Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Plight of Indian labour: Life is not a bed of roses for Gulf NRIs

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Life is not rosy for lakhs of Indians employed in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as only five per cent of the NRIs there earn enough to lead a normal life on return to India.
An on-line and field survey conducted by Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, a Dubai-based non-governmental organisation working for bettering the lives of Indian workers in GCC countries, a whopping 95 per cent of NRIs in the Gulf do not save anything and return empty handed to India even after working for a decade. Only five per cent of the Indian labour force including the white collared bring enough money to live happily back home.
Trust chairman KV Shamsuddin told this correspondent that though only 10 per cent of Indian workers in GCC nations live with families, a majority of them fail to save sufficient money due to low wages and high expenditure on medical treatment. Contrary to the popular belief that Indian workers earn high salaries in the Gulf, a minuscule 15 per cent of NRIs get salaries upward of 4500 Dirhams. As many as 34 per cent of employees do not save at all while only two per cent of NRI families back home save something for future. The salary is as low as 350 Dirhams which works out to just 100 US dollars or Rs 4,500 a month.
"We have conducted a survey among middle and low income expatriate Indians in GCC and found only 5 per cent had some financial resources to have some monthly income back home when they return," Shamshuddin said.
The regular remittance to families in India is spent on domestic needs, acquiring a house or on marriage of sisters/daughters. And when they return home, there's hardly anything left. So they once again leave India for the Gulf for re-employment, the survey pointed out.
The most important observation of the survey is that the middle income NRIs in the Gulf sacrifice even basic necessities leading a life of deprivation for their families back home. They work hard in extreme climates, saving and remitting maximum possible funds to give good life to their families.
But only two percent of the families save from the remittance. Even though 98 per cent had agreed that the lifestyle of their families had improved, only 5 per cent felt they could lead a comfortable life if they go back for permanent settlement in India.

Muslims in search of GenX religious leadership in Andhra Pradesh

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The Muslim community in Andhra Pradesh is now in search of GenX religious leadership to guide it through the challenges being thrown in by the fast changing world.
The Muslim religious leaders in the State have let down the community on more than one occasion with their old ideas, most of them impracticable in this modern day society. The average age of top Muslim religious scholars is 60 years and some of the Moulanas cannot walk without support. And they have been at the helm of religious affairs for as long as two to three decades, literally blocking the growth of young leaders.
In the absence of second-rung leadership there are instances of madrasas and religious institutions suffering heavily following the death of the chief promoter. A few institutions have been closed down causing untold hardship to students.
"Some of the Ulema in the State had grown to such a stature that they had become institutions by themselves. And when they died the institutions they had nourished for decades also suffered slow death. This would have been avoided had there been a second-rung young leadership," observes Moulana Abdul Kareem who is in his early 20s.
With the old Ulema refusing to make way for the GenX, an attempt is being made by a group of Muslim social and religious activists to create what they call the "Third Muslim Force" in the State. They want to take on the old Muslim political leadership on one hand and the old religious leadership on the other, through the proposed TMF movement. A series of meetings have been planned and six of them have been completed.
"Be it politics or religion, we have been seeing the same old faces at least for the past 20 years. It's high time they stepped down and encourage young leaders to occupy high positions in religious institutions and madrasas. We have made a beginning with like-minded Muslim leaders in the State to create an alternative force to old Muslim politicians and old Muslim Ulema," says State IUML general secretary Abdul Sattar Mujahed.
Social activist Mubhashiruddin Khurram squarely blames the Ulema for the lack of second-rung religious leadership in the State. "Most of these Ulema send their children and grand-children to English medium schools and consequently they do not find anyone in their family to don the mantle after them. Moreover, they do not trust outsiders. This makes things complicated for them. They continue to run the show as long as they live and the moment they die the institutions suffer. This bad," he observes.
Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind State president Hafiz Peerzada Shabbir Ali advocates the system of "Majlis-e-Shura" (consultative committee) in all the religious institutions in the State to encourage a blend of old and young leadership in the community. He points out that eminent Muslim institutions in north India including the Nadwatul Ulema and Darul Uloom Deoband follow the tradition of Shura with 21 members. "Why not this practice be followed in Andhra Pradesh? We generally do not allow young leaders to occupy top positions because they easily become emotional. They do not think with heart. What we need is a blend of old and new leadership for a balanced direction to the community," Shabbir argues.
However, All-India Personal Law Board general secretary Abdul Rahim Qureshi does not agree that there's a generation gap in the Muslim religious leadership in the State. "You find many young Muslim scholars in madarasas. If some of them have turned old while serving the institutions, we cannot blame them," says he.
The notable Muslim organisations in Hyderabad with old guards at the helm of affairs include Tameer-e-Millat, Amarat-e-Millat-e-Islamia, Jamia Nizamia, Sunni Ulema Board and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. There had been no change in the top leadership for many years.
Eminent institutions like An-Noor (Moulana Taqiuddin), Idare Islami (Moulana Akbar Qasmi) and Sabeelus Salam (Moulana Rizwanul Qasmi) fell in deep trouble after the demise of their founders. The change in leadership has not been smooth in the case of Sabeelus Salam with different claimants to its vast property.
"Yes, the generation gap is being felt by young and educated people in the community. Many of the old Ulema do not know what's happening in this new world. One has to take pains to explain to them terminology like AIDS, condoms or new methods in family planning while obtaining fatwas," says educationist B Moinuddin, recalling his experience with one of the old scholars.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Women astrologers: The new entrants into the male fiefdom

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: A woman sits behind a table with a laptop and a bunch of books and old magazines. A large number of people line up with a set of queries. The woman patiently answers all questions and clarifies doubts ranging from employment to transfer and marriage to divorce.
No major corporate programme in the city is complete these days without an astrologer, mostly women, reading out horoscopes and tarot cards and interpreting individual's zodiacal signs. Big corporate houses are now hiring astrologers to clarify the astrological doubts of their employees as part of their latest efforts to keep them well-informed on what the future stores for them.
Already half a dozen women astrologers and tarot card readers are being regularly invited by corporate houses for their annual or important functions. At the end of a two or three-hour job, they are paid anything upward of Rs 4000. The astrological data is stored in the laptop and the entire prediction is out at the click of the mouse.
"Women astrologers is a new phenomenon in the State. All through the history we find only men astrologers. Now more and more women are taking to astrology, some as profession and many as a hobby. Corporate houses prefer women astrologers and tarot card readers for the simple reason that they do their job with great patience," says senior astrologer JUB Sastry, who has trained more than a dozen women astrologers so far.
With the demand for women astrologers going up in corporate houses and the big pay pack attached to it, more and more women are taking to astrology, tarot card reading and numerology. This is evident from the admissions in the astrology course offered by Potti Sriramulu Telugu University. For the first time as many as 18 women have enrolled for the university course.
Say Kaveri, one of the most sought-after woman astrologer by corporate houses, "I do not find the job difficult. Yes, it is a male bastion. But women have been invading male bastions. So there's nothing wrong if we take to astrology, tarot card reading and numerology. All my clients are happy with the forecast and remedial measures I suggest".
Anuradha Sharada, another woman astrologer, points out that a woman astrologer can do her job better than a man astrologer. "I do tarot reading and numerology too. I have both men and women clients. The subject demands patience and who is at greater patience than a woman," Anuradha observes.
Keeping in view the demand from women, some of the astrological institutes in the city have fine-tuned their courses to suit women candidates. The Parasara Institute of Astrological Studies and Research has designed a three-month astrology course for women.

Consanguineous marriages result in the birth of deaf children

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Children born of close relation wedlock are known to suffer from a variety of genetic disorders and a fresh study by a team of city doctors and geneticists shows that they are highly prone to congenital deafness too.
A joint study by the Institute of Genetics and Hospital for Genetic Diseases and the ENT department of Osmania General Hospital reveals that children born out of consanguineous marriages are two times more susceptible to congenital deafness than ordinary children. The study was conducted in Government ENT Hospital and in various schools for the deaf in and around Hyderabad. The subjects ranged from neonates to children up to 14 years of age.
Dr PP Reddy of the Institute of Genetics told this correspondent that
among various causes for deafness, consanguinity is an established high risk etiological factor.
"The results showed that 41.73 per cent of the cases were the products of consanguineous matings and 58.27 per cent were born to non-consanguineous parents. Further analysis revealed a high rate of consanguinity (44.53 per cent) in children with non syndromic deafness. The percentage of consanguineous marriages in Andhra Pradesh is 22.36 but the rate of deafness in children born out of such wedlock is 41.73 per cent," he pointed out.
He said hearing impairment had debilitating effects on children as it could retard individual's language acquisition skills and impair the overall development. It is rapidly increasing sensory deficit among human beings and accounts for one third of the entire disease burden in the world.
The world-wide prevalence of profound, congenital deafness is 11 per 10,000
children, and is attributable to genetic causes in at least 50 per cent of the cases. The survey indicated that one out of every 1000 children born in India showed profound hearing loss.
Dr Reddy said the siblings of consanguineous marriages have a significantly higher incidence of autosomal recessive diseases including hearing impairment. Marriages within the family increase the risk of hearing impairment and other diseases.
"The development of cochlea and hair cells is dependent on a genetic pathway called Planar Cell Polarity pathway. This pathway is involved in the formation of the polarised structure of the auditory sensory organ and
regulates the embryonic development. Genetic aberrations caused due to consanguinity disturb the pathway leading to congenital hearing loss," he said.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Heart diseases in India prevalent 28,000 years before Indus Valley Civilisation

January 20, 2009
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 19: Indians have been dying of heart attacks long
before the Indus Valley Civilisation, 5000 years ago.

