Hypertension high in Kerala, low in Bihar’

According to the study, titled ‘Diet and Nutritional Status of Urban Population in India and Prevalence of Obesity, Hypertension, Diabetes and Hyperlipidaemia in Urban Men and Women’, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become a growing threat to global health. The study assessed the diet and nutritional status of India’s urban population.

The survey was carried out by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau during 2015-16 by researchers from the National Institute of Nutrition.

The study has brought to light the prevalence rates for non-communicable diseases as well as stunting, under-nutrition and obesity in children under 5 years in the 16 States surveyed.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become a growing threat to global health. The increase in the incidence of NCDs can be attributed to a change in food habits, sedentary behaviour and unhealthy lifestyles, among other risk factors.

Kerala has the highest prevalence of hypertension as well as high cholesterol in urban men and women. Puducherry tops the list of States with the highest prevalence of diabetes. Diabetics were the highest in the age group of 60-70 and lowest in the age group of 18-30.

The southern States were among the 10 with the highest prevalence of obesity among urban adults. Puducherry topped with almost 60% women and 42% men being overweight.

Tamil Nadu was close behind with 54% men and 38% women recorded as obese. Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh recorded high levels of obesity among its urban men and women.

Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala were among the top six States which had the most tobacco smokers among urban men.
While U.P. had the highest (43.6%) proportion of underweight children followed by Madhya Pradesh (32.3%), Puducherry had the lowest (14.2%).

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US FDA approves test to screen Zika virus in donated blood

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for the first time a test for detecting the Zika virus in donated blood.

The Zika virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitos (Aedes aegypti), but it can also spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact.

The Cobas Zika test, manufactured by Roche Molecular Systems Inc., is intended for use by blood collection establishments to detect Zika virus in blood donations, not for the individual diagnosis of Zika virus infection, the FDA said on Thursday.

It is a qualitative nucleic acid test for the detection of Zika virus RNA in individual plasma specimens obtained from volunteer donors of whole blood and blood components, and from living organ donors.

The test’s clinical specificity was evaluated by testing individual samples from blood donations at five external laboratory sites, resulting in the clinical specificity of more than 99 percent.

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`Commission To Examine Sub Categorization Of OBCs

Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice G. Rohini has been appointed by President of India as the head of Commission to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes in the exercise of the powers conferred by article 340 of the Constitution of India.

This decision has been taken to ensure that the more backward among the OBC communities avail the benefits of reservation, added the statement from the social justice and empowerment ministry.

According to the statement, the commission will examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs with reference to such classes included in the central list.

Need for subcategorization:

Subcategorization of the OBCs will ensure that the more backward among the OBC communities can also access the benefits of reservation for educational institutions and government jobs.

The terms of reference of the Commission are as under

  1. To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of Other Backward Classes with reference to such classes included in the Central List.
  2. To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such Other Backward Classes.
  3. To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of Other Backward Classes and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.

The significance of this move:

This decision, taken on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, reinforces, in the spirit of his teachings, the Government’s efforts to achieve greater social justice and inclusion for all, and specifically members of the Other Backward Classes.

The Commission is required to present their Report to the President within a period of twelve weeks of assumption of charge by the Chairperson of the Commission. On receipt of the Report of the Commission, the Central Government will consider ways and means for equitable distribution of the benefits of the reservation in Central Government jobs and admission in Central Government Institutions amongst all strata of the Other Backward Classes.

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Untrained teachers can now access training material

Fifteen lakh untrained school teachers have enrolled for a training course with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, to get themselves trained by 2019 to be able to retain their jobs.

This has happened just after Parliament passed an amendment to the Right to Education Act to offer them the last window to acquire proper training, something seen as essential to the provision of quality education in government and private schools.

The highest number of applications has been received from Bihar — over 2.8 lakh — followed by Uttar Pradesh (1.95 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (1.91 lakh), West Bengal (1.69 lakh) and Assam (1.51 lakh).

The NIOS has designed online courses to enable them to acquire a Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed).

While only those can acquire this diploma who scored at least 50% in Class-12, Prof. Sharma said at the launch that those who could not could appear again with the NIOS to try and get the requisite marks.

A mobile application has also been developed to help teachers seek any clarifications and solutions.

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Infant mortality rate has declined by 8%

India’s infant mortality rate (IMR) declined from 37 per 1000 live births in 2015 to 34 per 1000 live births in 2016, shows latest government data released on Friday. However, there is still a long way to go to meet the 2019 target of IMR 28 per 1000 live births.

The latest data from Sample Registration Survey (SRS) Bulletin highlights a significant 8% decline in country’s IMR, even though more infants are dying in the rural areas. IMR in rural India is 38 per 1000 live births as compared to 23 in the urban areas.

The data shows 90,000 fewer infants died in 2016 as compared to 2015. The total number of estimated infant deaths has come down from 9.3 lakh in 2015 to 8.4 lakh in 2016.

What is more encouraging is that the gender gap in India for child survival is reducing steadily. The data shows that the gender difference between female and male IMR has reduced to below 10%.

What is IMR?

Infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age.

