Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Swaho Sahoo, Chandigarh NewsLine, Express India , Sunday , February 04, 2007
Chandigarh, February 3: North Indian households may be poised for a major lifestyle change in terms of food habit. In a recent study conducted by the gastroenterology department of PGI, one in every 122 children in Chandigarh is prone to celiac disease, commonly referred to as wheat allergy.
In the first such study conducted by the institute, five schools from the city were selected and a student population of 1,500 was surveyed. “We chose schools from five corners of the city so as to give representation to all strata of society,” said Dr Sadhna Lal, paediatric gastroenterologist at PGI.
“This study has broken the myth that wheat allergy was uncommon in India. Rather, the prevalence here is as common as in the West, only people don’t know about its existence,” Dr Lal said.
Another study conducted by DMC, Ludhiana, studied 4,300 schoolchildren and found a prevalence of one in 300. The most important factors that trigger celiac disease or intolerance to gluten - a protein that is found in wheat, barley or rye - are genes and exposure to wheat.
“Celiac disease is a genetically transmitted disease and North Indians share the same genes as Europeans,” said Dr Ajit Sood, HOD, Gastroenterology at DMC. “Most of the North Indian population are descendants of Europeans who invaded the country,” Dr Sood added, on the sidelines of a talk on the geographical variations of the disease, at the Gastro CME in PGI.
Although celiac disease is a lifelong ailment, it can be taken care of through abstinence from wheat and wheat products and any other product containing gluten.
“Unfortunately, in India it is difficult to get food that is gluten-free,” said Dr Lal. “Unlike the West, we don’t have legislation that makes it compulsory for food manufacturers to mention whether the food contains gluten or not,” she said.
Studies conducted in the West suggest that people suffering from wheat allergy undergo stress and psychological problems because of the insensitivity of society.
“It becomes very difficult for the patient as there are restrictions on his social life. He cannot eat out, cannot attend parties or travel without homemade food,” said Dr Lal. She added that doctors at PGI were in the process of studying the psychological impact of the disease on the indigenous population.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Calcutta, Nov. 27: Incidents of violence against women are on the rise in India, with one act of sexual harassment being reported every 12 minutes, one rape every 28 minutes and one dowry death every 67 minutes. And these are just the tip of the iceberg, as most cases go unreported.
“In a situation such as this, we feel it’s time to actively involve men in the struggle to stop violence against women,” said Anuradha Kapoor, director, Swayam, a non-profit women’s organisation committed to ending violence against women and children.
Swayam is organising a campaign in Calcutta to stop violence against women, in association with DRIK India, an alternative media organisation, and International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), an international forum for personal contact and professional development among women broadcasters.
The campaign is part of an international initiative originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. It kicked off on November 25 with a mass awareness programme, including an exhibition of posters and performances by the theatre and music groups of Swayam.
The campaign ends on December 10, marking International Human Rights Day. “This period has a special significance. It coincides with the International Day against Violence against Women, World AIDS Day and World Disability Day,” said Kapoor.
Swayam’s campaign will feature workshops by artists and rights activists, photography exhibitions, panel discussions and film shows.
New York - The staggering human toll taken by tuberculosis (TB) and malnutrition as well as the devastation caused by conflicts in Haiti, Somalia, Colombia, Chechnya and various parts of India, Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are among the "Top Ten" Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006, according to the year-end list released today by the international humanitarian medical aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
Clashes in central India
Ongoing conflict in several parts of India - including northeastern Assam and Manipur states highlighted in last year's Top 10 Underreported Humanitarian Stories list - Report says that it has gone virtually unnoticed by the outside world for years. In central India's Chhattisgarh state, clashes between Maoist insurgents, Indian security forces and Hindutva sponsored militias, also known as Salwa Judum, has been occurring for more than 25 years, resulting in the displacement, sometimes reportedly forced, of more than 50,000 civilians.
Others flee into neighboring states while thousands of people have lost their livelihoods and have little access to their land, food, essential healthcare or emergency medical services. MSF provides medical treatment in camps for displaced people in Dantewada district, located in south Chhattisgarh. Medical teams also provide mobile health services and nutritional support to those in need in remote rural areas.
