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Showing posts from April, 2010

Student has designs on waste in India

Waste not, want not. It is a philosophy University of Otago third year design student Ben Hawkey hopes to use in a design aimed at helping an Indian orphanage run more effectively and sustainably.The 21-year-old will spend six months helping an orphanage in Jeypore, near the east coast of India , to manage its food, energy, water and sewage to ensure a safe, healthy living environment.He will work on modifying existing systems and installing new ones to help the orphanage operate with increased crop and energy yields at a lower cost.
"We are looking for a solution to the disposal of their waste and effluent, and how it can be used to fertilise their crops. "We also hope to capture and make use of the methane gas that comes off the waste and use it for cooking, heating and lighting."Mr Hawkey said he was inspired to make the trip after attending strategic design, industrial design and design futures lectures at the university.A family history of aid work also con…

Over 3.7 lakh human rights abuse complaints against police!

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) got over 370,000 complaints against the police force related to human rights abuse in the last 10 years - most of them from Uttar Pradesh, a document of the rights body has revealed.

According to the available data, the NHRC registered 377,216 complaints against the police.

"Among the complaints registered with the commission until March 31, 2010, those relating to police are the highest. Those pertaining to service matters is also quite high," an NHRC official said.

According to the official, the nature of complaints against police include arbitrary use of power, abduction, rape, custodial violence and death, fake encounter and unlawful detention.

"Death in police firing, false implications, prolonged trial, failure in taking lawful action and indiscriminate arrest are the other kinds of complaints registered against police with the commission," the official added.

On a state-wise break-up, most complaints related to police c…

Brain image can predict suicide risk: Scientists

Scientists have developed a new technique which they claim can map and analyse the brain activity of people, who are under antidepressant treatment, to predict whether they are susceptible to develop suicidal thoughts.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) have come out with the new approach, called quantitative EEG (QEEG), which they believe might help doctors foresee suicidal thoughts before a patient even has them.

The technique involves a skull cap that contains electrodes and is worn over the head to monitor patients on antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Lead researcher Aimee Hunter and her team also wrote a computer programme that reads the electrical activity and then translates them into a map of the brain to show researchers where the activity is coming from, the Technology Review magazine reported.

For their study, the researchers looked at 72 participants, 37 of whom were on SSRIs while the rest on placebos,…

India can produce 2,500 MW power from waste: Study

Energy deficient India can produce 2,500 MW electricity by 2012 by recycling millions of tonnes of municipal and industrial waste generated each year, an Assocham study has said. About 40,000 million tonnes of solid waste and 5,000 million cubic metre of liquid waste is generated every year in the urban areas which can be suitably recycled, it said."Expedite setting up of waste energy projects as there is potential of generating 2,500 MW of power from urban, municipal and industrial wastes in large cities to partly meet energy shortages," it said.

The study estimates that about 1,500 MW of power could be generated from urban and municipal wastes by setting up waste energy projects and additional 1,000 MW from industrial wastes in the country by 2012.Assocham has suggested that funds required -- around Rs 200 crore -- could be generated through municipalities and local governments.It further that India has potential to reduce its projected emissions over next 30 years by near…

'850,000 people die every year from malaria'

About 850,000 people die each year from a mosquito bite - with nearly 90 percent of all malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) said.

Ahead of World Malaria Day Sunday, Unicef Executive Director Ann Veneman said there were only 250 days left to meet the challenge set by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for all endemic countries to ensure universal coverage of malaria control interventions.

Unicef said there has been a significant increase in insecticide-treated bed net coverage in several African countries, with distribution campaigns reaching those most in danger of contracting malaria - the poor and rural populations.

But these campaigns needed to be expanded, along with the increased use of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies to treat patients.

"The fight against malaria can be won and now the world must unite to ensure that no one dies from a mosquito bite," Veneman said.

Water and sanitation takes a back seat for many nations

Even as the world's deadline for the achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) approaches in 2015, countries are not making water and sanitation a priority, which in turn impacts other developmental goals like health and education.
Between 1997 and 2008, aid commitments for sanitation and water fell from eight per cent of total development aid to five cent per cent, according to the latest UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) report.

"Neglecting sanitation and drinking-water is a strike against progress. Without it, communities and countries will lose the battle against poverty and ill-health," Maria Neira, World Health Organisation Director of Public Health and Environment said.

The study found that improved access to sanitation and water produces economic benefits that range from USD 3 to USD 34 per USD 1 invested, increasing a country's gross domestic product (GDP) by an estimated two per cent to seven per cent.