The government’s family planning programme seems to be going in the right direction, with the data showing a major drop in the number of estimated births in a year which has come down to below 2.5 crores from 2.6 crores.

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New PPP Policy for private investments in affordable housing

Central Government today announced a new PPP Policy for Affordable Housing that allows extending central assistance of up to Rs.2.50 lakh per each house to be built by private builders even on private lands beside opening up an immense potential for private investments in affordable housing projects on government lands in urban areas.

Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Shri Hardeep Singh Puri announced this policy that gives eight PPP (Public Private Partnership) options for the private sector to invest in affordable housing segment. He was addressing the ‘Real Estate & Infrastructure Investors Summit-2017’ organized by real estate body NAREDCO in Mumbai. Shri Puri explained that this policy seeks to assign risks among the government, developers and financial institutions, to those who can manage them the best besides leveraging underutilized and un-utilized private and public lands towards meeting the Housing for All target by 2022.

The two PPP models for private investments in affordable housing on private lands include extending central assistance of about Rs.2.50 lakh per each house as interest subsidy on bank loans as upfront payment under the Credit-Linked Subsidy Component (CLSS) component of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). Under the second option, the central assistance of Rs.1.50 lakh per each house to be built on private lands would be provided, in case the beneficiaries do not intend to take bank loans.

Shri Puri stated that eight PPP options, including six for promoting affordable housing with private investments using government lands, have been evolved after extensive consultations with States, promoter bodies and other stakeholders. The six models using government lands are:

1.DBT Model: Under this option, private builders can design, build and transfer houses built on government lands to public authorities. Government land is to be allocated based on the least cost of construction. Payments to builders will be made by the public authority based on the progress of the project as per agreed upon milestones and buyers will pay to the Government.

2. Mixed Development Cross –subsidized Housing: Government land to be allotted based on the number of affordable houses to be built on the plot offered to private builders, cross-subsidizing this segment from revenues from high-end house building or commercial development.

3. Annuity Based Subsidized Housing: Builders will invest against deferred annuity payments by the Government. Land allocation to builders is based on a unit cost of construction.

4. Annuity-cum-Capital Grant Based Affordable Housing: Besides annuity payments, builders could be paid a share of the project cost as the upfront payment.

5. Direct Relationship Ownership Housing: As against government mediated payments to builders and transfer of houses to beneficiaries in the above four models, under this option, promoters will directly deal with buyers and recover costs. Allocation of public land is based on the unit cost of construction.

6. Direct Relationship Rental Housing: Recovery of the costs by builders is through rental income from the houses built on government lands.
Under these six Government land-based PPP models, beneficiaries can avail the central assistance of Rs.1.00 to Rs.2.50 lakh per house as provisioned under different components of PMAY(Urban). Beneficiaries will be identified as per the norms of PMAY(Urban).

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Zero Hunger Programme

Three districts – Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Koraput in Odisha and Thane in Maharashtra – will initiate India’s ambitious ‘Zero Hunger’ programme through interventions in farm sector on October 16 (World Food Day).

Though many more districts will eventually be covered under this dedicated farm-based programme in sync with India’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger by 2030, these three would act as a model of an integrated approach to deal with hunger and malnutrition by adopting suitable agricultural\horticultural practices.

The Programme will be initiated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

The concerned state governments will also be involved in the programme which consists of organisations of the farming system for nutrition, setting up genetic gardens for biofortified plants/crops and initiation of a ‘Zero Hunger’ training.

A genetic garden for biofortified plants/crops contains the germplasm of naturally biofortified crops or such crops through plant breeding. It has plants and crops that help supplement micro-nutrient deficiencies, including iron, iodine, vitamin A and zinc among others.

Hunger:

Globally, one in nine people in the world today (795 million) are undernourished

The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 12.9% of the population is undernourished.

Asia is the continent with the most hungry people – two-thirds of the total. The percentage in southern Asia has fallen in recent years but in western Asia, it has increased slightly.

Southern Asia faces the greatest hunger burden, with about 281 million undernourished people. In sub-Saharan Africa, projections for the 2014-2016 period indicate a rate of undernourishment of almost 23 percent.

Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.

One in four of the world’s children suffers from stunted growth. In developing countries, the proportion can rise to one in three.

66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

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Cabinet approves Revamped Khelo India Programme

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the revamped Khelo India programme at a cost of Rs.1,756 crore for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20. This marks a watershed moment in the history of Indian sports, as the Programme aims at mainstreaming sport as a tool for individual development, community development, economic development and national development.

The revamped Khelo India Programme would impact the entire sports ecosystem, including infrastructure, community sports, talent identification, coaching for excellence, competition structure and sports economy.

Salient features:

  • An unprecedented Pan Indian Sports Scholarship scheme, which would cover 1,000 most talented young athletes each year across select sports disciplines.
  • Each athlete selected under the scheme shall receive an annual scholarship worth Rs. 5.00 lakh for 8 consecutive years.
  • This is the first time ever that a long-term athlete development pathway would be made available to gifted and talented youngsters to excel in competitive sports and will create a pool of highly competitive athletes who can compete to win at the world stage.
  • The Programme aims to promote 20 universities across the country as hubs of sporting excellence, which would enable talented sports persons to pursue the dual pathway of education and competitive sports.
  • The Programme also aims at creating an active population with healthy life-style.
  • The Programme would cover about 200 million children in the age group of 10-18 under a massive national physical fitness drive, which will not only measure the physical fitness of all children in the age group, but also support their fitness related activities.

