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Monday, July 26, 2010

(Compiled and Published by J.N. Manokaran  ( on behalf of Glocal Resources Development Associates)
 I          India
1.         Rich getting richer: 120k Indians hold a third of national income: Last year may have been a cruel year for much of the country with slow growth and double-digit food inflation, but India's high net worth individuals (HNWIs) prospered — just over 120,000 in number, or 0.01% of the population, their combined worth is close to one-third of India's Gross National Income (GNI). HNWIs, in this context, are defined as those having investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables. According to the 2009 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, brought out by financial services firms Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, at the peak of the recession in 2008, India had 84,000 HNWIs with a combined net worth of $310 billion. To put that figure in perspective, it was just under a third of India's market capitalization, that is, the total value of all companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange — as of end-March 2008. The average worth of each HNWI was Rs 16.6 crore. It would take an average urban Indian 2,238 years, and 3814 years for rural Indian,  based on the monthly per capita expenditure estimates in the 2007-8 National Sample Survey, to achieve a net worth equal to that of the average HNWI. And that's assuming that this average urban Indian just accumulates all his income without consuming anything. According to the firms' 2010 World Wealth Report, India now has 126,700 HNWIs, an increase of more than 50% over the 2008 number. While the figure for combined net worth is not available, it seems safe to assume that as a class not only have India's super-rich recouped their 2008 losses, they have even made gains over their pre-crisis (2007) positions. In 2007, 123,000 HNWIs were worth a combined $437 million. Meanwhile, in 2009 alone, an estimated 13.6 million more people in India became poor or remained in poverty than would have been the case had the 2008 growth rates continued, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). Also, an estimated 33.6 million more people in India became poor or remained in poverty over 2008 and 2009 than would have been poor had the pre-crisis (2004-7) growth rates been maintained over these two years. The 2009 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report notes that the HNWI population in India is also expected to be more than three times its 2008 size by the year 2018, with emergent wealth playing a key role. Like China, relatively few among the current HNWI population (13%, compared to 22% in Japan) have inherited their wealth and even fewer (9%) are over the age of 66. (Rukmini Shrinivasan, accessed on 25 June 2010)
2.         Four lakh city property owners owe GHMC Rs 343 cr in taxes:
Of 11 lakh properties in the city, owners of four lakh properties, most of them in the Old City and upmarket areas like Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills, had defaulted on their property tax payments to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). Of over four lakh defaulters, 75,603 are in Circle 4 and 46,075 in Circle 5, which covers the entire Old City. Interestingly, 32,198 tax defaulters are in Circle 10 (Khairtabad) which covers the upmarket areas like Jubilee Hills, Banjara Hills, Srinagar Colony and Ameerpet. Officials said of 11,14,000 properties assessed in the GHMC limits, owners of 4,58,660 properties had not paid property tax of about Rs 343 crore for the 2009-10 financial year. Property tax of nearly 18,000 properties could not be collected as some properties had more than one house numbers, properties which were demolished during road widening, religious places, exempted properties like properties belonging to ex-servicemen and properties which were converted into apartments also figured in the defaulter’s list. These properties’ dues are shown for about Rs 20 crore. Another Rs 45 crore was not collected as there were 165 court cases where the owners went to court against the tax demand notice. (Koride Mahesh, accessed on 25 June 2010)
3.         Degrees on sale! Rs 55,000 for MBA: Naresh used to sell BA, B Sc, B Com certificates for Rs 55,000 and BCA, BE, MBA, and diplomas in computer hardware, software etc for Rs 1 lakh. Naresh with the help of Sanjay Sharma, a Delhi resident, started this business to make a quick buck and to lead a luxurious life. Kumar runs various institutions, namely the Indian Institute of Hardware and Technology (IIHT), Penguin and Glitz Public School and Distance Education courses in JP Nagar, K R Puram and Yelahanka areas of Bangalore.Naresh would collect data of the failed students and send it to Sharma for printing the documents. He used to charge money according to the percentage the student wanted. He issued mark sheets with as high as 95 per cent marks. The accused used to sell fake degree certificates, mark sheets, and transfer certificates of various universities to failed students. With the help of these mark sheets, many are employed with some of the reputed multi-national companies (MNCs) in India and abroad.
