Monday, 31 July 2006

Beware of phishing: Tips to keep away internet scams


July 31, 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: "Dear customer, there was a major crash in our computer system. We have lost some of the vital data. Could you click on the link below to send us the details of your credit card like its number, expiry date, credit limit and
password so that we could update our data after restoration".
"Congratulations! You have won $ 100,000 in a draw of lots of email addresses
collected at random from the web. To claim the money, do fill up the following personal details and send us at the email link given below". "Dear account-holder, we suspect that an unauthorised transaction has been carried out on your savings bank account. To make sure that your bank account is not manipulated, please click the link below and confirm your personal identity."
If you receive these types of messages to your email address or in a pop-up window
while you are surfing the internet, just ignore them. Do not reply to such messages or give personal details, because you are being phished by clever cyber cheats.
Instances of phishing or "password harvesting" have been on the rise in Hyderabad
with the city, thanks to its numerous software firms, attracting the attention of computer hackers and cyber cheats from around the world.
A couple of days ago, M Ramesh, an executive in an advertising firm, received a
Yahoo message from his "banker" saying that they need the "existing" password of his credit card as the bank's main server has been hacked.
"I was about to fill up the details when my colleague suggested that I cross-check
with the banker on telephone or in person. When I rang up the call centre of the bank, I realised that the message was fake. I believed the message because it resembled other messages that I receive from my banker regularly," Ramesh
points out.
What actually the cyber cheats or "phishers" do with the data they receive from
unsuspecting net-users? There have been thousands of instances of creation of fake credit cards and siphoning of money through ATMs using the password provided by the unsuspecting cardholder. Moreover, personal details will quite often help phishers to do on-line business transactions to purchase valuables.
Phishers generally target customers of banks and financial institutions that have a
large turnout. In the last couple of months, customers of nearly all major banks in Hyderabad have been targeted by phishers. Besides banking customers, those who use amazon.com, AOL, BestBuy, eBay, MSN, PayPal and Yahoo have also been the target. According to anti-phishers, as many as 10,000 phishing mails are sent to users in Hyderabad.
The Crimes Investigation Department of the State police lists "phising" as one of
the cyber crimes attacking penal action. "The number of phishing attacks, and the associated costs, has increased 10 fold as compared to last year and is on a continuous rise," says MH Nobel of Zoom Technologies.


=====
How to identify phishing messages
=====

1. There will be no personal greetings in the message. Your name will be missing
because the sender does not
know who you are.
2. Notice whether there is an IP address in the link. If you click on this, it will
take you to the fake bank/institution
instead of the genuine one.
3. It is better if you do not use the net to provide personal details, particularly
passwords or your mother's maiden
name, as not all phishing attacks require a fake website. This can be done even
through a genuine website. If the
website is not fake, cyber cheats give a telephone No. (supposedly of a bank) and
when the unsuspecting person
dials the telephone number, he or she is asked to dial the card number and then the
password. Both the card
number and the password are recorded through voice over IP.
4. In case of suspicion, call the banker or make a personal visit to verify the
authenticity of the email message.
5. Install anti-phishing software in your computer to detect phishing attempts.
6. Lodge a police complaint, if necessary.
7. Check whether the URL starts with https:// or http://. If you're using IE, look
for the lock symbol in the right of
the status bar and double-click it to check the validity of the digital certificate.
8. Check your bank accounts regularly to ensure that listed transactions are really
carried out by you.

