Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Research problems: IICT may not benefit from oral insulin development

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 15: The city-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, which is instrumental in the development of oral insulin delivery system, may not benefit much financially from the innovative research what with a private pharma company claiming all credit for the new drug.
The world pharma market is going to witness a heavy demand for oral insulin as and when the new drug delivery system is introduced after human trials. India, China and the USA are the potential markets for oral insulin as these three countries are regarded as the "diabetes capitals" of the world. Patients now dependent on insulin injections will shift to oral insulin as the latter system does not involve pain or health risks.
The IICT provided its state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to Transgene Biotek Limited under a partnership programme for research and development of oral insulin drug delivery system. The CSIR lab also extended its scientific manpower to the private pharma company. All the in vivo tests of the new drug system have been carried out at the IICT. Transgene spent less than Rs 1 crore on the project, besides sending half a dozen scientists to the lab for research.
However, under the agreement reached at between IICT and Transgene, the former will get just 10 per cent of the royalty while 90 per cent of the profits will be cornered by the private pharma unit. Since the IICT has been instrumental in the preparation of new system, it should be entitled to at least 50 per cent of the royalty.
The pharmacology division of the IICT is one of the few laboratories in the country to possess expertise in the development and characterisation of novel drug delivery systems for transdermal, liposomal, nano particle systems, oral delivery of vaccines and colon specific delivery systems. Transgene simply utilised one of these facilities.
Human trials on insulin are going to begin shortly. It will take at least three years for the drug to be formally launched in the world market. Transgene managing director Dr K Koteswara Rao said "we hope to be the first in the world to launch the novel drug delivery system for administering oral insulin. This kind of oral delivery of insulin is a boon to the diabetics, thus avoiding painful injections every day".
According to sources, Transgene has rushed through the press conference to announce the new drug delivery system even though the IICT directed it not to do so in a hurry. IICT suggested that the trial should be validated by an independent organisation before making any announcement.
Insulin account for a massive 62.1 per cent share of sales in total European diabetes medications market worth 2000 million US dollars and it is expected to reach 3,800 million US dollars by 2009. The WHO estimates that between 10 and 12 per cent of the urban Indian population and four to six per cent of the rural population are diabetic. Further amongst the Indian population both diabetes and ischaemic heart disease occur atleast a decade younger than in other populations. In this background, IICT will suffer heavily in terms of monetary benefits because of its 10 per cent royalty share while Transgene will make a fortune with 90 per cent royalty from the new drug.

Saturday, 4 December 2004

Lake conservation in Hyderabad yields good underground water

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 4: Twin cities received a bonanza in the form of good recharge of underground water thanks to conservation of 10 important lakes by the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority.
According to a hydrogeological study of the ground water table in localities around 10 select lakes, which were taken up for conservation recently, the water level went up by about 10 metres in most of the places. The study was conducted about a fortnight ago and the results have prompted the urban development body to take up conservation of all the lakes in and around Hyderabad.
The Huda monitored ground water recharge in 10 out of 87 lakes that dot the city geography. The study was carried out by monitoring ground water levels in open hand dug wells and borewells that showed sympathetic response to the lake water level fluctuations.
The study involved monthly monitoring of water levels in 109 representative wells 10 months spread over the 10 lakes. Water quality samples were also analysed for two periods over 10 months. Infiltration studies (one time) were carried out in the lakes to measure the seepage from the dry lake bed as well as from the lake bed with standing water column.
It was found that ground water recharge was high in areas surrounding the lakes due to seepage from the lake bed. Aquifer recharge was reported in all the monitored lakes. The lakes showed varying seepage losses from the lakebed for different months of the year (few mm to as much as 50cm/day).
"The seepage losses from the lakes are controlled largely by the regional hydro-geological conditions, groundwater development in the immediate neighbourhood of the lake, lake water column and lakebed profile. The lakes fed the local grounder system as recharge for most of the months but for certain periods Safilguda, Banda Cheruvu (one month), Mukkidi Cheruvu (two months), Nalla Cheruvu (six months) and Hasmathpet Cheruvu (eight months) receive groundwater inflows into the lake," a Huda report points out.
A notable feature observed in the study was that the hardness of ground water in the surrounding areas decreased due to seepage from the lake. Groundwater level monitoring in the wells around the lakes reveal the intrinsic relationship between the lakes and groundwater system.
Hyderabad used to have more than 500 artificial and natural lakes. Artificial lakes were formed by constructing bunds across seasonal streams. Lakes were interconnected so that during high intensity rainfall, higher lakes overflowed in lakes lower down the watershed.

Sunday, 31 October 2004

Ramadhan Id crescent: Muslim scholars continue to differ on sighting of the new moon