4.         Only 27% parents control online activities of their children: Survey: About 77% Indian kids face negative situations online and only 27% parents control the cyber activities of their kids, says a global family survey on children's online lives and safety issues released. The good news, though, is that in the absence of adequate supervision, kids are making their own rules to control the chaos and to stay safe. A negative situation, according to the survey, can be any unpleasant experience, from downloading malware inadvertently to being bullied online or being exposed to violent or pornographic images. The survey also exposes the huge gap between the actual experience of Indian kids online and their parents' understanding of it. Only 50% Indian parents thought their kids had faced an unpleasant experience online. Only 1%of the 500 adults considered, admitted not knowing what their children got up to online. But 23% of the 200 kids who took the poll felt their parents were clueless. And here's the clincher: 76% — 30% "strongly" — felt they are more careful online than their parents or guardians. The Norton Online Family Report 2010 considered the responses of 2,800 children aged between eight and 17 and 7,066 adults (1,669 of them parents) across 14 countries including Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK and USA. To be fair to Indian parents, their counterparts in other countries didn't max the test either. Globally, 62% children have faced negative situations whereas only 45% of the adults were aware of their kids' experiences. As per the survey, the Indian parent is far less likely to control their children's activities on the net. "Only 27% parents dictate rules. Most of them set general guidelines on when you can be online and for how long but can't set up rules or are unaware of the tools available to control," says Effendy Ibrahim of Norton. But kids could use the supervision. On an average, an Indian child has 46.17 online friends; only 46% kids can claim to have met all their online friends; 14% have met few. "Parents have abdicated their responsibility," feels Vidhya Reddy of Tulir, a Chennai-based NGO for prevention and healing of child sexual abuse. She has been holding workshops with XIth-graders, impressing upon them the principles of safe net-use. But things are looking up. For one, parents either know or are imposing rules restricting the amount of time their children can spend online. And even left to their own devices, Indian kids are learning to avert danger. They are developing their own rules to stay safe and follow an unwritten code, a netiquette. They are careful about sharing personal details and are generally averse to bullying, stalking or passing on information on others. Nonetheless, parents would do well to get up to speed with their children's online activities. (Shreya Roy Chowdhury, Sunday Times of India 27 June 2010, p.8.)
5.         One killed in fight over water: A 22-year-old man was shot dead and two others were injured when some persons opened fire in a north-east Delhi locality following a fight between two groups over water.  The incident was reported from Karawal Nagar at around 10:30 pm on 27 June and the deceased has been identified as Bhagat Singh. Singh was shot in the chest while two others - Ompal and Pankaj - received bullet injuries in leg and stomach. The condition of Ompal is stated to be critical while Pankaj is out of danger. The water supply in the area is done by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and every day a tanker would come to the area. After a fight three days ago, DJB stopped sending the tankers after it received a complaint about fights. ( accessed on 29 June 2010)

6.         Infertility on the rise:  International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS) reports that out of 250 million individuals conservatively estimated attempting parenthood at any given time; 13 to 19 million couples are likely to be infertile.  Indian Council of Medicinal Research has found that since 1981 there is 50% increase in infertility rate.  One out of five couples is childless and their numbers are growing.  16 per cent of married women are childless in the cities.  10% of young males have severe defects of sperm quality, quantity and production.  For one-third of infertility cases, the men are at fault.  6% of male infertility and 14% of ovarian failures are due to chromosomal abnormalities.  Of the 300 million couples in the age group of 18-44 years, 10% i.e. 30 million couples are infertile; 80% of them could be treated with routine simple treatment while others would need special infertility treatments.  17% of childless couples face marital problems compared to 2% with children.  (Damayanti Datta, India Today, 5 July 2010, p. 40-48)
7.         Honour killings: North India wages a vicious war against love: Nineteen honour killings between April 9 and June 30. That translates to 80 days. Roughly, one murder every four days. Clearly, north India is waging an undeclared war against love. You might think, along with Khap officials, honour killings have to do with caste. But the real casualty is love. None of the murdered couples married by arrangement. Scratch the skin of caste, and out comes love, bleeding. Deep down, the real enemy of Khap is an emotion. Brothers shooting sisters, grandmother killing granddaughter, mother strangling daughter, father arranging son's death. Honour killings offer a variety of combinations. All of them equally effective, all of them totally result oriented. Capital city Delhi, for all its aspirations to be a truly international cultural centre, has seen three related honour killings in the last fortnight. And these murders were carried out by jeans-and T-shirt wearing youngsters, not the dhoti-kurta-pagri clad caste leaders. (Abantika Ghosh, accessed on 1 July 2010)
8.         Mumbai is India's gay capital: In the last two months, there were more than 20 parties organised only in Mumbai and the city has six active gay support groups. While Delhi hosted 15, 10 were held in Bangalore and there weren't any in Pune. While Mumbai has a magazine for gays -- Bombay Dost, Pune has two -- PUCK and The Queer Chronicle. Mumbai's has the country's first and only LGBT shop -- Azad Bazaar. The number of parties for gays in Bangalore has risen from one a month to 10. n Pune, it's not conducive for gays to come out of the closet. Last year, 55 gays started a group and it has 200 members. Delhi has seen increase from one to four parties for gays per week.  ( accessed on 1 July 2010)

9.         Porn worth Rs 20,000 seized: A raid carried out by the Upparpet police for books favouring Naxals, went wayside when the cops found books containing obscene images instead. Cops raided R K bookshop at Karnataka State Road Transportation Corporation Bus stand, Majestic area, found books containing pornographic images and text worth Rs 20,000. The police have arrested Rafik (37), Jamal (26) and Afzal (28), who hail from Beltangadi village situated in Udupi. However, shop owner Shabbir managed to escape successfully.
