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Bone chilling winter kills, scores across North India

Every season has its own delights but as the saying goes "excess of everything is bad", whether it is summer, monsoon or winter season. If the scientists of the weather department are to be believed, this year round, stings of cold would be felt far more than the last year. 
Compared to the last year, winter period is going to be bone crunching this year. Excessive cold of the December month compared the December last year has already given off this indication. The coming nights of 'Push' month could be nerve reeking.
Meanwhile, during this month as well, due to the intense cold wave currently enveloping north and east India has already risen to 40. Even though the Meteorology Department has forecast a slight improvement in the weather condition in coming weeks, with officials predicting a clear sky and light mist in the morning, cold winds are expected to sweep parts of the region.
The minimum and maximum temperatures in the capital are expected to range from 9 to 1…

Fourth of US docs use social media: Survey

About one in four physicians in the US uses social media once or multiple times daily to explore medical information, and 14 percent do so daily to contribute new information, says a new survey.The survey of 485 oncologists and primary care physicians also found that on a weekly basis or even more frequently, 61 percent of physicians scan social media for information and 46 percent contribute new information.
Social media was defined as "Internet-based applications that allow for the creation and exchange of user-generated content, including social networking, professional online communities, wikis, blogs and microblogging".
Since the survey was conducted 19 months ago, it's likely that more physicians are using social media now, says Robert S. Miller, assistant professor of oncology and oncology medical information officer at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre, the Journal of Medical Internet Research reports.
The amount of information required for medical practice…

India reports 37,000 dengue cases in 2012

India has recorded over 37,000 dengue cases, including 227 dengue deaths in 2012, the highest number in a year so far, parliament was told today. (Tuesday, 4th Dec 2012).
In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Health Abu Haseem Khan Choudhary said the percentage increase in number of cases and deaths between 2011 and 2012 (up to Nov 26) is approximately 97 percent and 34 percent respectively.
Dengue, a vector borne disease, has hit all major cities of the country, with the total number of cases by Nov 26 reaching 37,070 - a sharp increase from 18,860 cases and 169 deaths in 2011. Over 28,000 dengue cases and 110 deaths were reported in 2010.
Minister Choudhary cited the unprecedented growth in population, unplanned rapid urbanisation and inadequate waste management as the reasons behind the outbreak.
He added that "increased distribution and densities of vector mosquitoes due to man-made, ecological and lifestyle changes" were amongst the main reasons …

Dengue: What you need to know

The alarming rise in cases of dengue across cities in the country has become an increasing cause of worry. Recently, the death of 80-year-old legendary Bollywood director Yash Chopra from dengue has once again highlighted that the vector disease is not only a poor man's illness. All income classes are vulnerable. Dengue can be fatal, particularly for children and the elderly who are low on immunity.  It now more important than ever to be aware of the risk factors, and protect yourself. Prevention in this case, is truly better than cure.
Experts say dengue fever usually starts within a week of the infection. Symptoms include high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, pain in the joints and muscles, nausea and vomiting, and rashes on the skin.
Dengue: Symptoms, causes and treatment
What is dengue?
Dengue is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person, i.e., is not contagious. A person can only bec…

'A billion smartphone users worldwide'

There are over one billion smartphone users worldwide, with Apple being credited with catalysing industry growth, a US study has found.
The revelation comes nearly two weeks after social networking site Facebook said it has over one billion users.
According to the report by the US research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics, the number of smartphone users surpassed the one billion mark during the third quarter of 2012.
Most of the world does not yet own a smartphone and there remains huge scope for future growth, particularly in emerging markets such as China, India and Africa," revealed Strategy Analytics.
It has taken 16 years for the smartphone industry to reach this historic milestone. But as per analytics forecast the next billion to be achieved in less than three years, by 2015.
The Nokia Communicator, introduced in 1996, was the world's first modern smartphone, but demand grew exponentially for the devices after Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, which "rev…

DENGUE time bomb ticks with the onset of monsoon !

