Saturday, 26 March 2011

Andhra Pradesh Wakf Board fights long drawn battle with government on Manikonda Jagir lands

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 26: With the State government and the State Wakf Board fighting a long-drawn battle on the title of about 1600 acres of prime land in Manikonda area of the city, Wakf activists demand that the government should hand over the land to the Board.

The AP High Court way back in 1959 declared in writ petition No. 666 that the land under Manikonda jagir belonged to the State Wakf Board. The State government later issued a gazette notification identifying the land as that of the State Wakf Board.

Much to the chagrin of the State Wakf Board, the State government allocated the land to a number of IT firms saying that the land was part of the inam jagir, and hence it belonged to the revenue department. But the Wakf Board says its lands are exempted under the Jagir Abolition Act.

"It is a Wakf property notified in the State Gazette. For obvious reasons the Wakf Board is not making a strong case. If the Board comes out of political pressures, and argues its case effectively, it will be richer by at least 30,000 crore," says Wakf protection and RTI activist Mohsin Bin Hussain Al Kasiri.

After declaring it as the revenue land, the government allocated it to the APIIC, which in turn sold it away to several IT firms at a throwaway price. In one instance, the government sold away 7.13 acres of land whose market value is about Rs 150 crore for just Rs 87.50 lakh. Though the price fixed was Rs 2.05 crore, the government offered a rebate of Rs 1.17 crore if the IT firm employed 1350 people.

"Even before the firm could fulfil its promise, the government provided the rebate in advance and registered the land for just Rs 87.50 lakh. The tribunal will decide whether it is a government or a Wakf land, but selling it for a throwaway price and offering advance rebate is a clear violation of law," a senior advocate, who has been fighting for Wakf lands, pointed out.

The AP State Wakf Board has the largest number of Muslim endowed properties in the country and yet it's annual income is quite meagre enough to meet the salaries of the staff. This is because most of the Wakf lands have been either encroached upon or given on lease on a paltry sum. A part of the Wakf land is in dispute with the revenue department laying claim over it.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Japan nuclear mishap: No radioactivity found in Indian cities including Hyderabad

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 25: Hyderabadis need not worry about the radioactivity levels in the city's air, water and fresh vegetables. The radioactive contamination levels in the city are about 1000 times less than the maximum permissible limits fixed by the Department of Atomic Energy.

The DAE has been conducting sample studies on almost daily basis on environmental safety levels of iodine-131 and caesium-137, both radioactive isotopes, in Hyderabad and other places following the nuclear mishap in Japan.

The ESL studies have been conducted in Tarapur, Kalpakkam, Kakrapar, Kaiga, Kudankulam, Jaduguda, Chhattrapur, Alwaye and Mumbai, besides Hyderabad. The Nuclear Fuel Complex in the city processes uranium ore and makes it into nuclear fuel for the nuclear power plants in the country. There have been fears that the location of NFC in the heart of the city poses danger to the safety of the people.

The uranium handled at NFC is not radioactive and its radioactivity increases once the fission reaction is triggered in a nuclear reactor. Since NFC does not handle heavy water, the issue of radiation leakage due to fission reaction does not arise, according to a senior NFC official.

The DAE teams analysed water, air and fresh vegetable samples at random to check the presence or otherwise of iodine-131 and caesium-137. Both the radio-isotopes of iodine and caesium are released into atmosphere during nuclear fission. The virtual absence of these radio-isotopes reveals that the nuclear mishap in Japan had no effect on Indian cities, including in places where nuclear plants or mining projects are located.

According to the latest data released by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board on Friday, there's no radio iodine in the atmosphere of Hyderabad. "No detectable activity was observed in any of the locations. The levels are 1000 times lower than the regulatory limits for restriction on consumption of food items and restriction to move out in the open air," the AERB update said.

Presence of radioactivity is measured in Becquerel or Bq.
Radio-isotope of caesium 137 was present in 0.002 Bq.m2), which is about 1000 times less than the maximum permissible levels. In case of water, radio iodine and caesium 137 were present in   0.1 Bq.l-1).