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 31: With the Id-ul-Fitr just a few days away, Muslim religious scholars are once again divided over the methods they should adopt for the sighting of the new moon.
The Id-ul-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of Islamic Hijra calendar which follows the fasting month of Ramzan. While orthodox Muslim scholars argue that the crescent should be visible to the naked eye without the aid of any equipment like telescopes, those with modern outlook feel that meteorological and scientific help should be sought to sort out the controversy.
Moulana Peerzada Shabbir Naqshbandi, president of All-India Religious Leaders' Association, says there should be a hilal or moon-sighting committee at the national level with representation to hilal panels of all States. "Ours is a vast country with the second largest Muslim population in the world. Yet we do not have a centralised hilal committee. In the absence of such a panel, there are occasions when Id is celebrated on different days in different States. I feel Muftis and meteorologists should sit together and discuss the issue," he observes.
The Moulana put forth the proposal before Central Minister for Wakf Meera Kumar recently and she had reportedly agreed to consider a Central hilal committee. State Wakf Boards and State governments should work in coordination with the Central panel so that there's a uniformity in the Id celebrations all over the country.
All-India Muslim Personal Law Board secretary-general Abdul Rahim Qureshi told this correspondent that the University of Science, Penang, Malaysia, which is carrying out a research on the universalisation of Islamic Lunar Calendar, had stated that the possibility of the formation of the new moon could be considered based on meteorological observations.
Rahim Qureshi, however, adds that it cannot be taken with a finality unless the crescent is seen with an unaided eye. He suggests that for a uniformity of the Id celebrations in the Indian sub-continent, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh should be considered as one "matla" (common zone). If a moon is sighted in any place in any of these countries, it should be considered as if the moon had been seen all over.
Stating that some Muslim countries have been following "Imkane-Ruhiyat" (possibility of moon sighting) system, Rahim Qureshi argues that telescopes could not be used at all. "Binoclulars are OK," he points out. New moon or black moon forms on the day of Amavasya but it takes about 24 hours or more to become a crescent depending on the altitude.
Islamic scholars in India insist that the crescent should be sighted with the naked eye and not the new moon with the help of meteorological calculations. However, scholars in Saudi Arabia follow a fixed lunar calendar based on meteorological calculations.
Says Hafiz Shujath Hussain, for the moon to be visible to the naked eye, it must set after the sun has set. Many Muslims use this condition to define the start of the lunar month, no matter how small the time interval between the two settings. However, this method will depend on one's position on the earth and could be open to doubt regarding the degree of accuracy of the calculation.
"There is an important factor which has to be taken into account for the lunar crescent to be visible. The sightings of the moon younger than 20 hours are rare, and the sightings of the moon older than 24 hours are not uncommon, although its visibility may at times require it to be more than 30 hours old," he clarifies.
According to astronomer Adel Al-Saadoun, the scientific or astronomical method is based on physical conditions when the earth, the moon, and the sun, are in the same vertical plane but not necessarily in the same line, and the moon is between the earth and the sun.

Saturday, 30 October 2004

Cyclone silences dengue virus!

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 30: The cyclonic rains might have left a trail of misery for many, but they also heralded good news for people living in dengue-hit areas.
The cyclone, which crossed the sea coast on Monday evening, has silenced the powerful dengue virus. The sudden drop in temperature followed by washing away of stagnant water due to heavy rains has turned the dengue virus dormant and its vector, mosquito, ineffective.
The rains also proved beneficial to standing crop spread over lakhs of hectares, particularly cotton and other commercial crops in the coastal belt. The rains provided the much-needed moisture to the drying up crops and brought smile back on the faces of farmers.
Health officials in Visakhapatnam heaved a sigh of relief as the dengue incidence came down in the city. "There is a sudden drop in the temperature from 37 degrees C to 24 degrees C. This has led to dengue virus going dormant. At such temperatures, the virus becomes incapable of spreading," Visakhapatnam municipal chief medical officer Dr M S Raju said.
According to him, many communicable diseases turn dormant normally during December. But the inclement weather has advanced the dormancy mode. The weather came in handy for us to control further outbreaks of dengue, he added.
Senior health officials in Hyderabad, however, do not agree with Dr Raju. "The explanation is unscientific," says Dr IV Rao, director of medical education.
However, both Raju and Rao agree that the rains may cause water borne diseases like diarrhoea. No fresh cases of dengue have been reported from
Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and rural areas of Visakhapatnam following the rains.
The rains have come in as a blessing in disguise for cotton farmers in Guntur district. Since cotton crop is in budding stage, the rains have stabilised the inflorescence. The flowering was about to wither away but the rains stabilised them. This may give a yield of four to five quintals per acre.
Farmer activist Dr Yalamanchili Sivaji said the rains had helped plantation of tobacco. Crops like Bengal gram and chilli have also stabilised thanks to the timely rains.

Monday, 25 October 2004

Right to information Act: Officials fail to create awareness

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 25: Even two weeks after the Right to Information Act came into force the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, the largest civic body, received just two applications seeking information.
This poor response in the city with a population of 60 lakh plus, most of whom are educated indicates the lack of awareness among people about their newly acquired Right. Apparently sensing in advance the lukewarm response from people, the State government too brought the Act into force without really preparing its machinery to implement it effectively.
Official sources told this correspondent that the government was still in the process of formulating rules for implementation of the Act. It is also unable to set up the Chief Information Commissionerate, the State level authority to monitor the implementation of the Act, because of hectic lobbying for the top post by bureaucrats and retired government and judicial officers.
"Using the provisions of the Act, we wanted to know from the MCH about how many trees were felled in the city and who authorised indiscriminate tree felling by MCH as well as other government authorities," said Capt J Rama Rao of Forum for Better Hyderabad, a Non Governmental Organisation said. The organisation also sought to know the MCH's plans on road widening and parameters for selecting roads for widening and other related details.
According to Capt Rama Rao the government authorities themselves violate the prohibitory orders and rules and Right to Information Act will be a powerful weapon to expose the officials responsible for such violations provided the government sincerely implemented the Act.
In the absence of applications in printed format, MCH recived applications on a white paper and gave an acknowledgement. "We have also not collected the fee since we are not clear as to which head of account the money should be transferred," Mr M Krishnanand, Public Information Officer designate in MCH said adding that the applications were forwarded for further action.
Meanwhile, the A P Revenue Services Association representing thousands of revenue employees expressed its reservations on implementing the Act. "There are hundreds of vacancies of land surveyors, junior assistants and typists in the department. More importantly, the village secretariat system has totally neglected revenue activities because of which preparation of vital land documents took back seat and we are not in a position to provide information before deadline," said association president Mr K Lakshmaiah.
The association submitted a memorandum to Chief Secretary Mr T K Dewan demanding that penalty provision should be put on hold till the goverment machinery is prepared enough to meet the 30 day deadline.
"The government's silence over an open defiance by its employees against implementation of the Act raises doubts over the sincerity of the government in implementing the Act," Mr Ravi of Watershed Support Services and Activities, a NGO, said. Contributing to awareness programme on the Act, the organisation translated the Act into Telugu and was distributing books to other NGOs.

