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Monday, October 24, 2011

Jalpaiguri residents sour over commissionerate proposal...GJM under fire as toll rises to 34...Darjeeling bridge collapse toll rises to 34..List of the dead...Utter carelessness behind Darjeeling bridge collapse

Jalpaiguri residents sour over commissionerate proposal
Anindita Chowdhury, SNS, KOLKATA, 23 OCT: The new Trinamul Congress government seem to have rubbed the denizens of Jalpaiguri the wrong way once again with its decision to include a portion of the district in the Siliguri Commissionerate. They are already sore over the Gorkha Territorial Administration deal which may see some areas of the Dooars included in the new body.
The Jalpaiguri Bar Association has threatened to agitate against the move of the state government to form the new commissionerate with four police stations of the Siliguri area and another from Jalpaiguri. After Howrah, Asansol-Durgapur, Bidhannagar and Barrackpore, this would be the fifth commissionerate to be formed once the proposal is cleared by the state Cabinet.
According to the proposal from the state police, the commissionerate would include Siliguri, Pradhannagar, Matigara, Bagdogra police stations of Siliguri and Bhaktinagar police station of Jalpaiguri. Since 14 out of 47 wards of Siliguri municipality falls under Jalpaiguri district, the state government intends to make the commissionerate's jurisdiction coterminous with it.
The state police had argued that not only is Siliguri strategically important as the largest town and business hub of north Bengal, a large number of tourists ~ both domestic and international ~ also descend here in the tourist season. The police-people ratio is abysmal and hence require commissionerate system of policing. Apart from creation of 2,250 additional posts it has been proposed that the infrastructure of the court of additional district judge may be used for creating a new court of Session for the Siliguri area.
With Gorkhaland supporters already staking their claim over 100 mouzas, the bar association pointed out that any attempt to carve out Siliguri Commissionerate will be a step-motherly treatment towards Jalpaiguri reducing to a pocket area of Siliguri which will affect not only the judicial set-up but revenue generation as well.
There have been opposition to the commissionerate system since it has reduced the powers of civil administration invested with the district magistrate. The chief electoral officer has already conveyed the reluctance of the Election Commission to designate any official without magisterial powers as district election officer. But sources at Writers’ Buildings claim that the chief minister is not willing to back out from her decision to form commissionerates in urban areas to strengthen policing.

Darjeeling bridge collapse toll rises to 34

PTI, DARJEELING (WB), 23 OCT: The death toll in the collapse of a wooden footbridge over Little Rangeet River in Darjeeling district rose to 34 with 10 persons succumbing to their injuries today.
The toll is likely to increase further as some of the victims are seriously injured, hospital sources said.
Chief medical officer of Darjeeling Dr Subir Bhowmik said the 10 persons succumbed to their injuries at the North Bengal Medical College Hospital at Siliguri and at Darjeeling Sadar Hospital.
The old wooden footbridge at Bijanbari in Darjeeling district, which was weakened after the 18 September eartquake, gave way under crowd pressure during a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM) meeting nearby at Bijanbari yesterday.
Army personnel of the Mountain Brigade and the Army Medical Corps have joined the fire brigade, police and disaster management personnel in the rescue operation and mobilized some ambulances at their disposal.
Some of the injured have also been admitted to Army hospitals, district administration sources said.
West Bengal governor MK Narayanan today visited the Darjeeling Sadar Hospital and promised all help to the kin of the victims and those injured.
Chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee, who visited the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, instructed the hospital authorities to provide best treatment possible the expenses of would be borne by the state government.
Mamata also announced the state government's decision to pay Rs two lakh to the families of the deceased, Rs 50,000 each to the seriously injured persons and Rs 25,000 each to the persons who suffered minor injuries.
The state government would also bear expenses for treatment of those patients who were admitted to private hospitals and nursing homes in Siliguri, Ms Banerjee said. She was accompanied by railway minister Mr Dinesh Trivedi and Union minister for health Mr Sudip Bandopadhyay.
The chief minister will also go to Darjeeling to visit the Sadar Hospital there where many injured persons were admitted and from there she would proceed to the site of the bridge collapse.
Darjeeling MP and senior BJP leader Mr Jaswant Singh today announced a grant of Rs 50 lakh from his MPLAD fund for construction of a new bridge in place of the old one, his secretary said.