['Travel, urbanisation have led to 50-fold rise in DENGUE cases']


Constant travelling and rapid urbanisation of rural areas have contributed to a nearly 50-fold increase in dengue cases over the last 50 years, say experts.
Aedes aegypti was known to be the vector of urban areas and Aedes albopictus was responsible for the disease in rural and suburban areas. However, in recent times this division has blurred, because people move about a lot these days. This has led to a nearly 50-fold increase in dengue cases," study of  the School of Tropical Medicine in Kolkata  reveals.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 2.5 billion people - more than 40 percent of the world's population - are now at risk from dengue, which is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes, principally A. aegypti.
WHO currently estimates there may be 50-100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. In West Bengal such outbreaks occurred at intervals of 18 to 20 yea…

Now mobile phone jammers to minimise road accidents !

Mobile phones may have brought instant communication within the reach of all, but they are also fast turning into a global killer, accounting for 20 percent of fatal road accidents worldwide annually, half of which are on Indian highways alone.
Pioneering new technology, developed by Abdul Shabeer, doctoral scholar at Anna University of Technology, Coimbatore, and his colleagues R.S.D. Wahidabanu and H. Abdul Zubar, will jam mobile phones that truckers use on their long distance hauls and so prevent accidents.
"Lorry and heavy vehicle operators seldom keep their mobile phones switched off during such trips, but the distracting nature of the device, especially dialling a number, talking on the phone or just holding a phone while driving can be an immediate hazard on roads, Shabeer told.
The jamming system operates whenever the driver turns on the ignition. The jamming device receives radiation emitted by the phone. The device can tell whether the mobile phone is being used by the…

South Asia: Hot spot for cross-border diseases

In South Asia, one of the world's most densely populated regions, deadly diseases from animals, like the nipah virus, brucellosis, anthrax and even avian flu, cross international boundaries with ease.
A fruit bat on the India-Bangladesh border could spread the deadly nipah virus when it licks the juice of the date palm tree being collected by farmers. Likewise, cattle grazing in grasslands spanning borders could carry with them spores of the anthrax disease, or the ticks on them could spread brucellosis. According to experts, zoonotic diseases, transmitted from animals to humans, are able to cross international borders in South Asia due to the porous borders, poor awareness and surveillance mechanisms coupled with high density of population.
Among the diseases spread by animals in South Asia are the plague, scrub typhus, leptospirosis and avian flu. Brucellosis causes abortions in bovines, and sheep and goat. In humans, the fever can be confused with typhoid.
According to a senio…

Frequencies that touch lives and connect the community !

Gurgaon Ki Awaaz, Lalit Lokvani, Chanderi ki Awaaz ...India's community radio stations are reaching out to touch lives and livelihoods in little hamlets and towns across the country with useful nuggets of information spiced up with local folk music and radio plays.
India today has 135 community radio stations and another 300 are in the process of being set up. The government is giving a major push to this medium by holding workshops across the country, offering content sharing platforms, making it economically viable for those running such stations and also linking up with them via Facebook.
According to Supriya Sahu, joint secretary in the ministry of information and broadcasting, "Community radio station (CRS) is a medium that has potential to bring a silent revolution as it is connected to the daily lives of people. It is not a one way communication like television and radio where others tell and people have to listen. In this people participate, which is important in a d…

95 % schools don't comply with RTE guidelines: Study

Over two years after the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) was notified by the central government, more than 95 percent of schools in the country do not comply with its guidelines, a study has found.
Data compiled by RTE Forum with inputs from its members from across the country points out that only one out of 10 schools in 2010-11 had drinking water facilities, while two out of every five schools lacked a functional toilet.

The report also shows lack of training facilities for teachers, adversely affecting the quality of primary education in India. Nearly 36 percent of all sanctioned posts of teachers in the country are lying vacant. Of this, the national capital alone accounts for 21,000 vacancies, while 1,000 posts are vacant in Odisha, RTE Forum's report says.