Sunday, 30 July 2006

Muslim medical colleges fall in line, finally

2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 30: State government's strict vigil coupled with competition has forced the two Muslim minority medical colleges in the State to fall in line and admit students purely on merit basis.
This is the first time in many years that admissions into minority medical colleges are near transparent if not completely fair. Both the Deccan Medical College and the Shadan Medical College have followed the State government's new rules on admissions and fee structure as far as 70 per cent EAMCET merit seats are concerned.
However, they are yet to release the list of candidates admitted under the 30 per cent management quota. The State government has now made it compulsory for managements of minority medical colleges to adopt complete transparency even in admissions made under the management quota. They will have to follow merit and a fixed fee structure of Rs 4.50 lakh per year for 30 per cent management quota seats.
While Shadan Medical College has called for counselling EAMCET rank-holders from 1 to 3442, the Deccan Medical College invited even students who have scored up to 5,000 rank. This led to competition between the two colleges and the meritorious students, who otherwise used to run from pillar to post, stood benefited.
Deccan Medical College collected the prescribed Rs 30,000 per year from students seeking admission under the 70 per cent EAMCET seats. This has forced the Shadan Medical College, which collected Rs 1.60 lakh from students, to make an announcement that it would return the excess amount. The Shadan College has also announced second list.
Both the Muslim minority medical colleges together have 250 seats of them 175 seats fall under Rs 30,000 fee category and 75 seats under Rs 4.50 lakh category.
"I got admission in a non-minority college under payment seat (Rs 1.60 lakh). Because of the new orders (GO 297) and strict vigil by government, I got admission in Shadan Medical College under Rs 30,000 fee category. If the government did not ensure merit-based admissions in minority colleges I would not have afford education in non-minority college by paying Rs 1.60 lakh," says Lubna Muneer, who scored 1332 rank in the Eamcet (minority rank 46).
While Deccan Medical College has given seat up to the EAMCET rank 5045 (minority rank 243), the Shadan has now called candidates up to 5365 rank (minority rank 262).
"This is the culmination of a 11 year old struggle launched by minority education rights activist late Muhammad Fasiuddin. Now only one thing remains to be done. There should be single window admission in medical colleges too. Even at the government prescribed fee, minority colleges get Rs 1.56 crore per year from 100 students as against Rs 1.55 crore in case of non-minority medical colleges. When non-minority colleges could manage with the fee, there should be no problem with the minority colleges," Muhammad Ansari of APMERPC said.

A new fungal pest is causing havoc in agricultural fields in Warangal

2006
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 30: A new fungal pest is causing havoc in agricultural fields in Warangal and other cotton growing districts upsetting the economy of farmers.
The root rot disease, which was rarely noticed earlier in the State, has now affected 40 per cent of Bt cotton, tomato and chilli crops in Warangal district alone. Agriculture scientists attribute to the spread of root rot to the favourable conditions provided by Bt cotton crop.
"The fungus has been lying low for long. With the introduction of the Bt cotton in the State, the fungus got a boost and is spreading fast. The Bt cotton is susceptible to the root rot. From Bt cotton, the root rot disease has spread to crops like tomato and chilli," says senior farm scientist Dr Abdul Qayyum.
The fungus spreads fast from one crop to another as it easily gets attached to agricultural implements like ploughs. When a plough used in an infested field is used in a healthy field, the latter too gets infected.
"There have been instances of farmers burning the whole crop to prevent the spread of the root rot disease to neighbouring fields. Now that the root rot has spread to tomato and chilli, there's every likelihood of it spreading to horticultural crops and vegetable fields too," points out agriculture scientist Kiran Sakkhari.
The fungus is capable of eating away roots damaging the root system. Only the tap root is left in tact while the branches and capillaries are eaten away. This leaves the plant incapable of sucking water from the ground and it drops dead.
In Nalgonda district farmers removed crop spread over 500 acres after the root rot disease hit the Bt cotton plants.

Friday, 28 July 2006

Irregularities in minority medical colleges: Government finally flexes its muscles

2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 28: The State government has finally flexed its muscles to rein in unscrupulous minority medical colleges that have been collecting "tuition fee" as high as Rs 50 lakh from students under management quota.
The Health, Medical and Family Welfare Department on Thursday night issued orders (GO Ms No. 297) banning capitation fee in private unaided minority medical colleges and fixing a maximum fee of Rs 4.5 lakh per year per student under management quota.
Medical colleges violating the fee structure will face severe action including cancellation of affiliation. Following a report in this newspaper recently that minority medical colleges are collecting Rs 50 lakh as tuition fee from students seeking admissions under management quota, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy convened a meeting with Health Minister K Rosaiah and senior officials of the Health and the Minorities Welfare departments and set right the mess.
There will be two categories of seats in private unaided minority medical colleges for purpose of admission and fee. The management will have to fill up 70 per cent of the seats through Eamcet rank-holders on merit and the fee structure for such students will be Rs 30,000 per year. The remaining 30 per cent of the seats will be management quota seats and they will be filled up by the management on an annual fee of Rs 4.5 lakh.
The tuition fee for the failed students in all subjects in each phase of study during each academic year has been fixed at Rs 15,000 per annum. This amount shall, however, be proportionately reduced depending upon the actual number of subjects in which the student has failed.
The GO bans management of minority colleges from charging any capitation fee and profiteering. The orders were issued based on the recommendations of Justice RB Reddy Committee on fixation of fee for students admitted into unaided professional educational institutions.
"Except the above fee fixed by the Committee, no other amount, either directly or indirectly can be unauthorisedly charged by the management. If any such other amount is charged under any other head or guise (e.g. donation etc) it would amount to charging of capitation fee. The surplus (profit) that is generated from the collection of the fee must be for the benefit of the Institution, and cannot be diverted for other purpose or for personal gain," the GO noted.
The students admitted to the course in a particular academic year will continue to pay every year the same annual tuition fee as paid at the time of their admission, till they complete the course. The management should collect the fee only for one year in advance from students.
Earlier in the absence of proper guidelines, unscrupulous managements were charging tuition fee as high as Rs 1.60 lakh per year from meritorious students admitted through Eamcet. The fee ran up to Rs 50 lakh for students seeking admissions under management/NRI quota.
The AP Minorities Educational Rights Protection Committee has appealed to parents not to pay money in excess of the prescribed tuition fee. "Parents and students can lodge complaints with the minorities welfare department or approach court in case the managements charge more fee," APMERPC convener Muhammad Ansari said.