(Manjunath L Hanji

10.       X-ray, CT scan, MRI units: only 1 in 5 certified radiation-safe: Only 21 per cent of the radiological diagnostic machines in Maharashtra are registered with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for following radiation safety norms, as per the institution’s estimates. “We have 655 registrations in Maharashtra so far. A survey we conducted two years back indicated that there are 3000 X-ray units, including CT scanners, operating in the state,” said Dr S A Hussain, Head, Radiological Safety Department at AERB. The countrywide figures are more alarming: only 4,000 machines have so far been registered with the organisation, when the same survey found 60,000 machines operating surreptitiously. The onus is on the management of such clinics to apply for licences. Every clinic using diagnostic machines emitting radiation should apply for a licence from AERB. The machines should be operated only after obtaining this clearance.” (Pritha Chatterjee, accessed on 1 June 2010)
11.       Driver errors cause most road deaths in India: Report: The ministry of road transport and highways which, in keeping with a United Nations project, has compiled road accident data from across the country and tried to determine the cause for each and every fatal accident on India’s highways. Three out of four road deaths took place because the driver was at fault—in other words, it was a clear case of human error. In terms of death - 89,360 people killed by negligent drivers in 2008 alone. Moreover, two-third of these deaths took place because the driver was speeding. In contrast, other causes that the ministry looked at—mechanical failure of the vehicle, fault of a cyclist, road conditions, weather factors or folly of a pedestrian—played a minor role. In India 1,19,860 lives lost on roads in 2008.  While pedestrians, cyclists, bad roads and adverse weather conditions were responsible for less than 2% of the deaths each, defective vehicles were the reason for 2,752, or 2.3%, deaths. In short, it was killer drivers who posed the biggest threat on the road to their passengers, other motorists and pedestrians and, obviously, to themselves. n India driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was a much smaller killer (only 6% of fatalities) than speeding (49% of deaths). This is in contrast to much of the developed world where alcohol is a leading cause of death on roads. Also in this regard, Maharashtra topped the list with rash and speeding drivers causing the maximum number of fatalities in India. A 2009 UN report says that 90% of the world’s accidents take place in low income and middle income countries where drivers are poorly trained, roads are not well planned and law enforcement is lax. India’s record in this regard is particularly poor with more than hundred thousand people killed on roads annually. The same UN report also says that by 2030, road traffic injuries will rise to become the fifth leading cause of death on our planet, beating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and resulting in an estimated 2.4 million fatalities per year. ( accessed on 4 July 2010)
12.       India has just one operation theatre per one lakh people: Study: It's a strange dichotomy. India, believed to be home to 1.26 lakh millionaires, has just one operation theatre per 1 lakh population. A latest study by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that while the South-East Asia region has just 2.6 OTs per 1 lakh population, the number is as low as 1.3 OT per 1 lakh population in India and Pakistan. What's worse, the surgical facilities that are available don't have the basic safety equipment necessary for safe surgery - such as oxygen monitors. Half of the operating rooms in India lack functioning oxygen monitors. Eastern Europe has the highest number of OTs per 1 lakh population -- 25.1 -- followed by Asia Pacific (high income countries) 24.3, Central Europe 15.7, Western Europe 14.7, North America and Australasia 14.3, Central Asia 11.7 and the Caribbean 10.4 OTs per 1 lakh population. South-East Asia comes right at the end of the heap with 2.6 OTs. The worse are Oceania at 1.9, sub-Saharan Africa (central) 1.2, sub-Saharan Africa (east) 1.1 and sub-Saharan Africa (west) 1. Even some regions classified as low middle according to economic wealth, just like South-East Asia, had greater number of OTs. Of the 234 million surgeries that take place around the world every year, the wealthiest third of the global population underwent 75% of them, the poorest third just 4%. Published in the `Lancet', the study says that more than 2 billion people worldwide do not have adequate access to surgical services. WHO says one in every 25 people are undergoing a surgery at any given point of time. Shockingly, more than seven million people across the world suffer from preventable surgical injuries every year. One million patients even die immediately after the surgery, making safety of patients during surgery a substantial public health concern. Around 49% of OTs in South Asia did not have pulse oximeters- a device that indirectly measures the oxygen saturation of a patient's blood and changes in blood volume in the skin, compared to 9% in Europe, 7% in Latin America and just 0.2% in Asia Pacific. About 19% of operating theatres -- 77,700 -- did not have pulse oximeters worldwide. The research was done by obtaining profiles of 769 hospitals in 92 countries for the study. (Kounteya Sinha, accessed on 5 July 2010)
