delhi: For the first time in the decades-old militancy in Kashmir Valley, security forces have been targeted by a Naxal-style IED attack prompting agencies to brace up against the menace that has claimed numerous lives and maimed several troops in Left Wing Extremism hit areas.

Taking the development seriously, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), mainstay for anti-Maoist operations in the country, has rushed a team of its counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) experts to train and sensitise its troops, those of the BSF, Jammu and Kashmir Police and others against such blasts trigerred by the notorious ‘command-wire’ technique.

“This is for the first time…There have been IED attacks against security forces and their convoys in the past but using the command-wire technique was unheard and unseen here.

“This technique till now has been used by Naxals to target security forces in the LWE affected areas,” CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad told PTI.

Taking cognisance of the incident, he has asked a team of IED experts, based at the exclusive Institute of IED Management (IIM) in Pune, to rush to the Kashmir Valley and sensitise the troops as to how to be alert against such deadly attacks.

The first of its kind command-wire IED blast was reported about a month back on the night of 4 November when militants targeted a police bullet-proof ‘Rakshak’ jeep under the Dadasara Police Station area in Awantipora of Pulwama district, which led to injuries to three police officials.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The police team was rushing to a nearby spot after some gunshots were heard but as they were targeted by the blast, they had to be evacuated and rushed to a nearby hospital.

The blast was trigerred by joining the wires drawn from the IED and when the jeep, plying on the normal ‘pucca’ road, went over it, the blast severely damaged the entire front and engine portion of the four-wheeler.

“It could have been bad had the blast took place just behind the engine area.This is something new we witnessed. Taking no chances, we have asked all our units in the Kashmir Valley to prepare and plan against command-wire IEDs now,” Prasad said.

The DG said it was part of further investigations to find out how the suspected militants active in Kashmir adopted this much-abused technique of trigerring hidden blasts on security forces and their convoys.

Till now security forces in the valley have been attacked in gunfire ambushes and attacks, grenade lobbing and fidayeen attackers.

A command-wire ID blasts ensure that the electric cable connected to the IED allows the user complete control over the bomb right up until the moment of initiation and Naxals have been found to lay several hundred metres of wire from the main road into the fields to                                                                                                                 trigger it without getting noticed and ensuring fatal casualities on the trapped men, by virtue of accurate timing of its detonation.

The command-wire IED blasts in Naxal violence affected areas has not only claimed lives of hundreds of security forces personnel, largely amongst the CRPF, even as it has severely maimed numerous troops rendering them without limbs.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 15:56 IST

Security forces in Kashmir Valley targeted using Naxal-style IED

New Delhi: For the first time in the decades-old militancy in Kashmir Valley, security forces have been targeted by a Naxal-style IED attack prompting agencies to brace up against the menace that has claimed numerous lives and maimed several troops in Left Wing Extremism hit areas.

Taking the development seriously, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), mainstay for anti-Maoist operations in the country, has rushed a team of its counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) experts to train and sensitise its troops, those of the BSF, Jammu and Kashmir Police and others against such blasts trigerred by the notorious ‘command-wire’ technique.

“This is for the first time…There have been IED attacks against security forces and their convoys in the past but using the command-wire technique was unheard and unseen here.

“This technique till now has been used by Naxals to target security forces in the LWE affected areas,” CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad told PTI.

Taking cognisance of the incident, he has asked a team of IED experts, based at the exclusive Institute of IED Management (IIM) in Pune, to rush to the Kashmir Valley and sensitise the troops as to how to be alert against such deadly attacks.

The first of its kind command-wire IED blast was reported about a month back on the night of 4 November when militants targeted a police bullet-proof ‘Rakshak’ jeep under the Dadasara Police Station area in Awantipora of Pulwama district, which led to injuries to three police officials.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The police team was rushing to a nearby spot after some gunshots were heard but as they were targeted by the blast, they had to be evacuated and rushed to a nearby hospital.

The blast was trigerred by joining the wires drawn from the IED and when the jeep, plying on the normal ‘pucca’ road, went over it, the blast severely damaged the entire front and engine portion of the four-wheeler.

“It could have been bad had the blast took place just behind the engine area.This is something new we witnessed. Taking no chances, we have asked all our units in the Kashmir Valley to prepare and plan against command-wire IEDs now,” Prasad said.

The DG said it was part of further investigations to find out how the suspected militants active in Kashmir adopted this much-abused technique of trigerring hidden blasts on security forces and their convoys.

Till now security forces in the valley have been attacked in gunfire ambushes and attacks, grenade lobbing and fidayeen attackers.

A command-wire ID blasts ensure that the electric cable connected to the IED allows the user complete control over the bomb right up until the moment of initiation and Naxals have been found to lay several hundred metres of wire from the main road into the fields to                                                                                                                 trigger it without getting noticed and ensuring fatal casualities on the trapped men, by virtue of accurate timing of its detonation.

The command-wire IED blasts in Naxal violence affected areas has not only claimed lives of hundreds of security forces personnel, largely amongst the CRPF, even as it has severely maimed numerous troops rendering them without limbs.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 15:56 IST

After severe criticism, ICAI withdraws controversial demonetization diktat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After facing severe flak, chartered accountants’ apex body ICAI has withdrawn a controversial diktat that was seen as a purported gag order warning its members against making public any “negative personal views” regarding the government’s demonetization move “in an remote possible way”.The “advisory”, a copy of which was purportedly also published on ICAI’s website, invoked “the spirit of the ICAI — Partner in Nation Building” to ask all its members “to be more cautions and careful while advising their clients, sharing/writing of their views on any platform regarding demonetisation and work towards the best interest of the nation”.After severe criticism from various quarters, the advisory has been pulled out from the website.Separately, ICAI has also clarified that a purported audio clip in the name of its President M Devaraja Reddy, containing views on economic matters such as demonetization and tax reforms, doing the rounds on social media is “fake”.”It is clarified that the said audio clip is a fake one and the voice therein is not of CA M Devaraja Reddy. It is emphatically stated that the audio clip is fake and is put in circulation to malign the image of the Institute. The views expressed in the said audio clip do not represent the views of CA M Devaraja Reddy or the Council of ICAI,” it added.On demonetization, the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) has now issued a fresh advisory for its members from President M Devaraja Reddy wherein the members have been “requested not to indulge into any type of questionable practices which may bring disrepute to the profession.”The new advisory further says that the members “are specifically advised to render professional services within framework of the applicable laws and ICAI Code of Conduct, upholding and elevating the high standards enjoyed by the profession and keeping overall national interests in mind with true spirit of the principle of ICAI — Partner in Nation Building”.The earlier diktat, issued in the backdrop of alleged misconduct of some chartered accountants for purportedly advising their clients on ways to convert their black money post demonetization, cautioned all members “to watch the national interest as the upper most while advising their clients.” “Members are strictly advised not to indulge in any nefarious act as to subvert the intentions of the government in any remote possible way. The members are also advised not to share/write any negative personal views by way of an article or interview on any platform regarding demonetization,” ICAI had said.The new advisory from Reddy says, “As you may be aware, the ICAI has always been supportive of the bold initiatives taken by the government in strengthening the economic growth of our country and also in its efforts to weed out black money and corruption from our country.Describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to demonetize high value notes as a ‘welcome step’, Reddy said it has given a definitive boost to the economic growth.”This move, it is believed, will not only eliminate black money, but will also choke the activities of anti-nationals from across the border financed by fake currency, ensuring inclusive growth and national security in one go,” he said.He further said that “however, it is a matter of grave concern and distress to our profession when certain news reports/video clippings have come in the public eye depicting few CAs indulging in some acts of illegality which goes against the efforts of the government in eradicating corruption and black money.”Needless to mention, ICAI is unsparing in its efforts to discipline members found erring.Immediate steps have been taken to cause an investigation against such members…” Reddy said ICAI is acting in the best proactive manner to discourage and condemn the alleged misconduct of some of its members and so far six cases have come to its notice.He also said that ICAI has issued notices to four members asking them to submit their written statements under prescribed uses of investigation, while information has been sought in one case from the Principal Commissioner Income Tax, Pune.In other cases, information has been sought from Income Tax Department, Ahmedabad.

ICAI withdraws advisory asking members to not criticise demonetisation

Mumbai: Hours after the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) issued a gag order on its members, asking them not to criticise government policy on demonetisation, and instituted a probe against some of them for “professionial misconduct”, the advisory was withdrawn on Saturday.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A top ICAI official, declining to be named, said there were some objections from members on the advisory issued on Friday by ICAI president M Devaraja Reddy, after which it was removed.

The advisory carried on its website said notices had been slapped on four chartered accountants for their “alleged acts of professional misconduct” following demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes. “The members are strictly advised not to indulge in any nefarious act to subvert the intentions of the government in any remote possible way,” it said.

It also sought to put a gag order on the CAs. “Members are also advised not to share/write any negative personal views by way of an article or interview on any platform regarding demonetisation,” it said.

On Saturday, a leading Mumbai RTI activist, Anil Galgali, who tweeted on the ethics behind the advisory’s aim to stop criticism of the move, was also blocked by the ICAI from its twitter handle.

“They don’t want to listen to any criticism. Probably, some politicians may have objected, as they are advised by their CAs on how to manage stashed illegal funds. Instead of heeding to fair criticism, ICAI resorts to crushing it,” an indignant Galgali said.

He wondered whether the so-called advisory would still be effective after its erasure from the ICAI site. On Friday, Reddy had said three CAs — whose identity had not been revealed — had been served notice under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, and Chartered Accountants (Procedure of Investigations of Professional and Other Misconduct and Conduct of Cases) Rules, 2007.

Apart from these three, two more were also in the process for initiating similar disciplinary action by the ICAI, Reddy said. In one case, the ICAI had sought information from the principal commissioner of the Income Tax Department in Pune.

In another case, the details had been solicited from the Income Tax Department in Ahmedabad, while the ICAI has sought information from a private television channel, News18 India, in a third case.

