Monday, 29 February 2016

President to declare Kerala as first digital state today

President Pranab Mukherjee will declare Kerala as the first digital state of the country on Saturday, pinning another feather on the cap of the southern state that boasts of many firsts in the human development index.

With high e-literacy rate and mobile penetration (32 m connections) it will be the first fully digitised state. It is also the first to complete the national optic fiber network project which helps to provide high-speed internet in all gram panchayats and remote areas. Many key government offices will be paperless soon. More than 3000 offices in the state, including motor vehicles and land registration departments, have achieved this feat.

At a function to be held in Kozhikkode, the President will also launch a digital empowerment campaign aimed at bridging the digital divide by 2020. For this services of Student Police Cadets (SPCs) will be used.

As part of the campaign 40,000 student police cadets will train 10 lakh people in panchayats and remote areas of the state. Tablets will be provided to these cadets and a committee will monitor their training sessions on real-time basis. 

“As a pilot project in Thiruvananthapuram we trained student cadets from 10 schools and distributed 100 tablets to them. Results are really encouraging_ in three months these cadets made 10,000 people e literate,” said state IT Mission director Mohammed Safirulla.

Two projects started by the government in 2002 -‘Akshaya and IT@School’ - helped it to attain e literacy. Over 2.500 Akshaya service centres functioning in rural and urban areas have helped generate awareness in e-governance.

The President will unveil a cyber park in Kozhikkode.

E Link | Click Here

Thursday, 18 February 2016

          United Nations iLibrary launch

United Nations Publications is pleased to announce the launch of the United Nations iLibrary, the first comprehensive global search, discovery, and dissemination platform for digital content created by the United Nations.

Available from February 2016, the United Nations iLibrary provides librarians, information specialists, scholars, policy makers and the general public with a single online destination for seamlessly accessing knowledge products created by the United Nations Secretariat, and its funds and programs.

To begin with, United Nations iLibrary includes publications, journals and series comprising facts and expertise on international peace and security, human rights, economic and social development, climate change, international law, governance, public health, and statistics. In future releases, the platform will also provide access to other resources such as working papers series and statistical databases.
The United Nations iLibrary  is optimised for use on both desktop and mobile devices, allowing all users to read, share and embed United Nations content. Premium functionality and downloadable editions are available as part of a subscription service.

At launch, United Nations iLibrary comprises 750 titles in English, and 250 in other official languages of the United Nations: French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. This initial scope covers most of the content published under the United Nations Publications banner between 2013 and 2015. A scope of around 3,000 titles is expected to be available by the end of 2016, corresponding to most titles published between 2010 and 2015. The content of the United Nations iLibrary will be regularly updated with approximately 500 new titles published every year on the key topics reflecting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations.

The United Nations iLibrary was created in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) using its highly functional online library platform, which offers an extensive list of features that deliver flexibility, speed, and efficiency such as intuitive navigation, integrated search results, granular content, citation tool, DOI identification, and multilingual content. Subscribers also benefit from a range of enhanced discovery services, including provision of MARC records, and COUNTER compliant usage reports.

Please contact your local iLibrary distributor for a personalised demo of the United Nations iLibrary at 

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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Over 40% of people living with HIV in India are women

In what could pose a significant challenge for India to meet its ambitious target of ending AIDS by 2030, women continue to account for more than 40% of people living with HIV infection in the country .The share of women is crucial because of risk of transmission from pregnant women, uneducated and unaware women as well as among vulnerable groups including sex workers.
The latest HIV estimates by the government shows a 66% decline in new HIV cases in last five years with India recording an average of 86,000 new infections in 2015.
The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at 21.17 lakh in 2015 compared with 22.26 lakh in 2007.While two-fifth of the total HIV infections are among women, children under 15 years of age accounted for 6.54% of the total cases.
According to Nochiketa Mohanty , country program me manager, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, while there are programmes to prevent parent-to-child transmission of the virus, there is greater need to focus on women.
“There is huge need to ramp up education and awarnessness about HIV infection among women besides upgrading the social status of women in order to empower her to make choices related to her sexual partner,“ Mohanty said.
Experts also say HIV tes ting is not much prevalent among women, especially in rural areas and even among the migrating population in both urban and rural settings. Data shows only 2030% of tests are conducted among women which is mostly by those who are pregnant or urban youth.
These indicators assume significance also because India is halfway through the implementation of the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP-IV) and is at a critical juncture to achieve its goals for 2017 when the programme is scheduled to get over.
This would also mean complete withdrawal of international funding for AIDS control in India and the government will have fund its initiatives on its own.
Estimates show that undivided Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had the highest estimated number of people living with HIV , followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Source| Times of India, 08.02.2016, p.15,
A Maha village can show the world how to beat Zika

