Tuesday, 29 September 2009

City doctors find genetic link to premature ovarian failure in Indian women

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 27: A group of city doctors and researchers has found
a "genetic link" to the problem of premature ovarian failure, a
reproductive health condition wherein young women attain menopause.

Women, suffering from premature ovarian failure or POF, stop
producing eggs even before they turn 40. They develop menopause 10
to 25 years before average healthy women stop menstruating. The
average age of women with POF in India has been found to be between
24 and 30 years.

The joint study, carried out by the Institute of Genetics and Hospital for
Genetic Diseases, Government Maternity Hospital, and Maternal
Health and Research Trust, Hyderabad, Department of Obstetrics and
Gynaecology, University of Auckland, New Zealand, gains
significance as more and more Indian women are affected by the
problem of premature ovarian failure. On an average one per cent of
women below 40 years of age suffer from POF. The research team
comprised Dr Golla Jaya Prakash, Dr Vishnubhotla Venkata Ravi
Kanth, Dr Andrew N Shelling, Dr Roya Rozati and Dr Madireddi

POF not only causes infertility, but also leads to severe health
complications including osteoporosis, increased risk of heart disease
and auto immune disorders.

"The causes of POF have long attracted great interest. We have no
established a genetic basis for the problem. Absence of 566C - T
mutation in exon 7 of the FSHR gene causes premature ovarian failure
in Indian women. The condition often arises in association with defects
in the X chromosome, although autosomal genes are also thought to be
involved," one of the researchers Dr Roya Rozati told this

According to her, premature ovarian failure can be inherited either
paternally or maternally as a mendelian disorder with autosomal or X-
linked dominant transmission. Intermittent ovarian function has been
reported in some women, and pregnancy can occur in about five to 10
per cent of patients subsequent to diagnosis. The prevalence of
autoimmune diseases is almost 10 to 20 per cent in individuals with

"Autosomal abnormalities have now been identified in POF patients,
such as mutation of the LH and FSH receptor genes," she said, adding
that primary amenorrhea is mostly prevalent in the early reproductive
age group in Indian women.

The study suggested that mutational analysis of the inhibin alpha can
be used as a definite genetic marker for early diagnosis of POF, and
patients can be offered genetic counselling to plan their conception at
an early age of reproduction.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Swine flu: H1N1-free health certificate must for haj this year

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 26: With swine flu vaccine trials yet to begin in the country, the Central Haj Committee has decided to medically screen all the Haj pilgrims from India and issue flu-free health certificates.

Though vaccination against seasonal influenza has been made mandatory for all Haj pilgrims, it does not provide protection against the novel H1N1 virus that causes swine flu. Since swine flu vaccine is in trial stage in several countries, the Saudi authorities have made medical screening compulsory in a bid to prevent spread of the virus during Haj.

With Saudi authorities issuing latest swine flu guidelines on Saturday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed the Central Haj Committee to ensure that all the Haj pilgrims carry medical certificates that they do not have any symptoms of swine flu or H1N1 human influenza viral attack.

The Haj pilgrims, besides taking shots of seasonal influenza vaccine, must individually undergo medical tests at Haj offices before boarding plane to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities will examine the pilgrims on arrival and those
with symptoms will be quarantined at special centres within the airport. Production of health certificates from Indian authorities is also made compulsory.

"Before leaving India pilgrims will be examined for signs or symptoms of influenza A H1N1 at the point of embarkation. They will be issued an H1N1 symptom-free certificate in prescribed proforma. Only those with health certificates will be allowed to enter Saudi Arabia to perform this year's Haj," said AP Wakf Board former chairman Muhammad Saleem, quoting Indian Haj authorities in Jeddah. Saleem, currently in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, held discussions with the Indian Haj Mission there.

According to him, the Indian consulate in Jeddah has conveyed the new Saudi guidelines to the Central Haj Committee in Mumbai. The guidelines stipulate that State governments should make arrangements at respective airports to issue health certificates.

Meanwhile, the Saudi authorities have announced that there had been no swine flu deaths among Umrah pilgrims during Ramzan. An estimated 20 lakh people participated in the special Ramzan prayers in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Water on Moon: NASA probe atop Chandrayaan-1 discovers water molecules in the polar regions of the moon

The images below show a very young lunar crater on the side of the moon that faces away from Earth, as viewed by NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. On the left is an image showing brightness at shorter infrared wavelengths. On the right, the distribution of water-rich minerals (light blue) is shown around a small crater. Both water- and hydroxyl-rich materials were found to be associated with material ejected from the crater

By Syed Akbar
NASA scientists have discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the moon. Instruments aboard three separate spacecraft revealed water molecules in amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small. Hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, also was found in the lunar soil. The findings were published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, instrument reported the observations. M3 was carried into space on Oct. 22, 2008, aboard the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Data from the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, or VIMS, on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, and the High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on NASA's Epoxi spacecraft contributed to confirmation of the finding. The spacecraft imaging spectrometers made it possible to map lunar water more effectively than ever before.