“It is a matter of grave concern and distress to our profession when certain news reports/video clippings have come in the public eye depicting certain CAs indulging in such acts of illegality which go against the efforts of the government in eradicating corruption and black money from business and commercial transactions,” Reddy said, in his sharp advisory to ICAI members.

Reddy urged CAs to work towards the best interest of the nation in keeping with true spirit of the principle of ICAI — ‘Partner in Nation Building’.

ICAI, a statutory body set up by an act of Parliament, has over 250,000 members as fellows or associates with more than half in full-time practice. The maximum number of members hails from western India while eastern India accounts for the lowest membership of ICAI.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 19:31 IST

Modi government picks up Saraswati from where Vajpayee govt left it

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Perhaps if one looks carefully enough, even myth can find veneration in reality. Such is the case of the government’s zealous thrust into countrywide excavations for proof of the existence of the mythical Saraswati river, mentioned in several religious texts like the Rig Veda.At a meeting of the standing committee of the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology (CABA) at the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) headquarters here, for the review of over 100 proposals for “exploration, excavation, scientific clearance and trial excavation for 2016-17”, on September 28 and 29, over six projects that have been green-lighted lie on the basin of the Saraswati river.They include Kunal on the Bhuna-Ratia Road in Fatehabad district in Haryana, either Lohari Ragho or Masudpur in Hisar, the Chautang basin in Hisar, Bhiwani, Jind, and Rohtak, Shikarpur in Gujarat, Bijnore in Rajasthan, and Vadnagar and another “probable locality” in Gujarat.Kunal, Head of the National Museum, BR Mani, denies any connection with the mythical river, though “the site holds a lot of potential”.“There has been a difference of opinion among scholars on the accurate date of the area, and we are confident that if we rely on the AMS mention and not the carbon-dating method of C-14, we will get more details,” he said.Excavation nod to Lohari Ragho or Masudpur in Hisar in Haryana, which lie on the banks of Drishadvati river, has been green-lighted on the condition that only one site be excavated in one year. And that the applicant should submit to the ASI clearances from both the MEA and the state government. Exploration nod has also been given to several sites in the Chautang basin, including those that lie in the districts of Hisar, Bhiwani, Jind and Rohtak. The proposal was sent by the Department of History at Rohtak’s All India Jat Heroes Memorial College.A proposal for geophysical exploration of Shikarpur in Gujarat’s Kutch district, believed to be a port settlement on the Indus basin, was given nod with the rider that the applicant, Goa’s National Institute of Oceanography, will be accompanied by the ASI in the project. Excavation recommendations were also given to Binjore in Ganganagar district in Rajasthan in response to a proposal by the Institute of Archaeology, New Delhi. During earlier excavations in both sites, terracotta figurines and domestic pottery were unearthed.It is no surprise that all the states where excavations have been sanctioned are BJP-ruled states. Rajasthan’s River Basin and Water Resources Planning Authority had sought a sanction from the Centre for Rs 70 crore to ‘rejuvenate’ the river last year, while Haryana’s first BJP government under Manohar Lal Khattar has set aside Rs 10 crore for the Saraswati Heritage Development Board.

Demonetisation: How Narendra Modi changed the currency ban narrative

By Praveen Chakravarty

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on November 8, 2016 to announce the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The speech (in English) lasted 25 minutes. The Prime Minister uttered the phrase “black money” 18 times in this speech. He mentioned “fake currency” or “counterfeit” five times in the same speech.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

It was unambiguously clear from the Prime Minister’s speech that the primary motivation for the sudden withdrawal of nearly 86% of the country’s currency was the evil of black money.

The next day, the papers termed it a “war on black money”. PayTM, a mobile payment app, hailed the decision with a full-page ad and the Prime Minister left for Japan.

By the time the Prime Minister returned from Japan, the move had been christened “demonetisation” in English, “notebandi” in Hindi and there was a war-time like rationing of currency in the country.

The Prime Minister made six speeches across the country on the demonetisation policy between November 13 and November 27, including his radio address to the nation, Mann Ki Baat, according to data available on the Prime Minister’s personal website. The text of all the speeches are available on the website.

A data analysis of the speeches (after translation) reveals a shifting of the narrative of the demonetisation action and its objectives.

In his speech on November 8, 2016, when he announced the demonetisation policy, the Prime Minister used the phrase “black money” four times more than “fake/counterfeit currency”.

By November 27, he used the phrase “digital/cashless” thrice as much as “black money” with no mention of “fake currency”. Recall, there was zero mention of “digital/cashless” in the initial November 8 speech.

The chart below shows the ratio of the three narratives–“black money”, “fake currency” and “cashless/digital pay”–in each of the Prime Minister’s speeches over three weeks and seven speeches.

In other words, in the same speech, how many times did the Prime Minister use each of these phrases to describe the reasons for demonetisation which can be used as a proxy to understand what the Prime Minister believes was the primary objective for this mammoth exercise.

The saffron line representing the “cashless/digital” phrase in the Prime Minister’s speeches went from 0 in the November 8 speech to a 73% ratio in the November 27 speech.

The green line representing the phrase “fake currency” went from 22% to 0 in the same period suggesting the Prime Minister no longer believes that terror financing was the primary or secondary driver of this demonetisation exercise.

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The black line representing the phrase “black money” went from a high of a 80% ratio on November 8 to only 27% on November 27. Apparently, it is no longer a “war on black money” but instead a “war on all currency” to go cashless.

So, between November 8 and November 27, the objective for the demonetisation exercise has swung from black money elimination to going cashless, as evident in the Prime Minister’s speeches.

To be sure, urging citizens to use less cash and resort to digital transactions is a laudable objective and must certainly be encouraged. But when a decision was taken to remove a whopping 86% of the country’s currency overnight with all its attendant costs, one would have hoped there was one strong rationale for it, even if it meant achieving multiple objectives.

Either the Prime Minister has realised that the original primary objective of eliminating black money may not be met or there was not adequate thought behind the decision. Either way, it is worrisome.

(Chakravarty is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at IDFC Institute & Founding Trustee, IndiaSpend. Author thanks Puja Das of IndiaSpend for help with Hindi translation.)

(Indiaspend.com is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit.)

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 10:11 IST

Chinese government reacts to WION expose

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s Defence Ministry has rejected accusations of military activity deep inside eastern Afghanistan, after a report by WION last month about regular patrols by Chinese security forces there.”Reports in foreign media of Chinese military vehicles patrolling inside Afghanistan do not accord with the facts,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told the Reuters news agency.”In recent years, law enforcement bodies from China and Afghanistan, in accordance with a bilateral cooperation decision on strengthening border law enforcement, arranged to have joint law enforcement operations in border regions,” Yang added.Speaking to Reuters, an unidentified Afghan official in Kabul also denied the reports.Last month, WION obtained exclusive pictures showing Chinese-manufactured military vehicles in Little Pamir. The slim finger of Afghan territory borders China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.International military analysts backed up the claims.”The pictures show Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and Humvee-type vehicles. Both appear to be Chinese versions of common Western armoured vehicles,” Justin Bronk, a Senior Analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, told WION.From the photographs alone, analysts could not confirm whether the Chinese-manufactured vehicles belong to the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) itself.But sources in the area say the PLA enter Little Pamir twice a month through Tajikistan. The troops reportedly stay in a local school in Bozai Gumbaz and are barred from speaking to local Afghan citizens.The exact motivations behind the patrols are not known but Chinese firms hold key mining concessions across Afghanistan. Control over its western frontier is also a key security concern for the land-focused Chinese military.

Check: IBPS CWE RRB V Office Assistant prelim examination results declared at ibps.in

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Candidates who have appeared for preliminary exam of The Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) conducted on November 12, 13 and 19 can finally heave a sigh of relief. IBPS CWE RRB V Office Assistant examination for 16,560 posts has now been declared on the official website – www.ibps.inThe examination was conducted for the post of office assistant (multipurpose) in regional rural banks.The results will be available on the website of Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) till December 4.The recruitment notification for CWE RRBs-V was issued on September 9. Of the total openings, 5,539 posts are for officer scale I, 1,999 posts for officer scale II and 8,824 posts are for office assistants.Here’s how you can check results:1. Access the result link for IBPS.2. Enter your registration no/roll no and date of birth/Password.3. Enter the captcha code.3. Click on login.4. You can now get access to your results.Download and save the result for future reference.About IBPS:Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) is an autonomous body that provides services to public sector banks, SBI, banks associated to SBI, RBI, NABARD, SIDBI, some co-op banks, LIC and insurance companies.Best of luck!

Government’s anti-pollution plan hits a hurdle, own dept calls air purifiers ‘unreliable’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government’s plan of installing air purifiers in the national Capital on a pilot basis has hit a major roadblock, with its own department terming the project “unreliable”.Earlier this month, the Environment and Urban Development Departments of the Delhi government had come together to announce that five major intersections in the Capital will be fitted with air purifiers. The work of installing these purifiers was given to the Public Works Department (PWD), sources said.In the project feasibility report, however, the PWD stated that these purifiers might not be of any use and called them unreliable.”Our engineers studied various models of air purifiers and found that they had little use in Indian conditions. The department couldn’t find any success models,” said a senior PWD official. “We have submitted the feasibility report but the final decision will still be taken by the Delhi government,” he added.Even environmentalists have slammed the air purifier idea, claiming that this was not a long-term solution to Delhi’s problems. “The move is not well thought out. Air purifiers can work well only in closed spaces. The Delhi government, with its experts and teams of accomplished officials, should look at long-term solutions rather than looking for an easy way out,” said environmentalist Bharti Chaturvedi.Pollution level in the national Capital remains consistently alarming, prompting the authorities to try various experiments. The air purifier plan also included installation of virtual chimneys and mist fountains. The purifiers were to be installed at five sites worst affected by pollution — Anand Vihar, ITO, Sarai Kale Khan, Kashmere Gate and IIT-Delhi or AIIMS.Delhi Urban Development Minister Satyendar Jain had said at the time of the announcement that the government, in collaboration with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and IIT-Bombay, will establish the system within 45 days. “We also plan to install a mist fountain at one intersection, the water from which can be recycled. We can bring down PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the air by using mist fountain, and will soon identify the location,” he had said.This latest experiment by the Delhi government was announced after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the the government to convene a meeting of authorities concerned to come up with a solution to tackle the worsening air quality. The order came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) apprised the green court that there was no improvement in air quality in Delhi during the second week of the Odd-Even scheme in April.

