Saturday, 22 November 2008

Green Chemistry: Indian college laboratories to go green

November 22, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 21: Chemistry labs in colleges and universities will not smell foul or emit dense chemical fumes posing danger to the health of students, if the Department of Science and Technology has its way.
The DST has formulated a concept what it calls "Green Chemistry" to protect the health of students and teachers and keep the environment free of chemical pollutants. The DST's move comes in the wake of ban on smoking in public places.
A task force set up by the DST has prepared a set of guidelines for all educational institutions across the country as part of the Central government's efforts to make chemistry learning ecologically and health friendly.
The chemistry lab tests now conducted in most of the colleges and universities in the country were introduced more than 50 years ago.Many of these experiments, particularly involving toxic chemicals like liquid bromine, potassium cyanide, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, are not at all safe to human health.
The DST held a series of meetings including in Hyderabad before arriving at the new guidelines in the form of a monograph. It wants to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of substances hazardous to human health and environment, in educational institutions.
The Andhra Pradesh State government has expressed its willingness to introduce the Green Chemistry concept. "We are holding talks with universities and the Board of Intermediate Education. We are seized of the issue and take a decision on the implementation of new guidelines after taking into consideration the suggestions from our educational institutions," Prof KC Reddy, chairman of AP State Council of Higher Education, told this correspondent.
According to the new guidelines, wherever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that posses little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
Chemical products should be designed to preserve efficacy of function while reducing toxicity. The use of auxiliary substances like solvents and separation agents should be made unnecessary wherever possible and, innocuous when used.
Under the new guidelines tests with mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, bismuth and chromium salts, which are toxic, will be excluded from syllabus meant for the undergraduate general stream students. But these tests may be kept for students of honours course for demonstration only.
College managements should avoid lab experiments using organic solvents like ether, petroleum ether or ethyl acetate. Instead they should use ethanol and methanol. Institutions should use alternative reagents which are not only eco-friendly but also be easily available anywhere in the country in bulk quantities at very cheap price.
The guidelines assume significance as the conditions in many laboratories for doing inorganic analysis by conventional methods in the undergraduate level are at all not eco-friendly. The gases are toxic and causes health-hazards. Insufficiency of exhaust fans remain a big problem. Sometimes experiments are carried out in closed doors in hot and humid conditions. Moreover, most of the labs not properly
Students often fall victim of this bad infrastructure. The acid fumes, which are toxic, pollute the atmosphere.

Some notable guidelines

1. Direct use of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas generated from Kipp’s
apparatus must be avoided.

2. A better alternative for hydrogen sulphide in inorganic group
analysis is highly desirable and efforts should continue to find one.

3. Rampant use of concentrated acids like nitric oxide (HNO3),
hydrochloric acid (HCl) must be avoided.

4. Ammonia bottles must always remain tightly corked. Chemical tests
using concentrated acids or ammonia must be carried out in fume-
cupboard. The gases from the exhaust may be passed through alkali
solution (preferably lime water) for absorption. The nitrite or nitrate
salts of calcium may be used as fertiliser.

5. Fire extinguisher, first aid kit, eye shower should be kept ready in a
particular common place. Hand gloves, safety glasses, and aprons must
be made compulsory during lab work.

6. Use of chemicals like carbon tetrachloride, benzene should be
avoided and can be substituted by toluene or acetic acid in butanol.

7. Experiments involving conductometry, polarimetry, potentiometry,
pH metry, colorometry, polarography, spectrophotomery, requires
chemicals in very low concentrations and have no negative influence
on the health or environment, hence these experiments may not need
any change or alterations.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Take Orange Juice And Beat Cigarette Smoke-related Health Problems

November 21, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 20: A glass of lemon or orange juice four times a day will help prevent life-threatening lung disease, emphysema, in cigarette smokers and victims of second hand smoke.
A group of scientists from Dr BC Guha Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology has found that daily intake of vitamin C will help prevent emphysema, an irreversible disease characterised by destruction of the
lung alveolar cells causing enlargement of airspace. There's no effective
treatment and it will ultimately lead to morbidity and death. About 15 per cent of smokers suffer from the problem.
The team conducted work on guinea pigs, which are close to human beings in anatomical and physiological functions in certain aspects.
"Guinea pig lung has anatomical similarity with human lung and also the guinea pig lung shows cigarette smoke-induce pathophysiological response similar to that of human lung. If the results obtained with guinea pigs are extrapolated to humans, then 2 grams of vitamin C per day, preferably in divided doses 500 mg, 4 times a day, should prevent emphysematous lung damage in smokers," Dr Indu B Chatterjee, one of the researchers, told this correspondent.
At present doctors try to manage the problems caused by emphysema by giving bronchodilators and oxygen therapy. Globally, including India, one out of 75 persons suffers from this disease. About 95 of emphysema cases are caused by cigarette smoking. However, only 15 per cent of the smokers are afflicted by this disease.
"The mechanism of cigarette smoke-induced emphysema is not clear. Cigarette smoke contains about 4000 compounds and it is a conjecture how many of these are responsible for causing emphysema. We have isolated and characterised one single compound, p-benzosemiquinone, from cigarette smoke, which appears to be the major cause of cigarette smoke-induced emphysema in a guinea pig model," Dr Chatterjee said.
The team has also patented a special filter, which traps p-benzosemiquinone from the mainstream cigarette smoke. The smoke coming out of this filtered cigarette does not produce emphysema in a guinea pig model.
"We have delineated the mechanism of action of cigarette smoke and also p-benzosemiquinone and prevention of emphysema. Vitamin C, at a moderately high dosage, almost completely prevents cigarette smoke or p-benzosemiquinone-induced emphysema," Dr Chatterjee added.
Vitamin C, abundantly present in lemon, orange and other citrus fruits, is a strong antioxidant. The team has also determined the modulatory effect of vitamin C in preventing pathophysiological events.
The researchers exposed vitamin C-restricted guinea pigs to cigarette smoke (five cigarettes daily; two puffs per cigarette) for 21 days with and without supplementation of 15 mg vitamin C per guinea pig per day.
Damage to lung including lung injury was evaluated. "Exposure of guinea pigs to cigarette smoke resulted in progressive protein damage, inflammation, apoptosis and lung injury up to 21 days of the experimental period.
Administration of 15 mg of vitamin C/guinea pig/day prevented all these pathophysiological effects," Dr Chatterjee pointed out.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Nataraja Dance Form Has Its Origin In The Cosmos

November 20, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: A major celestial event in the night sky about 1000 years ago gave birth to the concept of depicting Lord Siva as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer.
According to senior archaeometallurgist and dance exponent Dr Sharada Srinivasan, ancient South Indians, who witnessed a supernova explosion in 1054 CE, had depicted Lord Siva as the Cosmic Dancer or Nataraja. They had also conceptualised the observations of the constellation Orion and its star Betelgueuse or Alpha Orionis to present a pictorial representation to the God of Destruction.
Dr Sharada and late astrophysicist Dr Nirupama Raghavan had conducted a series of studies on the origin of Nataraja and his worship in various temples, particularly in Tamil Nadu. They based their findings on archaeometallurgy, a subject that deals with metals of yore, and archaeo-astronomy, the study of stars, constellations and galaxies as observed by our ancestors.
According to her, the notion of "cosmic dance" entered the human mind influenced by the developments in the sky. A close observation of the Orion constellation and its star Alpha Orionis conjures up the picture of a dancing lord, Nataraja. And she dates back the origin of the concept to the eleventh century, the period of the Chola kings, who patronised Nataraja idols in bronze.
"At one level, Chola bronzes represent an intensely visual culture of the activities of gods; of seeing and being seen as they were carried out in procession, followed by concealment in the sanctum.
The art of processional bronzes emerged in the Tamil country, in the sixth to twelfth centuries, out of the creative foment of Bhakti worship when the saint-poets composed passionate hymns praising their chosen deities," she points out in an interview with this correspondent.