Saturday, 9 October 2004

Fast food high in fat content may turn you blind

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 9: Next time you visit a fast food centre be sure that the food you take is not high in fat or calories. For you may be at risk of losing your eye sight.
Fast changing food habits in Hyderabadis is leading to a new health risk and diseases related to eyes. According to city ophthalmologists, rapid transitions of lifestyles and change in food habits have led to a spurt in serious eye problems, particularly diabetes mellitus. They estimate that one in 25 Hyderabadis suffer from severe eye-related diseases and most of them are directly connected with their food habits.
Says Dr Praveen, consultant ophthalmologist at LV Prasad Eye Hospital and Research Institute, "a demographic shift towards aging and increased life expectancy is expected to further add to the burden of diabetes in in the country. And a fairly large number of diabetic persons suffer from diabetic retinopathy".
What is horrifying is that obesity is on the rise in school children in twin cities and though they do not get diabetic retinopathy immediately, they tend to carry on the problem which will manifest at a later stage in their life.
About 20 per cent of Hyderabadis are diabetic and 12 per cent of them suffer from retinopathy.
"The best way to control diabetic retinopathy and eye diseases connected to diabetes is to check the food one takes. In most of the cases obesity is linked to diabetic retinopathy," points out DR Rao, convener of World Sight Day Programme.
Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma but the disease's affect on the retina is the main threat to vision. Most patients develop diabetic changes in the retina after approximately 20 years. The effect of diabetes on the eye is called diabetic retinopathy.
The severity of retinopathy increases with increasing duration of diabetes. A 1.89 increase in the risk for development of diabetic retinopathy was reported for every fice year increase in duration of diabetes.
The study reported that the siblings of persons with retinpathy had a three fold higher risk of diabetic retinopathy than did the siblings of persons without diabetic retinopathy in India.

Wednesday, 6 October 2004

IMG controversy: `IMG Bharata not part of the Florida academy'

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 6: In a new twist to the ongoing controversy over the alleged scandal in the allotment of 850 acres of prime land to IMG Bharata for a mega sporting complex in the city, the IMG Academies LLP, Florida, on Friday clarified that IMG Bharata was not its subsidiary company in India.
In an email sent to this correspondent, Ted Meekma, senior vice-president of IMG Worldwide Inc. and director of IMG Academies LLP in Bradenton, Florida, said IMG Bharata and IMG Academies East were established by Andrew Krieger.
"IMG Academies East and IMG Academies Bharata are not subsidiaries of IMG Worldwide, Inc. or IMG Academies LLP and IMG Worldwide, Inc. or IMG Academies LLP are not investors or owners in either of these two entities," Ted Meekma said.
Meekma's clarification gains significance in the backdrop of claims made by IMG Bharata that it was a subsidiary of IMG Academies, Florida. Billy Rao and Andrew Krieger all through have been maintaining that their company was in fact a unit of the Florida-based sporting giant. Based on their claims, the previous TD government entered into an MoU with IMG Bharata for establishment of world class sporting facilities in Hyderabad. The company was allotted 850 acres to create the facilities.
The Congress government, which has ordered a CBI probe after cancelling the land allocation to IMG Bharata, has been describing Krieger as a "money swindler" and Billy Rao as an "academic cheat". Since the government believed that these two promoters of IMG Bharata had a "shady" past, it cancelled the land allocation and ordered a CBI probe. Government Chief Whip N Kiran Kumar Reddy had described IMG Bharata as a benami firm of TD chief N Chandrababu Naidu.
Meekma, however, said in his message that though the Florida company did not own IMG Bharata, it had "affiliation" with Krieger.
"IMG Academies LLP, a division of IMG Worldwide, Inc., has been under contract for licensing and consulting with Krieger's IMG Academies East entity for over three years. Our contract calls for us to license our well-known/respected brands, systems and techniques, and consult on the design, staffing, programming and operations of a multi-sport training/educational complex to be built in Hyderabad (by the entity called IMG Academies Bharata) but not owned by IMG Worldwide, Inc," he pointed out.
It might be recalled that Meekma and IMGA LLP co-director Greg Breunich visited Hyderabad during the MoU signing ceremony at Jubilee Hall. Then Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu too attended the programme and addressed a joint press conference.
The IMG Academies LLP has now expressed its willingness to take over the project and complete it. "We, IMGA LLP, are ready to execute upon these plans and live up to our contractual obligations," Meekma said.
He said he had written letters to the State government clarifying IMGA LLP's association with Krieger and his IMG Academies East/Bharata entities. Referring to Krieger's plans to raise/invest 150 million US dollars for growth of sports training, education and tourism in Hyderabad, the IMG Academies LLP senior vice-president said "we are enthusiastic" about this project.
"I would think that this type of potential investment within your community would be embraced and appreciated," he said.
Sports Minister M Satyanarayana Rao, when contacted, said since the State Cabinet had decided to cancel the land allocation and had ordered a CBI inquiry, the government would consider the IMG Academies, Florida, only after the completion of the probe. "Let the probe be finished first. Then we can think of what we should do," he said.

Government's Reaction
Hyderabad, Oct 19: Government chief whip N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Thursday said he would submit before the Central Bureau of Investigation all documents relating to the IMG Bharata deal with the previous Telugu Desam government as also the "background" of the company promoters.
Reacting sharply to reports that IMG Bharata had planned to serve a legal notice on him for his utterances on the IMG deal, Kiran Kumar Reddy told reporters at CLP office here that he had a set of documents which would put the company in the dock.
"I have been waiting for the legal notice. Let them serve it on me. Let the trial be held in London. I am prepared for it. I have documentary evidence on the shady deals of the company and its promoters. The documents will be submitted to the CBI," Kiran Kumar Reddy pointed out.
He said he wanted to study the way court proceedings are conducted in London and hence was ready for a trial there. The IMG Bharata had allegedly warned of taking up a trial in the USA against the State government and the chief whip suggested that it be held in London.
Kiran Kumar Reddy has been levelling charges against IMG Bharata in and out of the State Assembly and even went to the extent of terming it as a benami firm of TD supremo N Chandrababu Naidu.