KalimNews: The list of the dead are as follows: Sumitra/Sushila Subba 35- Agamsing Gram Bijanbari, Lila Subba 35- Bijanbari, Santosh Lama 35- Rashik Path Bijanbari, Dipesh Tamang 30-Bijanbari, Pritam Thapa 30 Bijanbari, Sangam Lama 40 Bijanbari, Subham Subba 14- Tumbayak Busty Bijanbari, Doma Lama 14- Bijanbari, Tinam Doma Bhutia Bijanbari, Roma Thakuri 40 Himul Line Bijanbari, Ningma Thakuri   Himul Line Bijanbari, Sabik Rai 45 Bijanbari, Anita subba 40 Bijanbari, Nishan Ghimiray 2 Chayanpur, Nisha Ghimiray 2 Chayanpur, Niruta Ghimiray 10 Chayanpur, Kanta Tamang 30 Chayanpur, Sovit Rai 46Chayanpur, Aditya Sharma 26 Chayanpur, Chesang Gurung Chayanpur, Jharna Tamang 32-Lower Goke, Sushma Subba17-Goke, Dipesh Mainali 17 Goke, Mani kumar Rai 40 Sunsary Goke, Dipen Gurung 25 Upper Samalbong, Suman Thapa 28 Upper Samalbong, Purnima Limbu 4 Nore Busty, Ranjana subba Nore Busty, Lingma Thakuri 4 Block Office,  Prashant Tamang 25 Sirisay Chungthung, Kanta Tamang Lower Chungthung, Seshang Gurung 7 Chungthung, Anjan Pariyar 32 Dilbir Chungthung, Puran Subba 42 Dilbir Chungthung, Naresh Lama 29 Sirisay,  Diwesh Tamang Sirisay, Gitanjali Thapa18 47 Kulainbari, Amar bdr Chhetri 40 Kaizalay Kizome,  Chhenam Tamang Pulbazar, Sangam Tamang 8 Pulbazar .
GJM under fire as toll rises to 34
HT, Bijanbari/Siliguri, October 23, 2011: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, which is spearheading the statehood movement in Darjeeling, came under fire on Sunday as the toll in Saturday’s bridge collapse at Bijanbari valley rose to 34.
On Saturday afternoon, the frail suspension bridge over Chota Rangit river had collapsed during a meeting of the GJM. Over 200 people standing on the bridge had hurtled down 65 feet below. More than 130 people were injured.
Most of the victims were women and children, who had gone to hear the address of GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
The locals are fuming over the irrationality of organising the programme across the bridge. “They could have done it in Bijanbari town. Everyone knew the frail bridge would not support such a crowd,” said 30-year old Mingma Lama, who lost her elder brother and her niece.
On Sunday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced an ex gratia of R2 lakh for the families of each of the deceased.
Utter carelessness behind Darjeeling bridge collapse
Amitava Banerjee, HT, Bijanbari, October 23, 2011: Thirty year old Mingma Lama cannot come to terms with reality. The past few hours has snatched her elder brother- the only earning member of her family and her niece, a brilliant student. Sobbing uncontrollably she stated “Only we know what we are going through. I had repeatedly asked my brother
not to go but he did not pay any heed. It is owing to utter carelessness that so many people lost their lives.”
A crowd trying to cross over a suspension bridge in Bijanbari, 38 km away from Darjeeling town, resulting in its metal cable anchor being uprooted owing to the load and the entire bridge collapsing. The official death toll stands at 32 mainly women and children along with 130 injured.
The crowd had gathered to hear Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Chief Bimal Gurung’s address along with an entertainment programme.
“Why did they organise such a programme in the wilderness? They could have easily done it inside Bijanbari town. Everyone knew that crowds would swell and the frail bridge would not support such crowd. When the bridge was in such condition why hadn’t the administration done proper maintenance or declared the bridge unsafe? Why had they allowed so many people to cross over all at once” questioned Lama.
Mingma lost her elder brother Santosh (37) and his daughter Doma (14) in the tragedy. “ My niece a Class 8 student used to top her class and was even awarded a scholarship. We had lots of hope on her” sobbed Mingma.
She stated than an electricity cable had also plunged into the water and many of the victims suffered electrical shocks. Rajen Pradhan, a local resident stated that there were policemen and GJM volunteers manning both sides of the bridge since morning, controlling the crowd and allowing a few people to cross over at a time.
People from nearby settlements of Chongtong, Kaijaley, Suntaley, Gok, Samalbeyong and Rimbick had arrived to hear Uday Sotang and Manila Sotang, popular Nepali duet singers. “As soon as the songs were over, the crowds swelled, impatient to return back home. The crowd became uncontrollable. They were trying to cross over all at once. The cable anchors came off tilting the bridge and finally the bridge snapped with more than 150 people plunging 65 feet below” stated Rajen Pradhan, local resident and an eye witness.