When fresh vegetables were analysed in Hyderabad, both radio iodine and caesium 137 were present in 0.3 Similar results were obtained from other places in the country, confirming that the nuclear mishap in Japan had thus far no impact on India.

Kotilingala Buddhist site: Archaeological treasure unearthed on the banks of the Godavari in Karimnagar district

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 25: Extensive excavations at Kotilingala in Karimnagar district have established the Buddhist link to this important Telangana village. The villagers had contact with Gautam Buddha and the area flourished between 4th century BC to 2nd century CE.

According to Prof P Chenna Reddy, director of archaeology and museums, the excavations revealed several remains of Buddhapadas, sculptures and chaitya, attesting for the first time that the site was associated with Buddhism.

The archaeological site abutting the river Godavari yielded brick structures, storage jars, pottery, beads made of crystal, semi-precious stones, glass and terracotta, seals made of bone and terracotta, iron implements including knives, revettes, barber knives and nails, and coins issued by Satavahanas kings cast in lead and copper. The site spreads over 100 acres.

"We have unearthed hitherto unknown facets of Telangana history at Kotilingala," Prof Chenna Reddy said.

Kotilingala was an early historic capital city and Buddhist site datable to the period between 4th century BC to 2nd century CE. It was the capital of Asoka Janapada. The people in the village and its neighbourhood had contacts with Magedha during the lifetime of Lord Buddha.

According to historical record, an elderly person by name Bavani, residing at Badanakasthi, a very close village to Kotilingala, sent his disciples to meet Lord Buddha and thus, the Dhamma reached this area.

The entire historic site is located inside a fort with house structures, secular buildings and public utility structures built of bricks of 60x30x8 cms.

"The site bears historical significance as it yielded coins issued by the pre-Satavahana kings, Veni, Samagopa, Gobhada, Narava and Kamavega, dating back to 4th-3rd centuries BC. It also yielded the coins of Chimukha, the founder of the Satavahana dynasty. The early fort at Kotilingala was identified as one of the 30 walled cities possessed  by the Andhras as mentioned by the Greek ambassador Megathanese in his Indica.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Koyna dam-triggered earthquakes: NGRI-CSIR to dig a 7 km bore into the earth

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 21: Indian geophysicists will make a deep bore hole, seven km into the earth, for a first hand understanding of the mechanism that triggers earthquakes.

The deep bore hole, first of its kind facility any where in the world, will provide clues to earth and earthquake scientists about physical, geological and chemical processes and properties of the earthquake volume in real time. The experiment will also throw light on what causes the earth to quake in regions, which are otherwise "stable" or quake-free.

The city-based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI-CSIR) has selected Koyna in Maharashtra for the study as the region has been witnessing "artificial water reservoir triggered earthquakes" for almost 40 years. The department of earth sciences will spend 60 million US dollars on the project.

"In Koyna region, earthquakes occur in a very small area of 20 km x 30 km. This provides an opportunity to investigate the physics of earthquakes in a very accessible area. There's, however, no other known source of earthquakes within 50 km of the Koyna dam," NGRI-CSIR distinguished scientist Dr Harsh Gupta told this correspondent.

According to NGRI-CSIR director Dr YJ Bhaskar Rao, the experiment is expected to significantly extend the understanding of the origin of earthquakes in the region. "Our scientists have seen that earthquakes of about 4 magnitude are preceded by nucleation (vapour bubbles) lasting 200 to 300 hours. Identification of the nucleation in real time has led to short time forecast of earthquakes of about 4 magnitude," he said.

Koyna is a classical site of reservoir triggered seismicity. Earthquakes have been occurring in Koyna since the impoundment in 1962, including the largest reservoir-triggered one of 6.3 magnitude on December 10, 1967. The region has thus far witnessed 20 earthquakes of magnitude greater than 5 and several thousand smaller ones.

