Global Urban Vision – November 2012
(Compiled and Published by J.N. Manokaran (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Hudson Silas on behalf of Glocal Leaders Network)
- I. INDIA
- Ex-railway staff to man suburban ticketing machines: Although automatic ticket vending machines (ATVM) have been installed at all major suburban railway stations and MRTS stations, a majority of the commuters shy away from using them. Most of them are not comfortable using the machines because it runs on smart cards and commuters need to invest a little money in advance to buy a smart card. Retired railway employees have been roped in as facilitators. They issue tickets using their own smart cards. Thus any commuter who does not have a smart card and rushes in at the last minute can purchase a ticket from these facilitators and avoid standing in long queues. Southern Railway wanted to develop a culture among commuters to use the machines. The machines are popular among commuters in the Mumbai suburban network. Here, many commuters feel the machines should be designed to accept currency. However, railways do not have immediate plans to install such sophisticated machines because an earlier attempt had failed. Railways tried out standalone machines that issued tickets after accepting coins, but the machines were withdrawn after miscreants damaged them by putting bottle caps and garbage through the coin slot. “People vandalise such machines. There is no way to prevent this,” said a senior railway official. At some stations, the staff switch off power to the machines to prevent them from being misused. Railways feels that it is not possible to open more counters at these stations. “A counter would cost us an average of Rs1 lakh to operate. This is not viable. Railways the world over are moving to automatic ticketing options. We have successfully done it for online booking of long distance trains,” said a senior railway official. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Ex-railway-staff-to-man-suburban-ticketing-machines/articleshow/16550900.cmsaccessed on 26 September 2012.)
- Pray that Govt. of India brings in laws, policies and options that would provide easy travel to commuters that use railways on a daily basis
- Pray that right system for automatic ticketing is introduced to attend to the needs of one and all
- Every third senior citizen in India abused, mainly by son: Study: Indian sons, and their wives, aren’t treating their aged parents well. A study by Help Age India on abuse of India’s elderly, conducted across 20 cities and involving over 5,500 older people, has found that almost 1 in 3 (32%) have faced abuse. The son has been found to be the primary abuser in 56% of cases, followed by the daughter-in-law in 23% cases. The study, to be presented to President on October 1, celebrated globally as the International Day of Older Persons, said more than 50% of those abused had faced it for more than five years. More than half (55%) of those who were abused did not report it to anyone. Around 80% of them did not report the matter to uphold family honor. Delhi actually witnessed an exponential increase in abuse of the elderly. In 2011, Delhi’s abuse of the elderly rate stood at 12%. In comparison, 29.82% in Delhi said they faced abuse in 2012. Abuse was highest in Madhya Pradesh (77.12%) while people in Rajasthan (1.67%) were most well behaved with the elderly in their family. Nearly 30% or 1 in 3 elderly persons reported abuse in Maharashtra while the abuse rate was just above 1 in 4 (27.56%) in Tamil Nadu. It was 60% in Assam, 52% in UP, 43% in Gujarat, 42.86% in Andhra Pradesh and 40.93% in West Bengal. While nearly 30% of Delhi’s senior citizens had faced abuse, the primary perpetrator of abuse was the son in 60% cases, followed by the daughter-in-law in 24% cases. In Delhi, 76% of those abused did not report it, while of those who felt abused, 69% had felt disrespected with 35% facing it daily. Around 86% of elderly felt that the most effective measure to control elder abuse was through sensitizing children and strengthening inter-generation bonding and 14% felt increased economic Independence was the solution. 58% of older persons in India are living with the family. The report made an interesting recommendation. In order to prevent elder abuse, it said there should be nationwide programmes in schools and colleges for sensitizing children and young adults towards the ageing and the aged, sensitization of healthcare workers to recognize and develop a protocol for treatment, develop a robust social security system that not only ensures income security to the older persons but also gives them opportunities for income generation.
(Kounteya Sinha, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Every-third-senior-citizen-in-India-abused-mainly-by-son-Study/articleshow/16596677.cms accessed on 29 September 2012.)