According to a new research study by the city-based Centre for Cellular
and Molecular Biology, heart diseases in India predate the Indus Valley
Civilisation or the Vedic period by about 28,000 years.

The history of sudden deaths due to heart attacks in Indian populations
traces back to 33,000 years, when people began inhabiting the Indian
sub-continent. Since then heart attacks leading to sudden death have
been a common genetic phenomenon passing on from generation to
generation, making Indians more susceptible to heart problems.

According to Dr Lalji Singh, director of the Centre for Cellular and
Molecular Biology, there was a sudden and unexplainable change
(mutation) in the ancestral populations in India 33,000 years ago and
this is proving to be the "worst luck in the world". The gene in question
provides a protein to bind together the heart muscles. When it becomes
defective, it fails to bind the heart muscles making the heart to work
harder to pump blood. And at one stage in life, heart attack lead to
sudden deaths.

However, indigenous populations in the Andamans and in North-
Eastern States are free of this genetic mutation and hence not
susceptible to cardiac problems from which other Indians suffer.
"The indigenous populations of Andaman and Nicobar inhabited the
islands about 60,000 years ago and since they were isolated, they
escaped from the genetic mutation that occurred in those who came to
the mainland India 30,000 years later," Dr Kumaraswamy Thangaraj,
one of the team members which conducted the study on cardiac
diseases among Indians.

The wayward gene has persisted in the population for generations
because its effects usually develop only after people have had their
children.

According to the CCMB scientists, the lifetime risk of developing heart
failure is roughly one in five for a person aged 40 years. Now that the
defect has been identified, there is a new glimmer of hope. It could be
detected very early during pregnancy. If parents choose, a foetus
having two copies FO the defective gene (homozygous or both from
father and mother) could be aborted after genetic counselling. Carriers
of the defect could be identified at a young age by genetic screening
and advised to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

"Perhaps eventually new drugs could be developed to enhance the
degradation of the abnormal protein and postpone the onset of
symptoms. Cardiac stem cell transplant might be used very effectively
to expand the life span of the individuals who carry the deletion. There
is a market of 60 million people waiting for such therapy," they told
reporters here on Monday.

Two sets of genes are inherited, one from father and one from mother.
If both the sets of genes are defective, children die even before they
celebrate their fifth birthday. If one set is defective, the onset of heart
problems begin after 45 years of age.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Gene deletion: Scientists find genetic basis for heart attacks in Indians


January 19, 2009
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 18: Scientists at the city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology have unravelled the genetic mystery behind the high incidence of heart diseases among people living in the Indian sub-continent.

People in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other regions in the South Asia are relatively more prone to heart problems including heart attacks than those living elsewhere in the world. An international collaborative study by the CCMB has now found a genetic link between the high rate of heart ailments and those residing in the Indian sub-continent.

Since heart ailments in a majority of Indians suffering from cardiac problems are linked to genes, lakhs of people living in the country are destined to invite cardiovascular diseases. The pioneering research study was published in the latest edition of Nature Genetics on Sunday.

According to Dr K Thangaraj, who pioneered the study, heart diseases among Indians are linked to a single genetic mutation. This mutant gene is found only in people inhabiting the Indian sub-continent. An estimate puts the number of people bearing this gene in the Indian sub-continent including Sri Lanka is six crore. This in other words means a majority of Indians are bound to have heart-related problems at least in their later life.

Thus far, heart diseases in India and other parts of the Indian sub-continent have been linked to lifestyle changes and sedentary life. But the CCMB study has now added a genetic factor too, thus doubling the risk of the cardiac problems. Since a majority of Indians are predisposed to the villain mutant gene, their chances of contracting heart problems increase if their lifestyle is bad and unhealthy.

The wayward gene has been identified as MYBPC3, which provides the blueprint for a certain kind of heart protein. When the gene mutates, it produces a protein that's abnormal and faulty. And this triggers heart problems.

The CCMB team has also found an answer why young Indians generally do not get heart problems. Young people have the capacity to degrade the abnormal protein and thus lead a healthy life. As Indians grow older, they lose the capability of degrading the protein. The consequences are high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy (weakening of heart muscles) and in extreme cases, heart attack leading to death.

Dr Thangaraj and his team pointed out that this bad mutant gene is present in all groups of people irrespective of their caste, creed, language and region. As many as 25 scientists sampled more than 2000 people from 26 countries spread over the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia. The villainous gene was found only among people in the Indian sub-continent and to some extent in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Andhra chillis are safe

From Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Chilli powder may have lost its pungency after Britain recently rejected the contaminated Indian stocks, but the red hot spice continues to be safe at least for the Hyderabadis.
None of the branded chilli powder sold in twin cities is contaminated with poisonous or cancer-causing sudan variants if the laboratory tests are any indication. Even chilli powder available elsewhere in the State is sudan-free.
"People need not worry about the chilli powder they use in kitchen. It is safe and free of adulterants. We have conducted stringent laboratory tests on 2500 samples of chilli powder and only seven samples were contaminated with artificial colouring agent sudan. In Hyderabad only one sample was adulterated", Indian Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM) deputy food controller Mukhtar Mohiuddin told Deccan Chronicle.
The State Food Laboratory at Nacharam receives about 13,000 samples of various food items including 2500 samples of chilli powder every year. It found just seven sudans each in 2003 and 2004. This in other words means that a mere 0.24 per cent of chilli samples are adulterated.
According to official records, none of the chilli samples during the past five years was adulterated with brick powder or saw dust. "People generally believe that chilli powder is mixed with brick powder or saw dust. This is not true. A decade ago adulteration of spices and condiments was quite common. Now that there is stiff competition among manufacturers, adulteration has almost stopped at least in cities like Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur and Rajahmundry", confirms a senior official at the State Food Laboratory.
The seven sudan contaminated chilli powder stocks were recovered from Tenali, Vijayawada, Madanapalli, Guntur, Addanki and Tanuku, besides Hyderabad during 2004. Sudans are yet to be found in the 400 and odd chilli samples tested so far since January 1 this year.
Food Adulteration Act deals with three types of colours - natural, synthetic and oil soluble. Sudan variants sudan-1, sudan-2 and sudan-3 are oil soluble colours and unscrupulous manufacturers with market in interior villages find it easy to mix them with third quality chillis to obtain bright red colour.
The State has 300 food inspectors and most of them are controlled by respective municipal bodies and notified gram panchayats. The IPM has control over just 70 food inspectors who are posted to collect samples from hamlets and small panchayats.
"Everytime there's some news about adulteration, people look at IPM for solution. Our hands are tied. We do not have control over civic and local bodies. IPM cannot conduct raids even in Hyderabad. We need to procure perior permission. How can you expect us to carry out raids?", argues a senior IPM official.

Social hierarchy has genetic basis too

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The Indian caste and social hierarchy has genetic basis too. The genetic make-up of people belonging to upper castes is similar and closely related among themselves as compared with the people hailing from the so-called lower castes.
Brahmins, who occupy the topmost position in the Indian Varna system, are genetically more closer to the next immediate group Kshatriyas, than they are to people belonging to "lower" castes. The genetic distance between Kshatriyas and the third Varna group Vysyas is closer than the genetic distance between Vysyas and Brahmins. The so-called lower social hierarchical Muslim groups like Dudekula and Shaik also closely resemble in genetic make-up to other lower rung groups in society.
However, people of Andhra Pradesh, irrespective of their caste or socio-economic hierarchy are genetically related among themselves. For instance, Brahmins from Andhra Pradesh are genetically closer to people of other castes and social hierarchy in the State as compared with Brahmins of say, north India.
These interesting genetic statistics came to light during a research study on "genetic stratification versus social stratification" of people in Andhra Pradesh conducted by the Biological Anthropology Unit of Indian Statistical Institute in collaboration with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. The study was published in the "Human Biology" magazine, USA.
As part of the study, DNA samples of 948 individuals belonging to 27 caste populations from Andhra Pradesh were analysed. The nature and extent of genomic diversity within and between these populations have been examined with reference to socio-economic and geographic affiliations.
Andhra Pradesh has people with several endogamous castes, tribes and religious groups presenting enormous variety in its populations, socio-cultural patterns and organisation. Several anthropological investigations suggest that the (caste) populations of Andhra Pradesh that practice close consanguineous marriages prefer village endogamy and restrict marriage contacts to small distances and hence are highly inbred. This has probably led to a reduction in effective population size, creating breeding isolates within apparently single endogamous castes and sub-castes.
The castes or socio-economic categories studied as part of the research project (in decreasing order of hierarchy) were: Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vysya, Akuthota, Kamma, Kapu, Pokanati, Panta, Vanne, Balija, Ekila, Kurava, Thogata, Yadava, Ediga, Gangla, Jangam, Chakali, Mangali, Vaddi, Madiga, Mala, Erukala, Sugali and Yanadi. Two Muslim groups, Dudekula and Shaik, were also included in the study.
"Compared to other Indian and world populations, the populations of Andhra Pradesh form a distinct cluster clearly separated from the rest. The other populations in the tree seem to be aligned on broad geographic, ethnic, or linguistic affiliations. For example, Asian populations from north-eastern India form a distinct cluster, as do the other Asian populations from sub-Himalayan India and East Asia. Populations from Western India, Central India and North India also form distinct subclades (sub-group of people with common ancestor), although geographic contiguity is apparent with their placement as neighbouring clades," observes project leader Prof B Mohan Reddy of Indian Statistical Institute.
According to him, some of the population from south India that have European physical features (Iyenger, Lingayat, Gowda and Muslims), however, form a subclade along with the three American groups (US whites, US Hispanics and African Americans).
Although genetic distance tended to increase with increasing difference in the social hierarchy, the differences were not statistically significant. Even this meek trend disappears when the DA (genetic) distance is considered or when average distances for different pairs of populations between different hierarchical groups is computed.
Furthermore, the average distance between populations of the same socio-economic group is not significantly different from or lower than the average distance between the populations of different groups. However, each of these hierarchical groups shows the largest genetic distance with the tribes compared to the mutual distances among them, suggesting genetic isolation and differentiation of the tribes and castes.
According to Mohan Reddy, Akuthota Kapu, Vanne Kapu and Pokanati (the three sub-groups of the Reddy caste) appear as relatively more distinct outliers above the theoretical regression line, suggesting that external gene flow played a role in their differentiation. The Gandla, Yanadi, Mangali and Kapu appear as outliers below the theoretical regression line, indicating that isolation and stochastic processes played a role in sculpting their genetic composition. The rest of the populations are scattered above and below but in the vicinity of the regression line, in conformity to the model and suggesting a uniform degree of gene flow among them.
"When we computed the distances for the hierarchical caste groups, treating the three Varna categories in the upper castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vysyas) separately, no particular pattern of genetic distances, adhering to the implicit hierarchy, emerged between them. This suggests a lack of strong genetic signatures consistent with the traditional Varna system (constituting only Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vysyas and Sudra categories), although a semblance of genetic stratification was evident with respect to socio-economic hierarchy (upper, middle and lower castes)," he pointed out.