Dr Harsh Gupta said a deep bore hole would provide direct observational data on several vital issues relating to earthquakes, and contribute to earthquake hazard reduction. The experiment will help answer questions related to the genesis of reservoir triggered seismicity.

At present geophysicists do not have much knowledge about the physical properties of rocks and fluids in the fault (earthquake) zones and how they affect the build-up stress for extended period. This because they do not have data from the near field region.

The deep bore hole will allow direct characterisation of the underground fault geometry, physical properties of rocks, hydraulics, fluid composition and heat flow, as well as throwing new light on the upper crustal rocks and Deccan Volcanic Province.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Bambusa arundinacea: Bamboo keeps off baldness

By Syed Akbar
Many think that bamboo helps only in construction and paper industries.  But what many do not know is that bamboo has a number of medicinal properties too.  Apart from its famous medicinal property to cure stomach problems, which incidentally even animals know, bamboo helps in regeneration of hair on the scalp. It is indeed a boon for those suffering from baldness.
Bamboo has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is also used in Ayurveda and Unani preparations too. Bamboo is used for a number of ailments ranging from simple tooth problem to venereal diseases like gonorrhea. It has been found to increase sperm count, reduce infertility and improve the overall reproductive system
Research studies have shown that bamboo contains a number of minerals and vitamins, besides trace elements to improve the functioning of the body. It is thus believed to serve as a general health tonic. Ayurveda and Unani doctors often prescribe bamboo, especially Bambusa arundinacea, for tuberculosis, leprosy and internal bleeding. Bamboo leaves, tender shoots and its roots are used in herbal formulations. A sugary substance called manna obtained from bamboo is also useful. Bamboo churna is readily available with 
herbal stores.

Home remedies
Those suffering from hair loss and baldness try bamboo root ash and jasmine oil. Take bamboo root, clean it with water, dry it and obtain its bhasma by burning it. Filter the bhasma and keep it in a clean and dry bottle. Take a little quantity of bamboo root ash and mix it with a table spoon of jasmine flower oil. Gently rub it against the scalp. It promotes hair growth and prevents hair fall.
Manna obtained from bamboo if taken in small quantity will help in increasing the sperm count. Bamboo manna is available with herbal stores. Bamboo root ash can be used as a natural tooth power for good gums and healthy teeth.
Those suffering from indigestion may try bamboo shoot juice. Even fresh bamboo leaves are good for fighting stomach ailments. Animals like tigers, cats, lions and even dogs often eat grass (bamboo belongs to the grass family) to get rid of hairballs from their stomach. Decoction obtained from bamboo leaves helps in controlling diarrhea.  Bamboo decoction is also helpful in fighting parasites in the digestive tract.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Japan nuclear disaster: NPCIL chief Dr SK Jain says nuclear reactors to be imported are safe

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 19: Nuclear Power Corporation of India chairman Dr SK Jain on Saturday said the nuclear reactors being imported are designed site-specific, meeting all local geological and environmental safety requirements.

"Though we are importing the reactors, they are built to the specifications given by us. They will suit the local conditions where they will be installed," Dr Jain said clarifying that NPCIL will reject them if they do not meet the specifications fixed by it.

India plans to import as many as 40 nuclear reactors from France and USA in the next 10 years. Doubts are being expressed that some of these reactors are being made for the first time and thus, their technology not tested anywhere in the world.

Dr Jain was in the city to take possession of equipment for prototype fast breeder reactor from ECIL chairman YS Mayya. He later told this correspondent that all the existing nuclear plants in the country had been designed to withstand terror attacks even by aeroplanes and missiles.

"We have an inbuilt and back-up mechanism to face any terror threat. Our nuclear plants are not only safe but also as clean as hospital. We have worked on computer simulations and have made enough safeguards to protect our reactors from terror attacks," he added.

According to Dr Jain, in case all power supplies are lost at a nuclear plant in the country, there's a clear gap of 49 hours time to restore the heat sink and cool the reactor. "Our plants are so designed as to trip within three seconds in case of earthquake or other natural calamity," he clarified.