In a report…

'920 million people to remain in extreme poverty by 2015'

The global economic crisis has slowed the pace of poverty reduction efforts in the developing countries and some 920 million people will remain in extreme poverty by 2015, a new report says.

The report released jointly by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund said the crisis is having an impact in several key areas of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Xinhua reported.

Those areas, among others, include the goals related to hunger, child and maternal health, gender equality, access to clean water, and disease control.

It is estimated that the sudden increase in food prices in 2008 drove 100 million people into poverty.
Even before the food price spikes, 850 million people in poor countries were chronically malnourished.

Agriculture, seen as vital for development, has also been affected by low levels of investment over the past few decades and issues like climate change.

The crisis will continue to affect long-term development prospects well beyond 2015, the report, tit…

CIC wants details of Delhi's illegal constructions online

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to put up on its website a complete list of all existing and on-going unauthorized constructions and encroachments on public land in Delhi. The direction came on an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) by one P.C. Pande, an undersecretary with ministry of commerce and industry of the central government.
Pande had asked the MCD for complete details of existing and ongoing unauthorized construction and encroachment of public land in Delhi and action taken against them. But when he did not get a satisfactory reply, he approached the CIC.

"The PIO (Public Information Officer) has not provided information about 'zone wise complete details of existing and ongoing unauthorised construction and encroachment of public land in Delhi' but has transferred the RTI application to 12 PIOs in 12 zones," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi noted in his order.

"The P…

140 mn cubic metres ash spewed from Iceland volcano

Iceland's volcano has spewed about 140 million cubic metres of ash over the past few days, Icelandic scientists have said.

The Institute of Earth Sciences of the University of Iceland estimated that about 100 million cubic meters of ash rose into the air from Eyjafjallajokull volcano and was blown across northern Europe, cancelling thousands of flights.

Aeroflot Sunday cancelled 42 flights but there were signs of an easing of the disruption, as Spain reopened all affected airports and Germany began to allow flights to several destinations.

The Icelandic volcanologists said most of the ejected material was fine-grained airborne tephra, but 30 million cubic metres of material was deposited around the volcano vent and another 10 million cubic metres in the glacial lagoon of Gigjokulslon.

They said the average magma discharge rate of 750 tonnes per second was 10-20 times greater than the average of the eruption in late March.

The scientists warned that the eruption and melti…

Rapes on minors outnumber those on women in Mumbai

Rapes on minors have outnumbered those on women in the city, making the former more vulnerable and soft targets of the crime.
Till February this year, the city police has registered 36 rape cases out of which 23 are of rapes on minors.

In 2009, a total of 182 rape cases were registered out of which 128 belong to cases of rapes on minors. In 2008, a total of 216 cases were registered in the city in which 147 belong to cases of rapes on minors.

In many cases, the culprit either is a relative, neighbour or someone living in the same locality where the girl stays. The culprits feel that they could get away after threatening the girls of dire consequences.

In order to reduce crime against women, children and senior citizens, City Police has also started 103 helpline two years ago.

Nadita Shah, co-director of an NGO which is working for Women issues, believes that educating parents and minors about child sexual abuse could help bringing down such incidents.

"When minor girl complains to her …

Ministry does not know number of panchayats

In what may come as a surprise, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj itself does not know how many district panchayats are there in the country, according to a Parliamentary panel report.

"It is quite surprising to find that Ministry of Panchayati Raj does not have any information on the exact number of district panchayats in the country as on date," the Standing Committee on Rural Development said in its report on the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

The report of the Committee headed by BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan was tabled in Lok Sabha.The committee observed that Panchayati Raj Ministry informed it that there are 608 districts across the country while the information provided by the Rural Development Ministry said that there are 619 "rural districts" in the country as on April 1, 2009.

When asked about rural districts which do not have district panchayats as on April 1, 2009, the ministry replied that the exact comparison between the number of districts and number of district pan…

Under stress women bond, men become anti-social: Study

When under stress, women engage in social networking and try to befriend people, while men react in the opposite and become anti-social, a new research has claimed.

A study by a team psychologists at the University of Southern California led by Mara Mather showed that stressed men and women react in opposite ways.

Earlier scientists have said that when people are under immediate stress, like "when we are about to give a speech or about to be mugged, we either fight or flee or so" but now some psychologists, including Shelley Taylor of the University of California, are suggesting that this scenario may apply mainly to males.

"Men get antisocial under pressure, but women tend to react in the opposite way: they tend and befriend, engaging in nurturing and social networking," Taylor said.

In their study, Mather's team, which presented their findings at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society 2010 annual meeting, found this theory true, Scientific American reported.