Magic pits help several Nanded villages become mosquito-free
At a time when the world is reeling under an outbreak of the Zika virus, several villages in Nanded district of Maharashtra have successfully drowned out the mosquito buzz with underground soak pits that suck in waste water. The four-foot-deep pits dug behind every house in the villages are making the usually overflowing open drains redundant, thus depriving mosquitoes of their breeding grounds.The project has roots in a decade-long successful experiment in Tembhurni village in Himayat Nagar taluka. Adopting the Gandhian principle of shramdaan (voluntary contribution for a cause), sar panch Pralhad Patil carried out construction of soak pits behind every house to collect waste water. When they began, Patil recalls, government funds were hard to come by . So villagers pooled funds. They dug pits which are covered with a cement pipe that has four equidistant holes at the top. A layer of sand and fine gravel is spread under and around the pipe to allow waste water to percolate slowly into the ground. “Within a year of all houses getting the new soak pits, the village became free of mosquitoes,“ says Patil, who gave up a career in engineering in the 1980s to carry out sustainable development in his village. The step assumes significance against the backdrop of dengue, malaria and other mosquitoborne diseases plaguing Maharashtra.
The project had an unexpected additional benefit. The village, which was heavily dependent on tankers for water supply till 2002, became self-sufficient after half-a-dozen handpumps in different parts began spewing water. “Water flowing into the 200 soak pits gradually drains down into aquifers, thereby recharging groundwater. Our village hasn't faced water scarcity in recent years,“ Patil says.
Nanded zilla parishad chief executive officer Abhimanyu Kale stumbled upon the Tembhurni project in 2014 and decided to replicate it across the district.Funds from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) are being used to construct the pits, which the locals call magic pits. “We set up the pits using Rs 2,000 for each under the scheme,“ says Kale. The effect of the pits on mosquitoes was evident in Kamlaj village in Mudkhed taluka, where a TOI team stayed overnight. The all too familiar buzz was absent from 11pm till dawn on the terrace of a centrally-located house. The drains are dry and clean. As a result, stagnant water around houses, on streets, and choked drains has become a thing of the past. The zilla parishad plans to achieve similar results in over 1,300 villages of the district.
The pits have also affected the villagers' social lives. Draupada Wadvare, a homemaker in Dhanyachi wadi, a hamlet in Hadgaon taluka of Nanded, now limits her visits to her mother's place to a couple of days. Wadyavare's village is virtually mosquito-free, with all 133 houses equipped with the magic pits, but her mother's village hasn't implemented the plan. “I feel my children are safer at their own home,“ she says. Scientific studies in the area have also supported the project's claims. Nanded district health officer Balaji Shinde says the transmission rate of mosquito-borne and water-borne diseases has decreased by nearly 75%. “We have done several rounds of surveys through the villages, but have not been able to find mosquitobreeding sites,“ he says.
Though the campaign received tremendous public response, there remained several skeptics. Ganesh More, a farmer who owns nearly 15 acres of land near Sonkhed village in Loha taluka, ridiculed officials promoting the pits. All that changed when the dry well in his farm had water trickling in through natural channels a few weeks ago. “Our village does not have any trace of stagnant water in winter and summer. As a result, the rainwater percolates easily into the dry ground and fills the aquifers during monsoon,“ says Tembhurni sarpanch Patil.Nearly 50,000 soak pits in different villages of Nanded are now recharging groundwater in the area.
Word has spread about the magic pits and now, government teams from Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka and Odisha have begun camping in Nanded to see the model at work. The state rural development department too has endorsed the model and asked other districts to emulate it. At his official residence, Kale's enthusiasm to ensure a mosquito-free district is palpable. In one conversation, he addresses the malaria officer and says, “I want your post to become extinct. A progressing country like ours does not need such a department.“

Source| Times of India, 08.02.2016, p.12,

Thursday, 4 February 2016

20% of Delhi's lung cancer patients are non-smokers: Docs

But `Smoking Still Causes Almost 80% Of Cases'