At present NPCIL operates 20 nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 4780 mw. Of these reactors, two are boiled water reactors at
Tarapur, and others pressurised heavy water reactors. The safety of the BWR plants was reanalysed a few years ago. They have been renovated, upgraded and additional safety features back fitted to latest state-of-art safety standards.

Addressing mediapersons later in the afternoon, Dr Jain said the PHWRs, on the other hand, are of a different design than that of BWRs and have multiple, redundant and diverse shutdown systems as well as cooling water systems.

"Our plants have testified their safety towards the severe earthquakes of Gujarat in Bhuj on January 26, 2001 when the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station continued to operate safely, supplying much needed power to the region," Dr Jain pointed out.

He said even during the tsunami on December 26, 2004, Madras Atomic Power Station was safely shutdown without any radiological consequences.

"The event in Japan will be reviewed in detail in due course as the detailed information becomes available. Resulting out of such a review, any reinforcement as needed in Indian reactors will be implemented," Dr Jain said.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Japan nuclear incident: Common man in India does not have direct access to radiation counters or dosimters

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 18: The common man in the country has no direct access to radiation counters or dosimeters for independent evaluation of radiation exposure if any, from the nuclear power plants.
People living in the vicinity of uranium and thorium mining projects are exposed to varying levels of radiation dosages, but they cannot know the exact quantum of exposure in the absence of public access to radiation counters and dosimeters. Only government agencies particularly of the Department of Atomic Energy are permitted to possess equipment that measure the exposure of radiation to the general public.
"For some strange reason the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has not taken note of it. There's no shortage of radiation counters and dosimeters. A tender publication in a newspaper will flood you with the equipment. But since there's restriction on their use by the general public, one has to believe what the DAE or the Barc says. If they say there's no radiation exposure, that's it," a senior nuclear physicist associated with AERB told this correspondent.
Radiation counters help one know the quantum of radiation a person is exposed to. Radiation dosimeters also perform a similar function. Only top hospitals with nuclear medicine departments registered with the DAE get licence to use these equipment.
"The government has always kept a veil of secrecy on the civil nuclear power programme. Barc and DAE have constantly been denying that there's no radiation exposure to their employees, leave alone the general public. Their argument is that the radiation exposure is far below the natural background radiation that hits the earth. But the truth will come out if at least NGOs are permitted to take up independent evaluation of people exposed to radiation risk," said Dr K Babu Rao, adviser to National Alliance of People's Movements.
The demand for access to general public of radiation counters and dosimeters gains significance as India plans to import as many as 21 nuclear reactors as part of its ambitious "energy parks" programme. Each energy park will have a cluster of reactors posing even greater threat to the people living around.
The proposed nuclear plant at Kovvada in Srikakulam district will singularly have a capacity of 6000 MWe. This is against the overall nuclear energy generation of about 4500 MWe in the country at present. This speaks of the gigantic size of the nuclear energy park at Kovvada, a densely populated area.
"One can image the danger the nuclear energy parks will pose because of the location of a number of reactors at one small place. Radiation counters will help people know whether they are safe from or at risk of nuclear radiation. People have a right to health and they should not be denied of the facility," said anti-nuke activist V Satyanarayana.

The story of the super moon: earth's natural satellite at its perigee

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 18: The full moon on Saturday will be 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter, but those living in urban areas may miss this spectacular celestial sight thanks to light and smoke pollution.

The moon will be at its closest point to the earth on March 19 and astrophysics refer to this phenomenon as "perigee" (in Greek peri means around, and gee means earth). Because of its nearness to the earth by about 50,000 km, the full or super moon will shine 30 per cent brighter. It will be larger than the ordinary full moon by 14 per cent.

