Monday, 23 April 2012

World Laboratory Animal Day: Behind every medicine that cures diseases in humans is the untold suffering and sacrifice of animals

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Behind every medicine that cures diseases in
humans is the untold suffering and sacrifice of animals. City
scientists will celebrate the World Laboratory Animal Day on April 24
by commemorating the sacrifices made by these noble creatures,
popularly called lab animals, in improving the environment, quality of
life and furthering science.

The National Centre for Laboratory Animal Sciences (NCLAS) located at
NIN campus here will hold a national symposium on “laboratory animal
sciences in the new millennium – challenges and solution” to mark the
occasion.

Ironically, NCLAS is one of the largest animal suppliers in the
country. It supplies about 50,000 animals to around 175 laboratories
and institutions in India. This year’s World Laboratory Animal Day is
celebrated in the wake of the Central government banning use of
animals in experiments in educational institutions.

“Countless monkeys, dogs, rats and other animals are burned, blinded,
cut open, poisoned, starved and drugged behind closed laboratory
doors. Not only are animal tests extremely cruel, they are also
completely inaccurate because of the vast physiological variations
between species,” says a statement by People for Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA).

PETA has been arguing that animal studies teach scientists nothing
about the health of humans because human reactions to illnesses and
medications are completely different from the reactions of other
animals. Other species absorb, metabolise and eliminate substances
differently than humans do. The truth is that testing on animals is
just plain bad science, which harms humans and other animals alike.

According to PETA, many vivisectors come to India because, in their
own countries, they cannot get away with doing the type of animal
testing they can here. Every year, research facilities across India –
including the Animal Research Centre, the Patel Chest Institute, the
National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the All India Institute of
Medical Sciences (AIIMS), – squander valuable time and resources as
well as millions of rupees conducting experiments on monkeys, dogs,
cats, rabbits, rats, mice and other animals.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Tea to be the Indian national drink: Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia stirs up a storm in tea cup

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh
Ahluwalia on Saturday stirred up a storm in a tea cup when he
announced at Jorhat in Assam that tea would be declared as national
drink by April next year.

Coffee lovers, naturopaths, and nutritionists have strongly opposed
the proposal wondering how a beverage that could cause damage to
health deserves the status of a national drink. A national drink
should good for the health of all and its excess consumption should
not cause any problems, they say, adding that tea if consumed in large
quantities is bad for health.

The city-based National Institute of Nutrition, the premier research
body that takes care of the nutrition and health needs of all Indians,
in its “dietary guidelines” warns, “Excess tea consumption is
deleterious to health”. In fact, it has suggested “decaffeinated tea
to obviate the adverse effects of caffeine content present in the tea”.

Unmindful of the national dietary guidelines, Montek Singh said, “The
drink would be accorded national drink status by April 17 next year to
coincide with the 212th birth anniversary of first Assamese tea
planter and Sepoy Mutiny leader Maniram Dewan."

Montek Singh’s promise may have made tea planters and manufacturers
happy, but senior nutritionist Suneetha Sapur, who heads the Akkshaya
Foundation, argued, “Tea has tannins, which hinder the absorption of
iron by 50 per cent. When the government has to spend crores of rupees
to prevent anaemia, in the form of IFA tablets, awareness and on
research to fortify foods to prevent anaemia, is it appropriate to
promote tea that curtails the absorption of iron when taken along with
meal”.

Sharply reacting to the tea proposal, naturopaths demanded that tender
coconut water, lassi, milk or neembu pani (lemon water) should be
declared as the national drink. Said Dr Mohammad Azeem, a naturopath,
“We have many traditional drinks that are not only nutritious, but
also curative and preventive in nature. Tea may have a history of 212
years, but tender coconut water is as old as human origin. And who can
deny the health benefits of lemon water, milk and lassi”.

Justifying his announcement, Dr Montek Singh said, “It was Maniram
Dewan, who was not only the first indigenous tea planter but also
involved in the national movement.” The other important reason is that
half of the tea industry labour comprises women and is the largest
employer in the organised sector.

He said India is the largest producer and consumer of black tea in the
world. According to ORG-India Tea Consumption Study, 83 per cent
households in India consume tea and is the cheapest beverage in the
world after water. Montek Singh also announced that a tearoom of
international standard 'Chai Bar', the first of its kind in the
region, would be soon opened at the Gauhati Tea Auction Centre. It
will serve more than 50 types of best quality tea.