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Da Vinci Code: It's Internet Virus On The Prowl


July 25, 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: It’s been confirmed — The Da Vinci Code is bad for you. The virus, that is. A computer bug bearing the controversial film’s name has affected dozens of mobile phones and laptops in the city.
The virus, which spreads via wireless Bluetooth technology, causes a message to pop
up on Bluetooth devices: ‘Receive message via Bluetooth from Da Vinci Code?’ Once a
curious mobile phone user accepts the message, the virus enters the system and
destroys the phone’s data.
A picture depicting an eye and a cross appears on the desktop and phone’s gallery.
Mridul Sharma (32), an operations manager at an event management firm, received the
virus during a corporate presentation a few days ago. “The Da Vinci Code name
actually excited me. I assumed the file was either an MMS clipping or a still and
accepted it.
My entire system collapsed and data was deleted. I had just bought my Nokia N91
handset worth Rs 31,000 and had to pay Rs 1,500 to format my mobile hard disk and
reload the software,” said Sharma.
"I received the virus on my laptop and phone. Apparently my Bluetooth device was
active. The technician who repaired my phone told me this was a common virus, which
had simply been renamed The Da Vinci Code to attract the users,” said 35-year-old
Sanjay Menon.
Abhishek Datta, a software expert, said, “Once a phone is affected, formatting is
the only option. You cannot retrieve your data.”
Seems that "Da Vinci Code" really a good naming for mobile viruses for now as this
movie quite prestigious in "Cinema Heat"!
Will we have "Mutant-X", "Mission Impossible 3" etc as mobile phone viruses in the
future? Let see how creative are those nasty creator then!

Safeguards

1. An anti-virus with REAL TIME PROTECTION will provide you with tight security.
2. Turn your bluetooth detection mode in "Hidden" or "Invisible" mode or just switch
it off if it's not necessary.
3. Never try to install an unknown file and proceed to the installation step.
4. Backup your data from time to time just in case...
5. Please beware of any MMS that come with *.SIS file attachment. Delete it if it's
quite suspicious.
That's so simple to keep your phone infected by this similar mobile phone virus.

Monday, 24 July 2006

Heavy luggage killing Indian Hajis!

2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 24: Heavy luggage is proving a threat to the lives of Indians performing Haj, if the number of pilgrims from the country killed during the "stoning of the devil" ritual in Saudi Arabia is any indication.
After a thorough analysis of the reasons for the death of pilgrims during the stoning ritual outside the holy city of Mecca almost every year, Saudi authorities and Haj experts have noted that most of the pilgrims who had died in the stampede were carrying heavy luggage with them when the mishap took place.
Indian Hajis usually carry heavy luggage with them for the Haj so that they could avoid purchasing things in Saudi Arabia. The luggage mostly contains groceries, dried meat and utensils. Though arrangements for food are made on a massive scale in the holy cities of Mecca and Madina, Indians prefer to cook their own food. The real trouble starts when Hajis shift their base with their luggage to open grounds outside the Mecca for the mandatory Haj rituals including the symbolic stoning of the devil.
In view of the expert report that heavy luggage is contributing to the death of Indian Hajis during the stoning ritual at Jamarat, the Consulate General of India in Jeddah has advised the Central Haj Committee and various State Haj committees to ensure that Hajis carry minimum luggage with them during the ensuing Haj in December.
"We are advising Hajis to carry not more than the stipulated 45 kgs of luggage for the Haj 2006-II. It is better if the Hajis do not carry with them food items. This will reduce the burden," Consul-General of India in Jeddah Dr Ausaf Saeed pointed out.
As many as 1426 pilgrims died in stampede during 1990 Haj, 244 in 2004 and 345 in 2006-I Haj earlier this year. Of these 345 Hajis, 62 were from India. In many instances of stampede deaths, Indian Hajis make up a substantial number and the Saudi Haj authorities want to avoid this by advising Hajis to bring in less luggage.
The CGI will set up 10 dispensaries including a 50-bed hospital in Mecca and four dispensaries in Madina for the ensuing Haj season. Medicines worth Rs 1.12 crore will be kept ready for the benefit of pilgrims from India. About 1.5 lakh Indian Muslims (including about 1.10 lakh through the Haj Committee) perform Haj every year.
Ausaf Saeed said the Saudi authorities had taken up work on a rail road connecting Madina with Mecca via Jeddah. Tenders have been called for, he added.