Nanotechnology to replace poisonous chemotherapy in cancer cases

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Cancer patients need no longer undergo highly poisonous chemotherapy once the phase-II clinical trials using nanotechnology prove successful.
According to Andhra-born US biotechnologist Dr Krishna R Dronamraju, doctors have successfully carried out phase-I trials using Nanoshells to treat cancer patients.

"The technology will be available for cancer patients in the next three years," he said.

Dr Krishna, who is currently in Hyderabad, is the adviser to the US Government on biotechnology and is an authority on frontier biological sciences including synthetic biology and nanotechnology. He has announced opening of a centre in Hyderabad for AP-US cooperation in new technology for mutual research and sharing of information on treatment of diseases like cancer, AIDS, malaria, muscular dystrophy and diabetes.

In Nanotechnology to treat cancer, nanoshells are injected into cancer tumors. Laboratory tests have shown that cancer tumor is destroyed by nanoshells when heated to high temperatures using lasers. While chemotherapy involves spread of toxic chemicals to all over the body, nanotechnology pinpoints the tumor and destroys the cancerous cells. The healthy cells are left untouched.

"Nanotechnology combined with synthetic biology are going to play a major role in treating common ailments in the next few years. Synthetic biology is more advanced than traditional gene therapy. A new species can be created using synthetic biology and experiments so far have been successful. We can create new genes and cells, in fact organisms, through synthetic biology," Dr Krishna observes.

Cancer becomes major cause of mortality and morbidity

Cancer is one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity in this world.

The annual incidence of cancer in India is about 7.0 lacs with atleast 2 milion people suffering with it at any given time. About 4 lacs die every year in India due to cancer. About 30% of cancers are diet related.

The components of the food we eat on one side cause cancer but on the other also protect us from this dreaded disease. The dietary factors which may promote cancer are the fatty acids, i.e. saturated and to some extent n-6 PUFA, while n-3 has a distinct preventive role.

Diets low in micronutrients increase the risk of cancers in a milieu of pro-carcinogens. Se, Zn, ascorbic acid etc. act as antioxidants have anticancer properties. Fruits and vegetables are the most beneficial in cancer prevention.

Isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetable, phenolic compounds in garlic, green tea, soya, cereals, etc. flavonoids in fruits, vegetables, green tea, soya bean, mono-terpenes in garlic, citrus fruits, mint, , organo sulfides, isoflavones, indole contribute to the anti-cancer properties.

Food analysis would provide the basis for choice of food, which may benefit significantly by reducing cancer risk.

Targeted therapies target aggressive breast cancer

1 out of 5 women in advanced stage of breast cancer is HER2 positive

Hyderabad: For a woman Breast Cancer is the greatest fears of all. It is the leading cause of death in women aged 35-55 and the second leading cause of death in
women of all ages. As many as eight to nine percent of women will develop
breast cancer during their lifetime, making it the second most common cancer
in the world.

In India, breast cancer accounts for 20 per cent of the total cancer-related
diseases and is largely prevalent among urban women.

According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part
of the World Health Organisation, there were approximately 79,000 women
per year affected by breast cancer in India in 2001 and over 80,000 women in
2002. Breast cancer has certain patterns in its incidence.

The incidence of breast cancer is higher in the urban areas (metropolitan
cities) than in rural areas, with Delhi having the highest incidence, followed
by Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Breast cancer occurs at a
younger age in India as compared to developed countries. Breast cancer is
not just one single disease - there are several types of breast cancer (such as
‘HER2-positive’), which grow at different rates, and respond differently to
treatments.

HER2 positive breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer. About
one out of every five women with advanced breast cancers is HER2 positive.

HER2 stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. HER2 is a
protein produced by a specific gene with cancer-causing potential. It is a gene
that helps control how cells grow, divide, and repair themselves. It directs the
production of special proteins, called HER2 receptors. In this condition,
excessive quantities of a special growth promoting gene called HER2 is
present in the cells of the breast.

Research has shown that in case of women with HER2 positive breast cancer:

The tumors grow faster
There is an increased risk of spread
There are greater chances of the tumor coming back

Compared to women with normal breast cancer (HER2 negative) HER2
positive condition reduces the life expectancy of the woman by
approximately half.

Treatment options

The search for a cure for this deadly disease has led to the development of a
breakthrough line of therapy called targeted therapy, which helps combat
complicated forms of the disease effectively. Targeted therapies have
emerged as the latest treatment option for people suffering from cancers. The
therapy terminates the cancerous cells without affecting the quality of life of
the patient.

Herceptin is a unique biologic targeted therapy for women with HER2-
positive breast cancer. It differs from traditional treatments. Cancer cells are
cells that grow in an uncontrolled fashion. Herceptin stops or slows the
growth of certain breast cancer cells by blocking the chemical signals they
need to grow. It specifically targets the cancerous cells that overexpress the
HER2 protein and blocks the tumour cell growth. It signals the body’s
immune system to kill the tumor cell and works with chemotherapy to slow
the growth of the tumor.

Since Herceptin targets mostly tumor cells that overexpress the HER2
protein, it does not affect normal healthy cells. Patients on this therapy alone
may be less likely to experience the side effects typical of other types of
treatments, such as hair loss, fatigue, or a decline in certain blood counts.

Benefits of target therapies over existing therapies.

Target therapies act only on the cancerous cells, thus the following side
affects are normally not experienced by patients who are administered this
therapy:

Hair loss (alopecia)
Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite (anorexia)
Low white blood cell count (neutropenia)
Low red blood cell count (Anemia)
Fatigue
Diarrhea or constipation
Mouth sores (stomatitis or mucositis)
Inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis)
Fever, body aches and pains
In men, lowering the number of sperm cells and reduce their ability to move
causing infertility
In women, it affects the ovaries reducing the amount of hormones they
produce.
Menstrual periods become irregular or stop completely
Targeted therapy is helping patients minimize side affects and greatly
enhance their quality of life.

The best protection against the diseases is awareness. Timely detection of
such a life threatening condition helps towards early treatment.
Early treatment of the condition not only prevents further disease progression
and complications but also gives better response rates.