Impact:

  • The power of sport in promoting gender equity and social inclusiveness is also fully recognized and special measures are provided for to achieve these objectives.
  • The programme also aims at engaging youth living in disturbed and deprived areas, in sporting activities, to wean them away from unproductive and disruptive activities and mainstream them in the nation-building process.
  • The programme strives to raise the standards of competition, both at school and college level, to have maximum access to organized sports competitions.
  • It also includes the use of latest user-friendly technology in all aspects of sports promotion such as, use of mobile apps for dissemination of sports training; National Sports Talent Search portal for talent identification; interactive website for indigenous sports; GIS based information system for locating and using sports infrastructure, etc.
  • This programme strives to promote “Sports for All” as well as “Sports for Excellence.”
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Ministry seeks suggestions related to “International Child removal”

The ministry for women and child development has put out in the public domain a “concept note” on issues related to civil aspects of International Child Removal. A

A multi-member committee led by Chairmanship Justice Rajesh Bindal, Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court was set-up in February to study all aspects of the matter pertaining to Hague Convention on Child Abduction in detail and make its recommendation. Before it gives the final report the Committee has sought suggestions on the concept note and the various concerns raised.

The instances of an Indian citizen marrying an NRI or a person of Indian origin having citizenship of a foreign nation, popularly referred to as ‘transnational marriages’ are frequent and in abundance. However, sometimes, it so happens that the spouses fall apart and the marriage breaks down irretrievably. In many such cases, the spouses return to their families/extended families in India, seeking mental comfort for themselves and their children. However, such instances often land such estranged spouse in a situation of being perceived as abductors of their children in light of The Hague convention provisions.

In another situation where both the spouses may be Indians, residing in India, one of the spouses may move out of India along with the child born out of such wedlock after a breakdown of the marriage. In such situation, the issue of getting the child back from the foreign land assumes importance, in the process of redressing the grievances of the left behind spouse. In such cases, the signatory countries of the Hague convention can avail access to the Central authorities of the other contracting states to resolve such issues.

Another factor that deserves consideration, is that many times, on account of the broken marriages, often the complaint of child abduction is alleged against each other by the estranged spouse, to settle their personal scores.

With the rise in trans-national marriages and complexities involved in modern-day relationships, the protection of rights of parents and children involved has become a critical issue of National and International importance. The report of the committee once ready will steer further deliberations of the WCD ministry to recommend to the government of India on whether India should ratify the Hague convention and if it does how to ensure that the rights of the parents and child are not compromised in any way

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

It is a multilateral treaty on custodial issues of children. The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to ensure their prompt return.

The convention is intended to enhance the international recognition of rights of custody and access arising in place of habitual residence and to ensure prompt return of the child who is wrongfully removed or retained from the place of habitual residence.

It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.

The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.

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SC for panels to examine dowry cases

In a landmark judgment, aimed at putting an end to the misuse of section 498A of the IPC that is dowry-related offences, the Supreme Court has proposed a slew of measures. They aim to put an end to the automatic arrest of the husband and his family members.

Special committees: Every complaint under Section 498A should henceforth have to be referred to Family Welfare Committees – to be constituted at every district. No arrest shall be effected till report of such committee is received.

Enquiry: The committee would interact with the parties personally or by means of telephonic or electronic communication and give a report within a month to the authority which referred the complaint to it. There will be no routine impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice for NRI accused. Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required. However, these directions will not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries.

Report: The report would be on “the factual aspects and its opinion” in the matter. Till report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be done. The report may be then considered by the investigating officer or the magistrate on its own merit.

Investigating officers: Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated investigating officer of the area. Such designations should be made within one month. Such designated officers may be given training for not less than a week or as may be considered appropriate. The training has to be completed within four months.

Bail: If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, it should be decided as far as possible on the same day.

The anti-dowry law was enacted with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of the husband or his relatives – particularly when such cruelty drives the wife to suicide. However, complaints are mounting up over the years alleging misuse of the anti-dowry harassment law – framed in 1983 following a spate of dowry-related deaths – by disgruntled wives. The law is also being misused.

A growing trend is being observed among women involved in marital discord to abuse Section 498A of IPC to rope in their husbands’ relatives — including parents, minor children, siblings and grandparents — in criminal cases.

Therefore, it is high time such frivolous cases which violate the human rights of the innocent is checked.

This is a shift from the dominant judicial conception of women as victims who would silently suffer injustice rather than bring disrepute to their family by taking domestic conflict outside the four walls of the home. Going by the popular portrait, it is only the worst victim of abuse among women who approach the court for redress. With its latest observations, the court broke away from the reigning perception to rule that in dowry cases, the account of the alleged victim need not be taken at face value.

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