Saturday, 8 July 2006

Medical degrees awarded by foreign medical colleges

2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 8: The career prospects of thousands of Indians studying medicine in China and Russia are at stake what with the Medical Council of India declining to issue them eligibility certificates.
Indian students who want to pursue medicine in medical colleges outside the country will have to first secure the "eligibility certificate" from the Medical Council of India before leaving India. After the completion of the medical degree in a foreign university, the Indian students will have to appear for a "screening test" conducted by the National Board of Examinations. Unless they qualify in the screening test, the students cannot practice medicine on Indian territory.
The MCI Act 1956 has recognised just 22 medical colleges/universities in the erstwhile Soviet Union. But it does not recognise any of the medical colleges in China. This simply means Indian students who qualify in MBBS from China are not eligible to appear for the screening test to practice in India.
Recently the Delhi High Court upheld the MCI Act 1956 while the Kerala High Court felt that Indian students qualifying from Chinese medical colleges/universities should be allowed to appear for the screening test. A batch of affected students has decided to file a petition in Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court's order.
So far, 5000 students from Andhra Pradesh have joined various medical colleges/universities in China. This is the third year of Chinese institutions opening their doors to Indian students. This year 1500 students from the State have sought admission.
"Parents and students from Andhra Pradesh are preferring Chinese medical colleges for economic reasons. The standards in China are the same as those of our colleges. In fact, the hospitals there are better equipped. In private medical colleges here one has to shell down at least Rs 40 lakh while it is just Rs 9 lakh in China," says Ch Reraju who runs EdPlus Consultants in the city.
Reraju argues that MCI cannot refuse eligibility certificates to Indian students seeking admission in Chinese medical colleges for the simple reason that the World Health Organisation has included these Chinese institutions in its World Directory of Medical Schools. "When the USA and the UK have recognised medical degrees awarded by China, why the MCI deny the facility to Indian students," he wonders.
However, MCI former member Dr CL Venkat Rao cautions students from joining bogus medical colleges. "There are colleges in Vijayawada and Kakinada which are offering medical course partly in a foreign country and partly in India. Such colleges are not recognised. The students will have to undergo the complete course in a foreign country, obtain eligibility certificate before joining the course and appear for the screening test after the completion of the course," he points out.
Dr Muhammad Habeebullah of Aspertech Education Consultants says students pursuing courses in China need not worry about MCI regulations. "Even students who pass MBBS in the USA will have to appear for the screening test in India. The screening test is not restricted to students from China it is applicable to students who pass from foreign universities," Habeebullah argues.
Indian embassy officials in China, however, have a different story to tell about the facilities in medical colleges or universities there. Recently Indian diplomats announced that there had been increasing complaints about deficient infrastructure in China.
The common complaints from students includes non-availability of properly qualified English-speaking teaching facility in some of Chinese medical colleges.



Caution to Students

1. The Medical Council of India does not recognise medical colleges in China even those listed by the World Health Organisation in its World Directory of Medical Schools. This means those who qualify from Chinese colleges will not be allowed to appear for screening test conducted by the National Board of Examinations.

2. Students who qualify from the USA, UK and listed universities in erstwhile Soviet Union are permitted to appear for the screening test. However, the pass percentage is as low as seven.

3. MCI guidelines say that to be eligible for the screening test a candidate must fulfil the following three conditions: a) Must be a citizen of India 6) Must have obtained at least 50 per cent marks in intermediate in biology, physics and chemistry and c) The medical college should have been listed in the world Directory of Medical Schools.

4. The United Nations convention 1960 calls for mutual recognition of medical degrees through screening tests by respective countries.

5. If everything goes on well India and China may go in for reciprocal agreement on recognition of medical degrees. Presently a high level Chinese delegation comprising Dr Teigen Wo and Prof Chow Zhang is in India to hold talks with MCI. An Indian delegation is scheduled to visit China later this year.