13.     Chennai ranks highest in dowry deaths: Statistics put out by the Tamil Nadu police for the past four years show that Chennai ranks the highest among all districts in the state for dowry deaths—from 2006, when it registered 32 such cases, to 2007 when the number of dowry deaths was 43. From 2008 onwards, with Chennai being carved out as Chennai City and Suburbs, the city registered 25 dowry deaths, and the suburbs 28. In 2009, Chennai city had 19 deaths and the suburbs recorded 20. While such a large number of dowry deaths may seem surprising in a city filled with educated and financially independent women, there are few women willing to fight the dowry menace, say activists. Even educated and financially independent people feel the lack of a support system to take on harassment. The victim’s own family does not welcome a girl who returns to her parents’ home. Consumerism and yearning for material gains are other reasons.  Also, in a changing social scenario, with men increasingly feeling the need to assert themselves, it is resulting in violence. (R. Vasundara, The Times of India 6 July 2010, p.2)
14.       Holiday court to suit working couples:  Keeping in mind the difficulties faced by working couples fighting divorce or child custody battles in family courts, the Madras high court has announced that ‘‘holiday courts’’ will function in the city from July 10. A brainchild of Chief Justice M Yusuf Eqbal, these courts will address the needs of over 12,000 litigants, most of them employed, contesting divorce, child custody and maintenance cases in the three family courts in Chennai. If well-received, the facility will be extended to Sundays and also to the remaining three family courts in the mofussil areas. The first holiday court in the country will be inaugurated by the Chief Justice on June 10. Six family courts in Tamil Nadu are handling over 16,000 cases. Of them, most litigants are employed couples. The principal judge for family courts here, Ramalingam, said that up to June end this year, 1,420 divorce cases had been filed in Chennai. In addition, there were 506 divorce pleas on mutual consent, 354 applications for restitution of conjugal rights, 53 child custody cases and 281 petitions for maintenance. (A Subramani, accessed on 7 July 2010)
15.       Banking on Inclusion: The Government of India wishes to provide essential financial services like savings, credit, microinsurance, and remittance for all villages with a population of over 2000 before March 2012.  45.9 million of the total 89.3 million or 51.4% of farmer households in India do not have access to any kind of credit.  25 million no frills accounts were opened between April 2007 and May 2009, but only 11% of the accounts are functional.  The Government targeted 431 districts to achieve financial inclusion, however only 200 districts have achieved this target. Only 54% of Indian adults have a bank account.  69% of over Rs.75000 crore paid through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was paid through no-frill bank accounts.  Micro- credits and Self-Help Groups also has helped banking reach the masses.  The banks are making transition from class banking to mass banking.  (Nivedita Mukherjee, India Today 12 July 2010, p. 40-42)
16.       Over 1 lakh sacks of rotten wheat found in Udaipur: At a time when the Ashok Gehlot government is going out of its way to provide foodgrains to below poverty line (BPL) families, tonnes of grains meant for the poor are rotting in FCI godowns in the state. On 8 July 2010, nearly one lakh sacks of wheat and peas worth over Rs 500 crore were found in a rotten condition at Rana Pratap railway station here. The grains were to be supplied to the poor in the region through the public distribution system. The grains were brought from the FCI godowns while the National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) had brought many tonnes of yellow peas. However, owing to lack of space at the station, the grains were left in the open. On 8 July, the grains were found covered in algae and insects were seen creeping out of the stock. "A white fungus-like layer has formed on the sacks rendering them useless. The stock is also stinking. One only hopes that it does not find its way to the consumer else it may spread disease," said Ram Lal Saini, who was among the crowd gathered at the station. An NCCF official, Jitendra Dubey, refused to comment on the incident. However, FCI officials said the stock is not totally spoilt and it would soon be lifted. In a similar case a few months ago, a huge stock of foodgrains dumped outside the FCI godown in Jaipur were found in a rotten condition as the godown was stacked with liquor cases. ( accessed on 9 July 2010)
17.       Centre to screen 30-plus for diabetes, hypertension: The Centre has decided to screen all persons above 30 for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and stroke. It will be a national programme being launched for prevention of NCDs, which have emerged as the leading cause of mortality in the country, accounting for over 42% of deaths.Of the budget of Rs1,230.90 crore, Rs499.38 crore will be spent on diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke intervention, while Rs731.52 crore for cancer control. The Centre and states will share the cost 80:20. About 7 crore adults (30 & above) will be screened for diabetes and hypertension for early diagnosis and treatment. The programme will be implemented in 20,000 health sub-centres and 700 community health centres in 100 districts across 15 states/union territories and will promote a healthy lifestyle through health education. NCDs cause considerable loss in potentially productive years (35-64) of life. According to a 2002 WHO report, cardiovascular diseases will be the largest cause of death and disability in India by 2020. It is estimated that the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart diseases and stroke in the country is 62.47, 159.46, 37.00 and 1.54 per 1,000. There are an estimated 25 lakh cancer cases. To fill the gap in the health delivery system, about 32,000 personnel would be trained at various levels for screening, diagnosis and management of NCDs. NPCDCS is expected to bring a behavioural change in society to adopt healthy lifestyles, including dietary patterns, enhanced physical activity and reduced intake of tobacco and alcohol, resulting in overall reduction in factors causing NCDs. (Vineeta Pandey, accessed on 9 July 2010)