Chai took the lead among the trends on the microblogging site,
Twitter, with VIPs too joining the debate. Kashmir chief minister Omar
Abdullah tweeted, “on that note I end my rant. Will now go drown my
sorrows in a mug of the national drink”.

Unreal times, a media website that mocks with fake news, said “Koffee
with Karan too be re-branded as Chai with Chaman in honour of national
drink. One of the tweets said, “Umpire also celebrating news of
national drink making T using his hands to declare strategic time out
in IPL”.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

India on Thursday passed the Agni Pariksha to emerge as a regional super power with the successful test-fire of 5000 km-plus Long-Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM), Agni-5 that can carry multiple nuclear warheads to hit targets in all of Asia, parts of Europe, Australia and Africa

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: India on Thursday passed the Agni Pariksha to
emerge as a regional super power with the successful test-fire of 5000
km-plus Long-Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM), Agni-5 that can carry
multiple nuclear warheads to hit targets in all of Asia, parts of
Europe, Australia and Africa.

Agni-5, the new generation missile developed indigenously by the
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was successfully
test-fired from the Integrated Test Range on the Wheeler Island in
Odisha at 8.07 am on Thursday. The missile was originally scheduled
for test-fire at 7.30 pm on Wednesday but heavy lightning in the
region raised safety concerns forcing the DRDO to put it off by a few
hours to Thursday morning.

With Agni-5, dubbed as “game changer and technological marvel”, India
blasted its way into an elite club of nations that possess LRBM
capable of carrying multiple warheads. This paves the way for India to
develop the next series of missiles that qualifies India for the
Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tag. Agni-5 falls a little
short in range to qualify India for the ICBM club. China is the only
country in Asia to possess 5,000 km plus range missiles. Agni-5 can
hit a number of places at a time, as it carries many warheads.

The successful test-fire has created a credible nuclear-capable
deterrent vis-à-vis China. The Centre hailed the test as a success and
said the designated target had been hit. The Agni-V can hit all of
China including Beijing. The missile travelled in a southeastern
direction and hit its target in the southern Indian Ocean.

When asked about the road ahead beyond the Agni-V, a senior DRDO
official said that
there was currently "no proposal for an Agni-VI with even further
range" and said it was up to the Government to decide on any fresh
project. China has the ability to launch ICBMs with a range up to
13,000 km.

There was a measured official reaction from China, which said the two
countries are not
rivals and enjoy "sound" relations. "China has taken note of reports
on India's missile launch. The two countries have a sound
relationship," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin in
Beijing.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony
congratulated DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat, programme director Avinash
Chander and other top scientists including woman scientist Tessy
Thomas for the success of the project. There was much jubilation and
cheering among DRDO scientists at the test-range once the missile was
launched successfully.

Dr Saraswat said "all mission parameters had been met" and that India
had emerged as a "major missile power", with only six countries
(including the US, Russia,
France and China) which have this capability. "All the re-entry
conditions were perfect. The missile travelled through the re-entry,
got converted into a fireball and finally (hit the target)...And all
the payload parameters which result in the detonation of the warhead
took place," he said.

"This launch has given a message to the entire world that India has
the capability to design, develop, build and manufacture missiles of
this class, and we are today a
major missile power," he added.

Dr Saraswat admitted that at least two more tests of the missile would
be carried out
for validation before the missile is inducted into the Indian Army.
The expected date is 2014. Agni-V is a three-stage, all solid fuel
powered missile with multiple independent targetable re-entry vehicle
(MIRV) which means the missile can target several areas simultaneously
with a one-ton nuclear warhead. The missile is 17.5-metre long missile
weighing 50 tonnes.

"The missile has been achieved despite the stringent missile control
regimes, which developed countries have imposed on us and that shows
the self-reliance in the area of this technology is now becoming a
reality," Dr Saraswat said.

"It was a perfect launch and the missile hit the pre-determined target
and the mission
met all its parameters," Integrated Test Range Director SP Dass said.
"We can call it an ICBM as it has the capability to travel from one
continent to another,” he added.

Senior DRDO women scientist Tessy Thomas, who played a crucial role in
the Agni-V project, said years of hard work, had paid off.

While the Agni-V is officially categorized as an LRBM, DRDO scientists
said that the
successful launch of a missile with a range of over 5,000 km is an
ample demonstration of the capability to launch an ICBM. Missiles with
a range of above 5,500 kms are usually referred to as ICBMs.