The interplay between duality, of microcosm and macrocosm, and of the reconciliation of opposites seems to also be brilliantly captured in Chola bronzes. The superbly crafted eleventh century Ardhanariswara in Chennai’s Government Museum epitomises
the complementarity of the male and female halves of Siva. Saiva Siddhanta ritual associated with Chola temple worship itself oscillated between the intimate communion with the pillar-like stone lingam representing Siva within the sanctum, and the public processional worship of metal deities such as the dancing Siva
outside the sanctum during festivals.
According to Dr Sharada, the repertoire of the contemporary ‘classical’ dance form of Bharata Natyam, reconstituted from the wreckage of the abolished devadasi temple dance tradition of sadir, similarly oscillates between the inner space of abhinaya (expressive dance) and the outer space of an impersonal, geometric rendering of pure dance.
"Arudra/Ardra darisanam is a 10-day annual festival in Chidambaram in December related to the moon being full in the lunar asterism of the naksatra ardra (the reddish star Alpha Orionis), associated with the wrathful aspect of Siva. The constellation of Orion and surrounding stars is bathed in the soft glow of the full moon when it is high in the sky at Chidambaram. A thousand years ago, devoid of the present smog and light flares, the stars must have been even brighter in the
tropical night sky," she explains.
Another annual festival at Chidambaram, the Brahmotsavam of Ani Thirumanjanam, which is related to the lunar asterism of Uttara Nakshatra around June-July, seems to have begun in the mid-eleventh century from inscription.
The Indian zodiac of 360 degrees is divided into 27 parts based on the moon’s sidereal period such that a nakshatra denotes the longitudinal position of the moon within 13 degrees 20 minutes. "Thus, by using astronomical software, Dr Nirupama Raghavan could ascertain that in 1054 AD the moon would have been full in Uttara Nakshatra on July 11. This is uncannily close to the date that Chinese astronomers
recorded the crab supernova explosion of July 4! Although this is a preliminary finding, it could suggest a perceived metaphoric link between an observed cosmic phenomenon and notions of cosmic dance," Dr Sharada said supporting her thesis.
Indeed, a drawing from a Tamil manuscript sourced by Raja Deekshitar of Chidambaram shows how the Nataraja icon itself was probably traditionally visualised within the stars around Orion.
Moreover, the star chart for 1054 CE fitted well the iconometric design of a Nataraja image from Kankoduvanitham archaeometallurgically fingerprinted to the mid-11th century CE. "In the image, the hypothetical position of the crab supernova which exploded in 1054 CE lies near the top left of the head, close to the crescent moon. Chinese records suggest that the crab supernova came into view with a morning
crescent moon near it and was visible for 23 days, being four times as bright as Venus. Even American Indians are believed to have made cave paintings of a supernova with a crescent moon," she said.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Chandrayaan-1 formally begins its two year mission to the earth's natural satellite

November 17, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 16: Chandrayaan-1 formally began its two year lunar mission on Sunday with the Indian Space Research Organisation switching on some of the scientific equipment including the terrain mapping camera and the lunar laser ranging instrument.
The terrain mapping camera took three-dimensional images of the lunar terrain, the first-ever spacecraft to do so. With the successful beaming back of images by the terrain mapping camera to the ISRO's centres, India became the first country in the world to have mapped the Moon in length, breadth and depth. Thus far only astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin have observed the Moon in three dimensions. Chandrayaan-1's images of the Moon are the first ones to be seen in 3D through lens.
According to ISRO director S Satish, the terrain mapping camera took "breathtaking pictures of the lunar panorama".
The pictures will be processed on Monday. This will give ISRO scientists what exactly lies hidden on the Moon, as this will be the first view of the Moon in three dimensions.
The lunar laser ranging instrument and terrain mapping camera are two of the 11 scientific instruments on board the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. The laser equipment was turned on when the spacecraft was passing over western part of
the Moon’s visible hemisphere.

"Preliminary assessment of the data from laser instrument indicates that the instrument’s performance is normal," he said. The instrument sends pulses of infrared laser light towards a strip of lunar surface and detects the reflected
portion of that light. With this, the instrument can very accurately measure the height of Moon’s surface features.
According to ISRO, the laser instrument will be continuously kept on and it takes 10 measurements per second on both day and night sides of the Moon. It provides topographical details of both polar and equatorial regions of the Moon. Detailed analysis of the data sent by LLRI helps in understanding the internal structure of the Moon as well as the way that celestial body evolved.
ISRO also turned on radiation dose monitor on Sunday. It might be recalled that the Moon Impact Probe symbolically carrying the Indian tricolour was ejected onto the lunar terrain on Friday.
The terrain mapping camera has been functional for quite some time now. It has already sent pictures of the Earth and the Moon, though from a longer range. Now it is taking pictures from a close angle formally heralding the beginning of the Chandrayaan-1's two year mission to the lunar world.
The pictures and other scientific data sent by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft from lunar orbit have been received by antennas of Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu. The spacecraft operations are being carried out from the Satellite Control Centre of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network at Bangalore.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

DRDO Golden Jubilee: The Next 50 Years

November 16, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 15: The successful test-fire of Shourya missile earlier this week has pushed India into a special league of nations with the most modern weaponry and striking power. It's indeed kudos to the scientific brain power of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which is currently celebrating its golden jubilee year.
Shourya is just another feather in the cap of the DRDO. In the last five decades DRDO has indigenised technologies through constant research and improvement. The US imposed sanctions did not deter it from going ahead with its mission to make India a superpower.
Apart from developing the world lightest combat aircraft, the LCA, the laboratories attached to the DRDO have perfected the art of missile technology. They have also established India's superiority in electronic warfare systems by developing the state-of-the-art EW systems that would fool the enemy aircraft and missiles.
The Agni series of missiles have made India self-sufficient in defence
system. The Agni 5, under development, will have a range as far as 5,000 km, capable of hitting targets even in Europe. The DRDO is also planning to develop and produce super hypersonic missile systems that would fly quite low with super speed, seven to eight times the speed of sound. Shourya missile flew at five times the speed of sound. The next generation of missiles is an improvement over Shourya technology.
The DRDO was formed in 1958 from the amalgamation of the then already functioning Technical Development Establishment of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development and Production with the Defence Science Organisation. The DRDO was then a small organisation with 10 establishments or laboratories. Over the years, it has grown multi-directionally in terms of the variety of subject disciplines, number of laboratories, achievements and stature.
Today, DRDO is a network of more than 50 laboratories which are deeply engaged in developing defence technologies covering various disciplines, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, combat vehicles, engineering systems, instrumentation, missiles, advanced computing and simulation, special materials, naval systems, life sciences, training, information systems and agriculture.
It is now backed by over 5000 scientists and about 25,000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel. Several major projects for the development of missiles, armaments, light combat aircraft, radars and electronic warfare systems are on hand and significant achievements have already been made in several such technologies, according to DRDO.
The thrust areas include integral ram rocket engine, multi-target tracking capability, homing guidance using seeker and networking of radars.
The Agni series of missiles, brainchild of former President and eminent defence scientist DR APJ Abdul Kalam, gave India an edge over its neighbours. Agni is an intermediate range ballistic missile. Agni-I used solid propulsion booster and a liquid propulsion upper stage, derived from Prithvi, essentially to prove the re-entry structure, control and guidance.
The strap-down inertial navigation system adopts explicit guidance, which has attempted for the first time in the world. It uses all carbon composite structure for protecting payload during its re-entry phase.The DRDO has also developed, though in association with Russia, BrahMos, which is a supersonic cruise missile and can be used against ship and land targets. It has a range of up to 300 kms. The missile is
uniquely configured for installing in ships, submarines and aircraft and on ground vehicles.
Another missile, Prithvi, has higher lethal effect compared to any equivalent class of missiles in the world. Prithvi is a unique missile today having manoeuvrable trajectory and high level capability with field interchangeable warheads. This system is now being configured for launching from ship, increasing its capability as a sea mobile system.