Surprisingly, the situation in Chhatisgarh is only one of several armed conflicts occurring throughout India for years, with civilians caught between various belligerent parties. As a consequence, many people continue to live in an atmosphere of fear and violence with little or no access to health care.
"We know that media coverage does not generate improvements on its own," said MSF (USA) Executive Director Nicolas de Torrente. "However, it is often a precondition for increased assistance and political attention. There is perhaps nothing worse than being completely neglected and forgotten." Many conflicts worldwide are profoundly affecting millions of people, yet they are almost completely invisible," said MSF (USA) Executive Director Nicolas de Torrente. "Haiti, for example, is just 50 miles from the United States and the plight of the population enduring relentless violence in its volatile capital Port-au-Prince received only half a minute of network coverage in an entire year."
According to Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the online media-tracking journal The Tyndall Report, the ten countries and contexts highlighted by MSF accounted for just 7.2 minutes of the 14,512 minutes on the three major U.S. television networks' nightly newscasts for 2006. Treating malnutrition, TB, and Chechnya were mentioned, but only briefly in other stories. Five of the countries highlighted by MSF were never mentioned at all.
The 2006 "Top 10" list also focused on the devastation caused by TB and malnutrition.
The frightening situation of worldwide TB became even worse in 2006 with the detection of extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB), a strain that is resistant to both first-line antibiotics and to two classes of second-line drugs. At the same time, none of the TB drugs currently in development, however promising, will be able to drastically improve TB treatment in the near future.
"TB destroys millions of lives around the world every year, but we're not seeing the necessary urgency to tackle the disease," said Dr. Tido von Schoen-Angerer, director of MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.
Hope is on the horizon, though, for malnutrition, with new strategies based on outpatient treatment that relies on ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF), like Plumpy'nut, showing tremendous promise. Unfortunately, these strategies are not implemented as widely as they could be.
"Acute malnutrition contributes to the deaths of millions of children every year," said de Torrente. "New strategies in treatment of moderate and severe acute malnutrition have helped MSF treat more than 150,000 children in Niger over the past two years. Millions more children throughout the world could benefit if such strategies were more widely implemented."
While the conflicts in the Darfur region of Sudan and in eastern Chad garnered significant media attention in 2006, the steady focus did not translate into improved conditions for people caught up in the conflict.
"Even though there was more reporting about Darfur than about other crises, the situation continued to deteriorate to the point where MSF and other aid groups had to scale back their programs," said de Torrente. "We know that media coverage does not generate improvements on its own. However, it is often a precondition for increased assistance and political attention. There is perhaps nothing worse than being completely neglected and forgotten."
Read the complete Report at MSF website
Sunday, February 18, 2007
London, Feb 16 (IANS) Nearly 5,000 Indian doctors have so far returned home after failing to find suitable employment in Britain's National Health Service (NHS) that forced them to live with rats, cockroaches and scrounge for free meals in temples and gurdwaras.
The figure of 5,000 returning to India since April 2006 is approximate, and the actual figure could be more. The doctors had passed the requisite tests for employment in the NHS, but failed to find jobs due to changes in immigration rules and a larger pool of available doctors from within Britain and the European Union.
Many more face the prospect of returning home after the Feb 9 high court ruling that disallowed a judicial review of the changes made in April 2006. All attention is now focussed on the ongoing recruitment process for 21,000 NHS jobs starting August 2007, according to leaders of the Indian medical community here.
The current recruitment is part of a new system called Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) that came into effect this year. From Jan 22 to Feb 4 more than 30,000 doctors applied for the 21,000 available jobs in various specialities - and 10,000-12,000 applicants of them are said to be Indians.
Shortlisting of candidates for the jobs is expected to be completed by Feb 24 and interviews will take place in the first week of March.
Leaders of the Indian medical community are working to ensure that the Indian applicants are not adversely affected in the recruitment process by the Feb 9 ruling of the high court. Those who are not selected in this round will also face the prospect of returning home.