- Pray that present generation children learn to obey and respect their parents
- Pray that Govt. of India brings in laws to protect the elders in the family from being abused
- Snake bites and poisoned stats: In the Bikaner-Jaisalmer- Barmer region (Rajasthan), dubious practitioners of unani medicine enjoyed a mass client base. While many government health facilities stored anti-snake venom serum (ASVS), the training was minimal. Young doctors admitted that their MBBS course did not quite cover snakebite treatment. Rajasthan loses 5,000-6,000 people to snakebites each year. In July 2012, rural belts of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, the state that accounts for the highest number of snakebite deaths in the country, suffered an acute shortage of ASVS. In August, a farm labourer died in Bengal’s Burdwan district because neither local hospitals nor pharmacies had any ASVS because of “weak supply”. Few such stories make it to the mainstream media. Several studies estimate that globally, 3-5.5 million people are bitten by snakes in self-defence every year. Many of these bites are harmless because only around 600 of the 3,000-odd snake species are venomous. Even venomous snakes are often reluctant to inject precious venom into humans. Yet, 2-3 million cases of envenoming occur annually, of which up to 1.5 lakh turn fatal. In 1869, Joseph Fayrer of the Indian Medical Service tracked 11,416 snakebite deaths across half of British India, ranging from Pakistan to Burma. In 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated 35-50,000 snakebite deaths in India alone. A report published in the Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases journal in April 2011 put the toll at 45,900 on the basis of the Million Death Study (2001-03) that surveyed 1.1 million households across the country. In comparative terms, there is one snakebite death for every two AIDS deaths in India. When not fatal, venomous snakebites often cause permanent disability for which no data is available. With the majority of victims being young, this has a significant impact on our rural economy. Yet, the deaths remain invisible in government reports. Basic precautions such as using shoes, torches and mosquito nets, avoiding sleeping on the ground or ridding the household of garbage and courtyards of piled-up debris can drastically reduce instances of snakebites. In terms of cure, rural witch doctors stay in business because of their “success” in treating non-venomous and dry bites. There has been no campaign on the lines of family planning to educate people about ASVS. Nor has the government criminalised mumbo-jumbo — some of it, such as the brand Tirhakah, available off the shelf — in snakebite treatment that kills thousands of people. But superstition and lack of awareness are not the only reasons for such a staggering death count. A large number of victims who actually seek proper medical care also end up dead. Unfortunately, life-saving ASVS is expensive, unavailable and ineffective in India. the national demand for ASVS should be between 4 and 5 million vials but the production remains less than 1.5 million vials. the government inexplicably lowered the required strength of ASVS in the 1950s. So while four vials of ASVS produced by CroFab can neutralise a viper bite in the US, a cobra bite at home can require anything between 13 and 165 vials of made-in-India ASVS. This not only pushes up the medical cost but also over-exposes the victim to potentially dangerous sideeffects of ASVS. (Jay Mazoomdaar, http://www.tehelka.com/story_main54.asp?filename=Ne131012SNAKE.asp accessed on 7 October 2012.)
- Pray that doctors in India are made aware on how to handle patients suffering from snake bites
- Pray for right Government policies for producing enough anti-dote and proper research done.
- 225 B-schools, 52 engineering colleges close in 2 years: When the sun of the new millennium came up, shining on the aspirations of a young India, it marked the golden age for professional education. In the early part of the last decade, hundreds of new institutes came up and thousands of aspirants queued up to join them. That was a time when the country added up to one lakh seats to its professional colleges every year. A decade later, the picture is one of stark contrast in technical professional colleges: since 2011, 225 B-schools and over 50 engineering colleges across India have downed shutters. Many more colleges have trimmed programmes, branches of engineering or streams in the management course. MBA programmes are no more attractive. Now, for the first time, overall growth of MBA education is negative in the books of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). In 2011-12, 146 new B-schools came up and 124 that were already running closed down. This year so far, 101 management colleges have closed down, only 82 have started. Similar is the story with the Master of Computer Application (MCA) course—84 colleges stopped offering the programme this year; only 27 started MCA courses. The small positive growth in the sector is from the engineering colleges where new institutes are coming up faster than closures taking place, largely in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan. Joining a professional college was once the pinnacle of an Indian student’s career for the seats were far outnumbered by aspirants. So students often happily chose anonymous professional colleges. But over time, they were put off by any of three reasons: poor quality of teaching, lack of adequate faculty or no job offer at the end. The problem is also linked to the slowdown. (Hemali Chhapia, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/225-B-schools-52-engineering-colleges-close-in-2-years/articleshow/16717137.cms accessed on 8 October 2012.)
- Pray that aspirations of a young India are not shattered by closing the educational institutions that provide MCA and MBA etc.
- Pray that Govt. takes correct initiatives to provide good and consistent educations to young Indian students and also provide good opportunities to students who deserve it
- Every 6th road crash in world happens in India: One in every 10 road deaths across the globe is reported from India and every sixth road crash in the world happens here. This is in sharp contrast to India having only 1% of the global vehicle population. At least 14 people die on our roads every hour. Despite India being a signatory to UN’s ‘Decade of Action’ programme to reduce road deaths by 50% during this decade, it has not yet announced its plan to achieve the target. Road fatalities in India increased from 1.32 lakh in 2010 to 1.43 lakh in 2011. Initial findings of the Global Burden of Disease and Injuries (GBDS) study for two decades, which will be released next month, indicate road accidents and fatalities are becoming bigger threats. Alan Lopez, who is heading a team of 170 researchers for the World Bank-sponsored study, said developing countries were doing little to check road deaths and they were not aggressively pursuing legislations like compulsory use of helmets for two-wheeler drivers. Alan said total deaths due to injuries in 2010 was about 5.1 million and two-thirds of this was on account of “unintentional” injuries. (Diipak Kumar Dash,http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Every-6th-road-crash-in-world-happens-in-India/articleshow/16717195.cms accessed on 8 October 2012.)