DRDO Golden Jubilee: LCA Puts India Ahead

Light Combat Aircraft

Light Combat Aircraft is one of the major achievements of the Defence
Research and Development Organisation. The LCA developed by the
Aeronautical Development Agency, is the smallest light weight multirole
combat aircraft in the world.
This single-seat single-engine tactical fighter is among the best in the world.
It is also India's first modern fighter aircraft, designed specifically to meet the
requirements of the Indian Air Force.
The LC aircraft is a precision weapon launch platform with multirole
capability. It has a choice of three hard points below each wing, and one
under the fuselage giving it considerable flexibility to carry a variety of
missiles, bombs and rockets, as per mission requirements: air-to-air, air-to-
ground or air-to-sea. According DRDO, high manoeuvrability and carefree
handling capability of the aircraft combined with advanced cockpit, digital
avionics and weapon system interface give LCA very good point and shoot
capability with quick turn around time.
LCA is planned to replace the MiG series of aircraft currently operated by the
Indian Air Force. About 200 single seat fighters and 20 two-seat LCA
trainers are projected requirements of Indian Air Force for its squadron
service in the next decade. LCA Programme involves building and flight-
testing of two technology demonstrators - TD1 and TD2 (both already
airborne) and five prototype vehicles (PV to PV5), the last being a two-seat
trainer version, towards operational clearance including weaponisation.
A naval version of the LCA capable of operation from an aircraft carrier is
also under development. Two naval prototypes (NP1 and NP2) are proposed
to be built and flown to obtain clearance for deck operation.

LCA for Navy:

1. Aircraft carrier operation with ski-jump and arrested landing
2. Nose drooped for better cockpit vision
3. Additional aerodynamic features like LEVCON and fore plane to reduce
carrier landing speed
4. Maximum take off weight from carrier - 12.5 tons
5 External store carrying capacity from carrier - 3.5 tons
6. Strengthened Fuselage
7. Stronger undercarriage due to higher sink rate
8. Arrestor hook for deck recovery
9. Fuel dump system

LCA - Trainer

1. Operational 2-seater
2. Aerodynamic commonalty with naval versions
3. Design and layouts in 3-D
4. Marginally reduced internal fuel

DRDO Golden Jubilee: Achievements In The Last 50 Years

The DRDO laboratories spread across the country have been instrumental in
developing new technologies for the growth of the nation. They range from
defence equipment like light combat aircraft to missiles and medical facilities
like pace makers to artificial teeth and everyday utilities like water testing kit
to protective technologies for VVIPs in the form of bullet proof and land
mine proof vehicles.
The major technologies developed so far include:
1. Aluminium alloy material for small arms.
2. Active sensor based on induction-balanced principle for influence mine.
3. Free flight rocket launching technology.
4. Electronic fuses for artillery shells, bombs and mine.
5. Pre-fragmented, Incendiary and shaped charge warheads.
6. Fire/explosion detection and suppression system for missile
7. Fire extinguisher for candle smoke composition.
8. High altitude foam extinguisher.
9. Integrated fire and explosion suppression system for armoured fighting
10. Composite propellant, fuel rich propellants, protective liner for increasing
gun barrel life, combustible cartridge case.
11. Case bonded rocket motors.
12. Explosive detection kit.
13. Electro explosive device.
14. Air-borne telemetry receiving system for down range applications.
15. Electronic warfare systems, Falcon, Kaveri engine, Lakshya
16. Recovery parachute system for light combat aircraft
17. Abhay
18. Amphibious floating bridge and ferry system
19. Ajeya
20. Geo-environmental monitoring systems
21. High speed low drag aircraft bombs
22. Electronic warfare Samyukta communications
23. Battlefield surveillance radar
24. Weapon locating radar
25. Sangraha
26. Samyukta
27. 3D Car
28. Integrated weapon system simulation
29. Flameless ration heater, gloves and suit
30. Iron removal unit for ferruginous water
31. Multi-insect repellent spray
32. Rapid quantification and detection techniques for pesticides in fruits and
33. Technologies for dengue control
34. Transgenic tomato for abiotic stress
35. Agni series of missiles
36. Other missiles like Akash, Brahmos, Dhanush, Pinaka, Prithvi, and
37. Various types of warheads

DRDO Golden Jubilee: DRDO Laboratories Are Jewels In The Crown Of India

The Defence Development and Research Organisation is an umbrella
body of as many as 47 research, scientific, engineering and
technological development laboratories spread across the country. Each
of these laboratories is specialised in a particular research and
development area.
The following are the DRDO laboratories:

·1. Advanced Numerical Research & Analysis Group, Hyderabad
·2. Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment, Agra
·3. Armament Research & Development Establishment, Pune
·4. Center for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, Bangalore
·5. Center for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety, Bangalore
·6. Center for Military Airworthiness & Certification, Bangalore
·7. Centre for Air Borne Systems, Bangalore
·8. Combat Vehicles Research & Development Estt, Chennai
·9. Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory, Pithoragarh
·10. Defence Avionics Research Establishment, Bangalore
·11. Defence Bio-Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory,
·12. Defence Electronics Application Laboratory, Dehradun
·13. Defence Electronics Research Laboratory, Hyderabad
·14. Defence Food Research Laboratory, Mysore
·15. Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (Deemed University),
·16. Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences, Delhi
·17. Defence Institute of Psychological Research, Delhi
·18. Defence Laboratory, Jodhpur
·19. Defence Materials & Stores Research & Development
Establishment, Kanpur
·20. Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad
·21. Defence Research & Development Laboratory, Hyderabad
·22. Defence Research & Development Establishment, Gwalior
·23. Defence Research Laboratory, Tejpur
·24. Defence Scientific Information & Documentation Centre, Delhi
·25. Defence Terrain Research Laboratory, Delhi
·26. Electronics & Radar Development Establishment, Bangalore
·27. Field Research Laboratory
·28. Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Bangalore
·29. High Energy Materials Research Laboratory, Pune
·30. Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences, Delhi
·31. Institute of Systems Studies & Analyses, Delhi
·32. Institute of Technology Management, Mussorie
·33. Instruments Research & Development Establishment, Dehradun
·34. Integrated Test Range, Balasore
·35. Laser Science & Technology Centre, Delhi
·36. Mcrowave Tube Research & Development Center, Bangalore
·37. Naval Materials Research Laboratory, Ambernath
·38. Naval Physical & Ocenographic Laboratory, Cochin
·39. Naval Science & Technological Laboratory, Vishakapatnam
·40. Proof & Experimental Establishment, Balasore
·41. Research & Development Establishment, Pune
·42. Research Center Imarat, Hyderabad
·43. Scientific Analysis Group, Delhi
·44. Snow & Avalanche Study Estt, Chandigarh
·45. Solid State Physics Laboratory, Delhi
·46. Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, Chandigarh
·47. Vehicle Research & Development Establishment, Ahmednagar