The confirmation of elevated water molecules and hydroxyl at these concentrations in the moon's polar regions raises new questions about its origin and effect on the mineralogy of the moon. Answers to these questions will be studied and debated for years to come.

"Water ice on the moon has been something of a holy grail for lunar scientists for a very long time," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This surprising finding has come about through the ingenuity, perseverance and international cooperation between NASA and the India Space Research Organization."

From its perch in lunar orbit, M3's state-of-the-art spectrometer measured light reflecting off the moon's surface at infrared wavelengths, splitting the spectral colors of the lunar surface into small enough bits to reveal a new level of detail in surface composition. When the M3 science team analyzed data from the instrument, they found the wavelengths of light being absorbed were consistent with the absorption patterns for water molecules and hydroxyl.

"For silicate bodies, such features are typically attributed to water and hydroxyl-bearing materials," said Carle Pieters, M3's principal investigator from Brown University, Providence, R.I. "When we say 'water on the moon,' we are not talking about lakes, oceans or even puddles. Water on the moon means molecules of water and hydroxyl that interact with molecules of rock and dust specifically in the top millimeters of the moon's surface.

The M3 team found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the moon's surface, but the water signature appeared stronger at the moon's higher latitudes. Water molecules and hydroxyl previously were suspected in data from a Cassini flyby of the moon in 1999, but the findings were not published until now.

"The data from Cassini's VIMS instrument and M3 closely agree," said Roger Clark, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist in Denver and member of both the VIMS and M3 teams. "We see both water and hydroxyl. While the abundances are not precisely known, as much as 1,000 water molecule parts-per-million could be in the lunar soil. To put that into perspective, if you harvested one ton of the top layer of the moon's surface, you could get as much as 32 ounces of water."

For additional confirmation, scientists turned to the Epoxi mission while it was flying past the moon in June 2009 on its way to a November 2010 encounter with comet Hartley 2. The spacecraft not only confirmed the VIMS and M3 findings, but also expanded on them.

"With our extended spectral range and views over the north pole, we were able to explore the distribution of both water and hydroxyl as a function of temperature, latitude, composition, and time of day," said Jessica Sunshine of the University of Maryland. Sunshine is Epoxi's deputy principal investigator and a scientist on the M3 team. "Our analysis unequivocally confirms the presence of these molecules on the moon's surface and reveals that the entire surface appears to be hydrated during at least some portion of the lunar day."

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the M3 instrument, Cassini mission and Epoxi spacecraft for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Indian Space Research Organization built, launched and operated the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.

History of prehistoric India: We are not Aryan or Dravidian race. Indians are a genetic mixture of two ancient groups of people, say scientists

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 24: A group of city scientists in collaboration with
international researchers on Thursday debunked the age-old Aryan theory
that states that Aryans are the progenitors of north Indian population. It also
sets aside the Dravidian theory that north Indian and south Indian people are
genetically different.

The present-day north Indian and south Indian populations are a genetic
mixture of what could be called the ancestral south Indian population and the
ancestral north Indian population. The north Indian ancestral group is closely
related to European populations unlike the south Indian ancestral group,
which is distinctly unique.

Ancestral south Indian population and ancestral north Indian population had
married among each other to give raise to the present Indian population,
which is neither Dravidian nor Aryan. "It is a genetic mixture of ASI and
ANI and is quite distinct from the original ancestral groups," points out K
Thangaraj, senior scientists at the city-based Centre for Cellular and
Molecular Biology.

The pioneering research study, conducted jointly by the CCMB, Harvard
Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of
Harvard and MIT, USA, is being claimed as the one "which will rewrite the
Indian anthropological and genetics history".

According to the study, nearly all Indians carry genomic contributions from
two distinct ancestral populations. Following this ancient mixture, many
groups experienced periods of genetic isolation from each other for
thousands of years. It has medical implications for people of Indian descent.

Although the genome sequences of any two unrelated people differ by just
0.1 per cent that tiny slice of genetic material is a rich source of information.
It provides clues that can help reconstruct the historical origins of modern
populations. The research team analysed more than 5,00,000 genetic markers
across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 diverse groups, representing
13 States, all six language families, traditionally "upper" and "lower" castes,
and tribal groups.

Dr Lalji Singh, co-author of the study, said India is not a nation of one
population. It is a nation of 4635 populations, 532 tribes and 72 primitive
tribes. The original tribal population gave birth to the caste system as it
diverted from forest life to agricultural activity. Caste system in India dates
back to thousands of years and it is not a creation of the British, as is
commonly believed.