- Pray for safety of people walking on Roads in India
- Pray that proper facilities and laws are brought forth to bring down the accidents that happen on roads
- Feticide claimed 3 million in the last decade: Govt: India’s love for a male child has led to cold-blooded murder of three million girl children over the last decade. By government’s own admission, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation in its latest report on state of children says three million girl children have gone missing in 2011 compared to 2001. Even as the world celebrates the maiden “International Day of the Girl Child”, India doesn’t seem to be the best place for a girl child. Earlier, studies have said five-lakh girls a year or 2,000 go missing in India daily due to female feticide. In families, where one girl child already exists, the chances of a second girl being born are as low as 54%. In a family with two female children, the chances of a third girl being born is as low as 20%. The ministry says that while the size of child population in the age group (0-6 years) is declining, the share of girls in 0-6 age bracket is declining faster than that of boys in the same age group. There are now 48 fewer girls per 1,000 boys than in 1981. The decadal decline in population was also more for female children (3.8%) than male kids (2.4%) in the 0-6 age group. India’s infant mortality rate (IMR) has declined for males from 78 in 1990 to 46 in 2010 and for females the dip was from 81 to 49 during this period. IMR among female children is higher in most of the years. The per year decline in IMR was 1.6 points for both males and females, and the percentage decline in female and male IMR are 39.5% and 41.02%, respectively, during the last two decades. Nearly 62% of the male children aged 12-23 months have received full immunization, while among the females it was only about 60%. Crimes against girl children also increased substantially in 2011. Among the IPC crimes, an increase of 43% was registered in kidnapping and abduction, while rape cases were increased by 30%, trafficking of minor girls recorded an increase of 27% and feticide reported an increase of 19% over 2010. Altogether, 7,112 cases of child rape were reported in the country last year as compared to 5,484 in 2010. Also, 132 cases of feticide were reported in 2011. The 27% increase in the crime of trafficking of minor girls (862 cases in 2011 compared to 679 cases in 2010) is also very disturbing. India, which has a population of 1.21 billion, is next only to China (1.35 billion) as the most populous country in the world. According to the report, India represents almost 17.31% of the world’s population, which means one out of six persons on this planet live in India. The report says, “Every year, an estimated 26 millions of children are born in India which is nearly four million more than the population of Australia. It is significant that while an absolute increase of 181 million in the country’s population has been recorded during the decade 2001-2011, there is a reduction of 5.05 millions in the population of children aged 0-6 years during this period. The decline in male children is 2.06 million and in female children is 2.99 millions. The share of Children (0-6 years) in the total population has showed a decline of 2.8 points in 2011, compared to Census 2001.” According to estimates, in 2011, the total number of children in the 0-6 age group is reported as 158.79 million, which is down by 3.1% compared to the child population in 2001 at 163.84 million. The share of children (0-6 years) to the total population is 13.1% in 2011, whereas the corresponding figures for male and female children are 13.3% and 12.9%, respectively. Now, around 20 states and Union Territories have over one million children in the 0-6 age bracket. Uttar Pradesh (29.7 million), Bihar (18.6 million), Maharashtra (12.8 million), Madhya Pradesh (10.5 million) and Rajasthan (10.5 million) constitute 52% children in the 0-6 age group. (Kounteya Sinha, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Feticide-claimed-3-million-in-the-last-decade-Govt/articleshow/16759804.cms accessed on 11 October 2012.)
- Pray that cold-blooded murder of girl children during birth and after birth is eradicated from India and from the world
- Pray for change in attitude and social value.
- India emerges world’s child marriage capital: In a letter to Union minister of Women and Child Development, heads of four UN agencies in India — UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and UN Information Centre — wrote, “Child marriage is not a solution to protecting girls from sexual crimes including rape.” In the letter, the UN agencies said, “More than 40% of the world’s child marriages happen in India. In eight states of the country, more than half of young girls are married before the age of 18.” Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence and jeopardizes her health. It constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal and the development of healthy communities. (Rakhi Chakrabarty, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-emerges-worlds-child-marriage-capital/articleshow/16774381.cms accessed on 12 October 2012.)
- Pray for eradication of child marriages in India
- Pray for social reformation that Child marriages may be eradicated.
- Wedding food worth Rs 339 crore goes waste: A survey shows that annually, Bangalore alone wastes 943 tonnes of quality food during weddings. “This is enough to feed 2.6 crore people a normal Indian meal,” a study by a team of 10 professors from the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, has concluded. The team, under the guidance of UAS vice-chancellor K Narayana Gowda, surveyed 75 of Bangalore’s 531 marriage halls over a period of six months. “About 84,960 marriages are held at 531 kalyana mantapas (marriage halls) in Bangalore every year. About 943 tonnes of high-calorie quality food is wasted in these halls annually. At an average cost of Rs 40 per meal, the total food wastage in the city is estimated at Rs 339 crore,” the study said. On an average, 1,000 people attend a wedding where two meals are served – lunch at the wedding and dinner for reception, besides breakfast. “About 10-20 items are served at a wedding ceremony. The maximum items served include 100 grams each of soup and juice, followed by 50 grams each of puri and pulao,” the survey stated. It also concluded that rice and cereals were on top, making for 35% of the wastage. “On an average, a typical wedding meal is very rich in energy. Each meal may have 1,239 calories, enough to meet an entire day’s requirement of a child! The wastage per meal amounted to 20% at 246 calories,” said Gowda.