Hyderabad: CSIR-IICT hoists 100 ft national flag

Sat, 26 Nov 2016-11:41pm , Hyderabad , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 100ft national flag was hoisted on the occasion of Platinum Jubilee year of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Indian Institute of Chemical Technology on Saturday, one of the premier research laboratory in the city. The flag stands tall at 100ft in the sprawling campus of CSIR-IICT. The tri-colour flag measures 30 X 20 ft, a release from IICT said.Girish Sahni, Director General of CSIR and Secretary, DSIR hoisted the tri-colour in the presence of IICT Director S Chandrasekhar and staff as part of the platinum jubilee celebrations of CSIR. As a mark of respect, a Guard of Honour was offered to Sahni by security personnel, IICT school children along with police band.

Lights, camera, action: Delhi cops to get FTII training

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Come 2017 and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), which has trained generations of actors and filmmakers, will begin teaching Delhi Police personnel how to wield the camera for that perfect shot. And no, it’s not for an alternate career in showbiz but so they can hone their investigation skills and better monitor the sprawling city under their watch.The idea came from Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma, it is learnt. The process of selecting investigating officers for the training will begin next year.The Delhi Police have written to the Pune-based institute, which falls under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, stating that they wanted their investigating officers to be trained in videography and photography as it will help them record evidence properly. FTII has also responded expressing its willingness to train the men in khaki.Sources said heightened threat perception has forced Delhi Police to prepare its personnel for untoward incidents and that needs specialisation. The force has started videographing tactical locations and establishments, including Parliament House, malls and markets.In the first phase, the Delhi Police are working on a video-walk of around 40 vital installations such as the National Museum, South and North Blocks, DRDO headquarters, residence of the British high commissioner, vice-president’s house and various government offices like Shastri Bhavan. A video camera team comprising police officials will record the topography inside and outside the buildings. And they have decided not to depend on amateurs.”We cannot depend on private people where national security is concerned. We are getting our men trained and making them specialists,” a senior police official told DNA.Besides, he explained, the city also witnesses thousands of demonstrations, processions, strikes and rallies. “All of them are videographed and photographed. It’s a herculean task.” In 2015, for instance, the force managed 2,259 demonstrations, 4,727 dharnas, 914 processions, 1,943 public meetings, 303 rallies and 1,010 other protests. Furthermore, around 200,000 cases are registered every year. In 2015, 191,377 cases were registered and 180,910 cases have been filed till November 15, this year, amounting to an average of 555 incidents of crime each day. Of this, 43 are crimes against women and 24 are heinous crimes.In most cases, the investigating officers have to take pictures and video-graph the crime spots as well as statements from witnesses and the accused. This needs a professional approach for which training must be given, an official said.There are crime teams in 11 police districts. “They reach the spot and collect minute details from the spot. The ill-equipped crime teams are not trained and just click pictures and shoot videos from a mini camera. It is a very unprofessional approach,” he said.This results in hazy pictures from crime and accident spots which hinders the probe. “Kaam chal jaata hai (We just about manage),” is how an SHO put it when asked how they manage without either proper equipment or the requisite know-how.But this lackadaisical attitude just might end with the FTII’s intervention.

PM Modi to visit Punjab to attend 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh

Fri, 25 Nov 2016-10:38am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Punjab on Friday to attend a function marking the 350th birth anniversary of tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh ji at Sri Anandpur Sahib in Rupanagar district.The Prime Minister will also lay the foundation stone of the All India Institute of Medical sciences (AIIMS) in Bathinda district. He will also address a public rally.Prime Minister Modi’s visit has political significance for the ruling alliance of Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP as Punjab Assembly elections are expected to be held in the state early next year.

In latest instance of moral policing, Kerala college restricts girls from roaming around with boys

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Girls at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Kozhikode, Kerala are being instructed not to roam around with boys inside the residential campus.A warning issued by the warden on Tuesday stated that, “Inmates of the ladies hostel and mega ladies hostel are strictly instructed not to roam with boy students inside the residential campus. We got lot of complaints in this regard. If any girl is found along with a boy student inside the residential campus, severe action will be taken against her, including suspension and expulsion from the hostel.””I think it’s really atrocious to give such rules and especially in Kerala which has the highest literacy rate. I am completely against it. I feel that there is nothing wrong in roaming around with boys or talking to them,” Tushara, a student said.Another student, Tanvi said that it is shocking as it is normal to roam around with boys in a democratic country. “It’s a narrow minded attitude towards girls roaming with boys. I am roaming with a boy that does not mean I am having something with that boy or he is my boyfriend. I think it’s very normal, we roam around with people. We are living in a democratic country here. Coming this from Kerala is a bit shocking for me because it has the highest literacy in terms of females also.”

Demonetisation: Bank deposits exceed withdrawals nearly five times over

Deposits were nearly five times as large as withdrawals over 10 days to 18 November, 2016, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November, 2016.

Exchange/deposits of invalid notes  — Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 — amounted to Rs 5,44,571 crore ($80 billion) between 10 and 18 November, according to data released by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

While exchange of soiled notes (invalid currencies are called soiled in banking parlance) amounted to Rs 33,006 crore ($4.85 billion), deposits amounted to Rs 5,11,565 crore ($75 billion).

Banks have also reported to RBI that account holders have withdrawn Rs 1,03,316 crore ($15 billion) during this period.

The Prime Minister, in one stroke, made 86 percent of currencies worth over Rs 14 lakh crore ($217 billion) invalid, IndiaSpend reported on 8 November, 2016.

The government said the move would flush out black – or unaccounted – money from the system, stop terrorism funding and counterfeit currency. But the move also affected millions of Indians who may not have black money but transact in cash. Long lines continue at automated teller machines (ATMs) and banks, particularly in rural areas, to exchange old notes and withdraw money.

Currency in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 increased 50 percent over three years (from Rs 9.6 lakh crore in 2012-13 to Rs 14.1 lakh crore in 2015-16), according to RBI data, IndiaSpend reported on 12 November, 2016.

The currency with people rose during the last three years – 2013 to 2016 – against deposits kept by people in banks, RBI data show. From being almost equal in 2007, currency with Indians was 50 percent more than bank deposits in these three years, IndiaSpend reported on 12 November, 2016.

You can also watch videos here:

1) How does demonetisation affect the Indian economy?

Will the move lead to a reduction of black money? Which businesses will be affected most? We spoke to Govind Ethiraj, founder of IndiaSpend, journalist, and founder-editor of Bloomberg TV India, about the implications of the move for the Indian economy.

2) Demonetisation: Prospects and Perils

How quickly can the RBI print currency? Is this exercise actually ‘demonetisation’? How accessible is a bank to the average Indian? IndiaSpend spoke to Praveen Chakravarty, senior visiting fellow at IDFC Institute.

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Indiaspend.org is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 10:19 IST

India sees first fall since 2010, death toll due to terrorism in 2015 at 29,376

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly half of all terror attacks in 2015 occurred in four countries, including India and Pakistan, according to an annual terrorism index which also said India last year had the highest number of attacks since 2000. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2016 published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) found that 29,376 people died from terrorism in 2015, down 3,389 on the previous year and the first fall since 2010.India was named among the four countries where nearly half of all terrorist attacks occurred in 2015, besides Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. “Improvements continued to be recorded in India, which historically has had high levels of terrorist activity. In 2015 India had the highest number of attacks since 2000, whilst paradoxically it had the second lowest number of deaths for a single year since 2000,” the report says. “75% of attacks in India had no fatalities, compared to 44% globally…The country had 797 attacks that resulted in 289 deaths, compared to 764 attacks with 418 deaths the previous year,” the report said.Pakistan was also named among the five countries with the highest impact from terrorism, besides Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria. These five countries accounted for 72% of all deaths from terrorism in 2015. “Pakistan continued to see declines in its levels of terrorism due to infighting within the largest active group, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, as well as to the operations of the Pakistan Army in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas,” the report said.The index also shows that the ISIS is now officially the deadliest terrorist group in the world, overtaking Boko Haram, after claiming responsibility for 6,141 deaths through attacks in more than 250 different cities in 2015. And the number of countries in which ISIS has carried out attacks more than doubled, from 13 in 2014 to 28 in 2015.Steve Killelea, executive chairman of IEP, said: “This year’s GTI report highlights the most complex set of dynamics in global terrorism in the last 16 years. While on the one hand the reduction in deaths is positive, the continued intensification of terrorism in some countries and its spread to new ones is a cause for serious concern and underscores the fluid nature of modern terrorist activity. “The attacks in the heartland of Western democracies underscore the need for fast paced and tailored responses to the evolution of these organisations.”Though the index identifies 274 distinct terrorist groups around the world, between them ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and the Taliban were responsible for 75% of all terror-related deaths, the report said. The index suggested there were lessons to be learned, such as the fact that only 0.5% of terrorist attacks occurred in countries which have no involvement in foreign conflicts and low levels of ‘state-sponsored terror’ – extra- judicial deaths, torture and imprisonment without trial. It said terrorism cost an estimated US $89.6 billion in 2015, down 15% on the previous year.

Jayalalithaa releases first statement from hospital, says she has taken ‘rebirth’

Chennai: In her first communication to party workers since being hospitalised in September, Tamil Nadu
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday said she has taken rebirth because of people’s prayers and urged them to vote for the AIADMK in the 19 November polls.