The guidelines under the RTE act specify that schools "established, owned, controlled or substantially funded by the government or local authorities" must ensure that the vacancy of tea…

‘Delhi government diverted funds meant for SCs’

Out of funds worth Rs.1,901.56 crore earmarked exclusively for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, the Delhi government diverted Rs.1,703.93 crore for schemes under the Commonwealth Games, transportation and other projects in 2010-11, citing the official data, an NGO (NCDHR) reveals.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit denied the charges that the funds meant for the scheduled castes community were diverted for other schemes. But the NGO alleged that the Delhi government used the fund "illegally".

The alleged diversion has been made from central government's Schedule Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP), the guidelines of which mention that states have to allocate a certain amount for SCSP in their budget every year.

"In the 2010-11, Delhi government allocated Rs.1,901.56 crore under the SCSP but it spent only Rs.197.63 crore and rest of the money was diverted for projects which don't directly benefit scheduled castes in the capital," National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights&…

Pluses, minuses of UPA-II government:Not much to Celebrate!

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II government completed three years in office Tuesday amid charges of policy paralysis and key initiatives remaining mired in fractious coalition politics.
There have been some positives. In the last three years, there have been no big terror incidents, relations with Pakistan have looked ahead and foodgrain production has touched a record 250 million tonnes.
But those have been the very thin silver lining in the proverbial black cloud of corruption, government inaction and unending economic woes with the common person forced to cut back on essentials as prices rise steeply.

Achievements and failures of UPA-11 in the last three years since it was returned to power in May 2009 are as under:
Achievements
1. MNREGA 2.0: A reformed package of UPA's flagship rural employment guarantee scheme unveiled.
2. Public Procurement Bill, 2012: Legislation introduced in parliament to codify government procurements and maximise competition, aimed at transparency.
3.…

Of neglect and nurturing: How 2012 can be made better?

"With the global economic crisis severely stressing parental care capacity, policies are needed to build support structures for neglected children"

The global economic crisis has severely impacted parents' caring and coping abilities. Inadequate living conditions and the struggle for economic survival create stress and despair, often furthering conflict, depression, alcoholism and violence, according to the annual report of SOS Children's Villages.  The global report focussing on “Challenging Times—How 2012 can be made better?'' points out that an increasing work-life imbalance is squeezing parents' abilities to devote time to their children and labour migration and other factors separate families and weaken their cohesion and resistance. 
Family poverty also makes children vulnerable to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.  In India, search for work brings children to the street where 1 in every 6 children under the age of 14 is engaged in child lab…

Bhojpuri songs ready to curb the Kala Azar menace !

Bhojpuri folk songs that have been entertaining people in Bihar for years will now be used to spread awareness about the kala azar disease, a recurring epidemic that takes hundreds of lives in the state each year and afflicts thousands of poor people.The state government has roped in singer-actor Manoj Tiwari for the initiative.
According to the health dept officials, the state government has given the go ahead to use folk songs to create awareness about prevention of the deadly kala azar in rural areas.
As per health dept. data, over 23,000 kala azar cases were reported in 31 of Bihar's 38 districts in 2011. The disease, transmitted by the sand fly, has killed over three dozen people so far this year and claimed over 70 lives last year.

Over 750 people have died of kala azar in the past five years. The authorities in Bihar aim to eradicate the disease by 2015.

 The government has roped in singer-actor Tiwari - known for his Bhojpuri hits - for the initiative. During the awareness …

One-third Indians 'suffering': Survey

Almost 31 per cent of Indian adults comprising 240 million people say they are "suffering" because of poor quality of life, according to a Gallup survey, though the country had a high growth rate of 6.9 per cent.
The gap between the haves and have-nots may actually be widening, the survey said, releasing the results of its recent opinion poll in which nearly three-fourths or 73 per cent of the respondents perceived corruption as being widespread in the government.
The polling firms' research categorised Indian respondents into three blocs "thriving," "struggling," and "suffering," according to how they rate their present and future lives.
The poll indicates that the poorest and and least educated are the ones who have considered themselves as belonging to the suffering class.
"The key factors affecting Indian citizens' well being are income, education and employment- all linked and influenced by the work place," Gallup chairman and…