“The survey sought to bring to light the criminal wastage of food during Indian weddings. Our aim is to create awareness and sensitize the public not to waste food. We found that food wastage was more with buffets than served meals,” said professor PK Mandanna, of agricultural marketing, UAS. (Hetal Vyas, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Wedding-food-worth-Rs-339-crore-goes-waste/articleshow/16774949.cms accessed on 12 October 2012.)
- Pray that people of India understand the importance of Food and the loss caused by wasting food
- Pray that common sense prevails during wedding and dinners wherein apt food and the correct food is served so that loss and wasteage of food is avoided
- On the fast-track: Now, every other Chennaiite has a vehicle: For every two Chennaiites, there is a vehicle on the road, a recent survey by the city traffic police has found. Chennai’s vehicle population has been accelerating steadily from six lakh in 1992, to 13 lakh in 2001 and 36.4 lakh now. Daily, about 1,500 new vehicles hit the roads, and more than 75% of them are two-wheelers. Chennai vehicles constitute one-fourth of the 1.75 crore vehicles across TN. Incidentally, TN has more two-wheelers (1.3 crore) than Maharashtra, which has more vehicles overall. Chennai will soon have twice as many vehicles as Mumbai. Clearly two-wheelers are ruling Chennai roads. In TN, the two-wheeler population is nearly 1.30 crore, which accounts for 78% of all vehicles, while cars add up to 14%. However, registration of new cars is also on the rise. With construction work eating up road space, the vehicular population explosion has slowed down traffic movement to a snarl on virtually every road during peak hours. “World cities have been keeping up with vehicle population by shifting to public transport and increasing road space. Neither is happening in Chennai,” says Raj Cherubal, director of Chennai City Connect, an NGO that works on transport solutions. For a city like Chennai, ideally, more than 70% of the population should be using public transport, but less than 40% regularly use it. India ranks 132nd in the world in vehicle-people ratio. Monaco tops the list with 908 of its 1,000 people having vehicles. United States come second (812) and Liechtenstein third (796). Only in 1,000 people of Togo own a vehicle. (A. Selvaraj, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/On-the-fast-track-Now-every-other-Chennaiite-has-a-vehicle/articleshow/16777054.cms accessed on 12 October 2012.)
- Pray for development of appropriate public transport systems.
- Society values may change that people do not connect their prestige with the ownership of vehicles.
- Mandsaur’s ugly truth: Sex trade in the name of tradition: Just 350 kilometres from Bhopal, dotted along the Mandsaur-Chittorgarh state highway are girls and women indulging in the sex trade. Nothing unusual, except these women belonging to the Bachda tribe conduct the sex trade in the name of tradition. For them, prostitution is a way of life, passed down generations. No questions asked. This happens in 35 villages alongside the highway from Mandsaur to Chittorgarh in Rajasthan where pan shops and tea stalls with girl attendants are just a cover up. Asking for a 12-year-old for the night is not considered unusual. When NDTV reached the highway and asked for a couple of pre-pubescent girls for the night, they were told it could be arranged for. On the 100 km stretch from Mandsaur to Chittorgarh, the NDTV crew spotted at least 700 girls soliciting customers. Girls who should have ideally been in school or college. They spend their day luring customers who are mainly truck drivers. And the presence of policemen doesn’t seem to be any deterrent as many women say the police understand and respect ‘their tradition.’ ” The police does not bother us as they know that we have been living here and doing this for generations as part of our tradition,” says one such woman on the highway. “There is no particular reason why we are into prostitution. The girls do it of their own free will; we have been doing this from the beginning. There’s been no prohibition by the authorities so it has been continuing from generations,” she adds. The police on the other hand say their efforts in curbing this form of prostitution have reaped benefits and fewer girls are now seen on the highway. But another disturbing reality emerges. While the tribes are now sending their girls to school and colleges, girls from other places and tribes are kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Police say they rescued 62 girls in the last two years, 25 of them who were reunited with their biological parents. What is ironic is that in the early 90s the Madhya Pradesh Government started the Jabali Yojna, a rehabilitation program for the Bachda and other tribes that push women into prostitution as tradition, but one trip down the highway just demonstrates how the programme’s implementation remains ineffective. (Siddharth Ranjan Dass, http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/mandsaur-s-ugly-truth-sex-trade-in-the-name-of-tradition-278629?pfrom=home-otherstories accessed on 13 October 2012.)
- Pray that Sex trade in the name of tradition is totally eradicated from India
- Pray for Government, Non-Government agencies and civil society take necessary steps to curb this social evil.