Concern over increase in childhood cancers

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Researchers and doctors throughout the world have now focused their attention on childhood cancer which is rapidly expanding in both developed and developing nations.
In India alone as many as 1.60 lakh new cancer child-patients are added to the existing list every year and of them nearly a lakh succumb to the dangerous disease. While Western nations maintain statistics on cancer with a particular emphasis on cancer in children, unfortunately in India neither the Indian Council of Medical Research nor the Indian Medical Association have ever bothered to conduct a full-fledged survey of the problem.
Oncologists and doctors have selected the theme, "My Child Matters", giving emphasis on childhood cancers this World Cancer Day being observed on February 4. Cancer specialists in Hyderabad and elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh have decided to take up awareness campaign among parents and in schoolchildren telling them about the steps to be taken to prevent cancers, and in case cancer strikes the steps to be followed to escape death.
"Childhood cancer refers to all cancers in children aged 14 and under. Unfortunately, information on the occurrence of childhood cancer in developing countries like India is largely inadequate. More population-based cancer registries are needed to measure the real number of children with cancer," argues Dr Vijay Anand P Reddy, director of Apollo Cancer Hospital.
The common childhood cancers include leukaemia, lymphomas, central nervous system tumours, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, renal cancer, bone tumours and soft tissue sarcomas. Although there are different types of cancer, at least 85 per cent of all childhood cancers have similar signs and symptoms.
Explaining the symptoms of cancer, Dr Vijay Anand says, the main warning signs include continued, unexplained weight loss and fever, pallor, headaches with early morning vomiting, unusual swelling and abdominal mass, swollen head, development of excessive bruising or bleeding, white glow in the eye, and sudden changes in balance or behaviour. "Since most of the symptoms of cancer can be interpreted as common child ailments, parents should insist, where possible, that physicians carry out tests to rule out cancer," he suggests.
Childhood cancer is more than twice as curable as all adult cancers and it is vitally important that childhood cancer is detected early and that access to treatment is improved. Although childhood cancers represent a small percentage of all cancers, most of them can be cured if prompt and essential treatment is accessible. About 80 per cent of children with cancer live in developing countries with a survival rate below 50 per cent. However, the survival rate in developed nations is more than 80 per cent.
Dr Mukesh Batra, chairman-cum managing director of Dr Batras’ Positive Health Clinic, says globally more than 10 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year and it is estimated that there will be 15 million new cases every year by 2020.
"Cancer causes six million deaths every year, 12% of deaths world-wide. In the developed countries cancer is the second leading cause of death accounting for 21 per cent (2.5 million) of all mortality. In the developing countries cancer ranks third as a cause of death and accounts for 9.5 per cent (3.8 million) of all deaths. Tobacco alcohol, infections and hormones contribute towards occurrence of common cancers all over the world," Dr Batra observes.
In India cancer has become one of the 10 leading causes of death. It is estimated that there are nearly 15 lakhs to 20 lakhs cancer cases at any given point of time. Over seven lakh new cases of cancer and three lakh deaths occur annually due to cancer.
"In reality, cancer cure exists and many cases of cancer have been successfully reversed. The answers might not be only found in drugs, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, although, in certain cases they are useful. Statistics show that the most successful recipe to cancer cure is the synergistic approach, combining a holistic lifestyle with different natural treatments," says Dr Batra.
An arsenal consisting of a diet rich in raw organic foods and juices, regular exercise, therapeutic doses of antioxidants and other natural supplements, regular detoxification, a healthy emotional state through counselling and meditation can dramatically increase the chances of combating and reversing cancer.

All about evil spirits and their geographical friends

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: What have geographically localised evil spirits like "pretatma", "chudail", "dayan" and "bhoot" to do with the Islamic concept of Jinns or Genie?
If Aurangabad-based Islamic scholar Maulana Mahfooz-Ur-Rehman Farooqui is to be believed, these purely Indian folklore evil forces are nothing but various adaptations by Jinns and Satan. If a Jinn takes the shape of a wicked woman, he or she appears like a "chudail" and in case the Jinn decides to look like a haunted spirit, he or she will take the shape of "bhoot" or "dayan". If the Jinn sheds its body, the appearance will that of "pretatma".
Muslims the world over believe only in the existence of Satan (Shaitan) and Jinns, the supernatural creatures that socialises like human beings. But they do not believe in evil spirits like "pretatma", "chudail" or "bhoot" and dismiss them as a mere superstitious belief.
In this backdrop, Maulana Farooqui's assertion that the Indian spirits are nothing but local adaptation by the Jinns gains significance. The Maulana, who is also a member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, has come out with a 33-verse Quranic formula to drive away the local evil spirits. He had been in the city to popularise his concept.
"All the evil spirits are one and the same. Call them by any name, the evil influence they exert on human beings is the same. What we call chudail, dayan, bhoot and pretatma in Hindi and Urdu are known to the Arabs as Jinns. The Quranic verses recited to drive away the evil Jinns are also effective on chudail and other local spirits," he told this correspondent.
According to his Quranic formula, one should recite twice a day verses from the last two Surahs or chapters (113 and 114) of the Quran, besides select verses from the Chapter Jinn, the Chapter Saffat, Chapter Baqara and Surah Hashar.
The Maulana says the treatment is guaranteed and at no cost. The symptoms of possession by evil spirits include mental disturbance, poor livelihood, family discord and forgetfulness.
"What is important is that one should approach a true "aamil". Fake aamils cheat people. They are nothing but human evil spirits. If you have the knowledge of Quran, recite the verses on your own. Or approach a genuine aamil," Maulana Farooqui said.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Gramapriya: Tastier days for Hyderabadi biryani

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Hyderabad's famous tandoori chicken is all set to get a new taste with the city-based Project Directorate on Poultry developing a special variety of chicken that resembles the desi hen in flavour and delicacy.
The PDP's "Gramapriya" looks like a domestic hen (naatu kodi) both in appearance and taste. Because of moderate body weight, the males of Gramapriya are best suited for preparation of tandoori type chicken dishes. The females produce good number of eggs, under free range farm conditions in rural and tribal areas.
"The bird is predominantly an egg producer, developed for village rearing. It has high disease resistance and immune competence and this gives the strength for the maximum survivability of this bird under semi-free range conditions," according to PDP project director Dr RP Sharma.
Since the bird feeds on insects and other natural food in the backyards unlike a farm bird, Gramapriya's meat fibre becomes strong giving it the taste of a desi fowl. And because of its low body weight the bird is tender and good for tandoori dishes, which Hyderabad is famous for.
The PDP, a member of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has earlier developed Vanaraja, a poultry variety primarily meant for meat. The Gramapriya is meant for eggs. The male Gramapriya attains 1.2 kgs to 1.5 kgs at eight to 10 weeks of age on broiler chick feed. The eggs are tinted and have fairly good size.
Gramapriya produces about 160 to 180 eggs in a year with the resources available under free-range conditions. Depending on the environment, feeding and health conditions Gramapriya can lay up to a maximum of 200 to 220 eggs up to 72 weeks of age.

Bharatanatyam: Dance your way to medical cure

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: What has Bharatanatyam to do with cancer or sculpture with jaundice? Well Bharatanatyam may soon be prescribed to fight away the cancerous cells, sculpture to treat jaundice, painting to cure digestive problems and music to enhance the overall immune system.
"Human body is not a chemical machine. So doctors need not feed it with chemical medicaments to treat diseases. Human body has a rhythm and it responds to rhythmic movements and sounds. Give a patient a perfect dose of rhythm and limited quantity of medicine and the system responds quickly," says medical scientist Dr Michaela Clockler.
Dr Clockler leads a team of medical experts from around the world in "Anthroposophic Medicine", which is fast emerging as an "alternative" medical system in Europe, Australia and Africa. Over two dozen anthroposophic doctors from different countries have converged in the city to popularise the medicine in this part of the world.
According to Dr Clockler, Bharatanatyam, sculpture, pottery, music, singing and painting are the best "rhythmic" exercises which will control the disease in a patient. The practitioners of Anthroposophic medicine also prescribe, though in limited quantity, some specially prepared medicines based on minerals and plant and animal extracts.
"I am a practising allopathic paediatrician and I have reduced antibiotics to just five per cent of the cases after I took to Anthroposophic system of medicine. Patients are not only saving money but also avoiding unnecessary drug resistance," she points out.
The Anthroposophic medicine, though had its origin in 1925, is yet to become popular in Asia. Now an increasing number of doctors in Europe, Africa and Australia are practicing it. Dr Clockler points out that there's a doctor sleeping in every human being and anthroposophic medicine simple awakens him.
"There are several ways of awakening the sleeping doctor. The best way is rhythm based on sculpture, painting, music, speech and movement therapy known as eurhythmy," Dr Clockler observes.
Unlike other systems of medicine which gives importance to body, anthroposophic system revolves around body, mind, soul and spirit. It focuses on the sources of health and well-being in body, soul and spirit. On the one hand it draws on an ancient spiritual concept of health being a result of processes of balance, and illness as the result of imbalance; on the other hand, it represents the new medical thinking of the 21st century.
"We need a paradigm shift from the pathogenetic towards the salutogenetic concept. Salutogenesis looks at what maintains health even in times of stress and outer or inner problems: What allows people to remain healthy despite disasters, starvation or exposure to pathogenic factors? What gives human nature resilience and strength? Where are the sources of self-regeneration and Self-healing?," says Dr Peter, another practitioner of this system of medicine.