Text of Ted Meekma's letter
My name is Ted Meekma. I am an IMG Worldwide Inc. Senior Vice President, and Director of IMG Academies LLP (IMGA LLP) in Bradenton, Florida. In response to recent newspaper articles and an A.P. Cabinet press note, I would like to, once again, set the record straight relative to IMG Worldwide, Inc.'s and IMGA LLP's relationship with IMG Academies East and its subsidiary IMG Academies Bharata, two entities established by Mr. Andrew Krieger.

IMGA LLP, a division of IMG Worldwide, Inc., has been under contract for licensing and consulting with Mr. Krieger's IMG Academies East entity for over three years. Our contract calls for us to license our well-known/respected brands, systems and techniques, and consult on the design, staffing, programming and operations of a multi-sport training/educational complex to be built in Hyderabad (by the entity called IMG Academies Bharata) but not owned by IMG Worldwide, Inc.

IMG Academies East and IMG Academies Bharata are not subsidiaries of IMG Worldwide, Inc. or IMGA LLP, and IMG Worldwide, Inc./IMGA LLP are not investors or owners in either of these two entities. However, there are connections and a clear affiliation between Mr. Krieger's entities and our own (as specifically noted above).

Mr. Krieger is a long time friend and associate of IMGA LLP. We share in his vision to bring world-class training to Hyderabad and our support of his IMG Academies Bharata project is well defined and documented.

My IMGA LLP Co-director, Greg Breunich and I traveled to Hyderabad, toured the site, met with A.P. Government officials, attended a signing ceremony and answered press questions about our commitment/involvement with this IMG Academies Bharata project.I attended a New York press conference with other senior IMG Worldwide, Inc. officials to the same end, and sent IMG Worldwide, Inc.'s Greg Sproule (based at the time in Singapore) to attend a simultaneous press event on my behalf in Hyderabad.

My IMGA LLP colleague, Jamal Pritchard spent four months in Hyderabad working on this project. He and I have collaborated with Mr. Krieger's architects and master planners on countless occasions, in an effort to perfect the ideal plan for this exciting complex.We, IMGA LLP, are ready to execute upon these plans and live up to our contractual obligations. We have learned, however, that IMG Academies Bharata's requests for permits to begin construction have been ignored.

As an employee of IMG Worldwide, Inc., I have approved press releases and written letters to the press and to the A. P Government clarifying IMGA LLP's association with Mr. Krieger and his IMG Academies East/Bharata entities. Why these actions have not been enough to quiet the critics who have doubted IMGA LLP's contractual association to IMG Academies Bharata, I do not know. But for whatever reason, my September '05 letter to the A.P. Government went unanswered and unacknowledged.

I welcome questions or comments from anyone who needs further validation of our connection to this project. I should also point out that it is our understanding, and we are enthusiastic about Mr. Krieger's readiness to raise/invest $150 million for the growth of sports training, education and tourism in Hyderabad via this IMG Academies Bharata initiative. I would think that this type of potential investment within your community would be embraced and appreciated.


Ted Meekma
Senior Vice President, IMG Worldwide, Inc.
Director IMG Academies LLP

Monday, 4 October 2004

Ramadhan is round the corner and so is the controversy over the sighting of the new moon

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 4: Ramadhan is round the corner and so is the controversy over the sighting of the new moon.
A group of Islamic scholars gather at Husaini Building, the office of the Ruhiyat Hilal (Moon-sighting) Committee in the city, after the Maghrib prayers to decide whether the Crescent of the holy month of Ramadhan has been sighted. Holding telescopes and powerful binoculars the Muslim elders scan the sky and after an hour of discussions and arguments they decide that there's no trace of the Ramadhan moon.
And to be doubly sure, they make a number of calls to local Ruhiyat Hilal committees in Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Kochi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Chennai. After a cross check with the Islamic scholars from around the country, the Hussaini Building puts out an announcement that Ramadhan will begin on Thursday and the Taraweeh prayers will be held from Wednesday night in all mosques. Scores of people gather outside eagerly waiting for the announcement.
The Muslim clergy in Hyderabad, Deoband, Rai Bareli, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Lucknow are aware that the holy Islamic month had already begun in Saudi Arabia, which houses two of the holiest Muslim shrines. But they do not want to follow Saudi Arabia or any Arab nation "blindly".
"Do not believe the Saudis. They do not follow the traditional Islamic lunar calendar. They have evolved a fixed calendar based on astronomical calculations. We have not sighted the moon in India. Even Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Malaysia have not reported the sighting of the moon. For us Ramadhan will begin only after we spot the new moon," says Abdur Raheem Qureshi, secretary of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board.
The Islamic calendar is based on lunar months, which begin when the thin crescent Moon is actually sighted in the western sky after sunset within a day or so after new moon. The Islamic dates begin at sunset on the previous evening and end at sunset the next day.
These dates may or may not correspond to the evenings on which the crescent moon is first visible, and it is the visibility of the crescent moon that determines when the religious observance begins. The moon's visibility at these times varies with location; generally, the visibility increases to the west, and locations in the tropics are favoured over those in middle or high latitudes.
"For Islamic calendar purposes, the sighting must be made with the unaided eye," argues Moulana Syed Yusufuddin Al Madani, president of Sunni Ulema Board. There are two opinions on the sighting of the moon. The first is Ittehadul Matale (unity of the crescent). According to this opinion, when a new crescent moon is declared as sighted, in any part of the world, that declaration could be used as the basis of local declarations for the start of the Islamic month, at other parts of the world. The other equally valid opinion is Iktelaf-ul-Matale (different crescents) which acknowledges that there could be different days on which the crescent moon is first sighted in different parts of the world and consequently the start of the Islamic month could be on different days, he points out.
"We do not follow Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or any other country. If the moon is sighted in any part of India, we will start our new month. Our report is that there has been no moon sighting on Tuesday," says Moulana Qubool Pasha Shuttari, secretary of Ruhiyat Hilal Committee.
What these Islamic scholars overlook is that the visibility of the young lunar crescent depends on sky conditions and the location, experience, and preparation of the observer. The moonrise in Hyderabad was at 6.40 am on Tuesday and so there's no scope for its sighting.
Denying the charge that the Muslim clergy in India do not follow scientific system of moon calculations, Siasat Urdu daily editor Zahid Ali Khan, says "how can the Mullahs hide the moon to postpone the holy month. If it is visible it will be visible for all. Sighting of the moon by naked eye is a must."