18.       Restoring honour to love: Love Commando is an outfit, which has vowed to fight against khap killings. Over the past few days, the group has been receiving over a thousand calls each day from hapless couples being hunted by relatives or parents for choosing partners outside their caste. Sanjay Sachdev, one of the founder members of Love Commando, said: "Even we did not have the slightest idea that it will be such a huge hit. The response has been overwhelming ever since MiD DAY reported about the launch of our initiative. Majority of the calls received at the Paharganj office of Love Commando are from young couples in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. Apart from those who wish to defy community and family, there have been calls from people from all walks of life who want to join the initiative. "Several eminent people have called us to appreciate our effort and express their desire to join us."   At least five people monitor the helpline number 9313784375.  They have plans to start five new helpline numbers.  Mostly the calls received are from couples, who have gone into hiding for the fear of their parents and community. Some of them have even threatened to commit suicide, if no help is provided to them soon. When a Love Commando volunteer receives a call, he/she contacts a lawyer in the group and immediately calls the local police. Besides, providing legal help, the volunteers also help organise counselling sessions where couples receive advice on upcoming challenges. (Rajeev Tyagi, accessed pm 9 July 2010)
19.       'Billing unethical in 20% Mumbai hospitals': Insurance companies introduced the PPN network drastically reducing the number of hospitals that can provide the cashless mediclaim facility because they had worked out that they were being financially bled by healthcare providers who were overbilling patients or making fraudulent bills. According to sources, the National Insurance Company's move to exit the PPN network was prompted by the fact that customers had not been adequately informed about the PPN. Industry watchers feel that National's exit would hasten the dialogue process between insurance companies and healthcare providers. Private sector health insurance companies have also become wiser after they failed to rein in the losses to the tune of crores of rupees allegedly due to the fraudulent methods adopted by some hospitals and TPAs. Fraudulent methods were: inflated bills or excessive hospital stays, were more prevalent in places like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, the National Capital Region (NCR) and even in some cities of Gujarat. HDFC-ERGO General Insurance has identified 700 hospitals across India that were either hiding material facts or submitting bogus or inflated bills. Apollo Munich Health Insurance has blacklisted 123 hospitals in the country after its probe revealed that many were indulging in dubious practices. Star Health Allied Insurance has identified nearly 20% of the hospitals in Mumbai that were indulging in practices that can be termed unethical. Apart from common types of frauds, some of these hospitals had dual billing policy—one for the insured and other for non-insured. Policy holders should keep in mind that insurance is a facility and not a privilege. (Manthan K Mehta, accessed on 11 July 2010)
20.       Gen-X needs 2 hours a day online to network: According to a survey done by Indiabiz News Research Services (INRS)in major cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru, youths prefer Facebook as the favourite website and Linkendin is the second.  Tech savvy Indian youths are spending at least two hours a day online to network to connect with others.  45 percent of users are reading or writing blogs and express opinions.  70% of bloggers spend 30 minutes – mostly for gaining information. 30 percent of youth use mobile phones to access networking sites.  Another survey by Neilson claims that 70% of users prefer Orkut.  (The New Indian Express(Bhuvaneswar) 21 July 2010, p.9)

21.       67% against live-in idea: A recent study by Saveetha University’s school of management has revealed that over 67 per cent of people in the city of Chennai oppose live-in relationships. They interviewed 1,600 persons, of which 1,508 were valid (1,041 male and 467 female). Of the 1,508 valied subjects, 67.37 per cent said they opposed live-in relationships. More that 23.41 per cent of the respondents supported live-in relationships and 9.22 per cent stayed neutral. Female respondents opposed live-in relationships more than male respondents and the younger the subjects were, the more they favoured live-in relationships. Illiterate respondents tended to frown on such relationships. Even financially sound women respondents opposed live-in relationships as they felt such liaisons were precarious. ( accessed on 22 July 2010)
22.       Riding on health: Once considered exotic  olive oil is fast emerging as an essential ingredient in Indian recipes and being stocked in departmental stores across the country. According to data from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, edible virgin olive oil imports have spiralled nearly 480 percent in two years — from 127 tonnes in 2006 to about 610 tonnes in 2008.  And the Indian Olive Association — which is promoting the oil as a healthy cooking medium that helps in fighting coronary heart diseases, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of breast cancer and diabetes — says consumption is expected to top 42,000 tonnes by 2012, growing at a rate of 75 percent a year. (Tehelka 10 July 2010, p.42.)