Vanaraja: New Chicken Variety Developed in Hyderabad

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The city-based Project Directorate on Poultry has developed a chicken variety that closely resembles the jungle (desi) fowl in colour and plumage pattern for backyard farming in villages and tribal habitations.
While chicken varieties are generally white in colour without any plumage pattern, this variety of poultry bird named Vanaraja, is multi-coloured and has attractive feathers. The male bird is a coloured Cornish strain while the female parent bird is a synthetic multi-coloured meat population.
It is difficult to rear common poultry birds in the backyard in villages and hilly terrain as they become easy prey to predators but Vanaraja has the ability and agility to escape predators. The Vanaraja variety is light in weight and has long shanks and is capable of protecting itself.
The PDP has developed the male parent for moderate juvenile body weight, long shanks and good immune competence. On the other hand, the female parent gives high egg production with better egg size and high hatchability. It is also immune to general poultry diseases. The bird easily adapts to local climatic conditions even they turn adverse like extreme cold or hot.
Without extra feeding efforts the Vanaraja male bird attains moderate body weight within eight weeks. The female bird lays between 160 and 180 eggs in a laying cycle. A team of scientists led by Dr SV Rama Rao has developed the bird.
According to PDP officials, the Vanaraja birds can be used to improve the genetic potential of the jungle fowl or desi hens through crossing. "The upgraded progeny from such a cross has been found to perform better than the jungle fowl both in terms of overall body weight and production of eggs," Dr Rao points out.
The chicks need to be acclimatised to the backyard conditions before they could be let free in the open environment. The Vanaraja variety does not need any special diet supplement once let free in the backyard. It will feed on worms and other food material available to it unlike the poultry bird where special care need to be taken.
The Project Directorate has supplied the germplasm of Vanaraja to different parts of the country. The birds are found to be performing well everywhere.
Vanaraja has been a hit in the rural environments and local population has accepted it for backyard farming as the bird attains a body weight of 1.5 kgs in six weeks and reaches up to 1800 grams in seven weeks.
The mortality rate is very low in this variety. The rate is as low as three per cent both at six weeks and seven weeks of age. The bird gives good quantity and quality of meat. There is a wastage of just 30 per cent.
The PDP based at Rajendranagar has also developed a crossbreed called Krishibro, a variety of broiler which does not require high content of nutrients in its feed.
In this case also the mortality rate up to six weeks is just three per cent with a survival rate of 97 per cent as in the case of Vanaraja variety. The broiler chicks in this case are also coloured. Both the varieties have high immunity against common poultry diseases like Ranikhet.

Thursday, 6 July 2006

A puppet show on the Mahabharata

2006
By Syed Akbar
It's a Mahabharata of a different kind. Twenty-five puppets, one man and a dimly lit stage. The Indian epic virtually comes to life as French story-teller Massimo Schuster moves his puppets with emotion-filled dialogues and re-enacts the Mahabharata for full 90 minutes.
For the first time the Indian audience had an opportunity to witness the Mahabharata through the eyes and sensibilities of a foreigner. The narration was so powerful and dialogues so highly interactive that time simply flew away. There was no break in the one and a half hour puppet show.
Massimo Schuster's Theatre de l'Arc-en-Terre and the Alliance Francaise of Hyderabad presented a puppet show in Hyderabad on Mahabharata in association with the Department of Culture. Massimo came to India with his puppets after performing in over 50 countries.
President of the World Puppetry Organisation Massimo is also an actor, storyteller and director. The Mahabharata puppets are statue-like and created by Italian painter Enrico Baj and his son Andrea Baj. Though their faces are Western, the colourful costumes they wear are Indian in outlook. It was a conscious decision not to choose the kathputli look for Mahabharata and opt for an Indo-European appearance. "I can't stand people who have been here for two weeks and claim to know all about the country. I'm not Indian and I don't want to replicate," he says.
As Massimo further points out, "this mixture of West and East symbolises the universality of the characters". Even the music score is international ranging from Indian Carnatic to Japanese drums and Finnish and Tibetan singing to Persian melodies and Western contemporary compositions. And there's Ustad Bismillah Khan's shehnai soothing the hearts.
Presenting Mahabharata through puppets is not an easy task for the French puppeteer. "It was a great challenge for me to present Mahabharata before the Indian audience. My goal is not to come to India to tell the Mahabharata to Indians, but rather to show Indian audiences that their magnificent epic has been a source of interest and learning to a Western artiste who strongly believes that mutual knowledge and respect are the only sure means to make our world a better place," he observes.
It took nearly two years for Massimo to do the complete research before coming out with the puppet show. The French artiste drew inspiration from Peter Brook's 10-hour film on Mahabharata. Massimo presented the show in association with Francisco Niccolini, acclaimed dramaturge, author and art director. Massimo has read all the versions of Mahabharata including Kisari Mohan Ganguly’s English rendition to the notes of a French scholar who spent 20 years working on a translation.
And how come a French man took so much interest in an Indian epic? Massimo says he loves epics from around the world and believes that in a multi-cultural world the rich West must acknowledge and recognise the greatness of other cultures. "I am so impressed by the story of Pandavas that I came up with the puppet show to narrate the events in their life to audiences, both in India and in the West. In this kalyug, I think the Mahabharata is the perfect story to narrate, because people from every culture see themselves reflected in it," he observes.
The story begins with Massimo donning the role of Maharshi Vyasa. He performs alone, going back and forth from storytelling to straight acting to puppeteering. The highlight of the play is that Massimo talks directly to the audience to keep their interest alive and share emotions.
He creates platforms of different heights on the stage to symbolise the palace of Hastinapur, the Indraprastha, the forest where the Pandava brothers stayed during their exile and the hall where the evil game of dice was played. As the war draws near, the whole space between the platforms is turned into the battle field of Kurukshetra. He pours life into 25 characters from the epic tale of three generations. As Massimo sits on the stage along with his puppets telling the story of the victory of the good over the evil, the audience are transported back in time to the days of Mahabharata.
The Massimo's group has presented the shows at Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Dacca (Bangaladesh). His earlier theatrical adaptations include Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings) from Ethiopia and Shahnama from Persia.
Speaking of his next show, Massimo draws innumerable similarities between the Mahabharata and the Iliad. "Arjuna's travels are similar to those undertaken by Ulysses. The birth of Bhishma is similar to the birth of Achilles," he argues.