Saturday, 25 September 2004

Hakims develop special concoction to keep Ramadhan fast cool

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 25: Unani researchers and Hakeems in the city have come up with a special concoction of herbs for diabetic Muslims, who fast during the holy month of Ramadhan, to keep them healthy and free from major health complications like hypoglycaemia and ketoacidosis.
Muslims suffering from diabetes find it hard to fast during Ramadhan since the glucose levels in the blood fluctuate because of abstinence from food for 12 hours followed by two quick meals within four hours. The problem is more complicated in the case of those suffering from insulin-dependent diabetes.
The special Ramadhan herbal prescription by city Unani experts is a sequel to a research study by a joint Indo-Bangla-Pak team of diabetologists on diabetic Muslims who fast during the holy month. The team came out with the medical formulations of sulphonylureas (the first line drugs used for Type 2 diabetes) as drug of choice during Ramadhan. The diabetologists suggested that drugs like repaglinide and natiglinide, short acting drugs in the sulphonylureas family, should be taken twice a day.
Since these allopathic drugs are known to have side effects, the Hakeems point out that special Unani medical formulations can be taken half an hour before "Sahar" (beginning of fast in the wee hours of day) and one to two hours after "Iftar" (breaking of fast after the sunset). Muslims suffering from insulin-dependent diabetes are exempted from fasting but a majority of them still fast, to fulfil one of the five articles of Islamic faith. Herbal medicines will mitigate the sufferings of such Muslims.
Unani expert Prof Syed Mahmood Najimi says one teaspoon of "Ziabeteen", if taken half an hour before Sahar breakfast and after Iftar dinner will control the blood sugar in the patients. He also prescribes Kalonji (Nigella sativa) seeds in powder form before and after the fasting period.
Unani pharmacologist Dr Syed Ghousuddin suggests Kalonji oil with black tea before Sahar and at bedtime. He says half a spoon of Kalonji Chavanprash with low fat milk at bed time will take care of the insulin level throughout the fasting period.
The Central Unani Research Institute is also doing a clinical study on the problem. "We are conducting clinical trials every fortnight on our patients. It is working well. We are also thinking of alternative formula. Since ours is a coded study, we cannot reveal the contents of the medicine. Patients can come to us and take the prescription," points out Dr Muhammad Ali Mirza, director-incharge.
According to Hakeem Wasaey Razvi Mohani, director of Institute of Tibb-e-Nabawi, diabetic patients can themselves prepare the special Ramadhan medicine at home. His prescription is equal quantities of Kalonji, gum, seeds of Shirash (Cannabis) and pulp of Indrain (Colocyinth) either in power or capsule form before and after the fasting period. Another simple medication is a mixture of four tolas of Satawar (Asparagus racemosus willd), three tolas of Dane-Ilachi (cardamon seeds), two tolas of Dalchini (cinnamon) and three tolas of Joush. Musli tonic will give extra energy and take care of the fatigue associated with fasting.
The experts want the patients to avoid starchy food like rice, potato and bread. Vegetables like bitter gourd and French beans should be consumed more to bring down the sugar level to normal and help insulin to flow.
The Unani herbal formulations also mitigate the underlying pathologies and complications associated with the diabetes millitus.
The composition of Kalonji, fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) and chicory (Cichorium intybus) is prescribed with a diet and exercise program to control high blood sugar in patients with type-2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent diabetes).
The formulations not only help in lowering sugar levels but also regulate blood sugar level, improve pancreas function, lower cholesterol, improve spleen function and metabolism, strengthen digestion, reduce tiredness and counteract thirst.