Lakshman Raman, vice-chair (policy) of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), told IANS that if the new rules issued in April 2006 were applied, there would be practically two shortlists for the NHS posts - one of British and EU citizens and another pile of Indian and other overseas doctors.
'The second list would only be considered for jobs that are not filled using doctors in the first list. Since BAPIO went to court and the verdict was announced on Feb 9 we believe so far the new rules have not been applied.
'After the verdict, BAPIO has written to the Department of Health (DoH), asking that they continue to hold the new rules in abeyance as we are going to appeal and we hope they will agree to this request.
'We will need to apply for a stay order only if the DoH does not agree to hold the new rules in abeyance while awaiting the appeal. They are still considering their options and will get back to us on this.'
The BAPIO legal team is working on the appeal petition that can be filed within three weeks of the Feb 9 ruling. Raman said that BAPIO had decided to file the appeal before March 2 and had launched another fund-raising drive among Indian doctors to meet legal costs.
Raman added: 'We are collecting funds for the appeal process and the initial response from our members and the wider doctor and Indian community has been encouraging. We understand that the judiciary understands the importance of this and will process it expeditiously.
'Since the MMC process only comes into force for jobs starting August 2007, the implications for doctors will be only from August 2007. Doctors who are currently in jobs will be able to continue till August 2007 when if their current job has got over and if they have not managed to get another job they may have to consider returning home.
'We fear that if the new rules are applied there may be many thousands of doctors unable to find a job from August 2007.'
Raman added that a major reason for the large number of unemployed Indian doctors in Britain is the increased frequency of holding the mandatory qualifying test called the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test.
Every overseas doctor needs to pass this test before being registered for possible employment. Earlier this test used to be held twice or thrice a year. Now it is held twice or thrice a week. The success rate is also higher with the result that there are now more doctors who have cleared the test.
According to official figures, nearly 1,000 passed the test in 1998, but the number sprung to 6,666 in 2005. One part of the PLAB test is held in centres in India while another is held in London.
So high was the unemployment among Indian doctors who had passed the PLAB tests but were unable to find unemployment that one of them, Surinder Sareen, wrote a clinical account in the British Medical Journal of the condition such doctors found themselves in.
Calling it PPUD (Post PLAB Unemployment Doctor) Syndrome, Sareen detailed a series of ailments such doctors suffered from, including depression, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hallucinations, somnambulism, omniphagia, dissociative fugue and muskoskeletal deformities.
Sareen wrote: 'In an effort to keep up an old medical tradition, I report a new syndrome, prevalent in the age group 25-35, but some cases are seen in the early 40s. Both sexes are equally affected. It is endemic in east London, but sporadic cases can be seen all over Britain. It is mostly found in immigrants from the Indian subcontinent.'
His treatment for the PPUD Syndrome: 'Love and a healing touch. Patients should be encouraged to go back to their home country, as in Britain even local graduates find it difficult to get a job and nobody is bothered about someone with PPUD syndrome.'
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
TROY/MICHIGAN: A US-based international Hindu reform organisation has expressed disapproval of the ritualistic ceremonies performed by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan for his son Abhishek and fiancée Aishwarya Rai.
Aishwarya is a Manglik (astrologically Mars-bearing), which is believed to have negative consequences for her impending marriage. The actress is said to have married a peepal tree at Benaras, a banana tree at a Bangalore temple and a god's idol in Ayodhya.
The organisation Navya Shastra commends the Bachchans for their Hindu religiosity and charitable works but is extremely concerned about their actions, which will have an unhealthy impact on their fan base.
Before announcing their engagement, Abhishek and Aishwarya performed a series of poojas at the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. After their engagement, the couple also sought the blessings of the deity at the Vindhyavasini Temple.
"What concerns us is that millions of people may rationalise their mistreatment of women based upon the Abhishek-Aishwarya example," said Jaishree Gopal, Navya Shastra Chairman, in a press statement.
"As it is, hundreds of thousands of women, and even some men, have difficulty marrying because of the alleged perniciousness of a random confluence of stars," added Gopal.