The 270 feet long bridge had been built in 1971 with the previous bridge having been washed away in the flash floods of 1968. Usually around 10 people would cross over together.
“The last I had spoken to my mother was three days ago. After I received news of the accident I rushed back to Bijanbari. When I arrived here my mother was no more” stated Pankaj Subba, a computer science student studying in Darjeeling. His mother Sumitra Subba is a victim of this disaster.
“It is purely an accident, hence could not be forecasted. It occurred due to the load. However a lot of credit goes to the people who helped in relief and rescue operations. Even the staff of the Block Medical Hospital went out of the way to conduct post mortems on the 11 deceased at the Block hospital rather than sending the dead bodies to Darjeeling Sadar hospital which have caused more problems for the already traumatized family members of the deceased. The bodies were handed over to the family members by 1 am” stated Tamal Das, Sub Divisional Officer, Darjeeling.
The Block Hospital at Bijanbari had 6 injured patients on Sunday. However when Sunil Tirkey, the consumer affairs minister visited the Hospital he was swamped by complaints. “We do not have a generator and an X-Ray machine in this Block Hospital There was an hour long power cut last night further aggravating the situation. Just because of the lack of an X-Ray machine we had to refer many patients to Darjeeling” stated Dr. S. Khaling, Medical Officer of the Block Hospital.
In Darjeeling 81 injured patients were undergoing treatment on Sunday out of the 102 admitted on Saturday. The rest had been referred to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, near Siliguri in the plains.
Even the army was pressed into service conducting rescue and medical relief operations. “We have already shifted 8 patients from the Darjeeling Sadar Hospital to the Base Hospital at Bagdogra in the plains. We are in the process of shifting other seriously injured referral cases” stated an army personnel of the Army Medical Corps.
“Owing to pain in his head and back he has been referred to the Darjeeling Sadar Hospital from Bijanbari Block Hospital. The Doctors here stated that he is fine, despite his pain. It seems that as the Darjeeling Sadar Hospital does not have a CT Scan machine, they are sending him home” alleged Meena Chettri whose nephew Abhisekh Bhujel (15) is injured.
Though there was around 23 units of blood available at the District blood bank, the blood bank was maintaining a list of donors who had pledged blood in case of emergency.
Many complained of being sent to private nursing homes for X-rays. “The X-ray machines are under heavy pressure, people have to do their share” countered Dr. SC Bhowmick, chief medical officer of health, Darjeeling.
Bijanbari displays resilience
Amitava Banerjee, HT, Darjeeling, October 23, 2011: The otherwise sunny and cheerful Bijanbari Valley was transformed into a "valley of death," enshrouded in silence, except for the occasional sobs echoing from the residences of the deceased. Bijanbari, 38km from Darjeeling experienced the worst tragedy with the Bijanbari Little Rangeet
Suspension Bridge collapsing resulting in the death of 32 persons and more than 130 injured. The dead and injured include women and children.
The incident had occurred at 5:50pm on Saturday. Despite all the odds- lack of proper rescue infrastructure, low light, difficult terrain, the local residents had displayed immense resilience which definitely had helped save a number of lives.
34 year old Robin Rai, a freelance photographer talking to HT stated "I was at the spot covering GJM President Bimal Gurung's public address and the cultural programme. When his address was midway, the accident occurred. I immediately stopped clicking photographs and undertook rescue operations."
Along with others, Rai plunged into the icy waters of the Little Rangeet River fishing out the injured. "I continued till 3am, first in the river and then at the Block Medical Hospital, helping with the injured and the referred patients."
Bir Ghimirey has a grim tale to narrate. Grimier a stringer with a vernacular daily, stated "I was getting ready to send my daily news dispatch when I heard of the accident. I immediately rushed to the spot to help in the search"
Ghimirey was not lucky enough. In the tragedy he lost his 9 year old granddaughter Niruta, and his twin granddaughter Nisha and grandson Nishan, both 2 years old. There dead bodies were recovered far away from the accident spot, washed away by the swift currents. A shell shocked Manoj Ghimirey, his son stated "I had gone to the public meet. My 9 year old daughter along with my 2 year old twins had gone separately."
Sanjog Chettri a youth had rushed into the river for rescue work. "Immediately felt a electric jolt. I shouted and made the others present disconnect a live electricity line that had dipped into the river after the bridge had collapsed" stated Chettri. Later he bought torches and handed them to fellow rescue workers.