Saturday, 11 September 2004

Medicinal properties of Haleem, the special Ramzan dish in Hyderabad

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 11: Haleem, the special Ramzan dish of Hyderabad known for its unique taste, has several medicinal properties that improve semen production and stimulate ovulation.
Studies by city Unani physicians and researchers show that Haleem and its variant Harees increase sperm count and promote sperm health and motility in men and assist in better ovulation in women. The special ingredients that go into the preparation of Haleem and Harees stimulate blood circulation to vital body organs thereby reducing sexual dysfunction and the problem of low sperm count.
"The unique feature of this Hyderabadi dish is that it contains both slow-digesting and fast-burning ingredients. The fibre content is also relatively high. The legumes that go into its production increase muscle strength and sexual potency. The ingredients are also rich in potassium and magnesium.
Whole grains like wheat, nuts, vegetables and dry fruits solve the problem of low sperm count, which has of late become a major health and reproductive problem in industrialised nations," says Dr Fazal Ahmad, senior Unani researcher.
Dr Fazal, who also edits Unani monthly Cure for All, points out that Haleem and Harees acquire the aphrodisiac properties primarily because of the five "Gs" that go into its preparation. "Gur (jaggery), gond (natural gum), ghost (meat), ghehoon (wheat) and ghee are special Unani prescriptions. A combination of all five or some of them increases sexual potency primarily by increasing the sperm count. Our research has shown that those who consume Haleem or Harees on regular basis are sexually more active than who don't," he says.
Many residents of Barkas locality in Hyderabad consume Harees at breakfast everyday and this is reflected on their good physique and better reproductive health.
According to senior Unani physician Dr Ilyas Khan, Haleem contains minerals selenium, folic acid, and zinc and vitamins A, C, and E. "It has been scientifically proved that foods rich in these compounds increase the sperm count and sperm motility, thus assisting in reproductive health. Studies have shown that Haleem and Harees increase blood circulation and assist in blood production. The system of Unani medicine says any food that increases blood circulation will promote sperm production," he says.
Hakeem Tariq Mehmood Chughtai in his research publication on the health benefits of Haleem and Harees points out that one should not take water immediately after consuming this special festival dish to derive maximum benefit from it. Since Haleem/Harees contains both "slow and fast digestion ingredients" the benefits will be more if the dish is consumed soon after breaking the day-long fast during Ramzan.

Thursday, 8 July 2004

Desi Fowl like bird developed in Hyderabad

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 8: The city-based Project Directorate on Poultry has developed a chicken variety that closely resembles the jungle (desi) fowl in colour and plumage pattern for backyard farming in villages and tribal habitations.
While chicken varieties are generally white in colour without any plumage pattern, this variety of poultry bird named Vanaraja, is multi-coloured and has attractive feathers. The male bird is a coloured Cornish strain while the female parent bird is a synthetic multi-coloured meat population.
It is difficult to rear common poultry birds in the backyard in villages and hilly terrain as they become easy prey to predators but Vanaraja has the ability and agility to escape predators. The Vanaraja variety is light in weight and has long shanks and is capable of protecting itself.
The PDP has developed the male parent for moderate juvenile body weight, long shanks and good immune competence. On the other hand, the female parent gives high egg production with better egg size and high hatchability. It is also immune to general poultry diseases. The bird easily adapts to local climatic conditions even they turn adverse like extreme cold or hot.
Without extra feeding efforts the Vanaraja male bird attains moderate body weight within eight weeks. The female bird lays between 160 and 180 eggs in a laying cycle. A team of scientists led by Dr SV Rama Rao has developed the bird.
According to PDP officials, the Vanaraja birds can be used to improve the genetic potential of the jungle fowl or desi hens through crossing. "The upgraded progeny from such a cross has been found to perform better than the jungle fowl both in terms of overall body weight and production of eggs," Dr Rao points out.
The chicks need to be acclimatised to the backyard conditions before they could be let free in the open environment. The Vanaraja variety does not need any special diet supplement once let free in the backyard. It will feed on worms and other food material available to it unlike the poultry bird where special care need to be taken.
The Project Directorate has supplied the germplasm of Vanaraja to different parts of the country. The birds are found to be performing well everywhere.
Vanaraja has been a hit in the rural environments and local population has accepted it for backyard farming as the bird attains a body weight of 1.5 kgs in six weeks and reaches up to 1800 grams in seven weeks.
The mortality rate is very low in this variety. The rate is as low as three per cent both at six weeks and seven weeks of age. The bird gives good quantity and quality of meat. There is a wastage of just 30 per cent.
The PDP based at Rajendranagar has also developed a crossbreed called Krishibro, a variety of broiler which does not require high content of nutrients in its feed.
In this case also the mortality rate up to six weeks is just three per cent with a survival rate of 97 per cent as in the case of Vanaraja variety. The broiler chicks in this case are also coloured. Both the varieties have high immunity against common poultry diseases like Ranikhet.

Wednesday, 7 July 2004

Wakf Board: Manipulative politics of the Majlis

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 7: Playing manipulative politics, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has successfully prevailed upon the Congress government to amend the Wakf Act to facilitate its re-entry into the multi-crore State Wakf Board.
The MIM, which sailed with the Telugu Desam when it was in power, suddendly changed its political stand to support the Congress after the State Assembly elections. The MIM enjoyed power in the State Wakf Board by joining hand with the TD and keeping the Congress off Wakf politics.
Now that the Congress is in power, the MIM has dumped the Telugu Desam to make a re-entry into the Wakf Board. To facilitate election of an MIM member, the Congress government amended the Wakf Act to increase the overall strength of the Board from nine to 11.
It also reduced the strength of MLA-members from two to one and increased the strength of MP-members from one to two. Earlier, the State government used to nominate four members to the Board and it has now increased it to six.
For the first time in a decade, the TD will go without a representation in the Board while the MIM will enjoy power in the country's largest Muslim endowment body for a successive second term despite a change in government.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