The researchers also found that Indian populations were much more highly
subdivided than European populations. But whereas European ancestry is
mostly carved up by geography, Indian segregation was driven largely by
caste. "There are populations that have lived in the same town and same
village for thousands of years without exchanging genes," says co-author
David Reich of Harvard Medical School.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Kitchen smoke major killer of infants in Andhra Pradesh

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Smoke from kitchen is contributing to high child and infant mortality rate in Andhra Pradesh.
According to a World Bank-sponsored study on the impact of solid biomass fuels like wood, dung and crop residues on the health of people, particularly in rural areas, smoke from conventional kitchen is found to be a contributory factor in high child and infant mortality rate in the State. Andhra Pradesh has a child mortality rate of 62 per 1000 and infant mortality rate of 70 per 1000 live births. As many as 44 infants die in the State within a month of being born. Though the mortality rate in Andhra Pradesh is below the national average, it certainly is the poor performer in South India.
The study was conducted among other institutions by the city-based Institute of Health Systems. It was found during the course of the study that over 80 per cent of people in villages still depend on biomass fuels as against non-polluting fossil fuels. Strangely enough, 24 per cent of households in urban areas too depend on wood, dung and waste from crops. Poor ventilation in many houses has added to the problem of indoor air pollution from kitchen.
"This situation leads to some of the highest-ever recorded levels of air pollution to which young children and women are exposed daily for many hours," the report points out. The study has strengthened evidence that children under five years suffer from high levels of exposures to indoor air pollution on a daily basis and this explains for one of the high rates of child and infant mortality.
Indoor air pollution is the third most risk factor threatening human health in the country and the problem is found to be relatively higher in the State. Indoor air pollution contributing to about 20 lakh premature deaths every year in the country and a majority of victims being below the age of five years. "There is also strong evidence of impact on women, up to 34,000 deaths resulting from chronic obstructive disorders," the report pointed out.
As part of the study as many as 412 households were surveyed and of them 270 families used wood and 97 families buffalo and cow dung as fuel. Only a few families in rural areas used fossil fuels like LPG and kerosene.
The average 24-hour exposures to RSPM were the highest amongst women in families which used biomass fuels for cooking. Even older women, above 60 years who generally do not cook food, and children, who mostly play outside the houses, are also exposed to the high levels of RSPM.
However, children are three to four times less exposed to high levels of RSPM in households where fossil fuels are used.
"Indoor air pollution punishes young children twice. First by making them ill and secondly by making their mothers ill, thus reducing the mother’s ability to take care of the children", the report pointed out.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Aviation safety track record in Andhra Pradesh

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 5: Andhra Pradesh has better aviation safety track record. It scores 7 out of 10 marks for its safe skies and airports. Of the 455 "safety occurrences"
reported in India since 1942, only eight occurred in Andhra Pradesh. In terms of fatal accidents involving aircraft, the State has recorded only one, 27
years ago, as against 136 in the country.

Four passengers were killed in an air crash involving Indian Airlines on
March 15, 1973. Since then there have been no fatal accidents involving
commercial airlines. This is in contrast to 2802 air deaths in the country in
the last 67 years.

However, there have been several "miraculous escapes" in Andhra Pradesh
and in five cases, the aircraft received so much ground impact that they had
to be declared "beyond repair" and discarded.

But the safety record of helicopters and trainer aircraft is not as
standard or
foolproof as that of the commercial aircraft in the State. In the last seven
years there have been fatal air crashes involving four helicopters, killing 14
people. The victims included Lok Sabha former speaker GMC Balayogi
(March 3, 2003) and chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy (September 3,
2009). The State in the recent past recorded half a dozen air fatalities
involving trainer aircraft/helicopter, both civil and defence.

Aviation experts attribute helicopter fatal accidents to its structural
limitations and pilot's limited ability, unlike that of his counterparts in
aircraft. The pilot of a helicopter navigates based on the visibility of the
ground and the electronic gadgets are likely to be affected in case of
or weather disturbances.

"A helicopter has both advantages and disadvantages. Unlike an aircraft, a
helicopter can be used quite easily to rescue people trapped in areas where an
aeroplane cannot fly or land. It is also handy for airlifting during
floods and
other natural calamities. A helicopter can take off and land
vertically and has
the capability to hover in the air. But the major disadvantage of a helicopter
is that it does not have a powerful engine. Moreover, a helicopter has to
produce both lift and thrust and this puts the engine to work more and thus
faster fuel consumption," says a senior pilot in National Remote Sensing
Centre of ISRO.

According to Capt SN Reddy, chief executive officer of AP Aviation
Academy, "a pilot should be on toes whenever he is flying. It is not advisable
to depend completely on previous experiences since the pilot faces new
challenges every time he or she takes off".

Experts also cite lack of strict discipline among pilots as the major
reason for
the frequent crash of helicopters. During 2008-2009 alone 10 helicopters
crashed in different parts of the country. They allege that several
pilots don't
follow safety norms frequently updated by Directorate General of Civil
Aviation. Many of them ignore even crucial weather bulletins of
meteorological department.

Says Vinod Singel, director of Aerosource (India) private limited, "when we
compare the accident rate involving helicopters in India with that of the USA,
our country rates poor in performance. Human error is the main reason for
accidents and not maintenance of the helicopters.

