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Showing posts from January 31, 2017

The enemy within (Hindu)

Not ideological affinity, but prospects of power and pelf determine the making and unmaking of political alliances. The Shiv Sena is the closest to the Bharatiya Janata Party in terms of ideology and policies, but a parting of ways of the two parties was always just around the corner. Differences over seat-sharing for the polls to the urban local bodies in Maharashtra were inevitable as each party was seeking to expand its influence at the expense of the other. Quite understandably, the Sena is yet to reconcile itself to its situation as a junior partner of the BJP after the 2014 Assembly election, when it won fewer seats than the BJP did after contesting alone following a similar breakdown in seat-sharing negotiations. Having headed the government in 1995, the first time the alliance tasted power in the State, the Sena greatly resents the role of a minor partner of the BJP in the government. If the party does not win back its support base, ceded mostly to the BJP, it will not be abl…

As bigotry becomes policy (Hindu.)

American President Donald Trump implemented his campaign promise of “extreme vetting” on Friday when he announced that his administration had banned, for 90 days via executive order, travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan were not on the list, perhaps owing to the close economic and strategic ties that Washington, and indeed the Trump Organization, have with some of these nations — although White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated that Pakistan may be put on the list, going forward. Mr. Trump has placed on hold indefinitely the U.S.’s asylum programme for refugees from Syria, and suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days. While he may have enthused his core constituency of predominantly white, blue-collar workers, beset with economic and racial insecurities, his order sent shock waves at home and abroad, and sparked fears that it could create a recruitment bonanza fo…

Claims we buy (downtoearth,)

As Nandini Shah, a health-conscious young working mother in New Delhi, enters a supermarket, she knows exactly what to buy. She picks Bournvita for her 11-year-old son and Fortune VIVO Diabetes-Care Oil for her husband. “Bournvita will help build stamina in my son who has interest in sports, and the oil can help manage diabetes of my husband,” she says. Deepti Khanna, a college student from a posh South Delhi locality, carefully reads nutrition facts on the label before buying grocery items. “I prefer NutriChoice Essentials Oats cookies and Sunfeast Farmlite Digestive over other biscuits as they have a high fibre content, are made out of whole grains and have no added sugar,” says Khanna. She also buys ragi (finger millet) cookies for her diabetic father and Saffola Masala Oats for a healthy snack in the morning.

While Shah and Khanna are happy with their choices, the claims based on which they choose the products may not be entirely true. An analysis by Delhi-based Centre for Scienc…

Inequality in health indicators on the rise in India: Economic Survey(downtoearth,)

The gap in health indicators among different regions is increasing in India, points out the Economic Survey 2017, calling the situation as “perplexing”.

“Despite growing rapidly on average, there is sign of growing regional inequality among the Indian states. This is puzzling because the underlying forces in favour of equalisation within India—namely strong and rising movements of goods and people— are strongly evident,” says the Economic Survey that was released on January 31.

India’s progress on health indicators is also lagging when compared to other countries similar to it in progress and per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as per the survey. For instance, life expectancy in India is much lower than the average country on health parameters. The performances of states is also below par. Kerala’s life expectancy has increased by a mere 1.7 per cent over the past 11 years, which is lower than a country that started off with similar status in health indicators. This holds true f…

Economic Survey pegs real GDP growth at 6.75-7.5 per cent for 2017-18 (downtoearth,)

The real gross domestic product growth for 2017-18 (Apr-Mar) is expected to be between 6.75 and 7.5 per cent, according to the Economic Survey 2016-17, which was tabled in the Parliament today. Even under this forecast, India would remain the fastest growing major economy in the world, it added.

The GDP growth for the current fiscal is estimated at 7.1 per cent while the same was 7.6 per cent in 2015-16. The forecast is based on four major factors: exports, consumption, private investment and government.

The survey said that the country’s exports are recovering, buoyed by increased global economic activity. The uptick is expected to continue in the aftermath of the US elections and expectations of a fiscal stimulus, it added.

However, the outlook for private consumption was less clear, the survey said, adding that international oil prices are expected to be about 10-15 per cent higher in 2017 compared to 2016, which would create a drag of about 0.5 percentage points.

“On the other ha…

About 97 per cent of endangered species threatened by common pesticides: US agency (downtoearth,)

Taking a major stride towards understanding effects of pesticides on endangered species, the first rigorous nationwide study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that about 97 per cent of over 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act are threatened by two commonly used pesticides: malathion and chlorpyrifos.

The results of the study, which were released on January 18, claimed that another 78 per cent are likely to be harmed by pesticide diazinon. “When it comes to pesticides, it’s always best to look before you leap, to understand the risks to people and wildlife before they’re put into use,” said Nathan Donley, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Based on the final biological evaluations, Donley called for “some commonsense measures to help protect them along with our water supplies and public health”.

The pesticides mentioned above are all organophosphates—a dangerous class of insecticides found in 87 per cent of human u…

Child malnutrition on rise but funding falters (downtoearth)

It was a mid-winter morning when we first met her at the anganwadi centre of Mai, a small village by the bank of the River Ganga in Bihar’s Munger district. The breakfast session at the anganwadi centre was just over, though some of the children were still busy with the last remains of sattu ki laddu in their dirty hands. Savita Devi, the sahayika (helper) at the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centre, was already in the midst of preparing lunch for those kids. However, the sevika of the anganwadi was nowhere to be seen. When asked about her absence, Savita replied that the sevika had stopped attending her job as her salary was pending for four months. And it was evident from the way Savita answered that, she, too, would follow suit any day.

Later that day, we visited the next village called Damodarpur Mohuli. It presented a bleaker picture. The only anganwadi in the village has been non-functional for the past six months as the anganwadi worker has not received her sala…