While there were media reports in the past few years that the
Government is keen to
cap the missile-range to 5,000 kms, DRDO sources insisted that no
policy in this regard had been officially laid down. The Agni-I, II,
III and IV missiles with ranges of 700 kms, 2,500 kms, 3,000 kms and
3,500 kms respectively had been launched in previous years.
The Agni missiles up to the Agni-III have already been inducted in the
armed forces.

"The missile followed the entire trajectory in copybook style
perfection as the three stages of Propulsion dropped and fell at
appropriate intervals into the Bay of Bengal. The three propulsion
stages, developed completely indigenously by DRDO, performed exactly
the way they were intended to,” DRDO spokesperson Ravi Kumar Gupta said.

The indigenously developed Composite Rocket Motors performed well,
signifying the country's stride and complete self-reliance in this
complex propulsion technology. Ships located in midrange and at the
target, point tracked the Vehicle and witnessed the final event.
Radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored in real
time all the parameters of the Missile.

A DRDO official release added that missile's "very high accuracy Ring
Laser Gyro-based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern
and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) ensured the Missile reach
the target point within few meters of accuracy".

Indian scientists should get full marks for the success of the country’s first long-range new generation missile Agni-5

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Indian scientists should get full marks for the
success of the country’s first long-range new generation missile
Agni-5. Most of the components and equipment used in the Agni-5 are
developed indigenously. Only a portion of the electronics components
is imported.

The successful launch of Agni-5 through indigenous technology has once
again proved India’s scientific prowess in a world dominated by
technology denial. With no support from external sources, Indian
scientists had to conceptualise, design and develop the long-range
missile to meet the growing defence needs of the country. The
indigenous technology has catapulted India to the status of a regional
super power. China is the only other country in Asia to possess
intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“This launch has given a message to the entire world that India has
the capability to design, develop, build and manufacture missiles of
this class, and we are today a missile power," said Dr VK Saraswat,
chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The DRDO will conduct a couple of more tests on Agni-5 before it is
ready for induction into the Army. Once the mandatory trials are
completed, Agni-5 will be at the disposal of the Armed forced by
2014-15.

After the successful test-fire of Agni-5, India now looks towards Agni 6 with even longer target range

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: After the successful test-fire of Agni-5, India
now looks towards Agni 6 with even longer target range. Though the
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which develops
and manufactures missiles for Indian armed forces, has not made an
official statement on the new Agni series, it has announced its
intention to work on missiles with a target range of 10,000 km.

Technically, Agni-5 is an intermediate range ballistic missile and
falls short of about 1000 to 2000 km to be qualified for the
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tag. Nevertheless, Agni-5 is
a quasi-ICBM as it can hit targets in other continents too depending
on the place in India from where it is fired.

Agni-5 can hit Australia if it is fired from the Andamans, hit most of
Europe and Moscow when fired from Delhi or Kashmir, and parts of
Africa if it is launched from Mumbai or Gujarat.

Agni-5 has a range of 5,500 km and the DRDO plans to build missiles
that are truly ICBM in range with 10,000 km-plus target capability.
Incidentally, China has missiles with a ranger longer than 13,000 km.

“We go from here to many other missiles which will have capability for
MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle), for
anti-satellite system, which will also be built using this technology
for launching micro, mini and nano satellite to meet the requirement
of the armed forces on very, very short notice,” Dr VK Saraswat, head
of DRDO, said.

Agni-5 can carry nuclear warheads up to three in number. The next
missile series may carry even more, up to 10, capable of hitting
multiple targets spread across simultaneously.

The success of Agni-5 has raised the spirits of Indian defence
scientists and engineers to move ahead with the planned next
generation missile series that can cover twice the distance of the
Agni-5.

DRDO is also working on integrating Agni-5 with submarine so that the
missile can be launched from the underwater. It will not only increase
the target range but also give the advantage of mobility without being
detected.

Agni V: Hyderabad played a crucial role in development of Agni long-range missile system

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Hyderabad played a crucial role in the
development of the Agni long-range missile system, with a majority of
the components conceived, designed and manufactured in the city.

Scores of scientists from various laboratories of the Defence Research
and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Hyderabad, as also those from
local companies involved in the manufacture of defence components
worked tirelessly for over five years to strengthen the country’s
defence capabilities in the form of Agni-5.

Agni-5, a new generation missile, has put India in the elite club of
nations possessing intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the credit
goes to scientists and engineers from Andhra Pradesh or those who have
made the State their second home.