"I have never witnessed such support by the local people to the police and district administration. Without their sincere efforts we would not have achieved much. Along with helping in relief and rescue people gave their vehicles to carry the injured not only to the Bijanbari Block Hospital but also to Darjeeling Sadar Hospital, 38 km away. There are taxi drivers who did multiple free trips to help" stated Puran Rai, Officer in charge, Poolbazar Police Station.
Global Urban Vision – November 2011
(Compiled and Published by J.N. Manokaran ( on behalf of Glocal Leaders Network)
I India
1.India accounts for 58 percent of those practising open defecation globally: India accounts for 58 percent of those who practice open defecation across the globe. In its finding for the year 2008, UNICEF estimated that as many as 63.8 crore people, that is, 54 percent of the country's population, practice open defecation due to inadequate sanitation. On this ignominious list, Indonesia is a distant second with 5.7 crore people lacking toilet facilities, and it accounts for 5 percent of the hapless population which still are denied sanitation, with China following where 5.6 crore people have no other option. On one count, Ethiopia's condition is worse than India's - 60 percent of its population are put to discomfiture against the 54 percent in India. Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka follow suit; but the fact remains they are still are better off than India in providing sanitation to their population. According to another report, the economic impact of inadequate sanitation costs India about Rs. 2.4 trillion or about 6.4 per of its gross domestic product. Diarrhoea alone claims four lakh lives annually, of which 90 percent are children. But tragically enough, the annual central budget is just Rs. 2000 crore which is just about two percent of the entire budget for Rural Development which is close to Rs.1 lakh crore. Only five states in India - Kerala, Sikkim, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra - are doing well in sanitation; others have a long way to go. Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for 10 percent of population that suffers on account of inadequate sanitation. (K. Balchand, accessed on 29 September 2011.)
2.Road accidents cost India Rs 1 lakh crore a year: Road deaths and injuries cost India at least Rs 1 lakh crore per year, India has the dubious distinction of registering maximum number of road deaths annually. The latest report prepared by the transport research wing of road transport and highways ministry said that in 2009, 125,660 people were killed in road accidents and another 515,458 received severe or minor injuries. According to a note jointly prepared recently by the health and the highways ministries, an estimated 1.6 lakh people were killed in road accidents in 2010. While annually the nation loses almost 1.5% of its GDP on account of road accidents, India is not even spending 10% of that amount to make our roads safe. ( accessed on 4 October 2011.)
3.Bangalore 6th in world for worse parking: In the space of eight months, up to August 2011, Bangalore's traffic police booked over 4 lakh cases of illegal/wrong parking of all class of vehicles including cars. The precise number is 4,25,379. This means over 50,000 cases of wrong parking are booked every month, as per Bangalore city traffic police records. In Bangalore, wrong parking occurs due to lack of parking space and it takes almost 20 to 35 minutes to find parking space in the central business district comprising MG Road, Brigade Road, Kamaraj Road, Commercial Street and Residency Road. Bangalore conforms to the global average time spent looking for a parking spot, which is 20 minutes, according to the recently released fourth annual IBM Commuter Pain Survey. The survey provides a unique look into the interplay between traffic congestion and human emotions - from New York to Nairobi. The survey conducted among 8,042 commuters in 20 cities across 6 continents has confirmed that parking is elusive worldwide with over half the commuters abandoning search for a parking spot. Not surprisingly, Bangalore reported the largest number of tickets for illegal parking - the 50,000 cases booked per month. The survey showed that drivers in New Delhi (58%), Bangalore (44%), Nairobi (43%) and Milan (37%) are most vocal with each other over a specific parking spot in commercial areas. Wrong parking is a direct consequence of waiting to find a slot. Globally, Over 30% of traffic in a city is caused by drivers searching for a parking spot. Drivers in Nairobi averaged 31.7 minutes in their longest search for a parking spot while commuters in Bangalore, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Mexico City, Paris and Shenzhen reported means significantly above the worldwide average. 17% of drivers in Milan and Beijing and 16% of drivers in Madrid and Shenzhen spent 31 to 40 minutes looking for parking. The key results of the survey are captured in a commuter pain index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in cities worldwide. Montreal has emerged the least painful city to commute, while Mexico city is the most painful. Bangalore and New Delhi have been voted the 6th and 7th most painful cities, respectively, for commuting. The negative impact of traffic on stress levels, physical health and productivity is felt to be higher in emerging markets. (Prashanth G NPrashanth G N, accessed on 4 October 2011.)