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Chandrayaan-1: India's Moon Mission Puts Tricolour On The Lunar Terrain

November 15, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 14: India on Friday night literally hit the Moon when the TV-box sized Moon Impact Probe painted in Indian tri-colour landed on the lunar surface.
The formal landing of MIP at 8.31 pm, ejected from India's first-ever lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft now circling 100 km away from the Moon, marks India's legal presence on the Earth's only natural satellite.
Only the USA, former USSR and 17-nation European Space Agency have literally landed on the lunar terrain with their unmanned probes. India's MIP feat comes nearly 50 years after former USSR sent its probe to the Moon.
India, thus became the fourth nation in the world to land probes on the Moon. Though Asian giants China and Japan too had sent their Moon missions, they did not land probes or rovers onto the lunar soil. The MIP, painted in the Indian national flag, took about 25 minutes to descend 100 km from Chandrayaan-1 to hit the Moon surface.
The data gathered from the impact will enable the Indian Space Research Organisation to identify which are the "safe" spots on the Moon to land its next Moon Mission, Chandrayaan-2, scheduled for 2011.
ISRO spokesperson S Satish described the operation as "perfect". Earlier, ISRO scientists began the countdown to hurl the 34 kg probe from the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. The remote operation was carried out from the ISRO's deep space network at Byalalu near Bengaluru, with the ground support from ISRO’s telemetry, tracking and command network.
"The landing of the impact probe has an emotional significance for all Indians. The touching of the tricolour on the lunar surface signifies India’s presence on the moon," ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said.

Earlier, the ISRO ground team activated a small thruster to eject the probe as the Chandrayaan-1 traversed from north to south in the polar orbit, crossing the lunar equator. The probe plunged at a speed of about five km per minute and hit the Moon surface at Shackleton crater near the lunar south pole at 88.9 degrees latitude and 0 degree longitude.
As the MIP started descending onto the Moon from Chandrayaan-1, the special equipment on it took video images of the lunar surface and transmitted data to the ISRO's centres.
"During the descent phase, it was spin-stabilised. The primary objective is to demonstrate the technologies required for landing the probe at a desired location on the Moon and to qualify some of the technologies related to future soft landing missions," Satish said.
The Moon Impact Probe essentially consists of honeycomb structure, which houses all the subsystems and instruments. It comprises the avionics and thermal control systems. The avionics system supports the payloads and provides communication link between MIP and the main orbiter, from separation to impact.
The mission envisages collecting all the instrument data during descent and ransmits to main orbiter, which in turn will transmit them to the ground station during visible phases. The mass spectrometer attached to the probe measured the constituents of lunar atmosphere during the descent.

Friday, 14 November 2008

World Diabetes Day: Lifestyle Changes Make Children Diabetic

World Diabetes Day -- November 14

November 14, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 14: Today is the World Diabetes Day. This year the World Health Organisation lays emphasis on childhood diabetes, which is becoming a major health hazard, both in developed and developing countries. India continues to occupy one of the top few slots in the world diabetes map, with fast changing lifestyles of Indians throwing up new cases almost every day.
What's horrifying is that even Indians living abroad are more prone to
diabetes than the native populations.
Since diabetes cannot be prevented and continues to afflict a person throughout his or her life, once affected, the World Health Organisation has sounded alarming bells on childhood diabetes. According to Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare statistics, the incidence of childhood diabetes has been steadily going up in the country. And the reasons are quite obvious: childhood obesity and increasing sedentary lifestyles even in young populations. Within the country Hyderabad ranks No.1 in diabetes, both adult and childhood, according to recent research findings.
The World Diabetes Day is observed as a mark of homage to Frederick Banting, who along with Charles Best discovered insulin in 1922. Frederick's birth anniversary falls on November 14. Insulin has been saving millions of lives world over every year.
There are 180 million diabetic patients in the world, as per WHO estimates, and of them 41 million are Indians. This number is likely to more than double by 2030 if no medical interventions were made at government or individual level. Almost 80 per cent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries including India.
When it comes to diabetes in children, as many as five lakh children under the age of 15 are affected by Type 1 diabetes, requiring daily insulin injections. And the list has been going up by 70,000 new cases added to it every year. In India too, childhood diabetes has been increasing at a rate of three per cent per year. But the disease is spreading faster in schoolchildren at a rate of five per cent per year.
"Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by enabling individuals to lose seven to 10 per cent of their body weight, and by increasing their physical activity to a modest level. Regular exercise will also help a lot," says health expert Dr T Srinivasa Sarma.
Children with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar regularly to help control their diabetes, he suggesting.
A study by International Diabetes Federation projects 11 per cent of India's urban population and three per cent of rural populace as high risk groups.
"This mainly because of their sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity,
obesity, stress and consumption of diets rich in fat, sugar and high calories.
The most prevalent is Type 2 diabetes, which constitutes 95 per cent of the diabetic population in the country," points out Dr Jana Jayaprakashsai, senior diabetologist.
The economic burden of diabetes management on a family is quite high and many families do not afford the treatment cost. Overall, direct health care costs of diabetes range from 2.5 per cent to 15 per cent of annual health care budgets. As per WHO estimates, the costs of lost production may be as much as five times the direct health care cost.
"Because of its chronic nature, the severity of its complications and the means required to control them, diabetes is a costly disease, not only for affected individuals and their families, but also for the health systems.
Studies in India estimate that, for a low-income Indian family with an adult with diabetes, as much as 25 per cent of family income may be devoted to diabetes care. For families in the USA with a child who has diabetes, the corresponding figure is 10 per cent," points out a WHO release on the eve of World Diabetes Day.
While may diseases limit their damage to a particular part of the body, diabetes has damaging effect on almost every organ including limbs, eyes, heart, kidneys and nervous system. According to diabetologists Dr R Pradeepa and Dr V Mohan, "diabetes is the single most important metabolic disease which can affect nearly every organ system in the body. Some of the diabetes related complications are coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy. People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to develop blindness, 17 times more likely to develop kidney disease, 30-40 times more likely to undergo amputation,
two to four times more likely to develop myocardial infarction and twice as
likely to suffer a stroke than non-diabetics.
According to Dr A Ramachandran, who has conducted a study on the incidence of diabetes in India, in urban areas, the prevalence staggers around 15 to 18 per cent. Also, in the rural areas the prevalence has been increasing.
"There's an increase in prevalence of diabetes from 2.2 per cent in 1989 to 6.4 per cent in Southern India. It is increasing in epidemic proportions. As of today, India is the headquarters for diabetes in the world," he added.

Types of diabetes

Doctors classify diabetes as Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is also
called diabetes mellitus. People suffering from this type of diabetes
need to take insulin. Those suffering from Type 2 or non insulin-
dependent diabetes do not require intake of insulin through external

Diabetes is a chronic disease associated with the problems with the
production and supply of insulin, an hormone produced by pancreas.
We need insulin to use the energy stored in food. When a person
develops diabetes he or she produces no or insufficient insulin (Type 1
diabetes), or his or her body cannot use effectively the insulin produced
(Type 2 diabetes).