India is a land of prophets, say Muslim scholars

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 13: Two days after RSS chief KS Sudarshan asked Muslims to recognise Sri Krishna as one of the prophets of Islam, city Islamic scholars have declared India as the land of holy prophets and the first soil on the earth to receive the Divine Message from Allah.
"Islamic traditions hold that the first Prophet of Islam and progenitor of humanity, Hazrat Adam, descended on Sarandeep Island (now in Sri Lanka) after he was sent down from the Heaven in the wake of the Adam-Eve episode of eating the forbidden fruit. Since India is one of the oldest civilisations, many prophets may have been sent to guide humanity," says Mufti Sadiq Mohiuddin of the Department of Fatwas of 135-year-old Jamia Nizamia Islamic University.
The Mufti in his opinion (Fatwa) told this correspondent that early Islamic personalities including Ibn Asakir and Allama Ibn Saad had mentioned in their sayings (Riwayat) that Adam had landed on the Indian soil. Even famous Arab traveller Ibn Batuta had mentioned in his travelogues of having visited Sarandeep island where the first prophet of Islam had descended from the Garden of Eden.
Muslims believe that God had sent about 1.24 lakh prophets to all parts of the earth. However, the names of only 25 prophets have been mentioned in the Holy Quran.
Stating that the Holy Quran holds that Allah had sent His Prophets to all places at different times, Mufti Sadiq Mohiuddin points out that while Islamic scholars all over the world are of the view that India had been the land of prophets, they are divided on whether Sri Rama and Sri Krishna were prophets of Islam. "They may or may not have been the Prophets. We want to remain silent on the issue. But it is the duty of every Muslim to respect the religious personalities of other religions," he observed.
According to All-India Muslim Personal Law Board general secretary Abdur Raheem Qureshi, some Indian Islamic scholars believe Dhul-Kifl, one of the
holy personalities mentioned in the Quran, refers to Gautam Buddha. "There's no "P" sound in Arabic. Dhul Kifl means resident of Kifl or Kapil (Kapila Vastu). Some scholars also hold Mahavir was also a Prophet of God.
Islamic scholar Hafiz Shujat Hussain refers to the writings of eminent Islamic personality Moulana Tayyab Qasmi of Darul-Uloom Deoband who had held that Sri Ramachandraji and Sri Krishnaji could also be the prophets. "We should give utmost respect to Hindu prophets as we give respect to prophets from Hazrat Adam to Hazrat Muhammad including Hazrat Musa (Moses) and Hazrat Isa (Jesus).
City Muslim scholars also quote from "Subhatul Marjan Fi Tarikhe Hindustan", written by eminent Islamic scholar Allama Ghulam Ali Azad Bilgrami in Arabic, which describes India as the first domicile of Adam.
"In Ayodhya, the birth place of Sri Rama, there is a long grave. This grave is said to be the burial place Adam's son, Prophet Hazrat Shish," Hafiz Shujat points out.
Though Islamic scholars have different opinion on the prophet-hood of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, they all agree that since India is the place where Hazrat Adam had descended, it had acquired the status of the first capital of entire humanity. Since Adam received angels and revelations from God, India could be called the first land where man ever received the enlightenment.
"Indian Muslims have always believed that God had sent His prophets, messengers and guides to India. We all hold Sri Rama and Sri Krishna in high esteem, not because Sudarshan advises us to do so, but because the Holy Quran and Islamic traditions wants us to. There are Islamic traditions that Prophet Muhammad used to say that he gets the smell of Paradise from India," says Peerzada Syed Shabbir Naqshbandi, president of All-India Religious Leaders' Association.

Wednesday, 5 May 2004

Forest fires become rare in Andhra Pradesh

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 5: Forest fires, which worry environmentalists elsewhere in the world, have become rare in Andhra Pradesh with the State Forest Department taking satellite imageries of the forests on daily basis.
The forest department gets remote sensing data on the status of green cover including forest fires every day at 2.00 pm, giving a first hand information what is going on in all the reserve forest.
"We analyse the data and take quick action to contain forest fires, in case we notice them. The information is passed on to lower rung officials instantaneously. The incidence of forest fires have come down by 50 per cent and the department could save hundreds of crores of Rupees worth forest material and wildlife from fire accidents," principal chief conservator of forests SK Das said.
Forests fires in the State have over the years been responsible for degradation. Vast areas of forests and grasslands are burnt every year. The loss simply runs into hundreds of crores of Rupees since the State forests harbour economically important species like teak, terminalia, anogeissus, bamboo, dalbergia, lannea and red sanders.
Forest fires are generally noticed between December and May as the leaf fall starts towards the end of December. The dry grass around forms a highly combustible material for forest fires.
The department has categorised factors influencing forest fires into fuel index like combustible bio-mass from forest type, topography (slope and aspect) and proximity (roads and settlements).
"We have established the inter-relationship for these factors and finally integrated it for identification and zonation of fire prone areas from lowest to highest risk. The geomatic maps pinpoint locations for erection of fire watch towers, execution of fire lines and construction of fire walls," Das pointed out.

Monday, 29 March 2004

Cricket betting: Hyderabadi punters have the field day

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 29: When Pakistan won the Bangalore test to level the cricket series with India, punters in Hyderabad made a big celebration. It was really an occasion for them to celebrate as the money involved in the betting game was quite high and it's all for them to take home.
Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, city punters favoured Pakistan even before the start of the third test, despite the fact that the Pakis were almost written off. City punters are "double-happy" as their earlier prediction of a India win at Kolkata test also came true.
According to a bookie, punters here loaded odds 2:1 in favour of Pakistan as India had never won a test match in the Garden City.
Points out satta bazar operator Pradeep, "Of the four test matches India played on the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in Bangalore against Pakistan, it lost three and drew one test. Pakistan won three matches there earlier. Moreover, Pakistan was under tremendous pressure to win the Bangalore match to level the series. We loaded the dice in favour of Pakistan and our prediction came true."
Strangely enough, city Task Force police, who conduct regular raids during cricket series, are silent during the ongoing Pak tour of India. None of the bookie hideouts was raided this time though police officials admit in private that the city's satta bazar had made a turnout of at least Rs 40 crore during the first three test matches.
Punters all over the country changed odds quite frequently as the chances of the match heading for a draw were high at least till the tea break on the final day of the Bangalore test. But the Hyderabadi bookies stuck with their favourite Pakistan even when India was at 108 for two.
"We do not know about punters outside Hyderabad. As far as we are concerned, we take a decision after working out several details including individual statistics of cricketers, ground and team. We work it out so meticulously that most of our predictions come true. Say 99.99 per cent. We bid for India at the Kolkata test and India won", observes a bookie from Begum Bazar area of the city.
Test series is over and punters have made a big money. And what about the one day internationals that begin on April 2? As bookie Mahesh reveals, the odds are "yet to be fixed".
"The lots will be thrown just a day before the first ODI at Kochi or after the toss. Right now we cannot say anything. Betting turns more serious after a couple of ODIs if India or Pakistan clinches them", he says.
Cricket satta bazar in twin cities operate in three different ways - in person, through cell phone or laptop (internet). But the cell phone type is the most preferred one for its secrecy. During the Bangalore test at one stage the odds against India changed from 2:1 to 6:1. A notable feature of bookies in the city is that they take a day off from their routine business or work to concentrate on betting. Monday was the busiest day for bookies as the odds changed quickly after lunch.