“I have taken rebirth because of your prayers and worship. I would like to share this happy news with you in the first place,” she said in a statement released by AIADMK here, which carried her facsimile signature.

File photo of Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa. PTI

File photo of Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa. PTI

Stating that she does not have any grievances in view of people’s “great love” for her, she said, “by God’s grace, very soon, by recovering fully, I am waiting to resume work.”

Exhorting party workers, she asked them to work in full swing for the victory of AIADMK in the 19 November polls for Aravakkurichi, Thanjavur and Thirupparankundram constituencies in Tamil Nadu and Nellithope Assembly segment in Puducherry.

Though she could not directly meet cadres and functionaries working in these constituencies and the general public, “my heart and thoughts are with you always,” she told them.

Without elaborating much, she asked party workers to “understand the nature of this statement and work with a sense of duty for making MGR’s winning symbol two leaves bag a huge victory.” She said cadres should work for the victory of AIADMK nominees by a huge margin of votes. “Work with vigour and a passion for the goal, which is AIADMK’s victory.”

Jayalalithaa said the cadres should consider the party’s victory as a victory for each one of them. Quoting lyrics from an MGR era song, she said, “AIADMK’s victory should resound in all the directions. I am eagerly
waiting for news of such victory.”

To voters, she recalled the slew of welfare schemes being implemented by her regime and urged them to “give your love and support to AIADMK in the present polls as well, remembering such innumerable schemes to enhance the people’s standard of living.”

The chief minister, who has been in hospital since 22 September, said she has been slogging for the growth of the people of Tamil Nadu and her party from day one of her public life on the advice of her mentor and AIADMK founder chief M G Ramachandran.

The 68-year-old AIADMK supremo was admitted to the hospital on 22 September after she complained of fever and dehydration. Later, the hospital had said she was being treated for infection with respiratory support, among others.

Specialists from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and from London, among others, have treated her during the period.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 08:52 IST

PM Modi’s financial strike will hit Pakistan’s ISI hard

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement will not only disrupt the existing stockpile of black money stashed illegally and put an end to counterfeit money, but will also completely disrupt funding for terrorist activities and money trails to separatist movements across the country.To sources here told DNA that the decision largely owed its origin to a report submitted by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), concluding that 15% of black money or suspicious transactions were finding their way to financing terrorism or extremist movements. Quoting figures, they said that between 2011 and 2016 that circulation of Rs. 500 notes had grown to 76% and Rs. 1,000 notes to 109%. They also quoted from intelligence reports which stated that a movement of some Rs 100 crore had been recently detected in Jammu and Kashmir, coinciding with the current unrest — implying that someone was financing it.After exhausting both diplomatic and military options, by isolating Pakistan globally, and launching surgical strikes across the LoC, the Indian strategic community believes the latest step will help to complete the dismantling of the terror support system within the country. This, they believe, can only be achieved by choking their funds.While investigating the Mumbai terror attack of November 26, 2008, the Intelligence Bureau had reportedly concluded that approximately Rs1,17,37,820 were spent by the Pakistan state sponsored terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba for the execution of these attacks.It is estimated that nearly Rs5,000 crore of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) have been pumped in India by Pakistan’s ISI to fund terror activities and destablise the Indian economy. According to a study by the Indian Statistical Institute, almost 250 currency notes out of 10 lakh are fake and minimum of Rs70 crore FICN enter the Indian market every year.Colonel (retd.) Vivek Chadha, deputy director at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) says that a major part of funding for terrorism from external sources comes through counterfeit currency, drug trafficking, charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and finally as a result of state sponsorship by Pakistan. He believes that terror activities require funding for a wide range of stores, training, logistics, explosives, arms and ammunitions, surveillance, communication gadgets, setting up training camps, acquisition of inflammatory jihadi materials, day to day and post death payments, travel etc.But since the groups themselves require a considerable amount of money for their sustenance, Chadha believes that the current announcement will come a long way to ensure a peaceful India.But there are others, who say, that terrorists don’t require a lot of money to conduct strikes. Figures quoted by intelligence agencies around the world at a global anti-terror conference stated that the 1993 World Trade Centre bombings needed just Rs9 lakhs (US$19000), Madrid bombing Rs8 lakhs (US$16000), and the Bali bombing just Rs. 7 lakhs fifty thousands (15,000 US dollars).From India’s point of view intelligence agencies suspect that Pakistan’s ISI has been raking in an annual profit of around Rs 500 crore by circulating FICN in India. They say that the ISI is estimated to be making a profit of 30-40% on the face value of each FICN produced in Pakistan.“There have been over one hundred seizures outside Indian since 2011. Interrogation details confirm Pakistan’s direct involvement as in 55-60% cases we could establish their involvement. But this also means that by conservative means a major portion of the rest of Rs. 3000 crore is in circulation and waiting to be used for terror activities,” said an intelligence official.The total fake notes that came into India in 2010 alone from abroad was pegged at Rs 1,600 crore that puts the ISI’s total profit at Rs 500 crore.Despite tough steps by the Reserve Bank of India, the government so far has not been able to weed out FICN as Pakistan has been printing good copies of original currency notes, which is discernible only to trained eyes.As a result, the government, sources said, has made arrangements to make new currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 2000 denominations. They will enter the market from November 10 and will be virtually impossible to copy. These notes will have highly advanced and sophisticated security features that cannot be reproduced easily by Pakistan.

EAM Sushma Swaraj admitted to AIIMS, to undergo endocrinological tests tomorrow

Mon, 7 Nov 2016-11:11pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi on Monday, where she will undergo certain endocrinological tests. “The minister (Swaraj) was admitted at around 7.22 PM at AIIMS. She is having diabetes and other medical problems. She will undergo certain endocrinological tests tomorrow,” a senior doctor said.Swaraj is admitted at the cardio-neuro centre under the supervision of Balram Airan, Chief of the Cardio Thoracic Centre. The 64-year-old BJP leader was admitted to AIIMS in April this year after she complained of chest congestion. She was also brought here on October 25 for a routine medical check-up.

Cotton farmers suffer as India-Pakistan tensions rise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The growing tension between India and Pakistan is having a big impact on cotton farmers. According to Indian traders, Pakistan has put an official ban on importing Indian cotton, ensuring that farmers all over the country are suffering, but especially those from Maharashtra, as the state is a major producer and exporter of cotton.Pradeep Jain, one of the major cotton traders from Maharashtra, explains the scenario. “Currently, there is no official ban by Pakistan on Indian cotton. But in the present scenario both Indian and Pakistani traders are reluctant to do business deals. Today, by border road, 99% of our exports have stopped. Sentiments are heightened now and our traders feel why we should do business with Pakistan if our soldiers are fighting them?” Statistics show the impact the unofficial ban is having on trade. According to data brought out by the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Pakistan had bought 27 lakh bales (one bale is 170 kg) out of the total Indian exports of 69 lakh cotton bales last season.This year though, Indian traders are worried that, thanks to the Pakistani boycott, this target will not be met. As a result, farmers are dropping prices with results that are hurting them.Sanjay Patil, a cotton growing farmer from Jalgaon said. “The current tensions between India and Pakistan have caused big financial losses to us. Two years ago, we sold the cotton almost Rs 7,000 per quintal. Today, we are selling cotton at the rate of Rs 4,500-5,000 per quintal. We respect the peoples’ sentiments but trade should not be hampered. If things do not improve, the government should buy our cotton at a minimum rate price of Rs 6,000 per quintal.”Ishwar Patil, another farmer from Dhule explains that the falling prices are also hurting farmers, as cotton traders are taking undue advantage of the situation. “We cannot keep the cotton at home for a long time due to many reasons. As a result, we are compelled to sell the cotton to cotton traders at a lower rate.” He adds, “Indian traders are also taking advantage of the current situation to decrease cotton prices and buy at a low rate from farmers.Once the situation normalises, these same traders who had stored the cotton will sell it at a higher rate, making a big profit, while the farmer suffers.”Clearly, the Indian farmer’s livelihood is under threat and until the situation normalises between the two countries — at least on the cotton front— he will continue to suffer. But according to Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, that is not likely to happen anytime soon.Speaking over the phone to DNA, Khan confirmed that at present business activities with India are quite low. “The Pakistan government has not made any official ban on importing cotton from India. However, we as traders have taken the conscious call not to buy cotton from India because of the current situation.”He said, “As a result, we have decided to buy raw cotton from local Pakistan cotton growers and pay them a reasonable rate as per world prices. Why should we pay higher prices to Indian farmers in such a scenario? Once the situation normalises, we may think of resuming trade with India,” Khan added.

Smoking a pack a day causes 150 mutations in every lung cell, research shows | Reuters

By Kate Kelland
| LONDON

LONDON Scientists have found that smoking a pack a day of cigarettes can cause 150 damaging changes to a smoker’s lung cells each year.The findings come from a study of the devastating genetic damage, or mutations, caused by smoking in various organs in the body.Publishing in the journal Science on Thursday, the researchers said the findings show a direct link between the number of cigarettes smoked in a lifetime and the number of mutations in the DNA of cancerous tumors.The highest mutation rates were seen in lung cancers, but tumors in other parts of the body – including the bladder, liver and throat – also had smoking-associated mutations, they said. This explains why smoking also causes many other types of cancer beside lung cancer.Smoking kills six million people a year worldwide and, if current trends continue, the World Health Organization predicts more than 1 billion tobacco-related deaths this century.

Cancer is caused by mutations in the DNA of a cell. Smoking has been linked with at least 17 types of cancer, but until now scientists were not clear on the mechanisms behind many of them. Ludmil Alexandrov of Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, one of those who carried out the research, explained that in particular, it had until now been difficult to explain how smoking increases the risk of cancer in parts of the body that don’t come into direct contact with smoke. “Before now, we had a large body of epidemiological evidence linking smoking with cancer, but now we can actually observe and quantify the molecular changes in the DNA,” he said.