They aske…

Over half the British Asians not enthusiastic to vote: poll

Over half the British Asians are likely to give a miss to the May 6 general election, however, people of Indian-origin are the most enthusiastic to exercise their rights among the community, a survey indicated.

Just 44 per cent of Asians said they are likely to vote as against 55 per cent of the general population, according to an ICM survey by the BBC Asian Network.

Among the Asian voters who said they will head to the polling booths, people of Indian-origin are the most enthusiastic (51 per cent), followed by Bangladeshis (39 per cent) and Pakistanis (38 per cent).

This time around, there are more Asian candidates standing for the main parties -- 80 compared to 68 in 2005. But according to the poll, only 15 per cent of Asian voters will vote for an Asian candidate, with four in ten believing that Britain will never have an Asian Prime Minister.

The survey found that 56 per cent of Asians believe the elected Prime Minister should be tougher on immigration. When asked which political lead…

Maha receives more RTI queries than Britain, Mexico

Maharashtra has outnumbered Britain and Mexico in receiving queries under the RTI Act, the State Information Commission has said.

According to recent report, Maharashtra received 4,40,728 queries of RTI in 2009, while Britain received 90,000 and Mexico 1,25,000 under a similar legislation.

The state got more right to information (RTI) applications compared to the national level. The Central panel got 3.5 lakh applications last year.

Acting promptly on the huge number of applications, the panel provided the information to 4,39,061 applicants, the report said.

The maximum queries 1,25,418 were about Urban Development Department followed by 72,393 of Revenue Department. Also the Home Department and Rural Development received over 45,000 and 43,000 applications respectively.

The Government has received over Rs one crore through the applicants excluding the fees from people below poverty line.

The state started implementing the RTI from 2005 and it has a Chief Information Commissioner and six Di…

Green Mission to be formulated after public consultations

The Green India Mission that seeks to enhance forest cover in the country would be formulated after public consultations to make it participative, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

"By this month-end, Green India Mission will be made public and to make it truly inclusive and participative, we will hold public consultations in five different parts of the country," he said at a national workshop on Joint Forestry Management in New Delhi.

The consultations will be organised by the Centre for Environment and Education (CEE). "Depending on the feedback from the public, we will frame the blueprint for Green India Mission. We hope by the end of August we would be in a position to have a final design of the Mission," he added.

The goals of the ambitious Green Mission, which is one of the missions of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) include afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23 per cent to 33 per ce…

IIM Kozhikode announces distance learning programme ePGP-2010

IIM Kozhikode (IIM-K) today said it has collaborated with Hughes Net Global Education and will offer an Executive Post Graduate Programme (ePGP) in management studies on an interactive distance learning (IDL) platform to enable working executives acquire a career edge.

The programme, with the help of interactive classroom sessions, aims to provide management education to working professionals to enhance their skills and enable them to complete their post-graduation from an IIM.

The initial programme launched in 2009 saw 150 professionals being certified, director of IIM-K Debashis Chatterjee said.

"IIM-K is focused on learning as a tool to upgrade skills and improve career prospects. We have partnered with Hughes Net Global Education who have excellent platform for classroom learning," he said.

The two-year course comprises 810 classroom instruction hours and 90 hours on-campus learning. During the first year, the curriculum focuses on general management, while in the second yea…

More cell phones in India than toilets: UN report

Far more Indians have access to cell phones than to toilet and basic sanitation, a new UN report has said.

"It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet," said Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

"Popular education about the health dangers of poor sanitation is also needed. But this simple measure could do more to save lives, especially those of young people, improve health and help pull India and other countries in similar circumstances out of poverty than any alternative investment. It can also serve as a very significant boost to the local economy," he added.

The report is produced by experts who prescribe ways to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation by 2015.

The esearch shows roughly 366 million people (31 per cent of the population)…

45,467 convicted in Bihar since 2006

102 people have been sentenced to death and another 8,143 to life imprisonment as a total 45,467 persons have been convicted in Bihar in various criminal cases since 2006.

Among those facing prison sentence, 2,661 have been ordered jail terms of more than 10 years and the figures are higher than any comparable period for decades in the state, official sources said.

State police headquarters sources said as many as 3,622 persons were convicted in speedy trial from January to March 2010. This included 7 death sentences and 455 lifers.

This has been possible due to regular monitoring of the speedy trial of pending cases ... In the past, the conviction rate in Bihar was very low. Only about 5,000-10,000 could be convicted in a decade," a senior police officer said.

In 2009, a total 13,146 people were convicted. Of them 12 were awarded death sentence, 1824 life imprisonment and 375 imprisonment for more than 10 years.

The year before 12,007 persons were convicted in which 27 …