Four of the six important institutions that played a key role in the
research and development of Agni-5 are located in Hyderabad. The
Advanced Systems Laboratory, Defence Research and Development
Laboratory (DRDL), Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL) and
the Research Centre Imarat among other scientific institutions made
India’s first 5000 km-plus range missile a reality.

As Dr VK Saraswat, chief of DRDO, pointed out 80 per cent of the
components of the Agni-5 have been made in the country. Many local
scientists, machinists and engineers are involved in the manufacture
of the missile. Even scientists, who are not native of Andhra Pradesh,
have made Hyderabad their second home city. Dr Saraswat, for instance,
hails from UP, but has obtained his crucial doctorate in propulsion
engineering from Osmania University.

Agni Project director Tessy Thomas is from Kerala, but loves Hyderabad
as her second home city. Gundra Satheesh Reddy of Research Centre
Imarat, and his team developed crucial components for the Agni-5
missile. They include Ring-laser gyro-based Inertial Navigation System
(RINS), Micro-Navigation System (MINGS) and onboard avionics.

Thanks to the Hyderabad team, the Agni missile system has become
lighter and thus more powerful in travel and strike. It made Agni
missile series particularly Agni-5 lighter in weight and reliable.

Last year Satheesh Reddy won the DRDO scientist of the year award from
the Defence Ministry for his contribution to the Agni and other
missiles.

Tessy Thomas was instrumental in developing a major technology related
to re-entry vehicle system. Long-range missiles are sent high into the
sky up to 1200 km and as they re-enter the atmosphere the temperature
touches 3000 km. This is the crucial phase and the missile components
should remain functional and intact at this high temperature.

India successfully test fires Agni V, its first intercontinental ballistic missile

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 19: India on Thursday successfully test launched the long range 
intercontinental ballistic missile, Agni V, capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads 
to hit targets as far away as Moscow and Beijing.

The 5,000-plus range Agni V was test fired from the Integrated Test Range 
facility on the Wheeler Island in Odisha.  The most sophisticated of all 
Indian missile systems was scheduled to be test-fired at 7.30 pm on Wednesday but had to 
be postponed due to “safety concerns” caused by bad weather and heavy lightening.

Agni V is an all-weather defence system, but since it is a test fire, the DRDO, which 
developed the missile, postponed it for safety reasons. Earlier, the target area in the 
southern Indian Ocean has been cleared and marine and aviation sectors were informed 
about the test fire cautioning them not to venture into the target region.

Since it is a ballistic missile, it goes up high into the sky and re-enters the 
atmosphere at a high speed to hit the target in just 20 minutes, traveling at five 
kilometres per second.

Agni V, an improved version of Agni III, is a real deterrent and would 
give India the regional super power tag. Depending on the place from where Agni V is 
launched in India, it can hit targets even in Europe, Africa and Australia. The nuclear 
warhead-capable missile can cover targets away from Islamabad, all of China and parts of 
Russia. India joins the select group of nations with intercontinental ballistic missile systems. It will be the fifth country to possess this Defence capability after the USA, China, Russia and France. The DRDO is also working on Agni VI with even greater target range.

The missile, developed by DRDO laboratories in Hyderabad, is the first Indian missile 
that can carry multiple warheads. The existing missile systems carry just one warhead. 
Agni V can carry as many as three warheads and could hit the given target or the set of 
different targets with utmost precision. It is fire and forget missile with the 
state-of-the-art indigenous electronic systems guiding it to the preset target. Once 
fired, it cannot be stopped. This brings India on par with China, Russia and France with 
only the USA being ahead in the technology.

Agni-V will put India on an advantageous position in the region as it could hit any 
target within the geopolitical system. The missile has the most modern inertial guidance 
and highly accurate sensors with high immunity that will protect it from being jammed by 
the enemy. The warheads that Agni V can carry are designed to pierce through any 
anti-ballistic missile defence system. They can also fool the radar system. The warheads 
can pass through the atmosphere without being hit by the enemy's missiles. Each warhead 
weighs up to 1,000 kgs.

Agni V: India gets nuclear missile edge

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 18: India on Wednesday put on hold the test launch of the long range 
intercontinental ballistic missile, Agni V, capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads 
to hit targets as far away as Moscow and Beijing.

The 5,000-plus range Agni V will now be test fired from the Integrated Test Range 
facility on the Wheeler Island in Odisha on Thursday. The most sophisticated of all 
Indian missile systems was scheduled to be test-fired at 7.30 pm on Wednesday but had to 
be postponed due to “safety concerns” caused by bad weather and heavy lightening.