- 5 lakh cyber warriors to bolster India’s e-defence: Recognizing the threat of cyber attacks from a host of hostile entities — ranging from domestic saboteurs to foreign rivals — a new initiative intends to train five lakh cyber warriors in the next five years to meet a critical gap in India’s defences. A government-private sector plan will look at beefing up India’s cyber security capabilities in the light of a group of experts reckoning that India faces a 4.7 lakh shortfall of such experts despite the country’s reputation of being a IT and software powerhouse. Efforts to draw a strategic plan for India, being overseen by National Security Advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon, may need to be speeded up as India lags the research and planning leading western and Asian nations have already undertaken. Cyber warfare has emerged a top threat to national security with India’s systems subjected to an increasing number – and more sophisticated — cyber attacks. India faced a severe test during the 2010 Commonwealth Games when cyber attacks from Pakistan and China sought to damage information systems. Most of the attacks India deals with originate from countries like the US, China, Russia, a few east European countries and Iran.. Chinese hackers have targeted a large number of institutions, even stealing data from schools run by the armed forces. The government would introduce specialized “cyber security related curriculum” in engineering and management courses and establish a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence. The Centre plans to establish an autonomous institution – Institute of Cyber Security Professionals of India – along the lines of the Institute of Chartered Accounts of India) and make “cyber security audits” mandatory for companies by amending the Companies Act. (Indrani bagchi & Vishwa Mohan http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/5-lakh-cyber-warriors-to-bolster-Indias-e-defence/articleshow/16828463.cms accessed on 16 October 2012
- Pray for use of technology for welfare of humanity.
- Pray that India may take appropriate steps for the security of the nation.
- Small infections cost Indians Rs 69,000 crore a year: India loses Rs 69,000 crore a year—more than twice the sum of Rs 34,488 crore it set aside for the country’s health budget in 2012—to small infections. What’s more, an estimated 38 crore of its citizens catch small infections with the result that they lose 162 crore workdays every year. This is the shocking finding of a recent London School of Economics study that puts a question mark on its citizens’ hygiene. The study was conducted in Mumbai and Delhi and the findings extrapolated to the whole of India. Small infections, including diarrhoea and skin ailments such as rash, blisters and prickly heat, as well as respiratory illnesses were covered. The respondents were also questioned on the direct and indirect costs for each episode of illness. The findings say that every time a family member falls ill, it costs them an average of Rs 997 which over the course of a year, works out to an average of Rs 8,814 per household. Laddered up to a national level, everyday infections would cost the citizens a staggering Rs 69,000 crore. These infections can be avoided with something as simple as washing hands with soap at critical times—before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet. The study also found that two out of three episodes of illnesses among children aged 16 or less resulted in loss of three school days. Moreover, two out of three children between five and 15 experience one bout of infection every two months. (Pratibha Masand, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Small-infections-cost-Indians-Rs-69000-crore-a-year/articleshow/16828552.cms accessed on 16 October 2012.)
- Pray that citizens’ hygiene is given the highest priority
- Pray that Govt. of India provides good medical and hygienic facilities to one and all
- Encephalitis. 120 days. 400 Children dead: Baba Raghav Das Medical College (BRDMC) in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh is the only medical facility that has a dedicated encephalitis ward in this region where more than 50,000 people have died of the dreaded disease since 1978, when the first case of encephalitis was reported from Gorakhpur. The medical college hospital serves encephalitis patients from 19 districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and sometimes patients from the bordering areas of Nepal too. More than 400 children have succumbed to encephalitis in this hospital since June. The average toll is 3-4 per day, but on some days, the death count crosses double digits. Last year, more than 450 children died in the peak season (July-October). In 2010, the figure was around 550. Almost 95 percent of the cases are of enteroviral encephalitis, in which the virus enters the body through the intestine. Most of the victims are aged between six months and 12 years and come from the hinterlands, where primary health centres are in shambles.The symptoms include poor feeding, irritability, vomiting and body stiffness; such symptoms in an infant always constitute a medical emergency.But none of these people have any knowledge about encephalitis because the Uttar Pradesh government has rarely run campaigns to spread awareness about it. The virus is more lethal in children because they often suffer from chronic malnourishment. The lack of awareness on hygiene and sanitation, coupled with groundwater pollution, have made this disease a major scourge. The mosquito-borne JE virus thrived because of the sheer number of pigs that are reared in Purvanchal. Pigs act as a carrier of this virus.In the rural districts, rearing pigs is a popular livelihood and a profitable one too. Most of the pig farms are in residential areas and people share the same living space as pigs. The principal factor for the spread of entero viruses is the polluted groundwater. Years of large-scale irrigation have raised the groundwater level in Gorakhpur. Now one can get water by digging only 8-10 feet. People don’t bother if the water is safe or not because shallow water is always cheaper to pump. Announcing it as a notified disease would make it a national health emergency. But at the epicentre of the outbreak, no one is sure how many more deaths it will take for the state authorities to realise the gravity of the situation. Doctors can’t use the ventilator monitor because there is a power cut, even inside the ICU. Gorakhpur endures almost 6-8 hours of power cut every day and the hospital is not exempted. The recurring power cuts have caused severe damage to valuable hospital equipment. Most of the ventilators are out of order. The Centre too has failed to address the situation. Apart from the bureaucratic tangles, the real tragedy is that successive governments have failed to provide safe drinking water to the people. Gorakhpur-Basti zone has only 3,000 Mark II handpumps. Mark II handpumps are the cheapest way to get safe drinking water. It fetches water from 150 feet under the ground. (Soumik Mukherjee, http://www.tehelka.com/story_main54.asp?filename=Ne201012ENCEPHALITIS.asp accessed on 16 October 2012.)
- Pray for eradication of Encephalitis by proper hygiene and adequate food.
- Pray for timely and long-term action by the Government.
- Ganga is now a deadly source of cancer, study says: A study conducted by the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) under the Indian Council of Medical Research, states that the Ganga is a poison river full of killer pollutants that those living along its banks in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal are more prone to cancer than anywhere else in the country. The worst-hit stretches are east Uttar Pradesh, the flood plains of Bengal and Bihar. Cancer of the gallbladder, kidneys, food pipe, prostate, liver, kidneys, urinary bladder and skin are common in these parts. These cases are far more common and frequently found here than elsewhere in the country, the study says. Even more frightening is the finding that gallbladder cancer cases along the river course are the second highest in the world and prostate cancer highest in the country. The survey throws up more scary findings: Of every 10,000 people surveyed, 450 men and 1,000 women were gallbladder cancer patients. Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar’s Vaishali and rural Patna and the extensive tract between Murshidabad and South 24-Parganas in West Bengal are the hot zones. In these parts, of every 1 lakh people surveyed, 20-25 were cancer patients. This is a national high. Relentless discharge of pollutants into the riverbed is responsible. Ganga water is now laced with toxic industrial discharge such as arsenic, choride, fluoride and other heavy metals. (Anirban Ghosh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ganga-is-now-a-deadly-source-of-cancer-study-says/articleshow/16842966.cmsaccessed on 17 October 2012.)
- Pray for pollution free rivers in India.
- Government may provide safe drinking water for all citizens in India.
- Survey finds most MBA students unemployable: The voluntary test, called the Aspiring Minds Computer Adaptive Test, was conducted by Aspiring Minds, an employability measurement company, between April and September at tier-I and tier-II business schools across the country and the findings were released. The employability test, a combination of English and quantitative skills, analytical abilities and domain-specific knowledge, was given by 32,000 students from the MBA class of 2011 in more than 22 business schools. Only a small proportion of students who graduated with MBAs from institutes across the country this year are employable. Of those surveyed, only 2.5% were employable in business consulting while 7.9% were good enough to get jobs as analysts; 6.9% were employable in marketing-related jobs. The employability percentage was higher for human resource (HR) positions where 9.6% of those surveyed were found suitable. For the banking and finance sector, 7.6% of those surveyed were found to be employable. Employability of male and female candidates who took the test was roughly the same, except that women did significantly better in HR. While 11.3% of the women surveyed were found to be employable in HR roles, the figure was 8.2% for men. The trouble with MBA education is that there isn’t enough practical experience for students, except perhaps at top schools. (http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Mumbai/Survey-finds-most-MBA-students-unemployable/Article1-945874.aspxaccessed on 17 October 2012.)
- Pray for revamp of higher education in India.
- Pray that institutions may prepare young people in character, knowledge and skills for productive life.
- Families hire sleuths to snoop on children attending all-night parties in Chennai:
The festival season is in full swing, and among the busiest are detective agencies as worried parents hire them to keep watch on their children attending all-nigh dandiya parties. The night-long dance parties are a source of anxiety as boys and girls mingle freely. Both north and south Indian youngsters attend these events and parents get worried about their children staying out late. Navratri is just the beginning of the hectic festive season for agencies. The agencies are also busy in December. The culture of the city is changing. So during the holiday season youngsters go in groups to resorts on East Coast Road and in Puducherry. Parents want to know who their children are with. New Year’s Eve also seems to be a time for just about everyone to spy on everybody else. Parents hire us to watch their children, while spouses and lovers engage deductive agencies to see if their partners are faithful to them. Agencies begin beefing up their staff from November as they get 25% more requests for surveillance and are unable to take on all cases. Valentine’s Day is another busy time for detective agencies. Parents also get the help of colleges. Parents who are hesitant to approach agencies directly contact such agencies through college authorities. Agencies have student monitoring programme also. One agency deputes staff in colleges to keep an eye on students. “Many prestigious colleges want to keep a check on the students — boys and girls interacting with each other, use of mobile phones, and also when students are planning to go on strikes.” (Priya M. Menon,http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Families-hire-sleuths-to-snoop-on-children-attending-all-night-parties-in-Chennai/articleshow/16859149.cms accessed on 18 October 2012.)
- Pray for effective parenting and the church may conduct seminars on parenting.
- Pray for young people to have right values.
- Rising food prices kept 8 million Indians chained to poverty: UN report: Rising food prices during 2010-11 may have pushed three million Bangladeshis into poverty, and kept eight million Indians from getting out of poverty bracket, finds a UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) report. In Asia and Pacific region, food inflation pushed nearly four million people into poverty. Food prices have gone up primarily due to pressure on a shrinking and neglected agriculture sector, while consumption has risen significantly. Increasing cost of fertilizers, competition for arable land, water resource and high oil prices are all responsible for the spike. Commodity market speculation has also been a growing factor behind high and volatile commodity prices. Over 65% of the household income of poor across the world is spent on food. Children are the first to feel the impact of hunger. For instance, in Bangladesh and India, more than 40% children are undernourished. It explains that the root cause of hunger across the sub-region is not lack of food rather the socio-economic and social distribution is responsible for this evil. Pointing out the serious flaw in food distribution, the report claims that at national level, “hungry population live side-by-side with people who have easy access to food.” Advocating a robust mechanism for food distribution, it says food insecurity disproportionately affects women, rural folks, migrant workers and tribals. “Children are more likely to be undernourished, but there is also a gender difference as girls far more likely to be hungry than boys,” it adds. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rising-food-prices-kept-8-million-Indians-chained-to-poverty-UN-report/articleshow/16884888.cms accessed on 20 October 2012.)