4.CIC shield to protect RTI crusaders: Central Information Commission (CIC) has come out with a landmark resolution to combat unending assaults on right to information (RTI) activists. According to the resolution, if the commission receives a complaint regarding an assault on or murder of an information-seeker, it will examine pending RTI applications of the victim and order the departments to publish the requested information suo motu on their websites. The CIC meeting addressed the need for governments to take responsibility for the lives of information-seekers and protect them from assaults. RTI activists are usually attacked because of the nature of information they seek. If the information is made public on the web every time an activist is attacked, Gandhi said that instead of killing RTI activists, people about whom information is sought will try and protect them. RTI activists have welcomed the move. The move will increase transparency and reduce fraud. He felt that publicising information sought by victims of assault will help people understand the gravity of issues RTI activists seek to expose. (Anahita Mukherji, accessed on 5 October 2011.)
5.No Indian university makes it to world's top 200: Not a single Indian university, not even the celebrated IITs and IIMs figure in the latest ranking of the world's top 200 universities, with American varsities dominating the list. US institutions have grabbed seven spots in the top 10 despite President Barack Obama warning American students of stiff competition from pupils in India and China. Three British universities, Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London, continue to make the cut with a university in China also making the grade. The world rankings produced by the Times Higher Education magazine, places 75 US universities in the top 200. UK has 32 universities in the list, followed by Germany (12), the Netherlands (12) and Canada (9). The list of top 200 includes universities in Taiwan, Brazil, Singapore, South Africa and China, but this year repeats earlier trends about India. No Indian university is deemed good enough to be included in the elite list, inspite of India claiming to have substantially increased its spending on higher education in recent years. The top 10 in the list of 200 universities are: California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Oxford, Princeton University, University of Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley. California Institute of Technology, better known as Caltech, is a relatively small institution, with about 2,000 mostly graduate students and almost 500 staff. ( accessed on 7 October 2011.)
6.No countryside for women: Census data released earlier this year revealed there are 914 girls for every 1,000 boys born - a sharp fall since 2001 when the ratio was 933 girls for every 1000 boys. A decades-old Indian preference for male children, who are seen as breadwinners, has led to the skewed ratio, aided by cheap ultrasound tests that assist in sex-selective abortions and female infanticide. Siyani, in Gujarat, shows the decline. Here, some 350 men over the age of 35 are simply unable to get married -- out of a total population of roughly 8,000. The absence of women is obvious in the village's bumpy, tiny lanes, where cows wander freely, especially in the evenings. Among the group of men living together, men perform all the tasks which are traditionally the domain of women: sweeping, cooking and cleaning. The situation has also led to another reversal in custom, with some women and their parents asking for a lot of money from men to allow men to marry them, an inversion of the usual dowry system in which the woman's family has to pay the man's. At sunset, as the day's work ends, groups of unmarried men gather around the village tea stalls and tobacco shops, lacking wives and families to go home to. "I've given up looking," said Bharatbhai Khair, who is single at 45 and has been trying to marry for 25 years. "The women want more money for marriage than I can afford. ( accessed on 13 October 2011)
7.All work and No play: Outdoor activity has become alien to India’s couch potato children. 61% of school-going children are growing up without the right fundamental skills that are needed to engage in sports. This covers locomotor skills (to run and hop) 56% have little space sense; manipulative skills (to throw and catch) 71% can’t throw or catch properly; non-manipulative skills (balancing) and spatial awareness (awareness of self-space and boundaries). 48% can’t run properly; 57% have poor flexibility and 43% have unhealthy body mass index. The survey was done on 19,797 children in 73 schools across 39 cities. (Damayanti Datta, India Today 24 October 2011, p. 89.) Breaking News:
8.SC 'endorses' sting journalism: : Five years after it had upheld the expulsion of 11 MPs in the cash-for-questions scam, the Supreme Court on 17 October 2011 dismissed the Delhi police's bid to prosecute the two journalists who had conducted the sting operation. As a corollary, a 2010 Delhi high court ruling that corruption can be exposed by undercover journalists without informing authorities has attained finality. A bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam dismissed the special leave petition filed by the police against the high court verdict quashing the charge sheet in relation to Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj of The SC agreed with the HC view that if the journalists had taken the police into confidence about their operation to expose MPs accepting bribes to ask questions in Parliament, "the respective MPs would have been given information by the police beforehand and would have been cautioned about the entire operation." The police had tried to implicate the journalists on the ground that every person aware of the commission of an offence was obliged to inform the nearest police officer. The implication of the SC's decision is that undercover journalists can well claim immunity under Section 24 of the Prevention of Corruption Act which stipulates that a statement made somebody who offered a bribe to a public servant "shall not subject such person to a prosecution" on the charge of abetting the offence. (Manoj MittaManoj Mitta, accessed on 18 October 2011)
9.SC sets deadline for water, toilet in govt schools: Disgusted with the utter neglect shown by different state governments towards basic amenities in schools, the Supreme Court has directed them to provide toilets, particularly for girls, in all government schools by the end of November. “It is imperative for the governments to provide toilet facilities to students. Parents would not their send girl child to school if there is no toilet,” the court said while hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Ravinder Bana seeking directions to the governments to ensure that children are given education in hospitable and safe conditions. It also asked all the district magistrates in the country to file comprehensive affidavits regarding availability of basic facilities such as potable drinking water, toilets — both for boys and girls — electricity, boundary walls and mid day meal in the primary schools. India has about 688,000 primary schools and 110,000 secondary schools. According to statistics, two third of the school going age children are enrolled in schools. But the figures are deceptive as many don’t attend schools regularly. At least half of all students from rural areas drop out before completing their school education. (Rakesh Bhatnagar, accessed on 19 October 2011.)