The organisation opines that astrology and similar unscientific practices should be renounced in marital matchmaking and other everyday activities in Hindu society.
It claims that much of the so-called Hindu astrology is an imported amalgamation of long-invalidated pseudo-sciences emerging from Babylon, Greece and Persia, and should be discarded as irrelevant to Hindu tradition.
Noting that the religious rationale for untouchability is also based upon an accidental birth, Navya Shastra urges the Bachchans and Aishwarya to renounce such actions.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - This is India's version of sex in the city
A rare sex museum in Mumbai, the country's teeming financial capital, is drawing hundreds of prostitutes and their regular clients who say they learn more about HIV/AIDS from its graphic exhibits than staid lectures on safe sex.
Antarang, which means intimate in Hindi, is a one-room exhibition of nude statues, models of the human anatomy and illustrations near a well-known red light district in Mumbai. And it is India's only sex museum, according to its management.
Devoid of the glamour of sex museums of Amsterdam or New York, Antarang greets a visitor with a "lingam", a Hindu phallic-shaped symbol worshipped as one of the representations of Lord Shiva, Kama Sutra verses and wooden and plastic models showing the act of conception, child birth as well as descriptions of various sexual diseases.
"A sex museum is a better place to learn about sex and everything related to it," M.G. Vallecha, the chief of Antarang, entry to which is free, told Reuters.
The museum is run by the state government in an effort to combat HIV and AIDS in India. There are an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country, according to U.N. figures.
Experts say that number could quadruple by 2010 as many people are still reluctant to discuss safe sex openly.
Authorities all over India try various innovative ways, including street plays and "condom parties", to spread awareness about sexual diseases.
Mumbai is not only India's biggest and most cosmopolitan city, but it is also home to millions of migrants who leave their families in villages to search for jobs.
NO CONDOM, NO SEX
Antarang, whose floor tiles are painted to look like sperm, was opened in 2003. It became popular among prostitutes and some of their clients after health workers began taking them there.
"A major bulk of our thousands of visitors every year are sex workers and health volunteers," Vallecha said.
Some sex seekers also visit. In India, many prostitutes act as mistresses for one regular client who pays for her upkeep. They can often develop close relationships and sometimes visit the museum together, officials said.
"At first, sex workers coming to the museum are shy. But slowly they discover new things about something they thought they knew all about," said Manish Pawar, a health worker who has brought hundreds of prostitutes and their clients to the museum.
Many of the sex workers say the museum has changed their lives by teaching them about the need for safe sex.
"When they told us about AIDS and all we didn't understand much, but now after visiting the museum it is much clearer to us," said Jyoti, a middle-aged prostitute who gave only one name.
"Now we tell clients no condom -- no sex."
Authorities said they have few ordinary tourists.
"The area where the museum is located is stigmatised and even if they (tourists) want to come they don't because they don't want to be seen in a red light district," said Nirupa Borges, who helps run Antarang.
"We have some school and college students, but we would like more members of the mainstream society."
Authorities are planning to open another sex museum in a northern suburb, away from the red light district, to attract a wider audience.
"This museum is serving its purpose very well. We need more sex museums like this," Borges said.
Note : There are about 27000 joginis in Andhra Pradesh state, While 95 per cent of the joginis belong to the Scheduled Castes
Saturday, February 10, 2007
India-West Staff Reporter
In the wee hours of the morning as the final session of the 109th Congress concluded Dec. 9, the U.S. Senate took one final action - confirming the first South Asian woman ever named a U.S. Attorney heading a federal district in the United States.
Kerala-born Rachel Kunjummen Paulose is the 40th U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota and the first Asian American ever named to that post.
She becomes the federal government's chief law enforcement officer in Minnesota, with responsibility over all federal agencies, federal indictments and cases, and accountability for the Justice Department's federal prosecutors and support staff in Minnesota.
Nominated to the position by President George W. Bush, Paulose told India-West Jan. 9 that she and her family were up till nearly 3 a.m. Dec. 9 watching C-SPAN waiting to see if she would be confirmed before the sunset of the 109th Congress.