Boycott Jewish goods, buy Indian goods: Religious scholars

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Be Indian and buy Indian. This is the latest decree of the Muslim clergy in Hyderabad, the city with the second largest Muslim population in the country.
Angered by the Israeli raids and the continued support of the USA to the Jewish State, several Muslim organisations and religious scholars in the city have called upon the community to buy only those goods that are Indian.
A call has also been given to the Imams of all the mosques in Andhra Pradesh to make fervent appeals to the devout during the Friday sermons to boycott Jewish and American products. The Imams will exhort Muslims to purchase only the Swadesi products. Muslim shopkeepers will be asked not to stock these products. Muslim marriages and functions are already bereft of American/Jewish soft drinks and many families have shifted to alternative softdrinks.
A list of 120 Jewish and American products has been prepared by Muslim organisations for distribution outside mosques as part of the campaign to create awareness in the community against Israel and its prime supporter, the USA. The list includes products like Johnson and Johnson, Nescafe, Kotex, Kitkat, Maggie, Revlon, Garnier, Huggies, Nestle, Mc Donald, Coca Cola, Pepsi, KFC, Kinlay and Tommy Hilfiger.
"This is going to be the biggest boycott of Jewish and American products in the State. We will endorse the Swadesi products during our campaign. The Communists have also extended their support to our economic boycott. We will show the Jewish lobby in Israel and in the USA what our economic might is. Our aim is to weaken Israel and America economically so that they come to senses and respect human rights," says Hafiz Peer Shabbir Ahmad, president of Andhra Pradesh unit of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.
The Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen, an important political force among local Muslims, Tameer-e-Millat and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind have also given a boycott call. Eminent Muslim clergy Moulana Hameeduddin Aquil Hussami wants Muslims to keep off anything that is remotely connected with the Jewish lobby.
"Jews are economically strong and by virtue of this they dictate terms to the American government. If Muslims, who make up one-fifth of the world's population, boycott Jewish and American products, the Israeli economy will be crippled. By buying Jewish and American goods we are simply making the `enemy of human rights' even stronger. Hyderabadi Muslims have made a beginning in the direction," senior Muslim clergy and All-India Religious Leaders' Association president Moulana Peerzada Shabbir Naqshbandi told this paper.
Many Muslims feel that the Almighty has already started retaliating against the Jewish lobby in the form of a report prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment. "The CSE report that soft drinks contain pesticide residue is nothing but an avenge of God as it comes in the wake of Israeli aggression. People have already stopped buying these soft drinks and many governments including Gujarat have banned their sales in educational institutions," points out Fazil Hussain Parvez, whose Urdu weekly, "Gawah" has launched a concerted campaign against the Jewish products.
Taking advantage of the anti-Jewish feelings in the Muslim community, Maharashtra-based Makkah Cola is planning to set up its bottling plant in Hyderabad. Says Makkah Cola managing director Zafar Shaikh, "the demand for our products have gone up after the attack on Lebanon. We launched Makkah Cola in Hyderabad in the wake of cartoon episode when Muslim sentiments ran high".

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The story behind CrPC Sec 144

January 1, 2009
By Syed Akbar
The Britishers prohibited assembly of more than five persons on Indian streets under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The aim, when the CrPC was first devised in 1861, was to curb any Indian uprising against the British sovereignty.

The British government feared that a group of five or more Indians would create trouble for it. The colonial rulers might have introduced the proviso as they were not well-versed with the local languages and thus, unaware of what was transpiring among Indians when they gather in streets in groups.

Almost 150 years have passed since the legislation was promulgated and yet the government in democratic India feels comfortable with it. Section 144 of CrPC continues to be the most widely used provision of law, of course during emergent situations, across the country.

Continuing the British legacy, the Indian government introduced the Salt Cess Act, barely five years after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, who fought against the British over imposition of tax on salt. The Salt Cess Act 1953 is still in vogue.

Similarly, gay and lesbian relationship is now scientifically recognised as a "biological behaviour" and yet the Indian government continues with the
more than century old British law which declares unnatural sex a punishable
offence. Live-in relationship has become a common phenomenon and the
present Indian laws do not recognise it, thereby denying benefits to the
couple, particularly the woman partner.

Sixty years after Independence, the legacy of the British laws lives on in
India. Many Indian laws continue to exist with high British flavour and the
Indian government has not found the need to overhaul them, except for a few
changes here and there. Just sample this.

The Indian government is happy with the Rules and regulations, framed by
the Britishers way back in 1855, on telecommunications. Major provisions of
the Indian Telegraph Act, 1855 still continue to govern the nation though
India had progressed from manual telephone exchanges to hitech cellular and
satellite-based communication technology. Of course, there have been
amendments now and then, but the British flavour still continues. Many
States still follow the old Indian Police Act, 1861. As many as 80 laws have
become obsolete and need to be either amended or scrapped.

"Then there is the Indian Penal Code which was first made in 1860. It makes
adultery a crime. Strangely enough, it stipulates that only the man, who has
sex with a married woman, is to be imprisoned. The Indian Contract Act was
made in 1872 and the Official Secrets Act was promulgated in 1923. The
Regulations that governs the banking Industry date back to 1949," says Bojja
Tarakam, an expert in Constitutional matters, emphasising the need to
upgrade and Indianise the existing laws.

Section 128B of IPC, which deals with conspiracy against State is also highly
misused. The British introduced it in India as people were against its regime.
Unfortunately, the law is now applied to all and sundry, while it needs to be
amended or expunged in a democratic nation like India.

The British government made Coroners Act for areas under its influence -
Madras and Calcutta. Indians from areas other than the jurisdiction of Madras
and Calcutta high courts are not governed by the Coroners Act. And now,
130 years after the Act was first promulgated, Indian government still thinks
of extending it to the whole of the country. The Act enables Indians dying in
mysterious circumstances in a foreign country or within the country to expect
a fair probe under the supervision of an independent public figure of repute.

He further says, "Britishers prepared CrPC and IPC to their advantage. For
the first time after the British left the country we made major amendments to
laws in 1973. Since then we have slowed down the process, making small
amendments now and then. There should be a complete overhaul of the
laws."

Supporting Tarakam, senior criminal lawyer AK Basha feels "the Indian laws
in their present form are not self-assertive". India should do away with the
archaic laws and fine-tune its legislation on present day realities like gay
relationship, suicide, live-ins and terrorism.

The best solution, according to former Advocate-General S Ramachandra
Rao, is to make fresh changes in Indian Constitution. "Constitution needed to
be changed with regard to civil and criminal laws and legislation dealing with
law and order. The Centre should have proper laws for control over States in
matters of powers to borrow loans from international agencies."

He also wants the civil and criminal procedure codes too to be amended.
"Though law and order is a state subject the Centre should take over the
moral responsibility. Powers to make laws should be Constitutionally
controlled. Income Tax and company laws should be severely revised,
besides making an effective law to deal with the problem of terrorism,"
emphasises Ramachandra Rao.

When it comes to legislation governing marriage and divorce, there are
several ambiguities. "There has been, and remains, tremendous diversity of
laws relating to registration of marriages. The present state of the law
on the subject is indeed complicated and confusing," says Law Commission
of India Chairman Dr Justice AR Lakshmanan.

The Law Commission of India has taken an initiative on reforming the
present laws including the one on suicide. Justice Lakshmanan in one of his
reports to the Union Law Ministry recommended steps for repeal of the
"anachronistic law" governing suicide (Section 309, IPC), which would
"relieve the distressed of his suffering". The Law Commission noted that
only a handful of countries in the world, like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia,
Singapore and India have persisted with this "undesirable law".

Legal experts strongly advocate that a comprehensive uniform code to govern
CrPC and IPC is the need of the hour. After the British left, the Indian
government for the first time made major changes to these laws in 1973.
After that there have been minor amendments from time to time. From
British rule to 1973 and since 1973 there have been several changes in
society and the laws need to be changed in tune with the changed
circumstances. they argue. Moreover, the definition and nature of "offence"
has also changed of late. Offences other than those listed in the book are
committed now.

CV Mohan Reddy, advocate-general, Andhra Pradesh, says the Criminal
Procedure Code should undergo several amendments and changes to expedite
trials, the burden of proof should be shifted on the accused (now police). In
foreign countries the burden of proof lies on the accused.

"A comprehensive law is needed to deal with terror activities. The present
laws are sufficient to deal with the situation. But even though we need a
comprehensive law nation-wide to make our fight against terrorism effective.
Incorporate laws making changes in arrests/detention and police custody for
a longer period".

He also wants statements recorded by higher rank officials to be treated as
evidence against the accused. The confessional statement, in the present laws,
of the accused recorded by police or investigation officer cannot be
admissible in a court of law. "Similarly in procedural aspects too, there need
to be amendment to make it easier for the investigation officer to book
culprits without compromising on the principals of natural justice."

C Padmanabha Reddy, eminent criminal lawyer, is however of the view that
there is no need for changes or amendments to the Indian Penal code. There's
sufficient protection in the law for the citizens. The CrPC and IPC have been
amended from time to time. There's lack of conviction and commitment on
the part of implementing agencies. This is leading to problems in
implementation. But this does not mean that the laws are not strong enough
to punish the guilty.

Senior tax specialist Challa Kodanda Ram also endorses the views of Mr
Padmanabha Reddy. He says the Indian laws are pucca and law-makers have
taken enough safeguards to include sufficient care and provisions while
making the Acts. In a democratic country like India the present laws are
enough to govern the citizens and protect their interests.

But the implementation agencies and those framing rules based on Acts are
leaving several loopholes and lacunae. These shortcomings in rules should be
plugged. The implementing agencies should do their task well.

"Unfortunately officials do not show much interest in laws that are of public
value and importance, as much they show while framing laws and rules that
pertain to their salaries and perks," he says.





========

Marriage & Divorce

========

Present Indian laws link civil marriages with the applicable law of
succession. This has been greatly inhibiting or discouraging certain
communities from opting for a civil marriage under the Special Marriage Act,
1954. They fear that it would deprive them/ of their laws of succession.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, enacted way back in
1886, remains in force till this day. Though a new Registration of Births and
Deaths Act was passed in 1969, it has no provision relating to registration of
marriages.