10.Tamil Nadu tops in human trafficking: MHA report: The Union home ministry has suggested that doing something as simple as ensuring that streetlights function in all places, especially lonely stretches and alleys, can cut down crime against women. This is one of the measures recommended by the Union home ministry to state governments after it found that in many instances of women being attacked, the incidents have happened in dark, isolated areas. The latest report also showed that there is an increase of 4.1 per cent in crime against women. According to the 2010-11 annual report, Andhra Pradesh tops the country, registering 12.5 per cent of the total incidents of crime against women. Tamil Nadu stands No. 1 in cases of human-trafficking, accounting for 781 cases out of a total of 2,851 cases in the country. In Chennai, as per corporation records, over 1 lakh streetlights are used in the city. But many residents complain that the lights are not properly maintained. Officials say that 3 per cent of streetlights in the city are faulty. (Pramila Krishnan, accessed on 19 October 2011.)
11.Delhi topples Mumbai as maximum city: The urban agglomeration (UA) of Delhi has for the first time overtaken that of Mumbai, a TOI analysis of just-released census data shows. Close to 22 million people now live in Delhi's extended urban sprawl, while Mumbai's sprawl is home to just under 21 million. The census defines a UA as "a continuous urban spread constituting a town and its adjoining outgrowths". However, while the census office uses data across districts to designate an urban agglomeration, it does not go across state lines, leading to a misleading situation in which the Delhi UA does not include several major satellites. TOI added Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad to the Delhi UA population to arrive at a figure of 21.7 million people in the capital's UA. It is these satellites, in fact, which tell the real story because some of them more than doubled their numbers in the past decade, driving Delhi's explosion. Mumbai UA's population in 2011 stands at 18.4 million, according to the latest census data, and even if satellite areas that are not included-like Vasai-Virar, Panvel, Bhiwandi and Navi Mumbai-Panvel-Raigad-are counted, the financial capital's UA still adds up to 20.7 million people. The Kolkata UA now has 14.1 million people. The big three-known as " megacities" since they have populations of over 10 million-remain a long way ahead of the rest of India's big cities. About 15% of India's total urban population lives in these three cities alone. The Chennai UA, which remains the fourth biggest, is less than half the size of Mumbai or Delhi. The Bangalore UA has knocked Hyderabad off the fifth position and is now almost as large as Chennai; 8.5 million to Chennai's 8.7 million, closing a gap of almost a million that existed in the last census. Overall, there are now 53 cities of million-plus people as compared to 35 in 2001 and 43% of India's urban population lives in them. Among the new cities on this list is Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir's first million-plus city. Rapidly urbanizing Kerala has added six new million-plus cities to Kochi, its only such city in 2001, and Jharkhand now has three where it had none. Orissa, on the other hand, has not a single million-plus city, like the entire north-east. More than a quarter of a billion people live in just 468 Indian cities known as Class I cities, each having a population greater than 1 lakh. (Rukmini Shrinivasan & Hemali ChhapiaRukmini Shrinivasan & Hemali Chhapia. accessed on 20 October 2011.)