This study analyzed over 5,000 tumors, comparing cancers from smokers with those from people who had never smoked.It found certain molecular fingerprints of DNA damage – called mutational signatures – in the smokers’ DNA, and the scientists counted how many of these were in different tumors.In lung cells, they found that on average, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day led to 150 mutations in each cell every year. Each mutation is a potential start point for a “cascade of genetic damage” that can eventually lead to cancer, they said.

The results also showed that a smoking a pack of cigarettes a day led to an average 97 mutations in each cell in the larynx, 39 mutations for the pharynx, 23 for the mouth, 18 for the bladder, and six mutations in every cell of the liver each year.Mike Stratton, who co-led the work at Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said it was a bit like digging in to the archaeology of each tumor”The genome of every cancer provides a kind of archaeological record, written in the DNA code itself, of the exposures that caused the mutations,” he said. “Looking in the DNA of cancers can provide provocative new clues to how (they) develop and thus, potentially, how they can be prevented.” (Reporting by Kate Kelland)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Jayalalithaa’s health: Tamil Nadu CM to soon resume her public service, says AIADMK

Chennai: Ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu on Thursday said party supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, hospitalised for more than a month, has “progressed well” and “started living a normal life” as it exuded confidence that she will soon resume her public service.

File image of tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa. PTI

File image of tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa. PTI

Party spokesperson Panrutty S Ramachandran said 68-year old Jayalalithaa, undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital since 22 September, has “progressed well” and expressed confidence that she will return to work for the poor people. “The people are confident (of her return) and their prayers are yielding results,” he told reporters.

Another party spokesperson, CR Saraswathy said the doctors said that Jayalalithaa was “very well” but wanted her to be under their watch for some time. “She is very well and is consuming normal food. She has started living a normal life. she will return soon and resume public service,” Saraswathy said.

The divine blessings were on Jayalalithaa as scores of party workers were holding prayers for her speedy recovery, she added. Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospital on 22 September after she complained of fever and dehydration.

Later the hospital said she was being treated for infection with respiratory support among others. Specialists from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and from London among others have treated Jayalalithaa.

In its last medical bulletin on 21 October, the hospital had said the Chief Minister was interacting and progressing gradually.

CBI won’t probe case of disappeared tiger

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a setback to the Maharashtra government’s efforts for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the “disappearance” of Jai, one of India’s largest tigers, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has written to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) against the move.The NTCA, a statutory body for strengthening tiger conservation has pointed out how, “tiger conservation is species conservation and putting all the states resources into one individual is neither prudent nor financially feasible.” It has opined that “a CBI enquiry is not deemed suitable in such a scenario.”A senior Maharashtra forest department official noted that, while the PMO and the Centre would take a final call on the investigation, “the opinion of a technical department like the NTCA was generally respected.” In July, the forest department had recovered hair samples from Bhandara district which matched with Jai’s DNA.The last location of the 250 kg, seven-footer named after superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s character from Sholay was at Paoni range near his habitat of Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary (UKWLS) on April 18, when his radio collar malfunctioned. This led to a massive outcry and search operation by the forest department, wildlife enthusiasts and NGOs, with fears that the iconic tiger may have been poached.In a recent letter to Dr Shrikar Pardeshi, Director, Prime Minister’s Office, Vaibhav C. Mathur, Assistant Inspector General of Forests, NTCA, noted how tigers are subject to ecological forces which govern their land tenure dynamics.It pointed to a Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun report which said, Jai’s age was around seven to eight years which is a stage when these animals are challenged by younger and fitter males in their territory. This may have led to an experienced male like Jai, who had fathered over 20 cubs, to move away. “This may be one of the reasons for the absence of Jai from UKWLS,” the WII report noted.

Bird flu scare: Odisha sounds high alert following Delhi and Gwalior

Bhubaneswar: With detection of avian influenza in Delhi and Gwalior, Odisha goverment health department has sounded high alert in the state and has asked chief district medical officers (CDMOs) to take precautionary measures.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Health secretary Arti Ahuja in letters to all CDMOs has informed that bird flu H5N8 has been detected at National Zoological Park, New Delhi and Gandhi Zoological Park in Gwalior. It was confirmed by National Institute of High Security Animal Disease Laboratory at Bhopal.

As the virus is carried by migratory birds, Odisha is on high alert as a large number of migratory birds visit the state in the onset of winter.

All the poultry farms and bird sanctuaries have been advised to take all precautionary measures, the health secretary said, adding the district administration have asked owners of all the poultry farms report to the administration if they found any sick or dead chicken.

Ahuja said awareness campaigns would be conducted by the state government and the district administrations have been asked to prepare contingency plan for surveillance,
deployment of rapid response teams, screening, case management facility and protection of human health during culling operation.

Asaram Bapu moves SC, seeks to undergo treatment at AIIMS, Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Self-styled religious figure Asaram Bapu, facing trial in rape cases, on Thursday moved Supreme Court seeking modification of its order directing him to undergo treatment at AIIMS in Jodhpur. A bench of Justices A R Dave, R K Agarwal and A M Khanwilkar agreed to hear the plea tomorrow after it was mentioned before it for urgent hearing on the ground that Asaram’s health was deteriorating.Counsel for Asaram sought modification of the October 24 order of the apex court saying that AIIMS, Jodhpur does not have in-patient facility and direction be issued to bring him to All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), Delhi for further treatment.The lawyer said that the court had directed Asaram to undergo treatment at AIIMS, Jodhpur or the Ayurvedic hospital there, while being in judicial custody. The bench agreed to hear the matter tomorrow.The apex court had on October 24 rejected his interim bail plea sought on health grounds. The apex court’s direction had come after controversial religious figure said he wanted to undergo ayurvedic treatment in Delhi for which he needed a month’s interim bail.A seven-member medical board of AIIMS Delhi had told the apex court that Asaram’s health condition was stable and that he had refused to undergo several tests. On August 11, the apex court had denied interim bail to Asaram in a rape case and directed AIIMS Delhi to set up the medical board to ascertain his health condition before taking up his regular bail plea.Asaram was arrested by Jodhpur Police on August 31, 2013 and has been in jail since then. On August 9, the High Court had rejected his bail application in the rape case. A teenage girl had accused him of sexual assault at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl, who belonged to Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, was a student living in the ashram.

Bird flu: Kerala govt says H5N8 virus will not affect humans

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Government on Thursday confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza of H5N8 among ducks in water-logged Kuttanad in Alappuzha District, but allied apprehension that the disease would spread to humans.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Replying to a submission in this regard in state Assembly, Forest and Animal Husbandry Minister K Raju said preliminary examination of the samples confirmed the affliction and nearly 1,500 infected ducks had been culled in the region.

Effective steps have been taken to monitor the situation and movement of ducks restricted in the region to check the further spread of the disease, he said.

“Preliminary examinations have confirmed the outbreak of H5N8 virus, an influenza A virus sub-type, in Kuttanad region. But, it is not fatal and will not spread to human beings,” Raju said.

However, the government was viewing the issue with utmost seriousness and steps had been taken to contain the situation, he said.

“Control rooms have been opened and 20 task force teams, led by doctors, deployed in the affected areas to monitor the situation,” he said.

The Minister also said the compensation for the ducks culled would be given as per the provision.

More than two months-old ducks would be given Rs 200 and below that would be given Rs 100.

For each egg destroyed, a compensation of Rs 5 would be given, he said, adding that the amount would be given after verifying the figures.

Intervening, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government would seriously consider setting up a hi-tech laboratory to test avian diseases as the state was witnessing frequent outbreak of avian influenza.

He also said the issue was a serious one as most of the people, engaged in duck rearing, belonged to very poor background and it was their only means for livelihood.

Making the submission, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said people in the affected areas were anxious whether the disease would spread to human beings.

Urging the government to take effective steps to check its further spread, he said the influenza was feared to have spotted in neighbouring Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.

The cases of avian influenza have been reported from Thakazhi, Ramankari, Pandi, Pallippad and Kainadi in Alappuza district.

It is suspected that the migratory birds which came from Siberia via Pakistan and Delhi, might have brought the virus to coastal Kerala. The bird flu has been reported in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and some other parts of the country.

The outbreak of the virus in ducks in Kerala was confirmed after tests of samples at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases at Bhopal, the district administration had said on Tuesday.

60-year-old AIIMS shows alumni archives

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rare black and white photographs chronicling the All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ (AIIMS) 60-year history, is on exhibition on the campus. Due to the overwhelming response, the last date of the exhibition has been extended till October 31. It took five months to gather all these rare photos of the medical institute from across the world.From former senior doctors, medical staff to AIIMS alumini—also known as AIIMSONIANS—were contacted to contribute to the exhibition. “We had created a common email ID, which was circulated among senior doctors, staff and alumini from the institute. We requested them to share whatever photos they had when studied at the institute. Alumini from the US and New Zealand also contributed,” said Dr OP Kharbanda, the exhibition’s coordinator.The country’s premier institute, which was established in 1956, celebrated its diamond jubilee on September 26. The exhibition was inaugurated on AIIMS’ Institute Day on September 26 by Union Health Minister JP Nadda.Among the rare images include photographs of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit on the grand opening of the premier campus in 1961, and Jacqueline Kennedy’s visit in 1962. Incidentally, these images are available in colour, a rarity at that time.The institute’s buildings were formally opened by the British monarch on January 27, 1961 at a ceremony attended by the then President Rajendra Prasad.The Queen, now 90, had also planted a Gulmohar tree on the lawn, but it was eaten up by termites. Four bottle brush trees were planted at the same spot. It is expected that eight additional trees will be planted in the outer circle around it.“We have included rare images from our archives, Queen’s visit with Prince Philip,” AIIMS Director Dr MC Misra said. The exhibition also extols the contribution made by Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, who was instrumental in founding the institution. Old pictures of her mansion, ‘Manorville’ in Shimla, which she gifted to AIIMS for use as a holiday home for doctors and nurses, are also on display.The institution has roots in the Bhore Committee, which in 1946 had recommended the establishment of a national medical centre which would concentrate on meeting the need for highly qualified manpower to look after the nation’s expanding healthcare activities.New Zealand granted £1 million to AIIMS under the Colombo Plan and the foundation stone of the All India Medical Sciences was laid in 1952.

Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit slams India for trying to isolate it on terror

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid simmering tension in Indo-Pak ties, Pakistan on Monday slammed India for trying to isolate it on terrorism, saying the country has been the worst victim of the menace even as it called for sustained diplomacy to forge an “effective cooperative paradigm” to improve relations.Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit said the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was the “root cause” of all problems between the two countries and that Pakistan does not need “misplaced jingoism and hypernationalism” to pursue its foreign policy objectives.”How on earth is it possible to isolate a country on terrorism when that country itself is the worst victim of terrorism,” he said. He was speaking at the Indian Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. It is only through sustained diplomacy that Pakistan and India can address their issues and forge an effective cooperative paradigm to their mutual benefit, he said.Talking about his country’s ties with India, he said Kashmir issue “has made us mutually antagonistic. Let its just resolution unite us in peace and prosperity.””Pakistan is a proud country of 200 million people. It does not need misplaced jingoism and hypernationalism to pursue its foreign policy objectives,” he said.”To claim that those who attended Burhan Wani’s funeral were instigated by Pakistan is wrong. We need to move from symbolism to substance and from conflict management to conflict resolution. I think the two countries need to agree to formalise the 2003 ceasefire agreement. When Uri attack was underway, Pakistan was being blamed, this when we did not even know what was happening” said Basit. Commenting on the Ae Dil Hai Mushkil row, Basit said, “I am glad that Karan Johar’s flick is out of ‘mushkil’.”

Supreme Court to hear Asaram’s bail plea today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Monday will hear the bail plea of self-styled religious figure Asaram Bapu, an accused in a rape case of a minor girl. A medical board of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had on October 3 told the apex court that the health of Asaram Bapu was stable. Asaram had earlier refused to undergo several tests, the seven-member board said in its report filed before the bench of Justices AK Sikri and NV Ramana. On August 11, the top court had denied interim bail to Asaram in a rape case and directed the AIIMS to set up a medical board to ascertain his health before taking up his regular plea for bail. The Rajasthan High Court had earlier rejected Asaram’s bail plea citing that the case had reached its “fag end” and thus it was not “appropriate” to grant him bail. This was his ninth regular bail application to be rejected. In 2013, a minor girl had alleged that Asaram had sexually assaulted her at his ashram in Jodhpur. The self-styled godman was subsequently arrested on August 31, 2013, and has been in jail since. Asaram’s counsel had sought bail citing that the accused has been suffering several ailments.

AIIMS proposes increasing retirement age of faculty to 67

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The governing body of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has cleared the proposal to increase the retirement age of its teaching faculty from 65 to 67 years. The proposal will now have to await the approval of the Cabinet for it to be implemented. The decision was taken during the 150th meeting of the governing body and 10th meeting of the institute body chaired by Union Health Minister JP Nadda late Friday evening. Nadda in his capacity as the Health Minister is also the President of AIIMS. “The two bodies have cleared the proposal to increase the retirement age of teaching faculty to 67 years from the present limit of 65,” an AIIMS spokesperson said. The new proposal, however, does not apply to the AIIMS Director. “Though the proposal does not include the institute’s director, the government can still bring the same in its ambit through Parliamentary procedure,” the spokesperson said. The AIIMS has already begun the search for its new director starting this month.Present Director Dr MC Misra is superannuating on January 31 next year. During the governing and institute’s bodies meeting, Nadda had also directed the AIIMS administration to take all necessary steps to operationalise the National Cancer Institute by April 2018.The NCI is coming up in Jhajjhar in Haryana which would be equipped with top medical facilities including first-of-its-kind tissue repository.

MoEF comes out with norms for infra projects in forests

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recognizing the threats of linear infrastructure project such as roads and railway lines to wildlife, the union environment, forest and climate change ministry (MoEF&CC) has come out with detailed policy guidelines on putting inadequate safeguards while clearing these projects to facilitate wildlife movement and prevent their deaths.The guidelines come in the wake of severe criticism of the MoEF&CC for clearing infrastructure projects through wildlife habitats without due safeguards and the ministry is also hoping that standard wildlife safeguards for such projects will ensure speedy clearances.Infact, just a month ago it cleared a road widening project through the Kanha-Achanakmar tiger corridor in Chhattisgarh despite calls from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to reject it. Each year, several endangered wildlife species such as tigers, leopards, elephants and a range of other wildlife get killed as they try to cross highways and railway tracks that bisect wildlife habitats. Besides roads and railway, power transmission lines and canals also kill wildlife as they get electrocuted or drown.The draft policy guideline, ‘eco-friendly measures to mitigate impacts of linear infrastructure on wildlife’ has been prepared by the WII and the ministry has now sought public suggestions and objections on it.For the first time, standard recommendations and engineering solutions have been issued through the report, applicable to specific wildlife and habitats. For instance, it has said that for projects that pass through tiger landscapes, both underpasses and overpasses are potential engineering solutions for reducing the impact of these projects. “A minimum span of 30m with a height of 5m and width of 5-8m would work for most species in tiger landscapes,” the report has said.In the case of elephants, the report has recommended that elevating a road project on pillars is the best solution. If it is an underpass, it should have a height of at least 8m and width of 12m for smooth movement of the biggest land animal, the report added. Monkeys and squirrels can use canopy bridges that are built on railway tracks while pipe culverts are ideal for smaller mammals, reptiles and amphibians, the WII report said.The guidelines also highlight that infrastructure projects are a barrier for wildlife that restrict and prevent their movement. They disturb wildlife habitats and affect natural processes, which in turn may have long-term implications for wildlife such as genetic drift.According to the ministry report, National Highway-7 stretch between Maharashtra and Nagpur, that passes through Kanha-Pench wildlife corridor sees an average traffic volume of 452 vehicles/hour, comprising of all kinds of vehicles. As per the report, a death zone, where 375-600 cars pass per hour, only about 25% of the animals will be able to cross.In sections of the highway where more than 600 cars pass per hour, animals are largely repelled from crossing, preventing them from moving to newer habitats.The report has recommended that on sharp bends and high-speed networks where applying brakes is not possible, railway tracks should be be barricaded while giving access to elephants at other locations.Dna had reported earlier this month that more than 400 railway trains (passenger and goods) pass through the country’s sensitive wildlife habitats.

Delhi Zoo staff under observation over contact with dead birds affected by H5N8

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even though the Delhi government and concerned authorities have swung into action after samples of Avian Influenza tested positive in birds at Delhi Zoo, the virus may have already affected some in Delhi. In a case of gross negligence, the Delhi zoo staff may have come in contact with the virus while removing the dead birds from the zoo premises. Top sources in the Delhi government said that the zoo staff members didn’t use the preventive measures before removing the dead carcass and have now been kept under observation. “The zoo staff members removed the dead birds with their bare hands, whereby violating prescribed laws. The rules state that the zoo keepers are supposed to wear proper gear, like gloves, masks and gum boots to ensure that the diseases don’t communicate to the staff members,” said a Delhi government official. According to doctors, the Avian Influenza can be fatal to human if the humans come in direct contact with the affected poultry. “Avian flu is spread in humans when a person comes in contact with infected birds/poultry or consumes infected poultry or comes in contact with another infected human being. This infection has high mortality rates. A patient should be suspected to have this disease only if there is exposure to infected poultry or individual,” said Dr. Raman Abhi, additional director, internal medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute.As per the government data, a total of 24 birds have died across Delhi with three being attributed to the influenza. Confirming the reports, Delhi Development minister Gopal Rai said that all the zoo staff members have been kept under observation. “We have established a medical center at the Delhi zoo, and all the staff members are being medicated at regular intervals. Our teams are also observing them regularly at the medical center,” said Rai.Meanwhile, the Delhi government also has set up a helpline number 23890318 for citizens to inform the government about suspicious bird deaths. “No truck will be allowed to enter the mandi sans a fitness certificate from Oct 23 and team of vets and mandi officials will be formed,” said Rai.

New norms for infra in forests

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The union ministry for environment, forest and climate change (MoEF&CC) will soon come out with uniform national policy guidelines on road, railway and other linear projects that pass through wildlife habitats to ensure their speedy clearances and also reduce the impact they have on forests and endangered wildlife.Speaking to DNA, environment minister Anil Dave said, “Yes, there is a policy under process on this issue and we will definitely have uniform guidelines that can be applied across the country.”SS Negi, director general of forests said the policy guidelines, which are under process, will be discussed at length during the on-going ministry conference with state wildlife and forest chiefs. “The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will present a draft on this issue and also incorporate the views of states,” said Negi. DNA had recently reported that more than 1200 passenger and goods trains pass through sensitive wildlife habitats across the country, posing threat to elephants, tigers and leopards.A ministry note on this issue, while acknowledging that new projects of any kind are avoided within or near wildlife areas, also said that “location specificity or inevitability sometimes warrant appropriate mitigation measures for counter balancing negative impacts on habitat.”Presently, the MoEF&CC recommends ‘mitigation measures’ for linear projects on a case to case basis. Mitigation measures refer to specific conditions stipulated by the environment ministry while clearing linear projects that hamper wildlife habitats. In the case of highway projects, the ministry has in the past asked for building underpasses to ensure smooth movement of animals.The ministry’s move comes in the light of instances where clearances for linear projects got delayed after getting mired in court cases. In the recent past, the MoEF&CC’s National Board for Wildlife cleared the controversial National Highway -7, (NH7) widening project between Maharashtra and Nagpur. The widened highway will cut through the crucial Kanha-Pench tiger corridor. Activists had dragged the road ministry and environment ministry to court on this issue and both had to eventually agree to build overpasses and underpasses on the highway to facilitate movement of animals.The wildlife board also cleared the Sevak Rongpo railway line that will pass through Mahananda wildlife sanctuary. Under the National Democratic Alliance government, the environment ministry has cleared linear projects such as new railway lines, doubling of railway lines, widening of national highways, canals and power transmission lines despite opposition from within the ministry on several occasions.