Helicopter crash is also often blamed on lack of proper coordination among
the meteorological department, the air traffic control and the pilots.
Unlike in
aircraft, a pilot in a helicopter develops a tendency to operate under Visual
Flight Rules rather than Instrument Flight Rules. IFR allows pilots to fly by
just relying on the instrument panels even if they cannot see anything outside
the cockpit windows. The VFR, on the other hand, is used by pilots to fly by
relying on what all they can see from the cockpit.

Referring to US-made Bell 430 helicopter (the one used by Dr Rajasekhar
Reddy), Mohan Guruswamy, former advisor to Union Finance Ministry,
argues that the chopper had been put on the watch-list by the DGCA. He
regrets that these helicopters are in operation with scant regard to DGCA

Obituary: Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy, the man of people

"Ayana chanipoledu, makosam tappaka vastadu" (He is not dead, he will
return for us). This was the immediate reaction from people after the State
government confirmed the death of Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy in a
helicopter crash.

For a while, many did not believe that their dear leader is no more. It took
long for people to recover from the shock and come to terms with the reality.

Slogans like "YSR amar rahe," "Pedala pennidi, YSR," and "Badugula aasha
jeevi, YSR," reverberated all over the State, even as countless admirers and
followers set up Rajasekhar Reddy's portraits and pitched black flags at street
corners, to express their love for the leader, who endeared himself to one and

Every half-a-kilometre stretch of major roads in the State was marked by the
typical Andhra tombstone, with portraits of smiling Rajashekhar Reddy with
a red turban, and groups of people gathering around to mourn the leader they
so obviously love.

The portrait with the red turban tells all. It encapsulated the man. The man of
the masses, the leader, who championed the cause of the farmer and the
economically backward, the underprivileged and minorities.

"YSR jaisa aur koi nahi hoga. Garibo ko bohut madad kiya," says a taxi
driver, unable to control his emotions. Even those who had never met
Rajasekhar Reddy personally felt a deep sadness and personal loss at his
untimely death.

Rajasekhar Reddy, was nicknamed "Kadapa puli", and not without cause as
he was quite a fiery and fierce leader, who was unafraid to demonstrate his
displeasure or voice his dissent. This earned him grudging admiration and
slowly real admiration.

But even the people, who backed him as a chief minister, had underestimated
the vision of the man. Most certainly he came up with some of the most
original and workable social schemes that touched the lives of almost every
household that was socially or economically backward.

Rajasekhar Reddy endeared himself with every section of society. "He is the
first chief minister who had really done something concrete for Muslims in
the last 60 years. He gave benefits to the community directly," says Shaik
Yakub Hussain, as he drives his autorickshaw, financed through AP
Minorities Finance Corporation.

And with his death a political era has come to an end. He was the chief
minister with a deep concern towards people and gifted with a rare vision to
turn Andhra Pradesh into a well-developed State.

If there was any other leader in the State after NTR, whose death had shocked
the people so much, it's YSR. In fact, YSR had surpassed NTR in populist
schemes and development programmes. But unlike NTR, Rajasekhar Reddy
had no filmi charisma. He came up from the bottom of the political ladder,
climbing rungs one by one and in the process creating a halo around his
personality, all by his tireless efforts. Perhaps, Rajasekhar Reddy was the
only Congress chief minister in the State to have completed five years in
office without a sign of dissidence.

His exemplary devotion and dedication to the uplift of the downtrodden and
neglected segments of society endeared him to millions of people, cutting
across caste, regional and religious barriers. He was a man with an
extraordinary character of coolness, trademark smile and devotion to God.

"Oka illu ichchadu, kadupu ninda bhojanam pettadu and pillala chaduvulaku
dabbu ichchadu. Rogavaste vaidyam cheinchadu," Bhanothula Pulamma, one
of the beneficiaries of Indiramma scheme in the city outskirts. Her remarks
put a daunting task before YSR's successor. Rajasekhar Reddy's schemes
centered around "roti (Rs 2 a kg rice scheme), pani (irrigation-Jalayagnam),
makaan (Indiramma housing), kaam (guaranteed employment), taleem
(education - fee reimbursement), and sehat (health under Argoyasree).

Even as thousands of people wished him long life, Rajasekhar Reddy knew
that God had given him just six decades of life on the earth. Way back in
2004, he had declared that "I will not continue in politics after I complete 60
years". It may have been a political statement, but it had unfortunately turned

Rajasekhar Reddy created history in Andhra Pradesh politics when he took
decisions, which his predecessors dared not step in on. The Jalayagnam
programme, reservations for Muslims, Arogyasri, fee waiver scheme for the
underprivileged, Rs 2-a-kg rice scheme, free power to farmers and low
interest rate for women groups will go down in the history of the State as
unique welfare schemes that turned the fortunes of millions of families.

He believed in the Gandhian principle of padayatra to seek redressal of
people's grievances. His 150-km padayatra in Kurnool district in 1999 and
1400-km-long padayatra under scorching summer sun in 2003 catapulted him
from the stage of a dissident leader to the status of a political hero, who cared
for the have-not's.