While people living in villages will get an opportunity to enjoy the rare beauty of the full moon, unfortunately urbanites may miss the opportunity. "There's the problem of light and other pollution in cities. One can't really make out the difference here. But if one goes away from the city to a rural area, one can really enjoy the beauty of the super moon," Birla Planetarium director Dr BG Siddharth said.

Since the orbit of the moon is elliptical or egg like, the distance between the earth and the moon keeps changing, with the farthest distance (apogee) being 4.06 lakh km and the nearest at 3.56 lakh km. The super moon thus will be about 50,000 km closer to the earth, though in astronomical terms this distance is quite insignificant.

This Saturday's moon will be the biggest in about two decades, the last such super moon happening in March, 1993. The moon was "almost closer" to the earth two years ago, in December, 2008. Super moons occur regularly but a perfect perigee full moon occurring less than one hour away from perigee, happens once in 18 years.

"Astronomically it is not significant. It is not rare either, but if there's no light pollution it will be a beautiful sight worth watching," Dr Siddharth said, adding that though the sea tides may be stronger, they will not cause any damage.

Planetary Society of India general secretary N Sri Raghunandan Kumar says since the moon revolves around the earth in 29.5 days, every month witnesses a perigee and an apogee. But the full moon occurring within an hour of perfect perigee takes place once in many years. The Saturday's moon is one such instance. From India's point of view, ISRO would have sent man into the lunar world by the time the next super moon occurs. ISRO plans to put man on the moon in the next 10 years.

"There's nothing super about this so-called super moon. Actually, astrologer Richard Nile coined the term super moon, giving it astrological connotations. But the super moon has nothing to do with the geological events back on the earth. The best time to watch the celestial spectacle is when the moon is near the horizon," he said.

According to NASA, in most places, lunar gravity at perigee pulls tide waters only a few centimetres (an inch or so) higher than usual. Local geography can amplify the effect to about 15 centimetres (six inches) - not exactly a great flood.

AERB finally wakes up to Japan nuclear disaster to say Indian cities are safe

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 18: The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, which is supposedly a regulating body of nuclear energy in the country, wakes up a week after the Fukushima nuclear mishap to say there's no radiological impact in India from the Japan incident.

Faced with strong criticism for not doing its best to serve as a nuclear watchdog, the AERB on Friday conducted radiation studies at 28 places across the country, including Hyderabad, where the Nuclear Fuel Complex is located. The NFC purifies natural uranium ore and makes it nuclear grade for use in power plants.

The Indian Environmental Radiation Monitoring Network set up by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre studied the radiation levels in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Manavalakurichi, Mumbai, Nagpur, New Delhi, Shillong and Visakhapatnam among others. The measurements were taken on Friday afternoon.

The data obtained on Friday was compared with the one observed during February 2011, before the Fukushima incident. The AERB claims that "there's no adverse impact to India from the radiation leak at Fukushima".

Considering the geographical location of India with respect to Fukushima, current status of releases and the prevailing wind direction towards the east (Pacific Ocean), no radiological impact from the radioactivity released in Japan is expected in India.

The average natural background radiation in Hyderabad during February 2011 was 147 nGy/hr (nanoGray per hour) as against 147 nGy/hr recorded on March 18. For Bengaluru the figure is 88 for both the months. In case of Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, the figures are 114 and 107 respectively.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Japan nuclear disaster: Radiation compensation quite low in India

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 17: People hit by radiation in case of nuclear mishap in India may not get more than Rs 2.5 lakh each as monetary compensation, fear anti-nuke activists.

Given the high density of population in the country a mishap in any of the nuclear power plants will affect at least one lakh people. Since the monetary cap is fixed at Rs 1500 crore under civil nuclear damage liability, those hit by radiation will not get hefty compensation.

If the compensation of Rs 1500 crore is to be shared by one lakh people, an affected individual can expect just Rs 1.5 lakh. Even if the Central government hikes the compensation, say by another Rs 1000 crore, people hit by radiation will have to be content with Rs 2.5 lakh each. The compensation an individual gets will go down if the nuclear disaster is of a large magnitude affecting more than a lakh people, argues anti-nuke activist and senior scientist Dr K Babu Rao.