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Chikungunya: Virus takes a rebirth after 40 years


July 5, 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: As Chikungunya turns active in the country after a gap of four decades, health experts warn of severe complications if patients go in for overdose of anti-biotics and other medicines.
They advise patients to take just paracetamol and bed rest for a week. Chikungunya is self limiting febrile viral disease with no medical treatment. The disease simply gets cured on its own after a certain period. Treatment for chikungunya is symptoms-based and this often leads to overdose of anti-biotics and pain-killers. Though chikungunya as such does not cause death on its own, doctors warn of damage to
intestinal and stomach lining because of overdose of medicines. This may cause
bleeding in the digestive system often leading to death.
"What the patient needs is treatment for symptoms, paracetamol at the best, and bed
rest for a week. Overdose of anti-biotics and other medicines will complicate the matters and may lead to death, though chikungunya as such does not cause mortality. Symptomatic treatment is recommended for chikungunya after excluding other more
dangerous diseases like JE and dengue, which incidentally have similar symptoms" Sir
Ronald Ross Institute of Tropical Diseases superintendent Dr PP Prasad points out.
According to Dr Prasad, not all cases of viral fevers are chikungunya cases. People
need not worry if they get viral fevers. They should follow their doctor's advice and take rest.
That not all cases of viral fevers are of chikungunya is evident from the fact that
of the 1000 samples collected from the State by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, only 30 were declared as positive cases. Since there was no antigen in the country, the NIV has to develop it to conduct the tests.
Health experts in Andhra Pradesh are perplexed over the sudden emergence of
chikungunya in the country after a gap of nearly four decades. The chikungunya virus, that has been lying dormant in these parts since 1971, has now raised its ugly head literally sending shivers down the spine of thousands of patients.
The question now racking the brains of health experts and medical teams is, "what
has triggered the dormant chikungunya virus to become active once again"? Experts have divergent views on its spread in India and Andhra Pradesh in particular. While virologists feel that the virus might have undergone mutation after being docile to
become more powerful or Indian might have lost "herd immunity", medical doctors are
of the view that the virus might have been transmitted to local populace by a foreign tourist. Still others feel that so far we have been mistaking chikungunya for dengue as both have similar symptoms.
Going by epidemiological evidence, medical experts feel that the virus must have
passed into Andhra Pradesh through an infected tourist. Since several international conferences are held in Hyderabad, a local tiger mosquito must have transmitted the disease to healthy local persons from infected foreign tourist. There is also the possibility of the virus being transmitted by infected persons from other States visiting Hyderabad.
Says Dr S Satyavathi, Hyderabad district medical and health officer, "taking the
epidemiology into view we are now concentrating our attention on places where national expositions and international conferences are held. We are sending our teams to these places as a precautionary measure".
Togaviridae, the virus that causes chikungunya, was last noticed in Kolkata in 1971
and in Chennai in 1965.
Andhra Pradesh reported the first case of chikungunya around 1959. But since 1971
there have been no known cases of chikungunya in any part of the country including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh though these States have high density of the vector population - mosquito Aedes Aegyptis - for hundreds of years.
Consultant microbiologists at Apollo Hospitals Dr M Ratna Rao opines that the virus
which has been docile all these years might have become active because the "herd immunity" might have been lost. When a disease frequently occurs people develop antibodies but since there has been no known cases of chikungunya for the past
four decades this herd immunity might have been lost forcing the virus to hit back.
There is no national surveillance on viral diseases in the country and because of
this the Central or the State governments do not know what types of viral diseases or viruses are prevailing in the country or whether the known viruses have undergone mutation or turned hyperactive.
The first ever recorded case of chikungunya in human beings was in 1952 in Tanzania.
In fact, the term "chikungunya" is derived from Makonde language "Kungunyala" meaning "that which bends up", as the patient folds himself/herself up because of severe pains in joints.
Senior physician Dr Aftab Ahmed believes that chikungunya might have been prevalent
in the country all through these years but since the symptoms of chikungunya and dengue are the same, doctors might have taken it as dengue in the absence of virological tests.
"The vector (mosquito) for dengue and chikungunya is the same Aedes species. The
mosquito might have picked up the dormant virus from somewhere and spread the disease. This possibility also we cannot rule out," he points out.
Prasad says, "virus can remain dormant for several years which means an animal
(Aedes species or tiger mosquito in this case) can be carrying them for a long time without transmitting the causative agent to human beings". Tiger mosquitoes have been found in these parts for ages so the vector is not new. Only the virus which has been lying low has turned active spreading the disease after nearly four decades.