12.Big cities have worst sex ratios in country: India's towns are worse than its villages when it comes to the child sex ratio (CSR), but its biggest cities are even worse. Against an overall ratio of 914 girls for 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years, the urban ratio is 902 but the combined figure for cities with a population of a million or more is just 898. The CSR quite clearly going from bad to worse as you go from overall population to urban population to the million-plus cities. The states which fall in this category are with one exception from what were once pejoratively labeled the BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) belt. The only exception is Gujarat, where the CSR for the million-plus cities, which include Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, falls to 836, a good 50 points lower than the state's average. In Karnataka and West Bengal, while the same pattern held, the decline in the ratios in the big cities was much smaller. The opposite of this trend is witnessed in states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, where the CSR actually is better in the biggest cities than in the state as a whole or in the urban areas. In the case of Kerala, there really isn't much of a difference between the three figures. Among the urban agglomerations, Surat had the worst CSR of 814 and Thiruvananthapuram the best with 971. Among the metros, Delhi with 868 was the worst followed by Greater Mumbai with 900. In comparison, Bangalore with 939, Hyderabad with 943, Kolkata with 946 and Chennai with 962 were significantly better. ( accessed on 20 October 2011.)
13.India Human Development Report raps Gujarat, praises UP and Bihar: Despite impressive growth, Gujarat has not been able to reduce malnourishment levels, while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, among the most backward in the country, have done better in improving the lot of their marginalized Dalits and tribals. These are some of the conclusions of the India Human Development Report 2011 released by the Centre. Gujarat was among the worst performers, with 69.7% kids up to 5 being anaemic and 44.6% suffering from malnutrition, proving that high growth was no guarantor of improvement in health. The two of the economically backward states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar social movements have helped in better performance of deprived classes. Overall, the human development index (HDI) for the country has improved through the last decade, with the inequality gap between states narrowing down. India's HDI gained in the last decade-it increased by 21% from 0.387 in 1999-2000 to 0.467 in 2007-08-and the differences and inequality between the states reduced over time. The countryhad witnessed an improvement in spreading education but its record on sanitation and nutrition remained dismal. Despite the improvements, the condition of the lower castes in UP and Bihar was still not comparable with those in other states. That would require greater growth and social mobilization. Gujarat, with a relatively high per capita income, witnessed a higher incidence of child malnutrition. MP had the maximum number of chronically wasted and underweight children, followed by Jharkhand. ( accessed on 22 October 2011.)
14.Every eighth urban child in India in the age-group of 0-6 years stays in slum: Report: According to ‘Slums in India – A statistical compendium 2011' published by the Union government. “About 7.6 million children are living in slums in India and they constitute 13.1 per cent of the total child population of the urban areas of the 26 States/ Union Territories reporting slums,” the report compiled by the National Buildings Organisation (NBO) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation says. More than 20 per cent of Chandigarh's children are in slums. According to the data, Maharashtra has the highest slum child population with around 1.7 million children (between 0-6 years) staying in slums. But Chandigarh has the highest proportion of slum child population. After Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh has the second highest slum child population of around 0.97 million. It is followed by Andhra Pradesh (0.83 million), Madhya Pradesh (0.6 million), West Bengal (0.53 million) and Tamil Nadu (0.51 million). In Chandigarh, a whopping 20.9 per cent proportion of the 0-6 age group population stays in slums. The picture is dismal in case of at least 23 States, where more than 10 per cent of the child population stays in slums. In fact, in 11 of these 23 States, the proportion of slum child population is more than 15 per cent. This includes the ‘much applauded for development' state of Gujarat, along with other States like Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Goa.Even in progressive States like Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, more than 10 per cent of the child population stays in slums. The other States, where the proportion is more than 10 per cent are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir. The picture is no better in the million plus cities of the country. “Around 2.5 million children in the age group of 0-6 are living in the slum areas of million plus cities in 2001; this constitutes 27.3 per cent of the total child population of these 27 cities,” the report stated. Half of these 2.5 million children stay in the three major metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. While Mumbai has 0.86 million children, Delhi and Kolkata account for 0.3 million and 0.15 million children respectively. “The child sex ratio at 921, in the slum areas of 26 States/Union Territories, where slum population has been reported, is higher than 903, recorded for non-slum urban areas of these States and Union Territories,” the report said. The highest child sex ratio in this age group is 988 and it has been observed in the slums of Puducherry. It is closely followed by Meghalaya (986) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (965). In fact, even in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar, the child sex ratio in slums is above 943. Generally, 943 is a figure which is regarded as average natural sex ratio at birth. The ratio stands lowest in Punjab at 822. But the report indicates that it is still much better than the ratio in the non-slum population of Punjab, which is 790. (Vinaya Deshpande, accessed on 16 October 2011.)