23.       Sleepless in the city:  Experts say Indians are not just sleep-deprived, but that sleeplessness is developing into a new health warning- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The alarming thing about OSA is that it doesn't come alone. OSA triggers a cluster of disorders called Syndrome Z, characterised by insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol. Together they take a huge toll on health. A Philips Sleep Survey conducted by AC Nielsen in November 2009 (on 5,595 people between age 35 and 65 across 25 towns), reveals that 93 per cent of urban Indians are not sleeping enough, with 28 per cent sleeping for only up to five hours a night and 71 per cent waking up three times a night. Over 38 per cent of Indian snorers are obese, 45 per cent are smokers, 44 per cent have diabetes, 46 per cent hypertension and 40 per cent cardiovascular ailments. No wonder, 62 per cent of respondents were found to be at risk of OSA. It can have fatal, long-term consequences if left untreated. (Mitali Patel, India Today  19 July 2010, p.58-61.)
24.       Small cities, big markets: The top six metros in India now contribute only 27 per cent of urban consumption.  Consumer trends mirror the metros in small cities also.  40-50 percent of advertisement expenditure is focused on smaller cities -  a steep jump from 30-35 per cent in 2007.  (Business Today 25 July 2010, p. 24-25) 

25.       City to get its first pet spa: Hair styling, highlights and aromatherapy massage will be available at the Chennai city's first pet spa. Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore  are the other cities that have one. Framed photos of perfectly groomed cats and dogs adorn the walls. The spa is fitted with sinks where the animals can be bathed, hydraulic and electric tables where they can be groomed, blow-dried and styled, and crates to house the clients. While this costs Rs 400 onwards, basic grooming, which includes bath and brush, nail clipping, ear and paw cleaning is priced from Rs 750 upwards. Full styling involves using scissors and clippers to "bring the dog or cat upto the breed's standards".  If a dog is bow-legged, we clip the hair so that it looks straight-legged. For a funky look, natural hair dyes are used to give red, pink, blue or green highlights. Dog owners can also treat pets to aromatherapy massages. There is a boutique that sells everything from collars and feeders to puzzles and toys. (The Times of India 24 July 2010, p.2)
Human lives have no value, while pets have spa.  Pray that these lopsided priorities may change. 
26.       Tractors for sale: Tractors of all makes, old and new, are lined up as far as the eye can see on the fields at Talwandi Sabo, an important tehsil in Bhatinda district of Punjab. On the highway cutting through the fields there are more of them, and drivers have a hard time trying to find parking space. In all, there are nearly 5,000 tractors. Stationed among the heavy farming vehicles are commission agents in different groups. Every Wednesday, Talwandi Sabo hosts the largest second-hand tractor market in the State. Most of the sellers are small and marginal farmers who are in huge debt, thanks to the oppressive inflation and unsupportive government policies in agriculture. The tractor mandi, as it is locally called, is a case study of the dying farming culture of Punjab. The tractor mandi, which began in 1989, picked up business only in the mid-1990s. In the last two years, the number of tractors coming here has increased. Earlier it was not more than 1,000; these days it is nothing fewer than 5,000 a day. The number of buyers, too, has fallen. There are some farmers who come here to sell their high-capacity tractors and buy smaller ones. This suggests that a small farmer's capacity is decreasing. The only ones who can afford the rising cost of agriculture are big farmers with more than 50 acres of land because they saved a lot of money in the heyday of the Green Revolution. In addition, these farmers have other businesses that help them afford better lifestyles. Out of 10 lakh farmer families in the State, only 9,000 had more than 50 acres of land. As many as 11,000 families owned between 25 and 50 acres, while the rest had less than 12.5 acres. The bulk of them owned less than four acres.The process of de-peasantisation in Punjab began since the early 1990s and gathered momentum since 2000. More than two lakh small/marginal farmers have left farming due to economic distress. An extensive field survey showed that 22 per cent joined the labour market, 23 per cent joined the low-paid private/government jobs and 27 per cent started some low-skill self-employed venture. (Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta, on 24 July 2010)
27. 200 women killed every year after being branded 'witches': NGO: Nearly 200 to 150 women are killed every year in India after being tagged as 'witches', a Dehra Dun based NGO has said citing National Crime Bureau statistics. Jharkhand tops the list with 50-60 witchcraft-related murders every year followed by Andhra Pradesh where the number is around 30, Haryana 25-30 and Orissa 24-28, Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) chairman Avdhash Kaushal claimed. In past 15 years, more than 2,500 women were killed after being accused of practicing witchcraft, according to a study conducted by RLEK. It is very sad that women are still being killed rampantly after being declared witches. Majority of these incidents are not reported in the media. He said in order to overcome the menace a national legislation was needed. ( accessed on 25 July 2010)