The padayatras had reformed him so much so that he started taking criticism
in his stride. He believed that people were solidly behind him, whatever the
criticism of his political opponents be. Even his political opponents
vouchsafe that Rajasekhar Reddy had "turned soft" after his padayatras.

Rajasekhar Reddy, affectionately called Raja by his close followers, will go
down in political books as the mass leader, who spent the maximum time
with people. He also created a history of sorts by surrendering his family's
1000 surplus lands to the State government.

As his confidante KVP Ramachandra Rao puts it, "Raja never deviated once
he took a policy stand. It sometime became difficult for us to convince
officials to do it even in if rules had to be bent or faced with financial
constraints". He has profound belief in his decisions and confidence in his
actions. It was this confidence that compelled him to take up the Rs 60,000
crore worth irrigation projects, even as the State exchequer was empty. His
confidence-instilling words "beg, borrow or steal" have subsequently attained
political trademark.

YSR's often used to say, "my mission is to make Andhra Pradesh
Annapurna of India and IT hub of the world". And unfortunately, he left in
the midst of this great mission, raising doubts in the minds of people whether
his successor would be able to carry on the daunting task and fulfil Raja's

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Profile: Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy, the people's man is no more

Dr. Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, is an astute politician and a charismatic mass leader who has carved for himself a niche in State politics by his exemplary devotion and dedication to the uplift of the downtrodden and neglected segments of society. Born on July 8, 1949, in Pulivendula in the backward Rayalaseema region, YSR has always struggled to secure the rights of the poor and the underprivileged.
Son of late Sri Y.S.Raja Reddy, a dynamic leader in his heyday, Rajasekhara Reddy evinced interest in politics right from his student days. While studying in M R Medical College, Gulbarga, Karnataka, he served as President of the Students union. He was elected leader of the House Surgeon's Association in S V Medical College, Tirupati.

After completing MBBS, he served as Medical Officer at the Jammalamadugu Mission Hospital for a brief period. In 1973, he established a 70-bed charitable hospital, named after his father late Y.S.Raja Reddy at Pulivendula. His family established one polytechnic and one degree college in Pulivendula, which were later handed over to the well-known Loyola group of institutions.

Rajasekhara Reddy's sound business acumen, entrepreneurial skills, and, above all, his transparency brought him laurels in the business arena. On the flip side, his success also brought him many adversaries, political and otherwise, who were desperately looking for a shred of evidence to prove umpteen charges against him. In the end, their mud-slinging did not yield a single point that could paint the mass leader in bad light. In fact, his detractors became red-faced, as they had to swallow their words.

Groomed by a family deeply involved in public service, YSR entered active politics in 1978 and contested elections, four times to enter the State Legislative Assembly and an equal number of times to enter the Lower House of Parliament. A winner in all that he does, YSR won all the elections he contested. Even today his admirers exclaim: "He (YSR) defeats defeat."

During his 25-year-long political career, YSR has served the people in multiple capacities, both in Government as well as in Party. He was President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) twice - 1983-1985 and 1998-2000. During 1980-1983, he was a minister holding important portfolios related to Rural Development, Medical & Health and Education etc. From 1999 to 2004 he was the Leader of Opposition in the eleventh state assembly.

As a champion of the masses, his stentorian voice in the assembly, raised particularly during debates that sought to lend voice to the voiceless millions, forced the Government to retrace several anti-people steps it contemplated. YSR has been instrumental in orchestrating several mass struggles, while highlighting issues facing peasants, weavers, Dalits, youth and women.

His relentless fight for clearance of pending irrigation projects, particularly in the backward Rayalaseema region, has earned for him a special place in the hearts of millions of farmers. His unremitting struggle against certain anti-people economic measures that were sought to be introduced in the name of "reforms", including the frequent increases in power tariff and indiscriminate privatization of public sector units, exalted him far above the street smart politicians.

Even as a novice in the legislature, YSR rallied all the Congress MLAs from the Rayalaseema region and led an indefinite hunger strike demanding solution to the water crisis. He also led a Paadayaatra from Lepakshi to Pothireddipadu in Kurnool district. The 14-day hunger strike of legislators under his leadership in August 2000 to register protest against the hike in power charges is still fresh in the memory of people. By systematically exposing the misdeeds of the then Government, both inside and outside the Assembly, YSR was playing his political role to the hilt.

During mid-summer in 2003, he led an unprecedented 1400 Km long Paadayaatra covering all backward areas in the state to understand the ground realities of living conditions of the people there.

Now, as Chief Minister, the crowning glory of this studded political career, he can proudly claim to be the quintessence of a politician who, with vision focused on the coming generations as well, has earned the title of a statesman. Amidst a bewildering number of turncoats among politicians, who thrive in "shifting loyalties", YSR stands out as a sterling example of the old guard in pristine Indian politics.

This explains why he has never turned his back on the Congress party, which nurtured his political moorings. The lure of power and pelf could not divert him, when the party was briefly out of power, from his mission to hold the reins of power as a trusted lieutenant of the Congress and, more importantly, as a darling of the masses. Sworn in as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 14.05.2004.