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa ‘interacting and progressing gradually’: Hospital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Almost a month after she was hospitalised, Apollo Hospitals on Friday for the first time said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa “is interacting”, a key indicator of improvement in her physical condition.”The Honourable Chief Minister is interacting and progressing gradually,” Director of Medical Services, Apollo Hospitals, Dr N Sathyabhama said in a press release. She said Jayalalithaa “continues to be under treatment and observation for all vital parameters, respiratory support and passive physiotherapy.” Dr Sathyabhama said the team of experts of the critical care group, senior cardiologists, senior respiratory physicians, senior consultants of the infectious diseases department, senior endocrinologist and diabetologist of Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai have been giving treatment and care to her.”The nutrition and the essential nutrient intake are being attended to by senior consultants from the dietary team.” In its last medical bulletin on October 10, the hospital had said, “Prof Dr G Khilnani, Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), visited Apollo Hospital again on October 9 and 10 and examined Honourable Chief Minister.” It had said that Khilnani, part of a three-member AIIMS panel, had discussions with the hospital’s expert panel and “concurred with the present line of treatment” being given to the Chief Minister.Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo hospital on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration. Consultant Intensivist from the UK Dr Richard John Beale had also examined her and deliberated with the Apollo doctors’ team on her treatment. Meanwhile, AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathy said Jayalalithaa would be back home “soon”. “Amma will be back home very soon. Amma is perfectly all right. She is conscious. She is talking,” she told PTI, adding that prayers continued to be offered across the state for her well-being.

Bhubaneswar fire: Grim reminder of hospital admin’s negligence, violation of norms

It is not even five years since the AMRI Hospital fire tragedy in Kolkata that killed 90 patients. In a similar disaster, a devastating fire at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar late Monday evening claimed 22 lives.

How many more patients in the ICUs need to die not due to critical illness, but due to an outbreak of fire before the government and the private hospital owners will wake up from their deep slumber to have a foolproof system in place?

According to the latest report available, 22 patients died after the fire broke out reportedly due to short-circuit at SUM Hospital’s ICU in Bhubaneswar last evening. Nearly 50 critically-ill patients were in the ICU when the fire broke out, of which 22 died either due to the fire or while being shifted to another hospital. Nearly 30 patients have been reported to be in serious condition.

Rescue work underway at the Institute of Medical Sciences and Sum Hospital in Bhubaneshwar. PTI

Rescue work underway at the Institute of Medical Sciences and Sum Hospital in Bhubaneswar. PTI

Despite the worst hospital fire tragedy at AMRI Hospital on 9 December, 2011, hospital administration in India continues to be in crisis. The deaths of patients in Kolkata and Bhubaneswar hospitals were not due to any natural disaster, but due to negligence on part of hospital management.

How could a fire take place in a sensitive zone like the ICU is beyond comprehension? Even if the fire broke out due to short-circuit as has been claimed, why it couldn’t be doused at an initial stage?

The hospital authorities may argue as happened in the case of AMRI Hospital that the inferno was an “accident” and not “intentional”, but it has been found in large number of fire incidents, including the one in Kolkata that lack of precautionary measures, improper safety measures and failure to deal with emergency situation had led to fire breakouts and deaths.

Some of the worst fire tragedies that took place in recent years

June 1997: Uphaar Cinema tragedy at Green Park, New Delhi — 59 people died.
August 2001: Private mental asylum at Erwadi, Tamil Nadu — 28 died.
January 2004: Srirangam marriage hall fire, Tamil Nadu — 57 guests died.
July 2004: Kumbakonam school tragedy in Tanjavur district, Tamil Nadu — 94 children died.
March 2010: At Stephen Court, a historical building at Park Street in Kolkata — 42 died.
December 2011: AMRI Hospital at Dhakuria in Kolkata — 90 patients died.

Investigations into all these cases revealed lack of preparedness to combat fire outbreak, lack of safety measures and violation of mandatory conditions in fire safety norms. No lesson has yet been learnt.

A case in point: AMRI Hospital, Kolkata

Post-Independence, AMRI Hospital, Kolkata stands to be the worst case in death of patients due to fire in a hospital.

Both investigations and academic studies revealed that the inferno at the hospital had been due to multiple factors like storage of highly inflammable substances in an illegally built basement in the hospital; lack of adequate fire-fighting equipment and trained staff to deal with the situation; dysfunctional fire-fighting equipment; fire brigade wasn’t informed when the fire broke out, which is against the protocol; faulty construction of hospital building; gas stove was used next to inflammable substances and electric cables didn’t have mandatory fire-proof casing that led to short-circuit.

According to a published research paper by Prof Mahesh Bendigeri and Prof Ramesh Olekar — Hospital governance in crisis: A case study of AMRI Hospital, Kolkata  in International Journal of Development Studies — the AMRI Hospital had violated fire safety norms, did not follow standard fire protocol and there was absence of internal audit system.

What regulation says

According to the National Building Code 2005, hospitals are classified as institutional buildings and therefore require fire-fighting equipment. At all times, the area around a hospital building must be kept clear for easy access of fire tenders (Note: This was absent in AMRI Hospital case). It has also mentioned clauses to be followed mandatorily while constructing a hospital or sanatorium. This is often violated in India.

The National Association of Fire Officers has a detailed checklist that recommends the hospitals and nursing homes to have active fire protection system, fire fighting installation details, fire prevention and awareness measures, and building plan.

But, in most of fire accidents it has been found that these measures were neglected.

Is it a repeat in the case of Bhubaneswar hospital?

Speaking to media, Tathagata Satpathy, BJD MP said, “It must have taken enough time for the fire to spread in such a manner due to which 22 patients died. It speaks of lack of fire fighting system and poor infrastructure in the hospital.”

The study by Bendigeri and Olekar further mentioned, “AMRI Hospital tragedy in Kolkata has brought to light many gaping holes and there is undoubtedly much work needed by both government authorities and hospital board. The government should set up committees to draft new guidelines considering the gaps existing in the present system and incorporate best international practices…Negligence in performing duties and not adhering to compliance of norms resulted into such cruel act showcasing poor governance.”

Was there a gap in the system? Did SUM Hospital fail to follow the mandatory norms and blatantly violated them as in the case of AMRI Hospital?

It’s the high time government acted in this matter to ensure no patients die due to fire, while in deep sleep.

Fire in private hospital in eastern India kills 14 | Reuters

Fire in private hospital in eastern India kills 14 | Reuters

Updated: Oct 18, 2016 01:12 IST

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By Jatindra Dash
| BHUBANESHWAR

BHUBANESHWAR At least 14 people died on Monday when a fire broke out at a private hospital in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, officials said.The fire erupted inside the dialysis ward of the SUM hospital’s critical-care unit in the state capital Bhubaneswar, public health officials said.Ambulances ferried more than 120 patients to other facilities for treatment, officials said while firemen brought the flames under control.

Some patients were still in critical condition.”We are trying our best to save lives,” said Arti Ahuja, principal secretary of Odisha’s health and family welfare department.

He confirmed the death toll of 14 though local news channels said more than 20 people had died.Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the tragedy “mind-numbing” and directed the federal health minister to facilitate transfer of those injured to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a group of government hospitals.

“Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire,” Modi said on Twitter. (Writing by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Once Pampore’s pride, now just mangled remains

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three years ago, when the newly constructed Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) complex was unveiled, the imposing structure quickly became the landmark in Kashmir, earning the moniker “pride of Pampore”.Two militant attacks later, not only is the EDI left with pockmarked walls and dented infrastructure, but the militancy-infested Valley’s entrepreneurial spirit has also been seriously punctured.Since February, the EDI complex has come under two separate attacks, with the gun battles between militants and security forces lasting over 100 hours. The first one took place at the main building, where classes on business and skill development activities were held. This week’s attack was on the hostel building, whose glass facade is now shattered. The green roof has blown up, debris is strewn all around, computers and furniture have been dismantled and patches of black soot cover the building from all sides.What was once a symbol of development and progress in the Valley, today stands as a haunting reminder of Kashmir’s reality. EDI founder-director Dr Mohammad Parray said, “It’s (EDI) devastated completely. There is nothing left inside. Everything is damaged. It’s very painful to see.”Kashmiris are accustomed to this pain. In the 90s, militants fervently attacked popular places, shutting down restaurants, cinema halls and hotels. Since the beginning of militancy, there has hardly been any construction of public infrastructure. Craft Development Institute, Carpet Development Institute and Institute of Hotel Management have come up in the last decade. But the sheer size and standard of EDI made it the showpiece structure, and every visiting delegation, including foreign nationals, paid a visit.The attacks have left the complex severely mangled.Strategic locationLocated along the National Highway (NH) with Jhelum river running on one side and spread over an area of 1 lakh sq feet, the EDI building is in close proximity to the Army’s 15 corps headquarter in Badami Bagh, five km away in Srinagar. The hostel building can accommodate 200 people in its 60 rooms, each having an attached bathroom and service facilities, including kitchen. Both times, militants took cover in the sprawling seven-storey structure, firing and lobbing grenades at the security forces outside intermittently, playing the cat and mouse game for days.General Officer Commanding (GOC), Victor Force, Major General Ashok Narula, said one of the reasons the recent operation took a long time was that each room had to be cleared to flush the militants out. The building provided room for militants to manoeuvre, making the complex an attractive target. A former EDI officer said every other building in Kashmir is small in size and height, and the Army can check them in a matter of hours. “By taking shelter here, militants could engage forces for a long time,” he said.Attractive targetThe fact that EDI is a state government project also makes it a symbolic target. Constructed in 2013 at an estimated cost of Rs16 crore, it was considered to have the best infrastructure in the Valley. “The EDI showed that despite turbulence, militancy, and unrest, if civilians had aspirations and vigour, they could achieve their dreams,” said a former employee.Since its inception in 2004, over 27,000 individuals have been trained in various schemes at EDI, enabling them to be entrepreneurs. Private industries, business houses and multinational corporations have stayed away from investment in the Valley due to militancy. The EDI nurtured this aspiration among locals, making them self-employed businessmen and women. It was a small effort in making the Valley economically self-reliant.The ongoing curfew and unrest after the Burhan Wani encounter has already slowed the pace of EDI activities. “We may recover infrastructure-wise, but the damage these attacks have made to the cause of entrepreneurship is huge,” Dr Parray said.