Type 1 Diabetes:

According to the World Health Organisation, Type 1 diabetes is an
autoimmune disease that cannot be prevented. Globally it is the most
common form of diabetes in children, affecting around five lakh
children under 15.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is also increasing in children because of childhood
obesity and sedentary lifestyles. "Type 2 diabetes in children is
becoming a global public health issue with potentially serious
outcomes," says a WHO report on the eve of World Diabetes Day.

Diabetes - Warning Signs

It is quite easy to identify diabetes even without formal blood and urine
tests. Like any other disease, diabetes too has many symptoms. The
World Health Organisation has listed the following warning signs to
identify diabetes:
1. Frequent urination
2. Excessive thirst
3. Increased hunger
4. Weight loss
5. Tiredness
6. Lack of interest and concentration
7. Blurred vision
8. Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu).

India to develop super hypersonic missiles with Mac7 speed

November 14, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 13: India is developing a whole new family of missiles that are quite light in weight and capable of hitting targets with speeds ranging between 7410 km and 8645 km per hour.
According to Defence Research and Development Organisation chief controller (research and development) Dr VK Saraswat, these hypersonic missiles with such great speeds cannot be intercepted by enemies. They will fly at low altitudes of 30 mts and hit the target with great precision.
"The DRDO is spending Rs 50 crore to develop the hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle. The present-day missiles are quite bulky and weighs between 20 and 30 tonnes. Moreover, they fly quite high. We are looking at futuristic missiles with hypersonic speeds and flying low. They are also lighter in weight," Dr Saraswat told reporters a day after India successfully tested 600 km range surface-to-surface missile Shourya.
The DRDO, he said was looking for hypersonic missiles with Mac6 to Mac7 speed (six to seven times the speed of sound. Sound travels at a speed of 1235 km per hour). The new missile will be build using indigenous technology without any foreign collaboration. It will also double up as a long-range cruise missile.
Saraswat said the DRDO was also doing research to make the hypersonic missile as a launch vehicle for satellites. This will help DRDO improve its resources through commercial launch of satellites.
He said the success of Chandrayaan-1 and India's signing of 123 agreement with the USA had opened new avenues in aerospace and nuclear sector. India is going to open up market for 60,000 crore to Rs 70,000 crore in the next 10 years. "But the Indian industry should gear up to grab the opportunity by producing globally competitive projects. There will be eight to 10 new nuclear reactors coming up in the country opening 15 billion to 20 billion US dollars investment opportunities," he said.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

India to send Sun Mission Aditya in 2012

November 11, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 10: India will send its space mission to the Sun in 2012 to find out answers for how and why solar flares and solar winds disturb the communication network and play havoc with electronics back home on the Earth.
The Sun's corona as also its flares and winds create geomagnetic field disturbances on the Earth and often damage man-made satellites and spacecraft hovering up in the sky under intense sunlight.
After the successful launch of its moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, the Indian Space Research Organisation is now gearing up for the Mission Aditya, aimed at unravelling the secrets of the Sun, the father of our solar system. ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair on Monday announced in Bengaluru that ISRO was ready with its new space programme to explore the corona of the Sun in 2012.
Mission Aditya has been on the cards for quite some time now and it got a boost after the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1 lunarcraft into its designated orbit around the Moon.
The success of the Aditya Mission will not only solve some of the mysteries surrounding the Sun but also provide vital clues for ISRO on how to protect its satellites and spaceware from being damaged by hot winds and flares ejected out of the corona, the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere. The temperature in corona ranges between 8 lakh to 30 lakh Celsius. Material is ejected from the corona into space containing several billion tons of matter with speed ranging to several million miles per hour. Such material interacts with spacecraft and other man-made material in its path inducing electrical currents. They also damage power systems, disrupt communications and degrade high-tech navigation systems.
ISRO's Aditya Mission is a solar coronagraph or equipment that measures or studies the corona of the sun. Madhavan Nair said Aditya will study corona in visible and near infra red bands to "study the coronal mass ejection and consequently crucial physical parameters for space weather such as the coronal magnetic field structures,
velocity fields and their variability in the inner corona".
Unlike the Chandrayaan-1, which has entered the realms of the lunar world for observation as close as 100 km, Aditya will study the Sun riding piggyback on the Earth. It will weigh about 100 kgs and will have a near-earth orbit of 600 km.
ISRO has planned Aditya launch in 2012 in coordination with the solar maximum when the sunspots will be at the maximum. The last solar maximum occurs once in 11 years. Aditya Mission will cost about Rs 50 crore as against Chandrayaan-1's about Rs 400 crore. Like Chandrayaan-1 it will have a life span of two years and ISRO team hopes
to generate enough data during this period.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Chandrayaan-1 successfully manoeuvred to the right path

November 9, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 8: India on Saturday joined the select club of four Moon-faring nations when its first-ever lunarcraft, Chandrayaan-1, successfully entered the elliptical orbit of the Moon after a series of complex manoeuvres by a team of ISRO scientists based in Bengaluru.
Though India sent its unmanned mission to the Moon on October 22, the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft had been orbiting the Earth all along and only on Saturday evening, it successfully came off the gravitational pull of the human planet to enter the unknown realms of the lunar world. It is now orbiting at a distance of 500 km from the Moon when it is nearest, and 7,500 km when it is farthest, from the Earth's natural satellite.
"We will put the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in the designated orbit of about 100 km away from the Moon in a couple of days. This is the first time that an Indian built spacecraft has broken away from the Earth’s gravitational field and reached the moon," ISRO's director (PR) S Satish told this correspondent from Bengaluru.
Only the United States of America, the erstwhile USSR, Japan and China have thus far sent their missions to the Moon. With Saturday's crucial manoeuvring of the orbit of the Chandrayaan-1, India enters the select Moon Club. When the Chandrayaan-1 is put in the designated orbit of 100 km away from the Moon, ISRO scientists back home
in Bengaluru will order the spacecraft to eject a probe onto the lunar soil. The probe carries the Indian national flag, a brainchild of former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
According to Mr Satish, the motor on the spacecraft was fired for about 805 seconds at around 4.51 pm to put Chandrayaan-1 into an elliptical orbit with 7,502 km aposelene (farthest from moon) and 500 km pericelene (nearest to moon).
Putting the spacecraft in the lunar orbit is a critical task and any minor mistake in ground command would have sent it farther deep into the Space, far away from the lunar world."Our scientific prowess is on the rise. We are proud of Chandrayaan-I. The very fact that it has been a success so far is a great achievement. The lunar mission will take a closer look at the north and the south poles, something which
has not been attempted before," Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Science and Technology, who is in Hyderabad to release his book, told this correspondent.
An ISRO official statement later said Chandrayaan-1’s liquid engine was fired when the spacecraft passed at a distance of about 500 km from the Moon to reduce its velocity to enable lunar gravity to capture it into an orbit around the Moon.
The spacecraft is now orbiting the moon in an elliptical orbit that passes over the polar regions of the moon. Chandrayaan-1 takes about 11 hours to go round the moon once in this orbit. "The performance of all the systems onboard Chandrayaan-1 is normal. In the coming days, the height of Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft’s orbit around the moon will be carefully reduced in steps to achieve a final polar orbit of
about 100 km height from the moon’s surface. Following this, the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) of the spacecraft will be released to hit the lunar surface. Later, the other scientific instruments will be turned on sequentially leading to the normal phase of the mission," it said.
Since its launch, the liquid engine of Chandrayaan-1 has been successfully fired five times at opportune moments to increase the apogee (farthest distance from earth) height, first to 37,900 km, then to 74,715 km, later to 164,600 km, after that to 267,000 km and finally to 380,000 km. During this period, the Terrain Mapping Camera, one of the 11 scientific instruments of the spacecraft, was successfully operated twice to take the pictures, first of the Earth, and
then moon.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Eat breakfast and score high marks in school

November 4, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 3: Children, who do not skip breakfast, will perform well in school and score a high percentage of marks in examinations.
The city-based National Institute of Nutrition, in a study, has found that regular habit of consuming breakfast can improve attention-concentration, memory and school achievement. This is primarily because the micronutrient supplementation in breakfast improves attention concentration among schoolchildren.
The NIN team comprising deputy director Shehnaz Vazir, NS Gajre, S Fernandez and N Balakrishna selected two schools catering to middle class families in Hyderabad. As many as 379 students of classes 6, 7 and 8 were enrolled for the study. They were divided into two groups: one partaking breakfast and the other skipping it.
Comparison between the groups indicated significant differences in the letter cancellation (special test involving hand-eye movement) total scores with the regular breakfast group achieving the highest mean scores compared to the no breakfast group.
Moreover, marks scored by the regular breakfast group in science and English and total percentage were significantly higher compared to those scored by the children in the no breakfast group.
"Regular breakfast eating habit and weight for age per cent were significantly associated with immediate recall memory score explaining 4.3 per cent variation. Regular habit of eating breakfast as opposed to irregular consumption or skipping breakfast altogether had beneficial influence on attention-concentration, memory and school achievement," the NIN researchers said.
According to the team, eating breakfast provides energy for the brain and improves learning. The effect of glucose deprivation is noticeable by a fall in blood glucose level of sufficient degree, which is rapidly followed by disturbance in cerebral function. The gap of about 10 to 12 hours between dinner and breakfast causes, low blood glucose levels and habitually missing breakfast can adversely affect cognitive
"The gradual decline of insulin and glucose level could determine a stress response, which interferes with different aspects of cognitivefunction, such as attention and working memory. It is plausible that the decline in cerebral iron level likely to result from diet that is deficient in heme (iron molecule) intensifies the stress associated with overnight and morning fast," the study pointed out explaining how breakfast would help schoolstudents improve their academic performance.
Breakfast eaters tend to have higher basal metabolism, and have less craving for the food. Children who skip breakfast but eat later on in the day may catch up their daily nutrient requirements but are unlikely to attend and concentrate on the teacher’s lecture in the morning session because they are hungry. If the transitory metabolic changes due to skipping breakfast were to occur frequently, they would be likely to have a cumulative adverse effect that may place a child’s school
progress at risk, the NIN nutritionists warn.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Food Adulteration Goes Unchecked: Strong Mechanism Needed

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Take a teaspoon of powdered dung, a pinch of brick powder, dirt and grit, small quantity of saw dust and soap stone, and rat droppings and insects along with their eggs.
Mix them well with traces of heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, cobalt, lead and zinc. Then liberally add mineral oil with petroleum fractions. Heat the mixture in rancid ghee. To make it tastier, you may add industrial alcohol, chalk powder, washing soda and pharmaceutical residues.
This is not an exotic curry straight out of a recipe book of a witch or sorceress. Believe it or not, these foreign ingredients simply make into our daily foodstuff, without our knowledge.
Yes, we are talking about food adulteration and food contaminants. While the whole world, including small nations like Singapore and Malaysia, have initiated a series of measures to keep their citizens away from the dangers of food adulterants in the wake of reports of milk products from China being contaminated with harmful substances like melamine, Indian health authorities are content with their traditional and typical bureaucratic “chalta hai” attitude.
Of course, milk products from China are not common in Indian markets, but this does not mean that Indian authorities should keep quiet. India is hardly known to have recalled or withdrawn any contaminated food stuff either in the past. Food and health agencies in developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America issue general public warning across the nation and order for recall of the contaminated or adulterated product whenever they come across reports of such foodstuff being sold there.
The problem of food adulteration in India is two-fold. First, deliberate or unintentional adulteration of food items and secondly, contamination of foodstuff by harmful substances without the knowledge of the manufacturer or trader. In both the cases, it is the consumer who stands to suffer. Moreover, the food standards followed in India are not on par with those adopted in developed nations.
“Unfortunately, authorities in India tend to believe that Indians are more resistant to diseases and thus a little high level of adulterants or contaminants will not affect their health,” says consumer activist MV Subbaiah. “While this is true to some extent, what officials forget is that certain adulterants continue to add up in our bodies, often leading to dangerous health problems. If India has to be a healthy nation, it should immediately adopt the Codex guidelines without insisting on higher limits for certain substances or residues,” he argues.
There are instances of a multinational company, known for its brand value, mixing sodium hydroxide or washing soda with its infant milk formula just to make it creamier and thicker. Imagine a small child consuming washing powder. Sodium hydroxide in milk and milk products is a common adulterant and many companies do not regret using it. Presence of nickel in chocolates is another cause of concern. Indian government has not taken serious measures to prevent nickel traces in chocolates.
The developed nations acted in tandem and ordered for recall of Chinese milk products after reports that a number of infants in China, who have consumed Chinese manufactured infant formula, are suffering from kidney stones, a condition which is rare in infants. Interestingly, America does not stock Chinese milk products. But its authorities had taken precautionary steps and warned Asian communities to avoid Chinese dairy products. So far, no such health warning has been issued in India.
No one for sure says the Chinese infant formula is contaminated with melamine, which artificially increases the protein profile of milk. “It may be contaminated”, says the FDA but since melamine is known to cause kidney diseases, the authorities in the USA did not want to take chances as far as the health of the nation is involved.
Indian government too runs a plethora of departments including a section of Codex Alimentarius on food standards. Mostly they remain dormant except for a few “public awareness” and “general health” programmes on their websites.
While adulteration can be deliberate or unintentional, contamination is mostly accidental. How many of us know that most of the leafy vegetables we consume are “richly contaminated” with heavy metals. Some plants particularly leafy vegetables have the tendency to absorb heavy metals from the soil and accumulate them in their roots, stems and leaves. This is a natural process of cleaning up the mess in the earth. But when we consume them, heavy metals, which are toxic in nature, join our blood stream and cause a number of health problems including cancer.
“If there is a problem with a food product that means it should not be sold. Then it might be 'withdrawn' i.e. taken off the shelves or 'recalled' (customers are asked to return the product). Food alerts are quite common elsewhere, but not in India. We have the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. It is strong enough to bring anti-social elements to book. But lack of strong legal will on the part of officials quite often make the cases weaker and the unscrupulous elements escape punishment. We should do something concrete to prevent this,” says senior consumer activist PVS Ramamurthy.
According to Central Agmark Laboratories, adulteration in food is normally present in its most crude form, prohibited substances are either added or partly or wholly substituted. In India normally contamination or adulteration in food is done either for financial gain or due to carelessness and lack in proper hygienic condition of processing, storing, transportation and marketing.
Some of the common adulterants include powdered dung, methanol or industrial alcohol, fine sand particles, harmful chemicals, synthetic colours used for fabric dyeing, insects, insect eggs and rat droppings. Often exotic seeds and leaves are added to food stuffs.
The consumer is either cheated or he often becomes victim of diseases. “Such types of adulteration are quite common in developing countries or backward countries,” argue Agmark officials, but ask consumers to take adequate precaution during purchases. “It is equally important for the consumer to know the common adulterants and their effect on health criteria for selection of food,” is their general refrain.
Dr PK Jaiswal, director of laboratories, Central Agmark Laboratory, suggests that consumers should avoid taking food from an unhygienic place and food being prepared under unhygienic conditions. “Such types of food may cause various diseases. Consumption of cut fruits being sold in unhygienic conditions should be avoided. It is always better to buy certified food from reputed shop”.

Adulteration – Interesting Court Cases

November 2, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Individual merchants and firms involved in deliberate food adulteration quite often escape punishment taking shelter under legal loopholes including wrong sampling by authorities. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act is strong enough to punish the guilty but certain legal technicalities have come in handy for unscrupulous elements to avoid jail or fine or both.

Here is a sample of cases from various courts on food adulteration:

Insect Infestation

A sample of suji was analysed by authorities six days after it was collected from a trader.
The trader took shelter behind the delay in the analysis. It is possible that insects may develop after the sample was taken, since public analyst did not mention about living insects in the same. The term insects infested means a swarm of insects or at least a large number of insects. (Municipal Corporation, Delhi vs. Shri Ramji Das) Delhi High Court, FAC 1988 (II) 20.

Fly in Milk:

Milk sample contained a dead fly, which would not make the milk to be infested (State of Punjab vs. Mahinder Singh) Punjab and Haryana High Court, FAC 1985 (II) 44.

Insect Eggs in food items:

Mere presence of eggs in an article of food and with no living insect visible to the naked eye cannot be held that the article of food is insect infested (Municipal Corporation Delhi vs. Badrinath) Delhi High Court, FAC 1982 (I) 211.

Suji sample showed presence of living insects. In view of liability laid down by Supreme Court (New Delhi Municipal Corporation vs. Kaccheroo Mal) FAC 1975 (II) 223, this petition is allowed as there is no evidence that suji sample was unfit for human consumption. (Bal Kishan vs. State or Pubjab) FAC 1986 (I) 33.

Rat droppings:

Sabat Mash (green dal) is primary food and the presence of rat drop-dropping was
due to natural causes and beyond the control of petitioner (Behari Lal
vs. State of Himachal Pradesh), FAC 1987 (i) 85.

Iron in tea:

Iron filings found in a sample of tea were within the tolerance limits of size and quality of letter issued by Ministry of Health. Complaint as well as process issued quashed (Claude Victor Lawrence Godwin vs. State) Punjab and High Court. FAC 1982 (II) 257.

About Cow’s milk:

Cow's milk, a primary food, needs to be interpreted in a wider sense in which case the words, “produce of agriculture” would take in not merely that which grows on land but also draws sustenance from the land viz the cattle including cows. It cannot be doubted that the cow's milk which is drawn from the secretion of the cows reared on that which grows on land must mean that it is in its natural form (State of Nagpur Corporations vs. Lakshman Rannji Hundiwala and others) Bombay High Court, FAC 1985 (II)95.

Atta & Chapattis:

Atta stored for preparation of chapattis falls within the definition of food even if it is not for sale as such. (NDMC vs. Hardev Singh Delhi High Court, FAC 1980 (I) 472.

How To Detect Food Adulterants

November 2, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Adulterants, both harmful and simple, can be detected easily through small tests. These tests can be done at home too. What one needs is a set of equipment and chemicals and the culprits can be found out easily through these simple anti-adulteration tests.
Here are a few such tests as suggested by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India:

Vegetable oils:

Vegetable oils are generally mixed with castrol oil or argemone oil to make quick profits. These adulterants can be detected by the following two tests: In case of castrol oil: Take 1 ml. of vegetable oil in a clean dry test tube. Add 10 ml. of acidified petroleum ether. Shake vigorously for 2 minutes. Add 1 drop of ammonium molybdate reagent. The formation of turbidity indicates presence of castor oil in the sample.
In case of argemone oil: Add 5 ml concentrated HNO3 ¬¬to 5 ml.sample. Shake carefully. Allow to separate. Yellow, orange yellow or crimson colour in the lower acid layer indicates adulteration.


Ghee is generally mixed with mashed potato or sweet potato to make it weighty and creamy. Often vanaspati is also added to Ghee.
In case of mashed potato or sweet potato: Boil 5 ml. o the sample in a test tube. Cool and put a drop of iodine solution. Blue colour indicates presence of starch. Colour disappears on boiling and reappears on cooling.
In case of vanaspati: Take 5 ml. of the sample in a test tube. Add 5 ml. of hydrochloric acid and 0.4 ml of 2 per cent furfural solution or sugar crystals. Insert the glass stopper and shake for 2 minutes. Development of a pink or red colour indicates presence of vanaspati in Ghee.
Often old ghee (rancid stuff) is added. To detect this, take one teaspoon of melted sample and 5 ml. of HCL in a stoppered glass tube. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Add 5 ml. of 0.1 per cent of ether solution of phloroglucinol. Restopper and shake for 30 seconds and allow to stand for 10 minutes. A pink or red colour in the lower acid layer indicates rancidity.

Synthetic colours in food items:

To find out whether synthetic colouring matter is used in food items, pour 2 gms. of filtered fat dissolved in ether. Divide into 2 portions. Add 1 ml. of HCL to one tube. Add 1 ml. of 10 per cent NaOH to the other tube. Shake well and allow to stand. Presence of pink colour in acidic solution or yellow colour in alkaline solution indicates added colouring matter.


Honey is good for health and it has several curative properties. But honey is generally adulterated with invert sugar or jaggery. There are two tests to find out whether the honey in question is pure or adulterated.
Fiehe’s Test: Add 5 ml. of solvent ether to 5 ml. of honey. Shake well and decant the ether layer in a petri dish. Evaporate completely by blowing the ether layer. Add 2 to 3 ml. of resorcinol (1 gm. of resorcinol resublimed in 5 ml. of concentrated HCL.). Appearance of cherry red colour indicates presence of sugar/jaggery.
Aniline chloride Test: Take 5 ml. of honey in a porcelain dish. Add aniline chloride solution (3 ml of aniline and 7 ml. of 1:3 HCL) and stir well. Orange red colour indicates presence of sugar.

Pulses and Besan:

Besan atta or pulses are adulterated with Kesari dal (Lathyrus sativus). To find out the adulterant, add 50 ml. of diluted HCL to a small quantity of dal and keep on simmering water for about 15 minutes. The pink colour, if developed, indicates the presence of Kesari dal.
Pulses are also adulterated with metanil yellow dye. To find this out, add concentrated HCL to a small quantity of dal in a little amount of water. Immediate development of pink colour indicates the presence of metanil yellow and similar colour dyes.
To find out whether lead chromate is used in the pulses, shake 5 gm. of pulses with 5ml. of water and add a few drops of HCL. Pink colour indicates lead chromate.

Wheat flour or atta:

Atta is generally contaminated with excessive sand and dirt. Shake a little quantity of sample with about 10 ml of carbon tetrachloride and allow to stand. Grit and sandy matter will collect at the bottom.
Often chalk powder is used in atta. To find out, shake sample with diluted HCL. Effervescence indicates chalk

Common spices:

Common spices like turmeric, chilly and curry powder are also adulterated by colours.
Extract the sample with petroleum ether and add 13N H2SO4 to the extract. Appearance of red colour (which persists even upon adding little distilled water) indicates the presence of added colours. However, if the colour disappears upon adding distilled water the sample is not adulterated.
Spices (ground) are adulterated by red bran and saw dust. Sprinkle on water surface. Powdered bran and sawdust float on the surface.
Coriander powder is adulterated with dung powder. To find out, soak in water. Dung will float and can be easily detected by its foul smell.