YSR's Personality

A modest Personality:

Dr.Reddy,unlike most politicians, reflects the spirit of a true Indian who walks his talk.While his thought is dressed with all that is modern and ennobling, Dr.Reddy's person is invariably clothed in traditional costumes that include dhoti and a shirt made of handloom cloth.In all of his public and private conversations, he speaks from the core of his heart. Naturally, he hates hypocrisy.

As a demanding Chief Minister, YSR expects bureaucrats to do their job meticulously, and present before him only facts that are shorn of all publicity-oriented and manipulative figures. He does not tolerate hype and extravaganza in communicating official messages. He wants incontrovertible facts stated in a simple language that is intelligible even to the unlettered, because taking administration to the people is an article of faith for him.

His Philosophy of Life:

Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy strongly believes that the human life is a boon provided by the Almighty to share one's blessings with others, while serving less privileged human beings.

"Don't count the years you want to live. Ask yourself how much you have done for society at large with whatever opportunities the Almighty has provided you", is Dr. Reddy's word of advice for those who have excuses for not doing even what is within their means.

It is this humane principle that prompted him to take pioneering steps to ensure delivery of social security pensions to the needy in the first week of every month.

His stature:

Though measuring 5'7", Reddy looks majestically simple in his appearance with an ever-smiling genial countenance. This in fact overshadows his unfailing willpower to achieve his targets with the resilience and tenacity of a spider.

When YSR undertook his unprecedented 1500-KM-long Padayaatra (march on foot) in scorching sun during summer in 2003,covering backward areas of the state in particular, few people could discern the underlying motive: knowing first-hand the real problems of the people in their own language and their doorstep.

His Mission:

As around 75% of the population in India depend upon agriculture for livelihood, most administrative efforts should be focused on the rural economy, he believes.

Citing renowned economists, Dr. Reddy regrets that neglect of the agriculture and irrigation sectors in recent years have become the bane rural economy. As a proactive Chief Minister, he embarked upon a massive programme of executing 26 major irrigation projects to create 65 lakh acres of new ayacut.

His Motto:

Dr. Reddy's motto is that the ultimate objective of any program executed under a democratic set-up should be prompt and dependable delivery of sevices to the common man.

With this as the guiding principle, YSR has advised bureaucrats at all levels to help revive the functioning of the administrative system at all levels without habitually looking for autocratic 'diktats'. 'Decentralization of administrative power within the guidelines of the policy framed by the government reflects the true spirit of democratic governance", Dr. Reddy argues.

His strength:

Dr Reddy's strength lies in his stature as a mass leader since his advent in politics. Whether in or out of power, he has always championed the cause of the common man. This has endeared him to all segments of the Congress party as well.

Even after becoming the Chief Minister in May 2004, Dr Reddy makes it a point to address all the problems that are brought before him directly by people, cutting through bureaucratic hurdles, every day.

If any scheme or programme under formulation is placed before him for approval, its outcome is a foregone conclusion that is dependent on Dr. Reddy's invariable query: "How best will it benefit the people at large or ensure good governance?"

His 'pastime':

A curious 'pastime' of Dr Reddy is to feel the pulse of people in rural areas on Sundays through the Rajiv Palle Batta.

The Rajiv Palle Baata is a novel mass contact programme under which the Chief Minister reaches out to even unmotorable areas in the rural areas for personally collecting feedback on the implementation of various programmes. This programme has become extremely popular, because it highlights not what the Chief Minister does in the glare of official publicity, but what his officials may not have done in the people's own words.

In view of the rational changes brought about in administrative matters following the success of Rajiv Palle Baata, the Chief Minister now extended the programme to urban areas through Rajiv Nagara Baata.

His Approach:

The Chief Minister's emphasis on development of the rural economy does not presuppose a blinkered approach towards new and emerging technologies.

Dr.Reddy is committed to a balanced approach towards giving thrust to information technology, bio-technology and all sectors that enhance industrial and agricultural production. His watchword is total transparency in all transactions and deals that envisage public-private partnerships or involve private investments. Because, YSR believes he is simply a custodian of people's trust that is invaluable.

It is not a coincidence that he loves the company of children and often "gets lost" in their World that is founded on trust of the highest order.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy's helicopter crash lands, copter traced, bodies found

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 2: The helicopter carrying Chief Minister YS
Rajasekhar Reddy may have "spot landed" deep in the thick forests of
Nallamalla, with heavy rains and slushy ground making it impossible
for the VVIP and his team from leaving the chopper.

The heavy downpour has stirred up seasonal streams and the terrain is
covered under several inches of water. The steep hills and deep valleys
make the terrain even more hostile.

State government officials have conjured up three possibilities
including the "spot landing" of the helicopter. Helicopter pilots are
specially trained for spot landing in case of emergency. When an
helicopter spot lands, there may be some damage to the copper, making
it impossible for takeoff, pending repairs.