Wednesday, 17 March 2004

Geographical Indication for Kondapalli toys

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 17: After Pochampalli Ikkat, the State government is planning to push the world famous Kondapalli wooden toys for Geographical Indication (GI) protection rights to safeguard this unique craftsmanship from cheap imitation and extinction.
Once the GI office in Mumbai accepts the State government's plea on Kondapalli toys, dozens of artisans in the dusty village of Kondapalli in the outskirts of Vijayawada city will secure international rights on their art designs and craftmanship. No one else outside the geographical area of Kondapalli village will have the right to produce Kondapalli toys either by hand or machine.
A senior official in the AP Handicrafts Development Corporation told this correspondent that the GI rights would help the poor artisans earn worldwide recognition. "The artisans will also get a few bucks more for their hard work. What is needed is aggressive marketing strategy both at the national and international level", he pointed out.
Kondapalli toys are crafted from a special type of softwood, locally known as Tella Poniki, available in the adjoining reserve forests. Unlike toy-makers elsewhere in the State, the Kondapalli artisans use only natural water colours. They mostly use a paste prepared from tamarind seed powder to join various parts of the toy. Some enterprising artisans, however, use synthetic adhesives. Once the toy is chiselled, they use sawdust and tamarind seed paste to give finishing shape and attach limbs to the toy. The toy is then left for a day or two for drying. Some of the famous Kondapalli toys include the 10-headed demon king Ravana, the village gathering, snake charmer, village belle, palmyra tree. Different colours are used to symbolise the character of the image. The influence of Islamic idiom is also felt on some toys. The process being highly flexible, Kondapalli toys have found many admirers in foreign countries.
Rural Development Minister D Srinivas pointed out that the State government was also planning to obtain patent rights for Gadwal sarees (both silk and cotton), Uppada and Jamdhani fabrics and Dharmvaram silk sarees, besides the Kalamkari art designs of Pedana in Krishna district.
Earlier, he told the State Assembly that the government had successfully obtained patent rights for Pochampalli sarees. "The government wants to obtain GI rights for several products which reflect the cultural legacy of the State", he said.

Sunday, 15 February 2004

Indians consume more DDT through foods, thanks to Centre's norms

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 15: Indians will continue to consume more amounts of poisonous DDT through meat and poultry, if the Central government has its way.
While the WHO-FAO controlled Codex Alimentarius Commission favoured the maximum residual level (MRL) for the harmful pesticide, DDT, to be fixed at 0.1 to 3 mg per kg of poultry and meat, India has been arguing that the MRL should be 5 mg per kg. The present MRL for DDT world-wide is 5 mg per kg and Codex wants to bring it down to cut the quantum of the pesticide residue entering the body.
The argument put forth by the Codex India under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is that 5 mg DDT per kg of poultry or meat will not cause harm either to the health of the people or the industry. Strangely enough the Indian government, which first proposed the DDT levels in 2003, continues to stand by its argument. Even the mid-term Codex Plan of the MHFW supports the view that DDT levels should be at 5 mg per kg.
Health experts, however, warn that regulat intake of DDT in minute quantities will have a synergetic effect on the overall functioning of the body. Eminent gastroenterologist Dr SC Samal of Apollo Hospitals warns DDT even in minute quantities will cause cancer and peripheral neuropathy, affecting the nervous system.
Many countries including the USA have banned DDT and have stringent regulations on DDT MRLs in food products. If the Codex India succeeds in its argument, Indians will have to consume DDT at least double the quantity fixed by other countries.
Codex Alimentarius Commission is in the process of finalising standards for food products including vegetables, fruits, processed food, meat and poultry. At least two Codex meetings are slated for this year and according to Codex sources here, India wants to safeguard the poultry and meat industry in view of local conditions. For instance, while DDT is banned in many countries, the product continues to make its way in the Indian agriculture system. Animals grazing on fields build up DDT residues in their bodies and this passes on to human beings through food chain.
According to the Codex India website, which contains the minutes of various Codex meetings, India supported the establishment of MRLs for DDT at appropriate level to "ensure consumer protection but not a lower level, which might result in difficulty to trade". The Codex India feels that 5 mg of DDT per kg is "appropriate".
Even the Regional Co-ordinator for Asia expressed reservation on the proposed draft on MRLs for DDT at 0.1-.3 mg/kg. in poultry, meat.
"India, therefore, strongly recommends the EMRL for DDT should
be fixed at 5 mg/kg on meat (on fat basis)," the website points out.
While arguing its case on pesticide residues in spices, the Codex India observes, "when analysis are performed for monitoring purposes it is
especially important that confirmatory data are generated before
reporting on samples containing pesticides that are not normally
associated with that commodity or where MRLs have been exceeded.
Samples may contain interfering chemicals that may be misidentified as
pesticides. So, while reporting the monitoring data on spices,
confirmatory data for some of the pesticides samples should be reported."

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This Day In History

Mother's Care

Mother's Care
Minnu The Cat & Her Kittens Brownie, Goldie & Blackie

Someone with Nature

Someone with Nature
Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Under the shade of Baobab tree

Under the shade of Baobab tree
At Agha Khan Akademi in Kenya

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Convention on Biodiversity

Convention on Biodiversity
Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity