Friday, 15 July 2005

People in Andhra Pradesh are nutritionally "backward"

2005
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 15: People in Andhra Pradesh are "starved" nutritionally when compared with those living in many States in the country.
According to a research study carried out by Andhra Pradesh Social Watch (Report 2005), chronic energy deficiency is observed in 37.4 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women living in villages. The scenario, however, is slightly better in towns and cities.
The average protein intake of both rural and urban Andhraites is just 62 (gm/cu/day) as against the all-India figure of 71.50. They also lag behind in fat intake. The State's average fat consumption is 50.7 gm/cu/day as compared with the all-India intake of 60.70 gm/cu/day.
Consumption of pulses in the State is 860 grams per head per month as against the all-India average of 960 grams.
The study points out that the per capita consumption of food items in the State is largely below the Indian Council of Medical Research norms. Even in urban areas, out of 10 food items examined during the survey, not a single food item is consumed according to the ICMR norms.
As many as 10.5 per cent of children in the State are severely undernourished and 28.2 per cent are moderately undernourished. The incidence of moderate malnutrition implies that the affected children may not reach their full physical and mental potential while severe malnutrition indicates that they may be functionally impaired.
No wonder then that Andhra Pradesh ranks 13 among 16 top States in the country in terms of food availability situation.
The per capita consumption of milk in the State is 3.96 litres per month as compared with 4.59 litres national average. Fish consumption is just 0.08 kgs per month in the State while the all-India average is 0.22 kgs. Break-up of other food items in the State with national average in brackets is: edible oil 0.60 kgs (0.72 kgs), vegetables 2.93 kgs (3.02 kgs), fruits 0.97 kgs (1.06 kg) and sugar 0.67 kgs (1.00 kg). Only in the case of cereals, the State is slightly ahead with just 42 grams per month. The State's per capita monthly consumption of cereals is 10.94 kgs (10.42 kgs all India).
Even in the case of production too, the State lags behind. Production of cereals in the State is only 363.35 grams per capita while ICMR norms stipulate 420 grams per head per day. The all-India average is 430.33 grams. About 40 grams of pulses are needed per head per day while the actual net production in the State is just 22.68 grams (all-India average is 31.94 grams).
"Consumption of food too provides important information about the food security status. In Andhra pradesh there's deficit in production over consumption of cereals. While net production of cereals is 381.90 grams per day the actual consumption is 442.33 grams," the report points out.
Though the Rural Food Insecurity Atlas (prepared by Dr MS Swaminathan Foundation and World Food Programme) has shown surplus net production of milk, edible oil, sugar and fruits in Andhra Pradesh, the same is not reflected in the per capita consumption in urban areas. In the case of cereals, 87 per cent of the ICMR norm is fulfilled but when it comes to pulses it is only 73 per cent. It is as low as 24 per cent in the case of eggs.
Stating that food consumption pattern across classes of consumers too demonstrates the food insecurity situation, the report points out that per capita monthly consumption for cereals is 10.94 kgs for all classes while it is only 9.67 kgs for the lowest 10 per cent.
This difference is viewed in the consumption of other food items as well. The per capita monthly consumption of pulses for all classes is 0.86 kgs but it is as low as 0.46 kgs for the lowest 10 per cent of the population.

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

Owais Raza Quadri brings message of love from Pakistan

2005
By Syed Akbar
"We do not see anything different in India. Everything here is like in Pakistan. People here are affectionate, friendly and God-fearing. Even in culture we do not find any difference. The land must have been divided into India and Pakistan. But our hearts continue to be one," observes internationally renowned Islamic singer Muhammad Owais Raza Quadri.
Quadri and his five-member delegation from Pakistan are currently in Hyderabad to perform at a couple of places including the MIM headquarters Darus Salam. The Pakistan delegation visited India to attend the Urs celebration of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer. After the Urs, they came to the city on invitation from local Muslim leaders.
So moved was Quadri and his team by the hospitality they received in Hyderabad and earlier in Ajmer and Delhi that they offered a special supplication (du'a) for the progress and prosperity of India and better ties between the two neighbouring nations.
Though Quadri is visiting Hyderabad for the first time, he is quite a popular figure in Muslim homes thanks to his melodious performances on QTV, an Islamic channel telecast from London. Thousands of his audio and video cassettes are sold every month in the city. Quadri has endeared himself to the devout with his rhythmical "Allahu Allahu". He mostly sings Naat (hymns on Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad).
"I do not feel that I am outside Pakistan. It had been a week since I entered India and my interaction with people showed that borders cannot divide hearts, love and affection," Quadri pointed out.
Information Minister Muhammad Ali Shabbir hosted lunch in honour of the visiting delegation. Later, they called on Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy at his residence.

"Marriage pill" to reduce the high incidence of central nervous system defects in children

2005
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 6: City doctors have come out with what they call "marriage pill" to reduce the high incidence of central nervous system defects in children born in Andhra Pradesh.
The "marriage pill" is nothing but a simple combination of folic acid and vitamins which, if taken by pregnant women, will result in the birth of healthy babies. Andhra Pradesh, particularly Hyderabad has been witnessing high incidence of child births with central nervous system and spine defects.
This is linked to lack of awareness and care during pregnancy.
"The foetus with central nervous system defects have open skull. Such babies die. In foetus with spine defects the back is open with nerves being exposed. The nerves are destroyed leading to poor or lack of bladder and bowel moments. We always thought a healthy mother will give birth to a healthy baby. Which is not true, a healthy mother can still have a foetus with defects," says Dr Evita Fernandez.
The marriage pill will help solve the problem to a large extent, she pointed out. Folic acid when combined with a dose of vitamins particularly B vitamin, prevents birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. The marriage pill has to be taken very early in pregnancy.
Research studies suggest that folic acid may also protect women and men from stroke and cancers of colon and breast.

Monday, 4 July 2005

Moghal descendent wants Taj Mahal to be registered in his name


2005
By Syed Akbar
The "Prince" Yaqoob Habibuddin Tucy, city-based man who has claimed to be a "direct descendent of Mughal lineage" and therefore the "rightful claimant" to the Taj Mahal wants the monument to be registered in his or in the name of other members in the lineage.
In case of Uttar Pradesh Central Sunni Wakf Board not doing this, Prince Tucy has decided to move the High Court. "If it is not registered on our names, let the Taj Mahal remain under the control of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)," he said.
"Yes, I am happy that Taj Mahal has been declared a Wakf property. It was the will of emperor Shah Jahan who had the monument built. Now prayers and other rituals, as desired by Emperor Shah Jahan, can be performed at Taj. This decision was needed for a long time now," he said.
Speaking to this correspondent, Tucy said he was aware of the landmark order passed on Wednesday by the Uttar Pradesh Central Wakf Board which declared the Taj Mahal a "Wakf or religious trust." A formal order on this was issued by the Board's chairman Hafiz Usman who told reporters that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) would no longer have right of possession over the 17th century monument.
Prince Tucy has decided to meet the Uttar Pradesh Central Sunni Wakf Board members and ask them to register the monument and properties attached with it on his name.
On the UP Central Sunni Wakf Board not taking cognisance of his application, Prince Tucy said: "Section 36 of the Act clearly lays down that the first right to get a property registered as a Wakf lies either with the owner of the property or his descendants. As such, I will not allow any third party interference in this. It is either me or other members of lineage or the ASI should continue with its control on the monument. I will do everything to stop Wakf Board from taking direct management of the monument," he said.
Tucy is leaving for Lucknow on Monday. "After meeting with his lawyer and members of Wakf Board, he proceed on the issue depending upon the response from the Board.

Bt seeds: Games multinationals play

2005
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 4: The State government is planning to approach the Monopoly And Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Commission to end the monopoly of multinational Monsanto in the sale of Bt cotton seeds.
The State government's move follows complaints from farmers that companies marketing Bt cotton seeds with patent from Monsanto had established their monopoly in the State market jacking up the prices exorbitantly.
A 450 grams bag of Bt cotton seed, which should normally be available for about Rs 300-450, is now sold at Rs 1800. In some places the prices are jacked up to Rs 2400 per bag. Farmers in the State grow Bt cotton on four lakh acres and their seed input comes from one of the three licensed companies patented with Monsanto. Five varieties of Bt cotton seeds are now sold in the State after the Centre banned Mahyco from marketing its Bt cotton varieties that failed to deliver the promised results.
"We are now facing a monopoly situation. Only one company Monsanto is calling the shots by fixing a very high royalty per packet. Under monopoly situations, the government can intervene to regulate the prices. We have powers to regulate royalty", a senior official in the farm department told this correspondent.
The State government may also invoke the Competition Act 2002 or approach high court seeking its intervention to regulate the prices of Bt cotton seeds. Monsanto gets as high as Rs 1250 per bag of Bt cotton seeds from its patented companies. The royalty value per packet is decided by Monsanto every year.
As per the agreements the seed companies have with Monsanto, on sale of every seed packet a royalty of Rs 1250 has to be paid to the latter. Out of this royalty collected from farmers, 70 per cent will go to Monsanto and the balance 30 per cent to the seed company concerned. The conditions of the agreement provide powers to Monsanto to audit the seed company's accounts also to ascertain proper payments.
The State government's argument is that if the royalty is regulated and maintained around Rs 300-400 per packet, the seed price would be below Rs 1000. Even at this price the technology can rake in upwards of Rs 200 crore per annum to Monsanto.
"By a reasonable price if more farmers are attracted the annual returns can be even higher and can go up to Rs 400 crore on an estimated sale of 100-125 lakh seed packets a year", the official said.

Sunday, 3 July 2005

Blind manhunt by CID

2005
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 3: The Crime Investigation Department is on a virtually blind manhunt after four top most wanted economic offenders in the State as it does not know how they look alike.
The CID does not have the photographs of the top most four of the 12 economic offenders on the run. It is no wonder then that the department has made no appreciable progress in the past nine years in the investigation. The economic offenders, who had cheated gullible people through finance companies, continue to escape the police dragnet.
The CID has announced on its official website that it will pay a "handsome reward" to those who give information on these offenders. It is not clear how the common man will pass on the information to the CID when the investigating agency does not know how the offenders look alike.
Interestingly, the CID has all the details of top most four economic offenders Raji K Verghees, Thomas K Verghees, KV Verghees and Sajan K Verghees but in the absence of their photographs, the investigating agency is unable to trace them. The CID has traced their address to Kottayam in Kerala.
These most wanted economic offenders floated Oriental Finance and Exchange Company and lured the gullible people by offering exorbitant rates of interest. They collected deposits to the tune of Rs 1.40 crore and cheated the depositors without repaying their hard earned money.
The Central Crime Station, Hyderabad, registered a case (no. 61/87) on April 13, 1987 under Sections 409, 420 and 477 of IPC and Section 45 (s) of RBI Act.
Krushi Bank former chief K Venkateshwar Rao used to occupy the No. 1 slot in the list of wanted economic offenders in the State. But with Venkateswara Rao's arrest, Raji K Verghees has occupied his slot.
The other most wanted economic offenders in the CID list are Kulwinder Singh, G Ravinder, Idureddy Venkat Reddy, Pothubattula Seshagiri Rao, LT Ratna Paul, Manmohan Monga, Panchiparvala Kanya Nageswara Rao and Huzefa Ibrahim Bahroin (Charminar Bank).

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