Chikungunya: Overdose of antibiotics harmful


July 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 4: As Chikungunya turns active in the country after a gap of four decades, health experts warn of severe complications if patients go in for overdose of anti-biotics and other medicines. They advise patients to take just paracetamol and bed rest for a week.
Chikungunya is self limiting febrile viral disease with no medical treatment. The
disease simply gets cured on its own after a certain period. Treatment for chikungunya is symptoms-based and this often leads to overdose of anti-biotics and pain-killers. Though chikungunya as such does not cause death on its own, doctors warn of damage to intestinal and stomach lining because of overdose of medicines. This may cause bleeding in the digestive system often leading to death.
"What the patient needs is treatment for symptoms, paracetamol at the best, and bed
rest for a week. Overdose of anti-biotics and other medicines will complicate the matters and may lead to death, though chikungunya as such does not cause mortality. Symptomatic treatment is recommended for chikungunya after excluding other more
dangerous diseases like JE and dengue, which incidentally have similar symptoms" Sir
Ronald Ross Institute of Tropical Diseases superintendent Dr PP Prasad points out.
According to Dr Prasad, not all cases of viral fevers are chikungunya cases. People
need not worry if they get viral fevers. They should follow their doctor's advice and take rest.
That not all cases of viral fevers are of chikungunya is evident from the fact that
of the 1000 samples collected from the State by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, only 30 were declared as positive cases. Since there was no antigen in the country, the NIV has to develop it to conduct the tests.
Health experts in Andhra Pradesh are perplexed over the sudden emergence of
chikungunya in the country after a gap of nearly four decades. The chikungunya virus, that has been lying dormant in these parts since 1971, has now raised its ugly head literally sending shivers down the spine of thousands of patients.
The question now racking the brains of health experts and medical teams is, "what
has triggered the dormant chikungunya virus to become active once again"? Experts have divergent views on its spread in India and Andhra
Pradesh in particular. While virologists feel that the virus might have undergone
mutation after being docile to become more powerful or Indian might have lost "herd immunity", medical doctors are of the view that the virus might have been transmitted to local populace by a foreign tourist. Still others feel that so far we have been mistaking chikungunya for dengue as both have similar symptoms.
Going by epidemiological evidence, medical experts feel that the virus must have
passed into Andhra Pradesh through an infected tourist. Since several international conferences are held in Hyderabad, a local tiger mosquito must have transmitted the disease to healthy local persons from infected foreign tourist. There is also the possibility of the virus being transmitted by infected persons from other States visiting Hyderabad.
Says Dr S Satyavathi, Hyderabad district medical and health officer, "taking the
epidemiology into view we are now concentrating our attention on places where national expositions and international conferences are held. We are sending our teams to these places as a precautionary measure".
Togaviridae, the virus that causes chikungunya, was last noticed in Kolkata in 1971
and in Chennai in 1965. Andhra Pradesh reported the first case of chikungunya around 1959. But since 1971 there have been no known cases of chikungunya in any part of the country including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh though these States have high density of the vector population - mosquito Aedes Aegyptis - for hundreds of years.
Consultant microbiologists at Apollo Hospitals Dr M Ratna Rao opines that the virus
which has been docile all these years might have become active because the "herd immunity" might have been lost. When a disease frequently occurs people develop antibodies but since there has been no known cases of chikungunya for the past
four decades this herd immunity might have been lost forcing the virus to hit back.
There is no national surveillance on viral diseases in the country and because of
this the Central or the State governments do not know what types of viral diseases or viruses are prevailing in the country or whether the known viruses have undergone mutation or turned hyperactive.
The first ever recorded case of chikungunya in human beings was in 1952 in Tanzania.
In fact, the term "chikungunya" is derived from Makonde language "Kungunyala" meaning "that which bends up", as the patient folds himself/herself up because of severe pains in joints.
Senior physician Dr Aftab Ahmed believes that chikungunya might have been prevalent
in the country all through these years but since the symptoms of chikungunya and dengue are the same, doctors might have taken it as dengue in the absence of virological tests.
"The vector (mosquito) for dengue and chikungunya is the same Aedes species. The
mosquito might have picked up the dormant virus from somewhere and spread the disease. This possibility also we cannot rule out," he points out.
Prasad says, "virus can remain dormant for several years which means an animal
(Aedes species or tiger mosquito in this case) can be carrying them for a long time without transmitting the causative agent to human beings". Tiger mosquitoes have been found in these parts for ages so the vector is not new. Only the virus which has been lying low has turned active spreading the disease after nearly four decades.