The Law Commission has suggested certain amendments in both the Special
Marriage Act, 1954 and the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 so that their
provisions become uniformly available to a larger number of marriages of all
Indian communities. "If accepted and implemented, the recommendations
will go a long way in popularising civil marriages," feels legal expert M
Madhurima.

Numerous marriages take place in India which are outside the ambit of
various personal laws but cannot be governed by the Special Marriage Act
either for the reason of not having been formally solemnised or registered
under it. "The question which law would then apply to such marriages
remains unresolved. Both the Special Marriage Act 1954 and the Foreign
Marriage Act 1969 are meant equally for all Indian communities. Yet they
contain some provisions which greatly inhibit members of certain
communities to avail of their provisions."


==========

Live-Ins

==========

Legal experts are in uniformity over the need for legislation on live-in
relationship, since it has now become a reality and turning increasingly
popular in metropolitan and major cities in India.

"Indian society has been tolerating the live-in concept since ages. There's
nothing wrong if it is legalised. If a man and a woman live together like
husband and wife, why should there be any objection? We have almost
legalised prostitution. Licences are given in red-light areas. State is
encouraging flesh trade. When two souls live together with love and
affection, it's better that it should be legalised," says Madhurima.

The Maharashtra government has already announced that it would change
laws to give a new definition to the term "wife". In the absence of a national
legislation, Indian women, who are in non-martial relationships, cannot seek
alimony, a share of property or child maintenance, in case the couple decides
to separate.

"You need a law that protects children and entitles these women to a share in
property. Such legislation will help recognise the autonomous rights of
women," observes Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social
Research.

Justice Malinath Committee to the Law Commission of India in 2003
recommended that women in live-in relationships should have the "legal
rights of a wife". Earlier this year, Supreme court declared that children born
out of such a relationship should no longer be called illegitimate.

Besides, the National Commission for Women in June sought a change in the
definition of 'wife' as described in Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure
Code, which deals with maintenance. The NCW recommended that women in
live-in relationships should be entitled to maintenance if the man deserts her.

The Centre is planning amendment to the legislation on domestic violence
against women in relationships to recognise live-in relationships as equal to
marriage. The government wants to define violence against women in such a
way that it makes no distinction between a woman, who is married, and a
woman in a live-in relationship.


============

The Concept of Property

============


To begin with the government should relook at the concept of property.
"Property does not belong to an individual. It should belong to the State.
Property has nothing to do with religion. Endowments/Wakfs property
should not be divided. The income from such properties should be utilised
for the welfare of people, particularly for education and health. There should
be a uniform law as far as inheritance is concerned," argues Tarakam.

Most of inheritance laws in India do not have any reserved portion, i.e. the
entire property may be subject to testamentary succession or intestate
succession if there is no will.

Family laws and laws of inheritance in India are more men-oriented, with
more liberty for men than women. The laws have more scope for men to play
and tinker around.

Strangely enough, a registered title deed, however, is not always the
conclusive proof of ownership of property in India, nor is the land
registration record.

Supreme Court has recommended the Centre to change the "archaic law",
which accords legal rights to an illegal occupier of land if its real owner fails
to take legal action to retrieve the property within a stipulated time.


=============

Tenancy Law

=============

In Indian laws there's no protection of tenants. The laws protect only the
landlord. Though oral tenancy is prevalent in India, it is not legalised.
Experts feel that the concept of registration must be introduced and made
compulsory to ensure that the rights of both the tenant and the landlord are
protected. None of them should have an edge in law. Both should get equal
rights.

In Andhra Pradesh, the State government is planning to repeal the Andhra
Pradesh Builders (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act 1960, to protect the
interests of tenants. Once the new law comes into effect, the rent controller
has the authority to fix a "fair rent" for buildings. It also restricts summary
eviction of tenants. Prior approval of authorities concerned has to be obtained
in case the landlord wants to evict the tenant.

If the building owner fails to repair the property, the tenant can approach
authorities, who will in turn undertake repairs to the structure. The expenses
thus incurred will be recovered from the owner through deduction in rent.


===========

Gay Laws

===========

Does India need laws on gays and lesbians. The Indian government says a
firm "no". Human rights and civil liberties activists, however, do not want to
agree with the government's arguments.

Section 377 of Indian Penal Code makes unnatural sex (gay, lesbian and
animal) an offence. The previous NDA government has proposed amendment
but it had not tabled it in Parliament. The Delhi High Court is presently
hearing a public interest litigation in this regard. The UPA government is
opposed to any amendments to Section 377.

Endorsing the stand of the Central government, Additional Solicitor-General
PP Malhotra says homosexuality is a disease and "it is root cause of spread of
HIV". Quoting several examples and study reports, he says "from the health
point of view, the government does not want to repeal the Section".

Senior advocate M Madhurima argues that Indian society has given sanction
for live-in relationship. "There's no sanction for gay relationship. It's a
western culture and it need not be implemented in a traditional country like
India," she says.

But those in favour of MSM activity point out that it has been in existence for
long. Even temple sculptures and Indian epics talk about MSM activity,
though it was not recognised or openly discussed.

"The incidence of HIV cases is growing among homosexuals. Unless we
recognise the rights of MSM, the problem will only aggravate. The Section
377 was introduced by the British regime. In those days homosex was
thought to be a disease. Now it is recognised as a biological preference," says
N Arun Choudhary, chairman, Darpan, which is championing the cause of
human rights.


===========

Educational Laws

===========

Educational laws in the country require immediate attention, says senior
educational lawyer MV Raja Ram. "The present laws are not meeting the
present and future requirements of students. They have made imparting
education a commercial activity of sorts. Laws should be made to put all
restriction on the managements and educational institutions to reduce anxiety
in students. This will make for a better development of the State and the
country," he feels.

The education system should be modernised with strong enactment to remove
stress from students. In Section 3 of the UGC Act there's a provision for
deemed universities. It gives a scope for business for deemed universities.
There's no check on conduct of examinations and issue of certificates by
deemed universities. The UGC notifies courses which are to be taught in the
country but deemed universities offer their own curriculum. Students suffer
as the there UGC does not recognises such courses.

Moreover, there's no effective law that effectively governs deemed
universities and puts checks on the autonomy of managements of private
institutions.

"Fee hike should be based on the proportionate increase in the income of
people. It should not benefit the managements. A proper Act should be made
on fee structure. Stress is leading to suicides. Education should be de-
stressed," Raja Ram suggests.

Mumbai Terror Attack: Pakistan is bound by "duty to cooperate" to hand over terror masterminds

January 5, 2009
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 4: Pakistan is bound by "duty to cooperate" under international law to hand over to India those involved in the Mumbai terror attacks.
According to former Union law secretary Dr P Chandrasekhar Rao, who is presently a judge in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, though there's no formal extradition treaty between India and Pakistan, the latter is bound by "duty to cooperate" with India. It is also bound under international law to investigate into the evidence produced by India and try the terror masterminds on its soil.
He, however, said India cannot compel Pakistan legally to surrender its nationals. Also India cannot approach the International Court of Justice against Pakistan. He said no international court is competent to look into the matter unless both India and Pakistan agree to subject to its jurisdiction.
"But since it was not an ordinary offence and the terror master plan was executed on the Indian territory, Pakistan should hand over India those behind the Mumbai and other terror attacks. It is appropriate that the terror suspects are put on trial on the Indian soil as there's enough material of evidence here. India is the convenient forum to deal with the accused. Full justice can be done only if the trial is done in India," Dr Rao told this correspondent.
The existence of an extradition treaty is not a prerequisite for surrendering of terror suspects, particularly in cases like Mumbai terror attack, which is an onslaught on the political independence and territorial integrity of India. Pakistan is under strict obligation under international law either to prosecute the terror suspects or extradite them to India.
"Pakistan can now do two things. Because of the duty to cooperate, it should investigate and gather its own evidence. Or it should look into evidence furnished by India and see in what respect it should provide evidence to surrender them to India," he said. Mohammad Amir Kasab,the lone surviving terrorist in the Mumbai attack, has already written a letter to Pakistani authorities seeking legal assistance.
There's prima facie evidence pointing towards suspects in Pakistan. In terror related offences strict proof becomes practically difficult. Prima facie it should be taken and acted up. Pakistan should act in good faith. Whether Pakistan as a state is involved or not, it is bound under international law not to allow its territory in a manner prejudicial to the territorial integrity or political independence of India.
"Pakistan, therefore, cannot use the non-state actors doctrine as an excuse for what has happened. It cannot wash off its hands by saying that the persons who perpetrated this offence in India are non-state actors. It cannot also say that similar attacks also take place in its territory. It cannot be used as a justification. Moreover Kashmir conflict cannot be taken as an excuse," he said.
Dr Rao said in law "continuous state of denial" also legitimately creates a sense of suspicion that Pakistan do not want to cooperate with India. This is clear from its refusal to look at extradition as a means and the enormity of the offence.
Ruling out "hot pursuits" or "surgical attacks" under international law, he said India should think of rallying friendly nations to impose economic sanctions on Pakistan.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Indian Laws: We need to change obsolete laws in tune with the changed times

January 1, 2009
By Syed Akbar
The Britishers prohibited assembly of more than five persons on Indian streets under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The aim, when the CrPC was first devised in 1861, was to curb any Indian uprising against the British sovereignty.

The British government feared that a group of five or more Indians would create trouble for it. The colonial rulers might have introduced the proviso as they were not well-versed with the local languages and thus, unaware of what was transpiring among Indians when they gather in streets in groups.

Almost 150 years have passed since the legislation was promulgated and yet the government in democratic India feels comfortable with it. Section 144 of CrPC continues to be the most widely used provision of law, of course during emergent situations, across the country.

Continuing the British legacy, the Indian government introduced the Salt Cess Act, barely five years after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, who fought against the British over imposition of tax on salt. The Salt Cess Act 1953 is still in vogue.

Similarly, gay and lesbian relationship is now scientifically recognised as a "biological behaviour" and yet the Indian government continues with the more than century old British law which declares unnatural sex a punishable offence. Live-in relationship has become a common phenomenon and the present Indian laws do not recognise it, thereby denying benefits to the couple, particularly the woman partner.

Sixty years after Independence, the legacy of the British laws lives on in India. Many Indian laws continue to exist with high British flavour and the Indian government has not found the need to overhaul them, except for a few changes here and there. Just sample this.

The Indian government is happy with the Rules and regulations, framed by the Britishers way back in 1855, on telecommunications. Major provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1855 still continue to govern the nation though India had progressed from manual telephone exchanges to hitech cellular and satellite-based communication technology. Of course, there have been amendments now and then, but the British flavour still continues. Many States still follow the old Indian Police Act, 1861. As many as 80 laws have become obsolete and need to be either amended or scrapped.

"Then there is the Indian Penal Code which was first made in 1860. It makes adultery a crime. Strangely enough, it stipulates that only the man, who has sex with a married woman, is to be imprisoned. The Indian Contract Act was made in 1872 and the Official Secrets Act was promulgated in 1923. The Regulations that governs the banking Industry date back to 1949," says Bojja Tarakam, an expert in Constitutional matters, emphasising the need to upgrade and Indianise the existing laws.

Section 128B of IPC, which deals with conspiracy against State is also highly misused. The British introduced it in India as people were against its regime.
Unfortunately, the law is now applied to all and sundry, while it needs to be amended or expunged in a democratic nation like India.

The British government made Coroners Act for areas under its influence - Madras and Calcutta. Indians from areas other than the jurisdiction of Madras and Calcutta high courts are not governed by the Coroners Act. And now, 130 years after the Act was first promulgated, Indian government still thinks of extending it to the whole of the country. The Act enables Indians dying in mysterious circumstances in a foreign country or within the country to expect a fair probe under the supervision of an independent public figure of repute.

He further says, "Britishers prepared CrPC and IPC to their advantage. For the first time after the British left the country we made major amendments to laws in 1973. Since then we have slowed down the process, making small amendments now and then. There should be a complete overhaul of the laws."

Supporting Tarakam, senior criminal lawyer AK Basha feels "the Indian laws in their present form are not self-assertive". India should do away with the archaic laws and fine-tune its legislation on present day realities like gay relationship, suicide, live-ins and terrorism.

The best solution, according to former Advocate-General S Ramachandra Rao, is to make fresh changes in Indian Constitution. "Constitution needed to be changed with regard to civil and criminal laws and legislation dealing with law and order. The Centre should have proper laws for control over States in matters of powers to borrow loans from international agencies."

He also wants the civil and criminal procedure codes too to be amended. "Though law and order is a state subject the Centre should take over the moral responsibility. Powers to make laws should be Constitutionally controlled. Income Tax and company laws should be severely revised, besides making an effective law to deal with the problem of terrorism," emphasises Ramachandra Rao.

When it comes to legislation governing marriage and divorce, there are several ambiguities. "There has been, and remains, tremendous diversity of laws relating to registration of marriages. The present state of the law on the subject is indeed complicated and confusing," says Law Commission of India Chairman Dr Justice AR Lakshmanan.

The Law Commission of India has taken an initiative on reforming the present laws including the one on suicide. Justice Lakshmanan in one of his reports to the Union Law Ministry recommended steps for repeal of the "anachronistic law" governing suicide (Section 309, IPC), which would "relieve the distressed of his suffering". The Law Commission noted that only a handful of countries in the world, like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and India have persisted with this "undesirable law".

Legal experts strongly advocate that a comprehensive uniform code to govern CrPC and IPC is the need of the hour. After the British left, the Indian government for the first time made major changes to these laws in 1973. After that there have been minor amendments from time to time. From British rule to 1973 and since 1973 there have been several changes in society and the laws need to be changed in tune with the changed circumstances. they argue. Moreover, the definition and nature of "offence" has also changed of late. Offences other than those listed in the book are committed now.

CV Mohan Reddy, advocate-general, Andhra Pradesh, says the Criminal Procedure Code should undergo several amendments and changes to expedite trials, the burden of proof should be shifted on the accused (now police). In foreign countries the burden of proof lies on the accused.

"A comprehensive law is needed to deal with terror activities. The present laws are sufficient to deal with the situation. But even though we need a comprehensive law nation-wide to make our fight against terrorism effective. Incorporate laws making changes in arrests/detention and police custody for a longer period".

He also wants statements recorded by higher rank officials to be treated as evidence against the accused. The confessional statement, in the present laws, of the accused recorded by police or investigation officer cannot be admissible in a court of law. "Similarly in procedural aspects too, there need to be amendment to make it easier for the investigation officer to book culprits without compromising on the principals of natural justice."

C Padmanabha Reddy, eminent criminal lawyer, is however of the view that there is no need for changes or amendments to the Indian Penal code. There's sufficient protection in the law for the citizens. The CrPC and IPC have been amended from time to time. There's lack of conviction and commitment on the part of implementing agencies. This is leading to problems in implementation. But this does not mean that the laws are not strong enough to punish the guilty.

Senior tax specialist Challa Kodanda Ram also endorses the views of Mr Padmanabha Reddy. He says the Indian laws are pucca and law-makers have taken enough safeguards to include sufficient care and provisions while making the Acts. In a democratic country like India the present laws are enough to govern the citizens and protect their interests.

But the implementation agencies and those framing rules based on Acts are leaving several loopholes and lacunae. These shortcomings in rules should be plugged. The implementing agencies should do their task well.

"Unfortunately officials do not show much interest in laws that are of public value and importance, as much they show while framing laws and rules that pertain to their salaries and perks," he says.


========

Marriage & Divorce

========

Present Indian laws link civil marriages with the applicable law of
succession. This has been greatly inhibiting or discouraging certain
communities from opting for a civil marriage under the Special Marriage Act,
1954. They fear that it would deprive them/ of their laws of succession.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, enacted way back in
1886, remains in force till this day. Though a new Registration of Births and
Deaths Act was passed in 1969, it has no provision relating to registration of
marriages.

The Law Commission has suggested certain amendments in both the Special
Marriage Act, 1954 and the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 so that their
provisions become uniformly available to a larger number of marriages of all
Indian communities. "If accepted and implemented, the recommendations
will go a long way in popularising civil marriages," feels legal expert M
Madhurima.

Numerous marriages take place in India which are outside the ambit of
various personal laws but cannot be governed by the Special Marriage Act
either for the reason of not having been formally solemnised or registered
under it. "The question which law would then apply to such marriages
remains unresolved. Both the Special Marriage Act 1954 and the Foreign
Marriage Act 1969 are meant equally for all Indian communities. Yet they
contain some provisions which greatly inhibit members of certain
communities to avail of their provisions."


==========

Live-Ins

==========

Legal experts are in uniformity over the need for legislation on live-in
relationship, since it has now become a reality and turning increasingly
popular in metropolitan and major cities in India.

"Indian society has been tolerating the live-in concept since ages. There's
nothing wrong if it is legalised. If a man and a woman live together like
husband and wife, why should there be any objection? We have almost
legalised prostitution. Licences are given in red-light areas. State is
encouraging flesh trade. When two souls live together with love and
affection, it's better that it should be legalised," says Madhurima.

The Maharashtra government has already announced that it would change
laws to give a new definition to the term "wife". In the absence of a national
legislation, Indian women, who are in non-martial relationships, cannot seek
alimony, a share of property or child maintenance, in case the couple decides
to separate.

"You need a law that protects children and entitles these women to a share in
property. Such legislation will help recognise the autonomous rights of
women," observes Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social
Research.

Justice Malinath Committee to the Law Commission of India in 2003
recommended that women in live-in relationships should have the "legal
rights of a wife". Earlier this year, Supreme court declared that children born
out of such a relationship should no longer be called illegitimate.

Besides, the National Commission for Women in June sought a change in the
definition of 'wife' as described in Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure
Code, which deals with maintenance. The NCW recommended that women in
live-in relationships should be entitled to maintenance if the man deserts her.

The Centre is planning amendment to the legislation on domestic violence
against women in relationships to recognise live-in relationships as equal to
marriage. The government wants to define violence against women in such a
way that it makes no distinction between a woman, who is married, and a
woman in a live-in relationship.


============

The Concept of Property

============


To begin with the government should relook at the concept of property.
"Property does not belong to an individual. It should belong to the State.
Property has nothing to do with religion. Endowments/Wakfs property
should not be divided. The income from such properties should be utilised
for the welfare of people, particularly for education and health. There should
be a uniform law as far as inheritance is concerned," argues Tarakam.