- Pray for eradication of poverty in India
- Pray for the Indian Church to produce ‘Josephs’ to feed the hungry.
- 50% of Indian’s to suffer from Osteoporosis: Study: Osteoporosis, characterized by low bone mass with micro architectural deterioration of bone tissue leading to enhanced bone fragility, is three times more common in Indian population than occured in other countries. Around the world, one in three women and one in five men were at risk of an osteroporotic fracture and the most common being occurence of fractures at the hip, spine and wrist People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a suden strain, bump, or fall caused a hip to fracture or a vertebra to collapse, he said that collapsed vertebrae may initially be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height or spinal deformities such as kyphosis (severely stooped posture). Nearly 300 million people suffered from osteoporosis in India and the next decade as much as 50 per cent of the Indian population will be victim to this condition according to a WHO study, released on the occasion of World Osteoporosis Day. A lot of physical activity during the preteen and teen years was the only definite way that increase bone mass and greatly reduce the risk of osteoporosis in adulthood. (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/50–of-indians-to-suffer-from-osteoporosis-study/1019739/0 accessed on 21 October 2012.)
- Pray that osteoporosis is totally removed from India
- May people develop healthy balanced intake of food. Food prices may be affordable for all people.
- Why India is not on the job: Nearly 30 million (mn) of India’s labour force is unemployed, 26 mn are officially underemployed, 40 mn want additional work and 35 mn are looking for other alternatives of livelihood. According to a National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) 2009-10 survey, the size of India’s workforce is between 430 and 471 mn. The lower number indicates people who look for work every day, while the higher points to those who have joined the workforce at some point in the year. India’s official upper limit of unemployment and underemployment is about 70 million — that’s more than the population of countries such as France, UK, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Canada. Even this figure is disputed by experts who believe that the actual number is several times larger. The official 6.6% unemployment rate is possibly a mirage created by the complex nature of the labour market. India’s labour market is characterised by part-time workers, seasonality of work, underemployment and social factors which restrict many women from joining the labour force. Compared to 56% of our male population, only 23% of women are part of India’s total workforce : people who are usually employed. Of the 26 mn usually employed who couldn’t find work through the year, 17 mn were women. This results in a huge loss in person-days. In rural India, nearly one-third of women workers’ person days are lost annually, while in the cities 15% of working days of women employees go unutilised. There’s a significant number of male workers invisibly underemployed. They want additional work or are looking for other avenues. More than 60% cite low wages as the main reason. The visible or invisible lack of work measured through unemployment and underemployment statistics doesn’t quite give the true picture. Being employed alone doesn’t guarantee an escape from poverty. The official limit of unemployed and underemployed is 70 million while the most conservative poverty estimates (30%) translate into 359 mn people. That means, officially, at least 289 mn Indians are not unemployed, don’t want additional income and aren’t looking for alternative careers, but are below the poverty line. According to a recently released report of the ministry of labour and employment, the share of industries is 28% while the remaining 58% of India’s GDP comes from the services sector. Although they constitute 86% of India’s GDP, services and industries give employment to only 47% of the workforce — 22% in industries and 25% in services. It is evident that part of the employment problem stems from lack of skill development and inadequate creation of opportunities in the non-agricultural sectors. Lack of skills in India also forces workers to remain trapped in the unorganized sector, doing menial and semi-skilled work. About 93% of India’s workforce is in the informal sector. The majority of these people work in pitiable conditions, lacking basic labour standards like a written job contract, paid leave, social security and access to trade unions. In the 11th and 12th Plans, the Planning Commission is targeting the creation of about 116 million jobs, which would absorb the 85 million rise in the labour force and cover some of the existing gap between jobs and job-seekers. (Atul Thakur, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Why-India-is-not-on-the-job/articleshow/16908904.cms accessed on 22 October 2012.)
- Pray for economic development and job creation.
- Pray that lack of skill development and inadequate creation of opportunities in the non-agricultural sectors may not lead to downfall of India’s youth
- Kerala’s Gulf connection may end in next 4-5 years, survey says: Although Keralites continue going to Gulf in search of employment, there is a decreasing trend over the years.