28.       Hunger spreads as foodgrains continue to rot in Madhya Pradesh: Nearly five thousand  metric tons of wheat bought from local farmers by  the Seoni district  Cooperative society is rotting out in the rain. Even though, in the last one year,  a hundred children have died of malnutrition in MP. When the NDTV team reached ground zero to do a reality check, it found labourers covering the sacks with a black plastic sheet  and some lame explanations. Since there are not enough godowns for storage in Seoni district, five thousand metric ton of wheat stored out in the open and and  forty thousand metric tons are sent to other districts, The picture is not very different in the neighbouring districts either. Not very far away from Seoni district is Harda. Rotting grains, plastic sacks open, grains spilling out, getting wet. It's the same picture across all state. In Vidisha, nearly forty five thousand metric tonnes of food grain  stands soaking in the rain water, it was removed when the media brought up the issue. In Hoshangabad, ten thousand metric tonnes are getting wasted.In Harda district, nearly 1500 metric tonnes are rotting. According to the official estimate, three lakh metric  tonnes of  food grains are in temporary storage, in other words it is lying in the open. This, even as the BPL families in Madhya Pradesh are  getting  just 20 to 25 kg of food grain a month which is less than the 35 kg stipulated by the Supreme Court. Out of the three  lakh metric tonnes of food grains  lying in the open , If thirty five kgs are distributed  to  the BPL  families, almost  seven lakh marginalized  families  will have  food on their platter for at least one full year. In such a situation, grain rotting in the state is nothing short of a criminal wastage  when  three  out of  five  children sleep without Food.  ( accessed on 25 July 2010) One-third of India's food reserves left to rot: Even as one third of India's food reserves rot in the open, an internal note fo the Food Corporation of India (FCI) warns of more waste saying there is a lack of adequate storage space. The FCI's warning comes at a time when 168 lakh metric tonnes, which is almost one-third of India's food reserves, lies unprotected in the open. Despite full knowledge of the precarious condition of food grains, governments, both at the centre and in states, were unable to protect the country's precious food reserves. A conservative estimate would put the cost of food grains currently lying unprotected at a staggering Rs 28,000 crore, enough to feed at least 2 crore people for over one year. It says the FCI is unable to moves stocks after procuring and that it is not easy to carry out fumigation, thus making preservation difficult. The note also warns that the food grain stocks stored in the open in Punjab and Haryana may deteriorate. At present, the FCI is bearing the brunt of criticism. However, the government and the Agriculture Ministry too cannot escape blame. The apathy of the people and officials responsible for feeding millions may result in more losses in years to come. The big question which needs to be answered is whether anyone would be held responsible for this seemingly criminal negligence. (Rupashree Nanda, accessed on 25 July 2010)

29.       No more free counseling for Mumbai couples on verge of a split: The last ray of hope for couples having discord in their marital life has stopped functioning.The counselling centre at Bandra Family Court in Mumbai, which started operating since 2006, stopped functioning since four months for want of funds. With the closure of the counselling centre at the Bandra family court, litigants are being told to go to private counsellors or government hospitals. The centre was voluntarily set up by a Pune-based trust  (Seher Project) to help distressed litigants who approach the court to sort out their family disputes. Marriage counsellors at the family court say litigants do need counselling. However, lawyers practising at the family court feel a counselling centre is not needed. ( accessed on 25 July 2010)
30.       Half-life of the Coal Child: A child has to descend 100-180 feet deep into the ground in precarious ladders, coiled like snakes, slimy with moss and rain, where a mere slip of foot would mean plunging to a certain death. At the end of these precarious ladders he would have to crawl like a mole into dark, horizontal, claustrophobic burrows, two feet high and often 1,500 feet long, to scratch coal out of hard stone with nothing but a pickaxe and a torch for company. A sudden rain, a tipped cart, a falling rock — just about anything could mean death in those hostile pits.  This is the rat mines of Meghalaya, barely a hundred kilometers from Shillong. Jaintia Hills have always been known for their illegal, unscientific mining, but shockingly, as the frenzy for coal is shooting up, these mines are increasingly being served by a workforce of children — mostly minors ranging from age 7 to 17. NGOs estimate that a staggering 70,000 children from Nepal, Bangladesh, Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand are working in these private mines. There is no official survey but the government does not contradict the figures. Instead, they admit a frustrating helplessness. Mine owners assert there are almost one lakh quarries in the region. Arindam Som, Secretary, Mines, says he can neither confirm nor deny this, “Mining is a private enterprise so the government has no control over it.” A child labour usually enters the rat holes at 5 am and comes out after 8-10 hours. Ladrymbai is a bustling hamlet around 150 kilometers from Shillong. Here, trucks carry coal and taxis carry men and boys to and from border towns. For every cart of coal the boys manage to fill, they get Rs 800. But it takes a team to fill them and the money has to be shared. On a good day, the children in these mines can earn Rs 300 to 400. But this gets them nowhere. It’s very expensive to live here. Most of these makeshift camps are located in dense forests or just middle of nowhere — slashes of blue plastic in a sea of green — away from the eyes of the law. Free of parental restraint or any adult supervision, many of these child workers indulge in drugs, drinking and gambling. In the last 12 months, there have been increased cases of theft and burglary and even rape. The police has so far arrested 30 children aged seven to 14 years on charges of burglary. Three, aged 15 to 17, have been nabbed on rape charges.  Children die as they work, no case is registered, no compensation to the family, many times family is not informed.  There is no talk of child rights in this brutal environment.  Children also get sick, but the nearest Public Health Centre is about 6.7 km away.  The Meghalaya state does not have any mining or labour law. This is almost unprecedented anywhere in the country. According to mine owners, around one lakh metric tonnes of coal, worth around Rs 50 crore, is extracted from the Jaintia mines every day. The government gets a royalty of Rs 290 per tonne; the mine owners sell it for Rs 4,200 per tonne. Most of this low-grade coal is transported to different parts of the country and to the Bangladesh border. (Kunal Majumder, Tehelka 3 July 2010, p. 28-37)