AIIMS experts, UK specialist visit Apollo Hospital again to examine Jayalalithaa

Chennai: The expert team of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), along with a UK-based specialist, who had earlier examined Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, on Thursday visited Apollo Hospital again.

File image of Jayalalithaa. PTI

File image of Jayalalithaa. PTI

Hospital sources said international specialist and consultant from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London, Dr Richard Beale, and the AIIMS team, comprising Dr G Khilnani, Professor of Department of Pulmonology Medicine, Dr Anjan Trikha, Professor of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, and Dr Nitish Nayak, Professor of Department of Cardiology, visited the hospital in the afternoon.

The expert panel, during its earlier visit to the hospital on 6 October, had drawn up a detailed medical management plan to treat the 68-year-old AIADMK supremo. During its last visit, the team had held detailed deliberations on the treatment protocol provided to Jayalalithaa.

On 9 and 10 October, Khilnani had visited the hospital and examined the chief minister. An earlier press release from the hospital had said, he had discussions with the hospital’s expert panel and had “concurred with the present line of treatment” being given to the chief minister.

Jayalalithaa continues to be under treatment and “is being constantly monitored by the intensivists and other consultants
in the expert panel”, it had said. Necessary respiratory support, antibiotics, nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy were being given to her, it had added.

Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on 22 September after she complained of fever and dehydration.

FTII takes series of new initiatives, students sceptical

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Students of the country’s premier film school – Film and Television Institute of India (FTII)–will no longer be eligible to use the hostel facilities of the campus in Pune post a maximum three years of their course duration, a document detailing a series of initiatives taken by the institute management states.The document also says that the film school will introduce a new syllabus for the timely completion of courses in the future.”A choice-based credit system, along with continuous evaluation and semester system has been introduced. The hostel facility will only be available for those who are doing courses, the duration of which is maximum three years,” the document states.A senior official of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry told DNA that the existing infrastructure of the institute will be augmented and more digital studios will be added so that students can complete their courses within a stipulated period of three years.”Earlier, students would continue their courses at the institute for years and were offered 100 per cent subsidy. Now, they will have to complete their course within three years. This would also bring about a discipline and accountability if students in FTII,” the official said.”As a result, there were zero years in 2014 and 2015 where new students couldn’t take admission due to a lack of seats. The new initiative attempts to change this,” the official added.As part of the new initiatives, FTII will be carrying out several short-term filmmaking courses across the country, starting with a 20-day course would be conducted in Guwahati this month.”For decades, film and television courses have stayed put in Pune and Kolkata. Why should there be such courses offered across the country that would serve as a prelude to the degree courses?” an official asked and added that it would be a huge skill development initiative, in sync with the requirement of the expanding TV and film industry.Other measures include opening FTII to the public once or twice a month, starting anti-ragging measures and steps to curb sexual harassment.”Moreover, there are frequent interactions held with the population residing around FTII, who earlier often complained about the students. The institute will also be putting floodlights and CCTVs in the dark areas of the campus,” a senior official said.Students, who have recently finished their courses at the institute, were sceptical and said even the new course is voluminous enough to be completed within just three years.Yashasvi Mishra, a former student of acting at FTII, said except a few courses, many courses can take an average of 4.5 years to five years to get completed and it is not usually the students’ fault.”There are numerous other factors at play here like the availability of studios and other resources. Nobody wants to continue studying at the institute for years,” Mishra said, adding that his own course started in 2011 after a delay of seven months.”For example, editing students can only start their work once the film is made,” Mishra explained.”The problem is that the FTII administration is more keen on the quantity than the quality of courses,” saidVikas Urs, another former FTII student, said he was part of the revising syllabus committee, but had walked out of it, since even the new syllabus cannot be completed within three years. “The first batch has already started the new syllabus and it’s been just a few months. It would be difficult for the students to complete this new syllabus within three years, but the institute administration will blame the students for it,” said Urs.

3-day Pampore encounter ends, 2 terrorists killed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 57-hour-long gun battle between two terrorists and the army ended on Wednesday after the security forces gunned down the second militant holed up in a government building on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.The army had killed one of the two terrorists on Tuesday evening after unleashing a barrage of grenades, rockets and explosives to flush them out of the seven-storey J&K Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) hostel building.The operation started on Monday morning when the terrorists cruised through Jhelum and occupied the hostel building to engage the security forces in a gunfight. Eyewitnesses said that the group entered through the rear side and broke open the window panes to gain access to the hostel building.The terrorists had resorted to indiscriminate firing on day one, besides setting some of the rooms on fire. An army jawan was injured in the encounter, police said.The army operation was meticulously planned to avoid collateral damage and special para-commandos were brought in to take on the highly-entrenched terrorists. The forces pounded the building to create a percussion effect, by breaking all glasses and expose the terrorists before pinning them down.”These terrorists most likely belong to Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT),” said Major General Ashok Narula, general officer commanding (GOC) Victor Force of the Indian Army adding, “It was a tricky operation as the building was huge and we did not want any collateral damage.”The GOC said the army started the operation on Monday morning and on Tuesday kept working on it before clearing up the whole premises on Wednesday morning.”It is very sad that militants for the second time have occupied the EDI, which is a pride of Kashmir and centre of excellence where youth get employment. We have taken time because the building has ground floor plus six others floors and one attic. All 60 rooms are bath-attached, the one reason it took time to clear the building,” he said.Police said the bodies of the terrorists have been recovered from the encounter site and their identity is being ascertained. Two AK rifles, nine magazines, grenades and other ammunition have been recovered from the site.”They chose this building to draw the media attention. After the encounter in Baramulla we had information that there might be people who try to sneak in to the city and carry out such attacks on the highways,” said SJM Gillani, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone.

Kashmir: Despite heavy bombardment, terrorists stand their ground in Pampore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Heavy bombardment was done on the seven-storey Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) hostel building on Tuesday, to smoke-out the terrorists holed up in the concrete structure for more than 36 hours. One of them is believed to have been gunned down by the security forces.From rockets to rocket-propelled grenades to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the army used everything to drive out the militants. The bombardments led to deafening noise and shook nearby villages, but militants remained inside, literally using the building as a concrete bunker.The army had brought in the Special Forces of 9-Para. The unit was one of the detachments that carried out the surgical strikes on militant launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).The militants, meanwhile, remained silent the entire Monday night, spurring speculations about their fate. On Tuesday evening, however, as the bombardment intensified, they fired indiscriminately on the troops, signaling that they were still alive. The security forces immediately engaged them in a gun battle, in which one of them is believed to have been killed.”Operation is still on. We will share the details as and when we get them,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.The operation started on Monday morning, when the militants cruised through Jhelum and occupied the hostel building. Eyewitnesses said a group of two to three militants came from the rear side and broke open the window to get inside the building.”The watchman said there were two to three men. Since the main door was locked, they broke the window. Nobody knew at the time that someone has entered the building. The first thing they did was to set ablaze the roof of the building,” Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, in-charge of EDI publicity, told DNA.Seeing the smoke billowing, the watchman rushed to call the fire brigade. “As they (fire brigade) tried to enter into the building, militants opened fire. It is a seven-floor building and all have 10 rooms each, except the ground floor. There are two training halls and a cafeteria on the ground floor. CCTVs have been installed on the first three floors,” Mir said.He added, “A few days ago, we had floated tenders to establish security bunkers around the campus.” Security sources said, “It is not easy for a person to withstand such heavy bombardment. The entire area shook but the militants managed to stay on, which proves they are battle-hardened.”Meanwhile, around 10 people, including two CRPF men, were injured when unknown militants hurled a grenade on police and security force deployment at Bona Bazar area of Shopian district in south Kashmir.

Monica Ghurde murder case: Filmed her naked to blackmail her later, says accused

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Goa court on Tuesday remanded Rajkumar Singh, accused of murdering 39-year-old perfume specialist Monica Ghurde, in seven days police custody. Singh (21), who hails of Punjab, was arrested in Bengaluru and brought to Goa on transit remand on Monday night. According to a report in The Times of India, the accused told Goa police that he undressed Monica to film her nude after smothering her with the intention of blackmailing her later.”The accused was produced before Judicial Magistrate First Class, Mapusa, who remanded him in seven days police custody,” police inspector Rajesh Kumar told PTI.Singh, originally a native of Bhatinda in Punjab, became the main suspect after he withdrew cash from an ATM machine in Porvorim, just 5 kms from the scene of the crime, on the morning of October 6. The perfume specialist was found murdered in her flat near Panaji, following which the Goa police had tracked down the alleged killer and arrested him from a hotel in Bengaluru.Ghurde was found strangulated to death in her three-bedroom rented apartment in Sangolda village near Panaji. The naked body was recovered on October 6, but investigation revealed she was killed a day earlier.Singh had stolen two ATM cards of Ghurde besides her mobile phone, and transactions made through them helped the police to track him. The accused was a security guard and had worked in a building complex where Ghurde stayed earlier. The fashion designer-turned-perfumer had been living alone in the flat since July last.Ghurde had done her photography course from Mumbai’s JJ Institute of Applied Arts. She moved to Chennai in 2009 to pursue her interest in perfumes, and shifted to Goa in 2011. She had set up a perfume-making company, Mo Lab.