WB leads in snakebite, rabies deaths

West Bengal accounted for the maximum snakebite and rabies deaths in India last year.
A total of 1,440 persons died of snakebite and another 223 of rabies during 2011 in the country, out which as many as 380 and 73 deaths were reported on the two counts respectively in West Bengal.
Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad told the Lok Sabha that following West Bengal, Orissa reported 296 snakebite deaths, while 258 were in Andhra Pradesh and 119 in Madhya Pradesh.
He said 58 deaths due to snakebite had also taken place in Maharashtra and 50 in Uttar Pradesh, while Karnataka reported 49 and Gujarat 48 such deaths and Himachal Pradesh 40 and another 39 in Tamil Nadu.
In rabies deaths, Andhra Pradesh followed West Bengal with 45 deaths.
There were also 24 rabies related deaths taking place in 2011 in Orissa and 21 in Tamil Nadu, besides 18 in Karnataka, 17 in Delhi and 16 in Gujarat. Delhi also reported three deaths due to snakebite.
The Minister said to prevent human deaths due to rabies, a…

India’s tragic asylum seekers lost in exile, seek refugee status

Despite the recent steps towards democracy in Burma (Myanmar), little has changed for many ethnic minorities in the country. Burmese democracy leader Suu Kyi may be rewarded for the steps she had taken towards democracy and overwhelmed by the current progress, but this is not enough assurance for her exiled colleagues in India to think of returning to Burma. In New Delhi, large numbers of asylum seekers are finding it hard to find support and help from the responsible agency.
At the doorstep of UNHCR office in Vasant Vihar of New Delhi, making pavements as their homes, over 500 Myanmar nationals from northern Rakhine State, including women and children, have camped for more than the past two weeks demanding refugee cards to avail facilities that a refugee would get for better living conditions, like water to drink and toilets. The asylum seekers in New Delhi have traveled a hard road in their pursuit of legal recognition. 
The agency responsible for assisting these asylum-seekers has no…

'Maharashtra, Karnataka topped cyber crime list in 2010'

Maharashtra and Karnataka topped the list of cyber crimes registered in 2010 with 246 cases and 176 cases respectively, Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal said.

"With the increase in the proliferation of Information Technology and related services, there is a rise in number of cyber crimes and cyber security incidents. The trend in increase in cyber incidents is similar to that worldwide," Sibal had said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

Maharashtra recorded the highest number of cyber crime cases at 104 under IPC (Indian Penal Code) in 2010 and had registered 142 cases under the IT Act in the same year, putting the combined cybercrime count at 246.

Similarly, under the IT Act, Karnataka in 2010 had the highest incidents of 153 cyber crime cases while it had 23 cases in the same year registered under IPC - taking its total tally to 176 cases.

Across the country, a total 966 cases of cyber crime reported under Information Technology Act, 2000 in 2010, Sibal said.

As per…

'1/5th of women aged 20-24 yrs become mothers before adulthood'

At least 22 per cent women aged 20 -24 years became mothers before attaining adulthood in India, says a UNICEF report.

The report titled "The State of the World Children 2012" by UNICEF based on a survey conducted in the period 2000-2010, says as many as 30 per cent female adolescents aged 15-19 years were married compared to only five per cent male adolescents.

47 per cent women, who are 20-24 years old, were married before they were 18 years old and 18 per cent of women aged 20-24 years were married or were in union before they were 15 years old.

The report also states that the adolescent birth rate (number of births per 1,000 adolescent girls aged 15-19) in the country is 45.

It also states that 57 male adolescents aged 15-19 between 2002-2010 think a husband is justified in beating his wife under circumstances, while 53 per cent female adolescents also think so.

On the justification of wife beating, the report also mentions that 54 per cent of women aged 15-49 years consider …