Brick powder, grit, sand, dirt, filth, etc are used in chillies, especially chilli powder. Pour the sample in a beaker containing a mixture of chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. Brick powder and grit will settle at the bottom.


Lead chromate is used to give turmeric its natural color. Ash the sample. Dissolve it in 1:7 sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and filter. Add 1 or 2 drops of 0.1 per cent dipenylcarbazide. A pink colour indicates presence of lead chromate.

Cumin seeds:

Grass seeds coloured with charcoal dust is used. Rub the cumin seeds on palms. If palms turn black adulteration in indicated.

Asafoetida (Heeng):

Items like soap stone and other earthy matter is used for adulteration. Shake a little quantity of powdered sample with water. Soap stone or other earthy matter will settle at the bottom.
In case chalk is used as an adulterant, shake sample with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). Asafoetida will settle down. Decant the top layer and add diluted HCL to the residue. Effervescence shows presence of chalk.


Foodgrains contain hidden insect infestations. To test the adulterants, take a filter paper impregnated with ninhydrin (1 per cent in alcohol). Put some grains on it and then fold the filter paper and crush the grains with hammer. Spots of bluish purple colour indicate presence of hidden insect infestation.

The Truth About Organic Foods

November 2, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Organic foods are the in-thing. Food stuff labeled “organic food” is found in almost all supermarkets and big retail stores in India. Organic food, of course, is not new to an agricultural nation like India. Our forefathers had grown fruits, vegetables and Foodgrains using the organic methods i.e. cow dung as fertilizer and neem extract as natural herbicide and pesticide. Organic foods are also free from genetic modification.
With lifestyle and food-related diseases on the increase the world over, a large number of people now prefer organic foods. Organic food is one in which no chemical fertiliser or pesticide is used. Moreover, there are no additives or artificial ripeners.
But the big question that continues to rack the brains of common consumers is how organic the so-called organic food items are. The best bet is to buy the product from a reputed supermarket chain or manufacturer. Of course, there are several tests which will prove whether a product is organic or not.
For instance, an apple grown from conventional method of horticulture contains as many as 30 pesticides and chemicals. If these are absent from an apple, then it is really organic

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Classical language status for Telugu

November 1, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 31: Finally, Telugu gets its due recognition as a classical language. It is one of the four Indian languages to be accorded the rare status. The other three being Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada. Kannada got the recognition along with Telugu on Friday. The Centre cleared these two South Indian languages on the eve of formation day of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
After the Central government declared Tamil as a classical language a few years ago, the demand for inclusion of Telugu and Kannada in the select list gained momentum with politicians cutting across party lines bringing pressure on the Centre. But the Centre sat on the demand for more than three years and its sudden decision to accord classical status to Telugu and Kannada took everyone by surprise.
The Centre’s decision, though it comes late, has fulfilled the aspirations of Telugu lovers. Telugu is as old as Tamil and the language had developed over a period of two millennia independent of the influence of Sanskrit. Moreover, Telugu is the largest spoken language in India after Hindi-Urdu.
The demand for grant of "classical language" status to Telugu first came from Gnanpeeth awardee and eminent poet C Narayana Reddy. Even before other literary figures could take up the cause, Telugu Desam president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu gave a political twist declaring that the party would take up a movement to achieve the goal. The TD had also raised the issue on the floor of Parliament.
The Central government’s policy is to recognise as "classical" those languages which are at least 1000 years old. Earlier, the British government had declared Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic as classical languages. The UPA government had added Tamil to the list.
"Telugu passes all the criteria fixed by the Central government for a classical language status. It's good that the government declared Telugu as a classical language. If there is any Indian language which deserves the status, it is Telugu," Narayana Reddy observed.
Like Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada, the literature of Telugu has been in vogue for over 1500 years. Some argue it is more than 2000 years old. The first Telugu words can be observed in Ikshavakula inscriptions. Nagarjuna Hill inscriptions of 250 AD contain Telugu words.
And what are the criteria for a language to be declared as "classical"? The language should be ancient; it should be an independent tradition that arose mostly on its own and not as an offshoot of another tradition. It must have a large and extremely rich body of ancient literature.
Telugu is as old as Tamil, if not older. The language arose as an entirely independent tradition, with almost no influence from Sanskrit or other languages; and Telugu ancient literature is indescribably vast and rich.
Even during the period of Satavahana rule for 500-600 years in the early part of the first millennia when Prakrut was used as the royal language in Andhra, Telugu did not die. During 1000-1100 AD, Nannaya's Telugu in Bharatam, Telugu in several inscriptions, Telugu in poetry re-established its roots and dominated over the royal language, Sanskrit.
According to historians, during 220 AD the word "Andhrapathamu" was used in the inscriptions in Ballari district. This is the evolutionary sequence of the word "Andhra". The language spoken by Andhras was given the name "Andhra Bhasha" finally, says Ramana Juvvadi, senior linguist.
In the early Andhra, different tribes used to speak different languages (dialects). The tribes of Andhra such as Dravida, Yaksha, and Naga spoke "Telugu" or "Tenugu".
Andhras from North India used to speak another language called "Desi". Telugu belongs to the family of Dravidian languages.
According to the Russian linguist MS Andronov, Proto-Dravidian gave rise to 21 Dravidian languages. They can be broadly classified into three groups: Northern group, Central group, and Southern group of Dravidian languages.
Telugu split from Proto-Dravidian between 1500-1000 BC.
It became a distinct language by the time any literary activity began to appear in the Tamil land. Kannada split from Proto-Dravidian around 0 BC.
The oldest Telugu inscription is from 633 AD, and its literature begins with an 11th-century translation of the Sanskrit classic Mahabharata.
Telugu words appear in the Maharashtri Prakrit anthology of poems (the Gathasaptashathi) collected by the first century BC Satavahana King Hala. Telugu speakers were probably the oldest peoples inhabiting the land between Krishna and Godavari.

Classical language status for Telugu: Centre's decision takes AP Govt. by surprise

November 1, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 31: The Centre took the State government by surprise when it announced classical language status for Telugu. This is because the State government had not done anything concrete to present its case before the Centre.
It was a batch of linguists and Telugu lovers who brought pressure on the Central government and presented enough documentary evidence to force it to declare Telugu as a classical language, alongside Sanskrit and Telugu. On the other hand, the Karnataka government as well as its opposition there played a key role in securing the rare honour for Kannada.
The Andhra Pradesh government simply washed its hands off the issue by passing a “unanimous resolution” in the State Assembly. Of course, it had set up a panel of experts to espouse the cause.
But the expert panel to collect data on Telugu language, tradition and culture did not include senior linguists, philologists and epigraphists.
The panel is loaded with officials and politicians who do not have any connection whatsoever with the epigraphy or history of Telugu. The government has initially also excluded the all-important AP Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Institute which is a mine of literature on Telugu. The library has in its possession very rare documents including the works of first Telugu poet Nannayya.
The job before the panel was to collect scientific and historic data backed with evidence to build up the State government's case before the Centre for grant of classical language status to Telugu.

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Mother's Care

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

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

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Under the shade of Baobab tree

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Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

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Convention on Biodiversity

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