Most of inheritance laws in India do not have any reserved portion, i.e. the
entire property may be subject to testamentary succession or intestate
succession if there is no will.

Family laws and laws of inheritance in India are more men-oriented, with
more liberty for men than women. The laws have more scope for men to play
and tinker around.

Strangely enough, a registered title deed, however, is not always the
conclusive proof of ownership of property in India, nor is the land
registration record.

Supreme Court has recommended the Centre to change the "archaic law",
which accords legal rights to an illegal occupier of land if its real owner fails
to take legal action to retrieve the property within a stipulated time.


=============

Tenancy Law

=============

In Indian laws there's no protection of tenants. The laws protect only the
landlord. Though oral tenancy is prevalent in India, it is not legalised.
Experts feel that the concept of registration must be introduced and made
compulsory to ensure that the rights of both the tenant and the landlord are
protected. None of them should have an edge in law. Both should get equal
rights.

In Andhra Pradesh, the State government is planning to repeal the Andhra
Pradesh Builders (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act 1960, to protect the
interests of tenants. Once the new law comes into effect, the rent controller
has the authority to fix a "fair rent" for buildings. It also restricts summary
eviction of tenants. Prior approval of authorities concerned has to be obtained
in case the landlord wants to evict the tenant.

If the building owner fails to repair the property, the tenant can approach
authorities, who will in turn undertake repairs to the structure. The expenses
thus incurred will be recovered from the owner through deduction in rent.


===========

Gay Laws

===========

Does India need laws on gays and lesbians. The Indian government says a
firm "no". Human rights and civil liberties activists, however, do not want to
agree with the government's arguments.

Section 377 of Indian Penal Code makes unnatural sex (gay, lesbian and
animal) an offence. The previous NDA government has proposed amendment
but it had not tabled it in Parliament. The Delhi High Court is presently
hearing a public interest litigation in this regard. The UPA government is
opposed to any amendments to Section 377.

Endorsing the stand of the Central government, Additional Solicitor-General
PP Malhotra says homosexuality is a disease and "it is root cause of spread of
HIV". Quoting several examples and study reports, he says "from the health
point of view, the government does not want to repeal the Section".

Senior advocate M Madhurima argues that Indian society has given sanction
for live-in relationship. "There's no sanction for gay relationship. It's a
western culture and it need not be implemented in a traditional country like
India," she says.

But those in favour of MSM activity point out that it has been in existence for
long. Even temple sculptures and Indian epics talk about MSM activity,
though it was not recognised or openly discussed.

"The incidence of HIV cases is growing among homosexuals. Unless we
recognise the rights of MSM, the problem will only aggravate. The Section
377 was introduced by the British regime. In those days homosex was
thought to be a disease. Now it is recognised as a biological preference," says
N Arun Choudhary, chairman, Darpan, which is championing the cause of
human rights.


===========

Educational Laws

===========

Educational laws in the country require immediate attention, says senior
educational lawyer MV Raja Ram. "The present laws are not meeting the
present and future requirements of students. They have made imparting
education a commercial activity of sorts. Laws should be made to put all
restriction on the managements and educational institutions to reduce anxiety
in students. This will make for a better development of the State and the
country," he feels.

The education system should be modernised with strong enactment to remove
stress from students. In Section 3 of the UGC Act there's a provision for
deemed universities. It gives a scope for business for deemed universities.
There's no check on conduct of examinations and issue of certificates by
deemed universities. The UGC notifies courses which are to be taught in the
country but deemed universities offer their own curriculum. Students suffer
as the there UGC does not recognises such courses.

Moreover, there's no effective law that effectively governs deemed
universities and puts checks on the autonomy of managements of private
institutions.

"Fee hike should be based on the proportionate increase in the income of
people. It should not benefit the managements. A proper Act should be made
on fee structure. Stress is leading to suicides. Education should be de-
stressed," Raja Ram suggests.

Indian Laws - II: Law Commission on the need to change the Indian laws

January 1, 2009

By Syed Akbar

The Law Commission of India has been making recommendations on
important legal issues to the Union Law Ministry from time to time to
keep the country's laws up-to-date in tune with the changed times. Here
are some of the recommendations on certain crucial subjects the Law
Commission made recently.

====

Special Marriage Act, 1954


* (There's) pressing need to amend the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and
the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969. Numerous marriages take place within
India and in foreign countries, which are outside the ambit of various
personal laws. They cannot be governed by the general and common
law of civil marriages for the reason of not having been formally
solemnised or registered under it. Though these enactments are meant
equally for all communities of India, yet they contain few provisions
which greatly inhibit people of certain communities to avail of them.

* In view of the conflicts of various personal laws, all equally
recognised in India, it will be in the fitness of things that all inter-
religious marriages (except those within the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and
Jain communities) be required to be held only under the Special
marriage Act, 1954. Even if such a marriage has been solemnised under
any other law, for the purpose of matrimonial causes and remedies the
Special Marriage Act, 1954 can be made applicable to them. Such a
move will bring all inter-religious marriages in the country under
uniform law. This will be in accordance with the underlying principle
of Article 44 of the Constitution of India relating to uniform civil
code.

==
Marriage & Divorce
==

* The Law Commission recommends enactment of a "Marriage and
Divorce Registration Act" to be made applicable in the whole of India
and to all citizens irrespective of their religion and personal law and
without any exceptions or exemptions.

* The proposed law should deal only with registration of marriages and
divorces and not with any substantive aspect now governed by various
matrimonial laws - general and community - specific. Accordingly, the
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1886 be repealed and
Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1969 be re-named as "Births,
Deaths and Marriages Registration Act" with a provision that officials
working and records maintained under the former Act shall be deemed
to be working and maintained under the latter Act.

* It is high time we took a second look at the entire gamut of Central
and State laws on registration of marriages and divorces to assess if a
uniform regime of marriage and divorce registration laws is feasible in
the country at this stage of social development and, if not, what
necessary legal reforms may be introduced for streamlining and
improving upon the present system.

==
Suicide (Section 309 IPC)
==

* In India, not only abetment of suicide is an offence (Section 306,
IPC), but also attempt to commit suicide is an offence (Section 309,
IPC).

* When a troubled individual tries to end his life, it would be cruel and
irrational to visit him with punishment on his failure to die. It is his
deep unhappiness which causes him to try to end his life. Attempt to
suicide is more a manifestation of a diseased condition of mind
deserving of treatment and care rather than punishment. It would not be
just and fair to inflict additional legal punishment on a person who has
already suffered agony and ignominy in his failure to commit suicide

* Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code provides double punishment for
a person who has already got fed up with his own life and desires to
end it. It is also a stumbling block in prevention of suicides and
improving the access of medical care to those who have attempted
suicide.

==
Indian Succession Act, 1925
==

* There is discrimination and no uniformity in respect of wills made by
Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains or Parsis, where the will is made within
the territories of the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High
Courts of Judicature at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay and where such
wills are made outside those territories, insofar as they relate to
immovable properties situate within those territories.

* Section 213 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 is liable to be struck
down as being violative of Article 15 of the Constitution of India. The
Commission proposes repeal of Section 213 altogether from the statute.

Indian Laws - III: Amendments to certain Acts

By Syed Akbar

=====
Amendments are proposed for the following Acts:
=====

(a) Indian Marriage Succession Act - omission of Sec 213 from the
Indian Succession Act 1925 and expulnation of Section 6 of the Hindu
Succession Act 1956 to include oral and family arrangement in the
defintion of partition.

(b) Abolition of Section 379 of IPC - prohibiting unnatural sex (gays,
lesbians)

(c) Legalising live-in relationship

(d) Legal reforms to combat road accidents - there's no law at present
on road accidents

(e) Humanisation and decriminalisation of attempt to suicide

(f) Amendment to Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006

(g) Amendment for Section 304B IPC culpable homicide

(h) Enactment of new Coroners Act applicable to the whole of India

(i) Proposed law on registration of marriage and divorce

=====
Amendments already pending before the Centre:
=====

(a) Revision of Insurance Act

(b) Constitution of Environment Courts

(c) Civil and Criminal Procedures Code Amendment

Indian Laws - IV : Weird Rules In India

By Syed Akbar

==
Weird Rules
==

Several countries including the advanced nations have weird laws. But
India does not have any funny or weird laws. However, most of its laws
are archaic.

There are a few weird Rules which India still follows.

According to eminent lawyer Dr Kadambi Lakshminarasimha, in
Indian Airforce, a pilot is selected based on the height of his legs. The
total length of an aspiring pilot in Indian Airforce should be 90 cm
from hip to toe. Even if he is six feet tall but does not meet the
specified 90 cm leg length, he is not qualified for the post.

In Andhra Pradesh recruitment to the post of a motor vehicle inspector
is based on several physical fitness tests. One of them is good teeth.
Those with a tooth decay are not eligible for the post. One wonders
how decayed teeth will hamper the duties of the motor vehicle
inspector whose primary duty is to check vehicles and not taste food.

The Maratha Regiment of Indian Army has a special tradition. It
recruits only Marathas those living in Marathwada. Maharashtrians are
not eligible if they do not come from the Marathwada region.

Usage of knives during combat is prohibited in Indian Army. Whereas
in Naga regiment a special exemption is given to the Nagas to use their
traditional knives.

In Central Excise department, the post of inspector is barred for those
suffering from colour blindness.

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