In what could be an alarming fallout of air pollution, top cancer doctors say they have noted a significant rise in lung cancer among non-smokers in recent years. Roughly one in every five persons diagnosed with the disease does not smoke, they said.“Till about a decade ago, less than 10% of all lung cancer patients were nonsmokers. This percentage has now gone up to around 20%, which is significantly high. Rising pollution levels may be playing a role,“ said Dr P K Julka, professor of oncology at AIIMS, on the eve of World Cancer Day .
Dr Vinod Raina, director of medical oncology at Fortis Memorial, affirmed the trend. “The link between lung cancer and air pollution is a conjecture but it is being seen in studies conducted worldwide. Further research is needed to prove the cause and effect relation between the two,“ he said.
Dr Randeep Guleria, professor and head of pulmonology division at AIIMS, recounted a case to underline the trend. “A few years ago, I diagnosed a young woman in her late 30s with lung cancer.She was a non-smoker.Throughout her treatment, she kept saying, `Why me?' Such cases are becoming more common now,“ he said.“The role of air pollution in metros such as Delhi as a risk factor cannot be ruled out,“ Guleria added. According to figures released by the Delhi Cancer Registry , lung cancer cases have shown the highest spurt among all cancers afflicting men, going up from 14 cases per 1,00,000 population in 2008 to 15.5 per 100,000 population in 2010.
Delhi Cancer Registry data shows lung cancer cases have been increasing among women too -from 4.2 cases per 1,00,000 population in 2008 to 4.6 in 2010. DCR, which compiles data from all big hospitals in Delhi, is yet to release data beyond 2010. While the data is based on cases in Delhi, doctors said it represents a wider trend because a significant number of cancer patients being treated in city hospitals are from outside.
In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO), classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic. It issued a statement saying there was sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoorair pollution causes lung cancer and increases risk of bladder cancer. Particulate Matter (PM), a major component of outdoor air pollution, was evaluated separately and also classified as carcinogenic by IARC the same year. “The predominant sources of outdoor air pollution are transportation, power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking,“ the IARC stated.
According to Dr Nitesh Rohtagi, a senior medical oncologist at Max hospital in Saket, persons suffering from cough for more than three weeks, or prolonged pain in chest or bone, should see a doctor immediately . “Smoking still causes nearly 80% of all lung cancers. Smokers should quit the habit to reduce the risk for themselves and their families since passive smoking can also cause the disease,“ he said.

SOURCE::: Feb 04 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai), p.19
Will eye cancer spread to liver? Only tests can tell

Ophthalmologists don't have to guess about the chances of cancer spreading in their patients anymore. With simple tests on the tumour, they will now be able to tell eye melanoma patients if their tumour will spread to the liver -a condition seen in 50% of such patients.On the eve of International Cancer Day , experts at Sankara Nethralaya said the new option lets doctors do a molecular screening of tumours that shows if uveal melanoma -cancer involving parts of eye -will develop into secondary malignant growths in the liver. Experts classify tumours into two groups.Class 1-that occurs in half the patients -is cured once the tumour is removed.In class 2, most patients die as the cancer re-emerges in the liver. “Until now, tests done in India could not predict if it would happen. Doctors had to guess the chances of recurrence by seeing the size of the tumour and the kind of cells ,“ said Dr S Krishnakumar, deputy director, Vision Research Foundation, Sankara Nethralaya.
“Data from studies of the test we did showed that we could almost accurately say which of our patients are in class 2 and in whom it will spread to the liver. The spread to the liver cannot be stopped or delayed, but we know there is hope,“ he said. This molecular test is offered only to people detected with melanoma. The results will either reassure them that they will be cured, or prepare them for the next stage of the cancer.

SOURCE::: Feb 04 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai), p.19
Just 2,000 oncologists for nearly 10m patients in India

Even as cancer is fast taking epidemic proportions in India, the country is facing a severe shortage of care-givers with merely 2,000 oncologists to look after around 10 million patients. Besides, there is also a dearth of surgical oncologists and radio-therapists, who play a crucial role in cancer treatment.A rapidly spreading disease with very little research, fewer doctors and unequipped hospitals along with spiralling cost of treatment, cancer is fast becoming a major health menace for India with the healthcare system in a shambles to tackle the burden.
As per WHO's latest assessment, cancer cases in India will multiply five times over the next decade (by 2025) with more women falling prey to it than men.Even after adjusting for population growth, the new cancer cases have risen by 30% per unit population, according to several assessments on the trends of the disease.
According to a Lancet report of 2014, slightly over 10 lakh new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year in India.Increasing incidence of cancer is also leading to economic burden of treatment, which was 20 times the annual income of an average family , an assessment by AIIMS showed.
Though the government is trying to build infrastructu re to tackle the disease, the wide gap between the number of patients and specialists has hit the expansion plans of not just the government but also of private hospitals trying to create dedicated cancer facilities.
“One core reason why the infrastructure for manage ment of India's cancer burden is insufficient is the severe shortage of educated medical and other health personnel and of the training facilities needed to produce them,“ sa ys the Lancet article. It also points at factors such as the preferences of doctors and other experts for working in more affluent areas, and the effects of a largely unregula ted private sector resulting in a skewed geographical distribution of cancer treatment facilities. About 60% of specialist facilities are located in southern and western India, according to the study . However, more than 50% of the population lives in the central and eastern regions, distorting service provision.
Though the government has announced 20 new advanced cancer treatment centres like AIIMS spread across the country , health ministry officials admit that commissioning these hospitals in an efficient manner may not be an easy task given the dearth of specialists and sophisticated equipment.
For the full report, log on to