The chief minister and others with him may not have ventured out in
view of heavy rains. They may be confined to the chopper.

The other possibilities may be a hit with one of the highrise hills or
with a cloud. Hills in the Nallamala forest rise to a height of 3100 ft.
They are covered with thick vegetation and poor visibility might have
led the pilot to err, hitting one of them.

The helicopter was said to be flying at a height of 5500 ft and there
may be a possibility of the pilot miscalculating the height and going
amidst the clouds. There's no possibility of any technical snag as the
chopper is equipped with two engines.

According to sources, thick dark clouds and heavy rains forced the two
aircraft of National Remote Sensing Centre to suspend the remote-
sensing and thermal imaging operations till Thursday morning.

The two NRSC aircraft, equipped with rescue and search systems, took
off at 5.15 pm and had to call off the operations by 6.40 pm. The
operations will begin at 7.30 am on Thursday if the weather conditions

The aircraft using infrared photography and thermal imaging took 41
photographs, each covering an area of eight square km. They took to
two different flight paths so as to cover a large area.

YSR chopper goes missing: Thick forests, seasonal streams, slushy terrain and dangerous wildlife make search operations difficult

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 2: The area, where the helicopter carrying Chief Minister
YS Rajasekhar Reddy went missing, is a rugged and hilly terrain with two
massive water bodies and a continuous green canopy of thickets of Nallamala
forests. It forms part of Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Sanctuary, most of which is
inaccessible and inhabited by wild animals.

According to sources, the helicopter that left Shamshabad airport on way to
Chittoor was last seen hovering over Atmakur area in Kurnool district.
Before that it was reportedly noticed at Iskala village in Pamulapadu block in
the same district.

If the reports are to be believed, the helicopter must have crossed the
Srisailam reservoir and its vast expanse of water which extends to over 200
sq km, almost touching Kurnool city. Aviation authorities point out that the
helicopter lost contact with the ATC in Shamshabad and Chennai when it
was 60 nautical miles away from the Hyderabad airport. This roughtly puts
the helicopter amidst the Nallamala forests, which extend over about 6,000 sq km.

There's another water body, Velugodu reservoir, which is also vast in
expanse, just after crossing the Srisailam reservoir. In between there's a thick
forest, so thick at some points that even sunrays cannot penetrate. The
Nallamala forests has deep valleys and gorges and steep climbs, which make
ordinary people difficult to traverse.

The Nallamala forests cover the five districts of Prakasam, Kurnool,
Mahbubnagar and Guntur. The rescue operations are not easy during this part
of the year because of heavy growth of vegetation thanks to monsoon. The
only motorable road in the Nallamala forests runs from Atchampet to
Srisailam town where it bifurcates, one leading to Nandyal in Kurnool
district and another to Macharla in Guntur district.

If the helicopter had landed in the valley or on a hilly ghat, it would take a
long time for the inmates to reach the nearest point to communicate with the
rest of the world, or to waive down a motor vehicle passing through the road.

YSR's chopper goes missing: Glaring security lapses exposed

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 2: It was security and administrative lapse all along.
Security advisors to the State government had not bothered to suggest that
Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy carry a satellite telephone with him at
least while helihopping.

Worse, the team accompanying the chief minister of a progressive State does
not possess even the simple jungle survival kit. There's no emergency
position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) system with the chief security
officer. The team also did not bother to carry the Rs 150 blinker lamp, which
serves as a beacon light to attract the attention of rescue teams in case of

Only the government-owned BSNL has a cellular network in some pockets of
the thick Nallamala forests over which the helicopter carrying the chief
minister went missing. Ironically, none of the members of the Chief
Minister's team has a BSNL cell phone connection. They have either Airtel or
Idea, which do not have proper network in the jungle or countryside.

Moreover, the helicopter does not have a strong communication network
except for its very high frequency communication system. It has a limited
range and the VHF gets connected to the nearest police network as the
helicopter traverses through.

"We have not been using satellite phones. So we did not think of it," was the
casual reply of M Ramesh Reddy, one of the chief security officers of the
chief minister. The other chief security officer John Wesley is accompanying
the chief minister in the helicopter. He went on to say that the helicopter was
in good condition and was equipped with a VHF set, without knowing that
the very high frequency does not have wide range of communication, in
contrast to high frequency sets.

AP Aviation Corporation managing director KV Brahmananda Reddy also
admitted the security lapse when he said the Chief Minister's team was not
carrying a satellite phone for emergency communication. Modern satellite
phones are also equipped with distress radio beams, which sent out a unique
SOS signal which is repeated quite often. The signal can be detected from
virtually any point on the globe.

That the security advisors have taken the chief minister's security rather
lightly is evident from the fact that the team is equipped with only a pistol.
Given the thick forest area and the naxal threat in the Nallamala forests as
also the rugged hilly terrain, the chief security officer accompanying
Rajasekhar Reddy should have taken extra precautions. But he did not bother
to carry even a torch light as the team did not anticipate any trouble and the
flight was during the day.