In a press statement the Defence Research and Development Organisation said, “Due to 
heavy lightening in the region, the Agni-V launch is postponed for safety reasons.”

Agni V is an all-weather defence system, but since it is a test fire, the DRDO, which 
developed the missile, postponed it for safety reasons. Earlier, the target area in the 
southern Indian Ocean has been cleared and marine and aviation sectors were informed 
about the test fire cautioning them not to venture into the target region.

Since it is a ballistic missile, it goes up high into the sky and re-enters the 
atmosphere at a high speed to hit the target in just 20 minutes, traveling at five 
kilometres per second.

Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said “the test launch of Agni-V missile has 
been postponed till Thursday due to safety reasons. The test has been cancelled as there 
is heavy lightening in the test range.”

Agni V, an improved version of Agni III, is a real deterrent and if successful, would 
give India the regional super power tag. Depending on the place from where Agni V is 
launched in India, it can hit targets even in Europe, Africa and Australia. The nuclear 
warhead-capable missile can cover targets away from Islamabad, all of China and parts of 
Russia. Once successfully test-fired, India will join the select group of nations with 
intercontinental ballistic missile systems. It will be the fifth country to possess this 
Defence capability after the USA, China, Russia and France. The DRDO is also working on 
Agni VI with even greater target range.

The missile, developed by DRDO laboratories in Hyderabad, is the first Indian missile 
that can carry multiple warheads. The existing missile systems carry just one warhead. 
Agni V can carry as many as three warheads and could hit the given target or the set of 
different targets with utmost precision. It is fire and forget missile with the 
state-of-the-art indigenous electronic systems guiding it to the preset target. Once 
fired, it cannot be stopped. This brings India on par with China, Russia and France with 
only the USA being ahead in the technology.

Agni-V will put India on an advantageous position in the region as it could hit any 
target within the geopolitical system. The missile has the most modern inertial guidance 
and highly accurate sensors with high immunity that will protect it from being jammed by 
the enemy. The warheads that Agni V can carry are designed to pierce through any 
anti-ballistic missile defence system. They can also fool the radar system. The warheads 
can pass through the atmosphere without being hit by the enemy's missiles. Each warhead 
weighs up to 1,000 kgs.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Extra drug resistant TB: Renewed fight against tuberculosis in India pays off

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  The renewed fight against tuberculosis in the country has paid rich dividends with the incidence of the killer disease coming down by appreciable levels.
But what is worrying health experts and planners is the explosion of drug-resistant tuberculosis fuelled by HIV/AIDS. Andhra Pradesh, with the largestnumber of HIV/AIDS cases in the country, is now more vulnerable to drug-resistant TB. Incidentally, the State too has a large number of TB patients.
India has one of the largest number of TB patients accounting for one-fifth of all the TB cases in the world and the emergence of drug-resistant TB strains has become a major challenge to medical doctors and scientists alike.
Strains of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis or XDR-TB have now been found in 28 countries including India. The death rate for people co-infected with HIV and XDR-TB is around 85 per cent while for normal TB patients is less than 10 per cent.
According to World Health Organisation, India continues to be a global TB hot spot, despite reduction in the incidence in the country. In India every one minute a person afflicted by TB dies. The WHO observes that HIV and drug-resistant TB are threatening to reverse the gains made in TB control over the last few years, particularly during 2006. A majority of newly diagnosed TB patients have developed resistance to first-line anti-TB drugs.
The Central government launched last year a new strategy to stop TB and achieve reversal of the epidemic by 2015. "The new strategy while building on the previous DOTS strategy to control TB, includes additional
interventions to meet evolving challenges such as HIV associated TB, emerging drug resistance and enhance the uptake of services by the community at large," a senior health official pointed out. The death rates due to tuberculosis have come down to just four per cent because of strict implementation of DOTS in different parts of India including Andhra Pradesh where TB is largely prevalent.
While the death rate in patients who do not undergo DOTS is a whopping 29 per cent, those who
are treated by DOTS are less susceptible with just four per cent mortality. Where DOTS is not used, infectious patients are seven times more likely to die from the disease.
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare records point out that more than three lakh children are forced to leave school every year because their parents are TB patients. More than a lakh women with TB are rejected by their families due to social stigma attached to the disease. The economic cost of tuberculosis in the country is about Rs 8,000 crore a year, i.e. had the disease been controlled, India would have saved that much amo

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