15.India accounts for 22% of global rotavirus-inducted diarrhoea deaths: India recorded 98,621 rotavirus-inducted diarrhoea deaths in 2008, which is about 22% of global toll from the infection. Nigeria - the second worst-hit country - recorded about 41,000 deaths, or less than 50% of fatalities as compared to India. Pakistan (39,000) and Bangladesh (9,000) figures among the top 10 worst-affected nations grappling with rotavirus infection, says a study that appeared in medical journal, "The Lancet Infectious Diseases". It shows 453,000 deaths occurred due to the infection even though a vaccine was available. About 4.2 lakh (93%) of the total deaths were clustered in the poor countries of Asia and Africa. Less than 0.5% of the deaths occurred in high-income nations, many of whom have adopted universal rotavirus vaccination (URVV) programmes and also had low virus-related mortality. Five countries - Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan - accounted for more than half of all rotavirus-infection induced deaths. India is among the countries, which is yet to introduce a vaccine against rotavirus in its national immunization pogramme, but it is being used in private healthcare sector. The study, conducted by Dr Jacqueline Tate and Dr Umesh D Parashar of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, says, "one out of every 260 children born each year will die from diarrhoea caused by rotavirus infection by their fifth birthday. Worldwide in 2008, diarrhoea attributable to rotavirus infection resulted in deaths in 4.5 lakh children younger than five years - 37% of deaths attributable to diarrhoea and 5% of all deaths in children younger than five years." Each year, an estimated 1.8 million children die from diarrhoea, where the most common cause is rotavirus. Kounteya SinhaKounteya Sinha, accessed on 25 October 2011.)
II DiasporaBreaking News:
1.Indians 2nd largest foreign student population in US: American universities and colleges have been more than happy to pick up the slack. Faced with shrinking returns from endowment funds, a decline in the number of high school graduates in the US and growing economic hardship among American families, they have stepped up their efforts to woo Indian students thousands of miles away. Representatives from many of the Ivy League institutions have begun making trips to India to recruit students and explore partnerships with Indian schools. Some have set up offices in India, partly aimed at attracting a wider base of students. Indians are now the second-largest foreign student population in America, after the Chinese, with almost 105,000 students in the US in the 2009-10 academic year, the last for which comprehensive figures were available. Student visa applications from India increased 20% in the past year, according to the American Embassy. Although a majority of Indian students in the US are graduate students, undergraduate enrolment has grown by more than 20% in the past few years. And while wealthy families have been sending their children to the best American schools for years, the idea is beginning to spread to middle-class families, for whom Delhi University has historically been the best option. American universities have now become "safety schools" for increasingly stressed and traumatized Indian students and parents, who complain that one fateful event - the final high school examination - can make or break a teenager's future career. It is not merely the competition that drives them to apply to study in the US. It is also the greater intellectual freedom of an American liberal arts education. India's educational system is rigid, locking students into an area of study and affording them little opportunity to take courses outside their major beyond the 11th grade. Only a few courses of study are considered lucrative career paths. (Nida Najar, accessed on 15 October 2011)
2.US H-1B visas to Indians increase by 24%: The United States has increased H-1B visas to Indians by 24 percent between 2010 and 2011. The US government on Tuesday said that it had increased H-1B visas from 54,111 issued in 2010 to 67,195 in 2011. (Indrani Bagchi, accessed on 25 October 2011.)
III Global
1.Christ and Che among top 11 icons: Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Coca-Cola bottle and Christ are history's top iconic images, according to an Oxford professor. Martin Kemp has collated a selection of 11 images for his book Christ To Coke - How Image Becomes Icon.A print of Che Guevara, the US flag and Nick Ut's photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam were also included on the list. He said he wanted to explore why iconic images have "achieved their status". He added: "The 11 images here are as secure and universal in their iconic status as any cultural products can ever claim to be." The top eleven images are: 1. Christ; 2. The Cross; 3. The Heart; 4. The Lion; 5. Mona Lisa; 6. Che; 7. Napalmed and Naked; 9. Stars and Stripes; 9. Coke: The Bottle; 10. DNA and 11. E=mc². "An iconic image is one that has achieved wholly exceptional levels of widespread recognisability and has come to carry a rich series of varied associations for very large numbers of people across time and cultures." ( accessed on 9 October 2011)
2.Women gang arrested for drugging and raping men to steal semen:A gang of women has been arrested in Zimbabwe for drugging, kidnapping and raping male hitchhikers to steal their semen, The arrest followed an incident where detectives in Gweru seized 33 used condoms from a suspected vehicle after reports of attacks on men seeking lifts in the town as well as other towns like Harare and Mashonaland West. The men were reportedly taken to secluded places by the women and were forced into sex, sometimes unprotected at gunpoint, following which the rapists collected their semen and threw the victims on the roadside. The police are now asking the victims to come forward and identify the attackers and also hope to match the semen to some of the victims through DNA tests. ( accessed on 15 October 2011,)

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