The government also did not concentrate on providing small communication
towers in interior villages and deep in forest areas fearing Naxalite backlash.
Even the communication antennas set up by the forest department were
withdrawn when Naxalites were at their peak. The department had not
bothered to re-erect the communication system after the Maoist movement
took a beating recently.

Tech-savvy former chief minister and Telugu Desam president N
Chandrababu Naidu used to operate satellite telephone during emergency
situations and had even helped the Orissa government with one in late 1990s
when Orissa was hit by a devastating cyclone.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy crash lands, killing the VVIP


Hyderabad, Sept 3: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy is no more. He died in a helicopter crash deep in the forests of Nallamala.

Earlier, the helicopter carrying the chief minister from Hyderabad to Chitoor, went missing on Wednesday morning within an hour of the take off. The helicopter took off at 8.30 am and lost radar contact with Shamshabad airport at 9.00 am and with Chennai ATC at 9.02 am. The signals from the cell phone of the chief security officer, who was accompanying the chief minister, were last recorded
at 9.35 am from a cell tower in Kurnool district.

The chief minister's office first said Rajasekhar is safe after he landed in a forest area. But it later withdrew the statement and called upon people living in villages abutting forest areas to launch their own search operations and inform the nearest police station in case they find the helicopter. The Central government on Thursday morning announced that Rajasekhar Reddy had died in the crash.

As the day progressed on Wednesday, the government turned nervous and sought the help of Central government. It has also requested the US department of defence to help locate the chief minister. The Centre however turned down the State's proposal. Instead it has deputed Central forces and helicopters including those from ISRO and Airforce as part of the rescue operations.

The entire forest area has been shrouded in thick dark clouds with heavy rains stirring up seasonal streams. The visibility is almost nil and this has forced the rescue teams to suspend operations for the day.

Union Home Ministry is monitoring the situation closely. Army helicopters have been pressed into service. He was scheduled to land at 10.45 am at Chittoor, but his chopper went off radar due to bad weather.

Elite commandos armed with night vision equipment joined 2,000-odd security forces, six choppers and Sukhoi jets to scour a large swathe of forests. “No good news yet … we are keeping our fingers crossed,” Home Minister P Chidambaram said in New Delhi.

The government is resting its hope on IAF Sukhois with night vision capability which can detect the heat of the craft.

The Sukhois can pick up the heat trails of the chopper if it has come down in the forests of Nallamalla. There are 20 ground teams comprising personnel from various agencies including anti-naxal commandos searching for the chopper in what has now been identified as a 1,000 sq km area. This remains a daunting task and the rescue operations will depend on aerial and satellite surveys apart from help rendered by local tribals near Almakur where the helicopter was last seen.

Home ministry officials coordinating the search hope any wreckage could be located by Thursday afternoon as operations intensify with more helicopters and low-flying aircraft.

The area -- where the search operation is going on -- has been pin-pointed with the help of tribals who last saw the chopper over Almakur and the nearest mobile coordinates. The chopper, taking the north-south flying path from Kurnool to Chitoor, is understood to have taken an eastward diversion, possibly due to bad weather.

Officials said the pilot might have tried to negotiate clouds and turnedtowards Almakur and nearby Iskala and Phaula Bhudua villages where it was last spotted by tribals.

Andhra Pradesh government -- which first pressed private choppers for search operations after losing contact with the CM's helicopter -- contacted the defence ministry around 12.30 pm. The defence ministry choppers could not take off from Hyderabad before 1.30 pm and had to return in an hour due to bad weather. Later, Dornier aircraft and low flying planes with remote sensing capability were used.

Though the Nalamalla forest area has naxal presence, security and intelligence officials discount any sabotage or action even after a crash. They feel bad weather or some technical fault could be the reason for a mishap.

Even national security advisor M K Narayanan, while talking to a television channel, admitted that the government was not taking any chance keeping in mind the naxal presence. Anti-naxal commandoes could also be used given their training for negotiating forest areas.

The NSA, however, ruled out the possibility of naxals bringing down the CM's chopper. He said, "Naxal strike seems extremely improbable. I would almost entirely rule it out. I do not think the naxalites have the capability to bring down the helicopter."

ISRO satellites are also being used, though they will not cover the area till Thursday morning. US ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer spoke to home minister P Chidambaram and offered all help. The nature of assistance or requests was not specified but could include technical assistance like satellite surveillance.

Chidambaram, who rushed to Delhi from Chandigarh after getting a message of missing chopper around 11 am, said in the evening, "There is no good news yet. We are keeping our fingers crossed. Our prayers are with Rajasekhara Reddy's family."

The home minister, who is talking to all local SPs and other senior officials, said the search had been stopped for the time being because of weather and light conditions. "Tomorrow, in the first light of the day, helicopters will continue the search," he added.

However, the home minister said the search on foot by forest and revenue officials was on around the point where they think the Bell helicopter was last seen. Police and CRPF personnel were also moving on foot.

The home ministry has rushed five companies of CRPF -- about 600 personnel -- to the area.

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