Emigration to the Gulf region from Kerala stood at 2.28 million in 2011, up from 2.19 million in 2008, 1.84 million in 2003 and 1.36 million in 1998. Between 2008 and 2011, emigration grew at just 1.4 percent per year compared to 4.8 percent during 2003 and 2008 and over 7 percent during 1998 and 2003. In seven out of 14 districts in the state, the number of emigrants has declined compared to 2008. The increase could vanish much before 2015 and the migration trend could very well slope downward, say K C Zachariah and S Irudaya Rajan of the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram. The survey also reports that there were an estimated 1.1 million “Gulf Wives” in the state, that is women whose husbands are abroad, mostly in the Gulf region. Surprisingly, this number has hovered around the 1 million mark for the past 14 years even though the number of emigrants has gone up. In 2008 the number of “gulf Wives” was 1.06 million. The survey busts a handful of myths about “Gulf money”, that is, remittances sent home by emigrant Keralites. Only 17.1 percent of households in Kerala received any remittances from abroad contrary to the popular impression that many more were benefiting from a steady stream of mone flowing in from the Gulf. However, the proportion of households receiving remittances varied from just 11.4 percent among Hindus, to 14.4 percent among Christians and as high as 36.6 percent among Muslim households. Emigrants sent home Rs.49,695 crore in 2011, that is, about Rs 63,315 per household. The enormity of this contribution is evident from the fact that this about 31 percent of the states’s domestic product. Muslim households, due to their larger share in emigrant households, got nearly 47 percent of the total remittances, while Hindus got 36.4 percent and Christians 17 percent. But why is this dream petering out? The study points to a host of factors that is discouraging fresh emigrants. The young working age population in Kerala is contracting because of low birth rates for the past many years. Another prohibitive factor appears to be the rapidly increasing cost of emigration, the report says. Surprisingly, the wage differentials between Kerala and the Gulf region is also coming down. A recent survey of unskilled workers in the United Arab Emirates indicated an average monthly wage of Rs.11,869. Unskilled workers could earn more or less the same amount of money in Kerala, according to the survey analysis by CDS. (Subodh Varma, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Keralas-Gulf-connection-may-end-in-next-4-5-years-survey-says/articleshow/16796083.cms accessed on 13 October 2012.)
- Pray for more job creation in India.
- Pray for migrants that they have secure future.
- Doctorates in hand, only 5.2% of Indians return from US: Only 5.2% of Indians who go to the US to earn doctorate degrees return home, a study by the US National Science Foundation, looked at students who graduated with PhDs between 2001 and 2007on the mobility patterns of PhD graduates in science, engineering and health has revealed. About 5,000 Indians join US universities every year for doctoral studies in these fields. The study report 87.9% of them were residing or employed in the US, 5.6% in Asia and 2.5% in Europe. The proportion of foreigners among those awarded US PhDs increased from 17% in 1961-70 to 40% by 2010. According to an article in the journal Nature, citing a survey of 17,000 researchers across 16 countries, India sends the largest proportion of its scientists overseas, with 75% going to the US.
(VanitaSrivastava, http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Doctorates-in-hand-only-5-2-of-Indians-return-from-US/Article1-949656.aspx accessed on 25 October 2012.)
- Pray that Indian doctorates in US positively contribute for the development of nation.
- Pray that Indians in US may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
- US colleges beat down fees in drive towards $10,000 degree: Some US colleges have taken the first tentative steps to beat down soaring tuition fees by proposing a $10,000 (about 5.3 lakh) degree that also takes aim at the nearly trillion dollar college debt that the country has racked up. The drive towards the $10,000 college degree will help students from India, more than 100,000 of who are enrolled in US colleges any given year. Although most Indian students come to the US for graduate studies, more and more are enrolling for four-year undergraduate degree, which some 10 Texas colleges are proposing to offer for as little as $10,000. Typical cost for a four-year undergraduate degree in a modest college for in-state US residents is around $30,000 ( 16 lakh). But Indian parents, the wealthier among who are sending their children to four-year undergrad colleges after their Class 12, can rack up more than $100,000 enrolling in elite US institutions.Higher education such as law degrees or two-year MBA degrees from top-ranked schools cost anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000. Nevertheless, the drive to lower costs points to growing recognition in the US that education is going beyond the reach of poor and middle-class families, and students often enter the job market with a massive debt burden — a model India is also adopting with growing privatization of education. (Chidanand Raighatta, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/US-colleges-beat-down-fees-in-drive-towards-10000-degree/articleshow/16730539.cms accessed on 9 October 2012.)
- Pray that US education may not lure young India to take wrong paths and enter the job market with a massive debt burden
- Pray that common sense prevails and young people of India choose the correct career path
- Newsweek ending print edition after 80 years & go all-digital, job cuts expected: The US news magazine Newsweek plans to end its print publication after 80 years and will shift to an all-digital format starting in early 2013. Job cuts are expected. Newsweek’s last US print edition will be its Dec. 31 issue. With more and more consumers on the go and using their cell phones and tablets to receive the news, media organizations have had to increasingly shift more of their emphasis online. Aside from Newsweek, SmartMoney announced in June that it was shuttering its print publication in favor of a digital format. The online publication will be called Newsweek Global and will be a single, worldwide edition that requires a paid subscription. It will be available for tablets and online reading, with certain content available on The Daily Beast website. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Newsweek-ending-print-edition-after-80-years-go-all-digital-job-cuts-expected/articleshow/16865597.cms 18 October 2012.)
- Pray for skills development of people who are lose jobs due to new technology.
- Pray for many Christian publications to have digital editions.
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