SOURCE::: Feb 04 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai), p.19
WORLD CANCER DAY - Breast cancer most common among Indian women today

25 Of Every 1L Have It, Pips Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer used to be the most common and biggest killer of Indi an women, claiming one life every seven minutes, according to data available in 2008. At that time, breast cancer -largely seen as an urban woman's bane -claimed one life every 10 minutes.Now, Globocan 2012, a soft ware prepared by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has used data from the Indian Census in 2011 to show that breast cancer has upstaged cervical cancer as the most common cancer among Indian women.
“The figures are still an estimate, but we do believe that breast cancer is the most common cancer among Indian women today ,“ said Dr Rajendra Badwe, a breast cancer surgeon who heads the Tata Memorial Centre in Parel.
In fact, Globocan 2012 shows that breast cancer affects 25 out of every 1,00,000 women in India; cervical cancer affects 22.
“There is a direct link between the incidence of cervical cancer and a lack of hygiene and sanitation. When countries develop and hygiene and sanitation improves, there is an automatic decrease in cervical cancer rates,'' said Indian Centre of Medical Research (ICMR) director Dr Soumya Swaminathan.
“And, for some reason that we have not yet fully understood, the incidence of breast cancer increases with development. India is clearly going through this phase that other developed countries have witnessed,'' added Swaminathan.
Dr Sachin Almel, medical oncologist from Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, pointed out that governmental agencies and the medical community had managed to create awareness about the need for women, both in rural and urban India, to undergo early pap smear tests to detect cervical cancer.
The number of women affected by breast cancer had been increasing in the last two decades. The Globocan data now suggests that the number of women affected by breast cancer as well as breast-cancer-related deaths have overtaken cervical cancer.
Data suggests that breast cancer is related to several lifestyle factors such as late marriages, delayed motherhood as well as increasing incidence of obesity . Sedentary lifestyle adds to the risk.
Dr Rajesh Dikshit, who heads the epidemiology department of Tata Memorial Centre, said despite the perception that breast cancer was rising among younger Indian women, it's still a disease mainly of older women who have reached menopause.
About one out of eight invasive breast cancer cases are found in women younger than 45, compared to about two out of three are found in women aged 55 or above.

SOURCE::: Feb 04 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai), p.2
Disabled man capable of getting job can't claim huge maintenance from estranged wife: HC

A man with a disability who does not take up a job despite being capable, is not entitled to a huge amount as maintenance from his estranged wife, the Bombay high court has ruled. Justice M S Sonak reduced the interim monthly maintenance granted to Pune resident Prakash Gijare, who is in a wheelchair, that is payable by his wife Seema, a theatre actor, to Rs 2,000.

“(Prakash) is in a position to take up suitable employment and the mere circumstance that he is not doing so, does not mean that the respondent is entitled to exorbitant maintenance from his wife,“ said the judge.

Prakash met with an accident in 2004 and has been in a wheelchair since then. His disability is certified at 51%, but the court noted that from the medical records, it can't be said that he is totally disabled from doing any work or that needs only bed rest. “He does appear to have exaggerated his position and such exaggeration might have nexus with the claim for maintenance which he has made against the wife,“ said the HC.

Seema's lawyer had brough evidence on record that he used to run computer classes from home. “Prakash is no doubt en titled to have his case evaluated with sensitivity , particularly considering his physical impa irment. But it must be noted that there is no need to encoura ge his conviction, that he is no at all obliged to make any efforts to earn any income and that it is the unconditional duty of his wife to go on providing with ma intenance,“ the HC said. Prakash and Seema got married in 2000, but started living separately from 2001. Seema sought divorce in 2002. After Prakash met with an accident in 2004, he filed a maintenance claim. In 2015, a family court, in an interim order, told Seema to pay maintenance ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 for different periods. Seema moved the HC claiming that she was unemployed and had to leave a job after Prakash and his mother created aruckus at her workplace.
(Couple's names changed to protect identity)

SOURCE::: Feb 04 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai), p.2