II         Diaspora
Every fourth migrant in Singapore is an Indian:  Indian nationals settling down in Singapore due to its friendly-environment, now account for about a quarter of the total 1.79 million foreigners and permanent residents' population, a newspaper reported today. According to a report published in The Straits Times the number of Indian nationals living in Singapore has doubled to 400,000 from 200,000 two years ago. It also reports the number of Indians setting up companies in Singapore has doubled from 1,500 in 2006 to 3,000 now, most of whom are doing businesses in the information technology, finance, trading and food and beverages sector. Tamil, which is the fourth official language in the city country after English, Chinese and Malay, is another magnet for Indian nationals from the Southern Indian states.  (The New Indian Express(Bhuvaneswar) 21 July 2010, p.9)

III  Global
 1.     'Spouses cause more stress than bosses': According to the study, based on a survey of 3,000 people in Britain, that husbands are more likely to send their wives' blood pressure soaring than the other way round. Overall, 58 per cent of the respondents said that their spouse or partner was among those who put them under pressure. Just 43 per cent said the same of their manager. And 18 per cent of women said their partner added a lot of stress to their life -- compared with just 12 per cent of men, the 'Daily Mail' reported. The poll, by electronics and healthcare manufacturer Philips, also found that women worry more about their weight than their earnings. Almost half said their weight was very important to their health and wellbeing, compared to 27 per cent who said the same about their salary. Women were also twice as likely to worry about the effect of obesity on their future health than the impact of high cholesterol or even cancer. Just 36 per cent of men thought their weight was very important to their health and wellbeing while 33 per cent said it had more to do with wages. Those polled were optimistic about the future, with almost half believing they'll outlive average life expectancy of 79. Three per cent expect to reach 100, with many believing that by the time they get seriously ill, advances in medical technology will provide the cure. (The Times of India, 29 June 2010, p.11)
  1. Textaphrenia & textiety: Message conveys disorder: Textaphrenia, textiety or post-traumatic text disorder are some of serious mental and physical disorders that teenaged Australian "text addicts" are suffering from. The research into youth communication habits identified the risks teens face from texting excessively every day, and the symptoms included anxiety, insecurity, depression, low self-esteem and "repetitive thumb syndrome". According to figures released by Boost Mobile, a reseller of the Optus network, text messaging has increased by 89% in the last two years. Jennie Carroll, a technology researcher from RMIT University in Melbourne, has studied of the effects of modern communication since 2001 and said the mobile phone had become meshed into teenagers' lives. Her study identified four distinct disorders — textaphrenia, textiety, post-traumatic text disorder and binge texting. Textaphrenia is thinking a message had arrived when it hadn't, while textiety is the anxious feeling of not receiving or sending text messages. "With textaphrenia and textiety there's a feeling no one loves me, no one's contacted me," the Daily Telegraph quoted her as saying. Post-traumatic stress disorder involved physical and mental injuries from texting, like walking into things while texting and even crossing a road without looking. There were reports from Japan of 'repetitive thumb syndrome' and thumbs growing because of texting leading to 'Monster Thumbs'. Binge texting is when teens send multiple texts to feel good about themselves and try to attract responses. This is the reverse of the anxiety — you think you've been left out of the loop so you send a lot of texts and wait for responses. (The Times of India 1 July 2010, p. 13)
  2. E-book sales push hardcovers off the shelves: has said that in the past four weeks sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 Hardcovers.   (Claire Cain Miller, The Economic Times 21 July 2010, p.1)
  1. Facebook reaches 500 mn users: Social networking site Facebook officially has 500 million users, the company announced on 21 July 2010. The milestone means that the six-year old website now reaches eight percent of the planet's population, just 18 months after it passed the 150 million user mark. Facebook marked the milestone with the launch of a special section in which users are encouraged to post their personal stories about how Facebook has affected them. "Half a billion is a nice number but the number isn't what really matters here. What matters are all of the stories we hear from all of you about the impact your connections have had on your lives," Zuckerberg (CEO) said in a video message. "Instead of focusing on numbers, we want to help people around the world hear about these stories for themselves, and we want to let you tell your own story." 

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