Monday, 3 July 2006

Hyderabad the largest city in India in terms of municipal area

2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 3: Hyderabad is all set to become the largest city in India in terms of municipal area if Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy has his way on Greater Hyderabad. It will also overthrow several world cities like Seoul, Manila and Buenos Aires.
However, in terms of population, Greater Hyderabad will occupy a slot behind Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi but will overtake Chennai (64 lakhs) and Bangalore (56 lakhs) to become the fourth most populous city in India and 24th in the world only after Hong Kong (68 lakhs). At present Hyderabad occupies the sixth position in the country and 45th slot in the world.
Greater Hyderabad, the proposal of which was cleared by State Cabinet on Friday, will push twin cities from a small municipal area of 172 sq km and a population of 36 lakh to 725 sq km area and 65 lakh population. It will bring "A 1" and "mega city" status to Hyderabad pumping in more funds from the Central government for Urban development. A1 status will benefit employees in terms of city compensatory, house rent and dearness allowances while mega city status will help the common man with good civic infrastructure and better transport connectivity.
While metropolitan cities around the world including Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai grew in geographical area and population in stages, the State government's decision will catapult Hyderabad by five times in area and 100 per cent in population. Urban development experts feel that though Hyderabad will become the largest city in terms of municipal area, it will take a long time for it to reach Chennai and Mumbai civic amenities-wise.
"No doubt we will get more funds from the Centre. But the growth will be slower than that of Mumbai, Delhi or Chennai. People may get good civic amenities but they will lose their voice thanks to the merger of municipalities", feels J Rama Rao of Movement for Sustainable Development.
However, transport and traffic expert NVS Reddy argues that though Hyderabad will become the largest city in terms of municipal area, in actual terms it could not be classified as the biggest city. "The general phenomenon is that a city's size is measured by its population and not its area. But the good thing is that Hyderabad will get A1 and mega city status", says Reddy, who is also the additional commissioner of transport and traffic.
Though Delhi spreads over 1483 sq km, the municipal area is quite small (around 660 sq km). Moreover, since Delhi is a State headed by a chief minister, it cannot be classified as a municipal city. In the case of Bangalore too, the municipal area is around 151 sq km though the Bangalore district spreads over 2,191 sq km. Chennai municipal corporation has a geographical area of 178.20 sq km while Mumbai spreads over 440 sq km. Kolkata covers an area of 185 sq km.
Greater Hyderabad (725 sq km) will place the Capital of Andhra Pradesh ahead of Argentina capital city of Buenos Aires (200 sq km), The Philippines capital Manila (636 sq km) and South Korean Capital Seoul (605.52 sq km).
If one takes into account the geographical extent of the present Hyderabad Urban agglomeration covering HUDA area (1864 sq km), it beats great cities like London 1620 sq km), Moscow (1035 sq km) and Karachi (1800 sq km). Only Chinese city of Shanghai (6341 sq km) and Brazilian capital Sao Paulo (3108 sq miles) and Turkish city of Istanbul (1966) are ahead of HUDA.

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