"It was the last item on the agenda and I felt so fortunate that by a unanimous vote it passed," she said.
The U.S. Attorney's position is Paulose's fourth time working with the U.S. Department of Justice.
She previously was senior counsel to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, special counsel for health care fraud, and special assistant to U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Paulose also was an assistant attorney in the U.S. Attorney's office in Minnesota from 1999-2002.
In a statement, she thanked Bush for giving her the opportunity and added she appreciated "the confidence placed in me by the United States Senate and my home-state senators: Senator Norm Coleman, a steadfast supporter; and Senator Mark Dayton, both of whom worked hard for my confirmation."
She explained in an interview that it was Coleman, as Minnesota's senior Republican in a GOP-majority Congress, who initially submitted her name as one of a handful of potential candidates for the post, which requires conformation by the U.S. Senate.
After background checks by the FBI ("I think this was my sixth"), the Justice Department selected her and forwarded the nomination to Congress.
She needed the support of Dayton, a Democrat who had decided not to run for reelection. Both U.S. senators gave their support and had "nice things" to say about her in the press.
Asked about her party affiliation, she said she is a registered Republican and has worked for GOP candidates, but said the appointment was a "decision based on politics."
She cited her work background and her lack of involvement in big-donor contributing and fundraising. "The (U.S. Attorney post) is a non-partisan office," she pointed out.
Paulose is the daughter of Lucy Paulose, president and chief executive officer of Home Electronic Specialists, and Joseph Paulose, an administrator with the Hopkins school systems in the Minneapolis suburb of Eagan.
Her maternal grandparents, Daniel and Sara Kunjummen, immigrated to the U.S. from Kerala in the 1960s, and raised their family in Minnesota. Her paternal grandparents, both deceased, also lived in Kerala.
Paulose told India-West that her father came to the U.S. from Kerala when she was about 10 days old and she followed him a few months later. While she grew up in Ohio, she frequently visited her grandparents in Minnesota and moved permanently to the state when she was about 17 years old.
In 1994, Paulose received a B.A. (summa cum laude) from the University of Minnesota, where she was a Truman Scholar and chair of the student representatives to the university's Board of Regents. She received a law degree from the Yale Law School, where she was a Coker Fellow.
Paulose began her legal career in 1997 as a law clerk for Chief Judge James B. Loken of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over federal appeals from Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas.
While she was a federal prosecutor, she prosecuted cases related to violent crime, illegal drugs, economic crimes and civil rights enforcement. She also worked as a trial attorney in the Attorney General's Honors Program from 1998-1999.
From 2002-2005, Paulose worked in private practice for law firms including Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., focusing on business and health care litigation. W&C defended such high-profile clients as Oliver North and President Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings.
She has served on the boards of the Yale Law School Fund, the Federal Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, and the Trust for Public Land.
Paulose told India-West that family issues, primarily illnesses involving some members of her family, led to her move back to the Minneapolis area.
She said the U.S. Attorney's office will focus on six areas: terrorism; economic crime, including fraud and public corruption; Internet crimes against children; gun and gang violence; drug trafficking; and civil rights, including human trafficking, immigration violations, and identity theft fraud.
Paulose jumped at the chance to expound on these priorities - mentioning that the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's office has two terrorism case pending, indicted three Minnesota city council members on corruption charges, and vigorously pursued a case of Internet pharmacy fraud totaling about $20 million in illegal sales. The defrauder faces a possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
Paulose pledges to keep the heat on child pornographers who, she said, are becoming "more graphic, more heinous and frankly appalling." She also emphasized her office's increasingly tough sentencing requests for weapons' offenses, with violent crime on the increase in the urban areas of Minnesota.
"We must protect all citizens, young and old, from the violence that threatens our way of life," she said in a statement. "We must hold everyone, particularly public officials, accountable for their actions. And we must ensure the civil rights of all people."
While she has already been informally sworn into office, Paulose plans a formal investiture ceremony in March. She is looking for a large enough location to accommodate "all of my relatives who are coming (to Minneapolis) from all over the United States."