"If the nuclear mishap in Japan is any indication, people living within a radius of 20 km may be affected. A radius of 20 km translates to about 600 sq km. Given the high density of population in India, at least 12 lakh people live within the potential dangerous zone. The dangers nuclear power plants pose are relatively more in India than in any other country. The damage liability should be unlimited and if it is limited affected individuals will get peanuts, as in the case of Bhopal tragedy," he warned.

Even in a thinly populated nation like the US, a mishap in a nuclear power plant will trigger one lakh "early fatalities" (death from radiation within nine years of exposure) and 40,000 cancer deaths over a period of time. The maximum cost of accident for a nuclear plant in the US is fixed at 656.9 billion US dollars (Rs 3,00,000 crore). But the Indian government has fixed an overall monetary liability of just Rs 1500 crore, which is about 200 times less, Dr Babu Rao said.

Gopal Krishna, convener of Toxic Watch Alliance, New Delhi, said many countries including the USA have unlimited liability in case of nuclear mishap. But in India the liability is fixed and this will badly affect the over all compensation to be paid to the affected individuals and their families.

"British Petroleum, responsible for oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has deposited Rs 9,000 crore pending final settlement on compensation. Nuclear mishap is larger than oil spill. Plant genome is affected. Both  humans and animals will be subjected to untold miseries. The initial compensation fixed was just Rs 500 crore but later it was increased to Rs 1500 crore. For a densely populated nation like India there should be no limited liability in case of nuclear disasters," Gopal Krishna said.

He feared that even this paltry compensation will not reach the affected people as nuclear plants are exempt to pay compensation in case of earthquakes or terror attacks. "The Centre agrees to pay compensation in such cases. This in other words means leaving the operators scot free," he added.

SP Uday Kumar, convener, National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movement, Thrissur, said the quantum of compensation cannot be fixed as the magnitude of loss due to nuclear radiation cannot be assessed. "We do not have a mechanism to study the magnitude of the loss. Some people suffer immediately, while others report radiation-related problems a few years later. The liability should be unlimited as not just one individual but an entire locality could be wiped out in a nuclear mishap," he said.

"Since India is in no way more capable of dealing with nuclear catastrophe than the Japanese, justification of nuclear power plants is just shallow. With corrupt and poor quality practices inherent in the system, it is dangerous to meddle with such high risk projects," pointed out B Ramakrishnam Raju of National Alliance of People's Movement.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Safety of over-the-counter drugs: Be careful with headache and cold medicines

By Syed Akbar
First year BCom student P Pranita did not know that she was actually consuming a sort of poison when she took a tablet for severe headache. The 18-year-old girl was apparently influenced by a TV advertisement, pushing across an over-the-counter or OTC drug for headache and cold. The girl soon developed severe drug  complications and died a few hours later. Doctors suspect that the girl might have been suffering from some  underlying cardiac or liver problem and the chemical ingredients in the "headache tablet" had 
suddenly aggravated it.
Pranita's death has brought to the fore the debate on the safety of OTC drugs, some of  which contain active
ingredients banned in developed nations. The "headache-cum-cold" tablet the girl took is easily available even with a panwalla as it can be sold without prescription.
The medicine allegedly taken by Pranita contains 500 mg of paracetamol, 10 mg of  phenylephrine hydrochloride, and 32 mg of caffeine anhydrous, besides a harmful colouring agent. While caffeine anhydrous is  a natural pesticide in plants and a powerful psychoactive substance in human beings, paracetamol, which gives  relief from pain and fever, is derived from coal tar and is known for its adverse side effects.
Doctors believe that the combination of paracetamol, caffeine and phenylephrine  hydrochloride may have aggravated an underlying health problem in the girl. The reaction was quick as the girl was on empty  stomach.
Like many others, the girl did know that she was taking three medicines for one problem  (headache).
Phenylephrine hydrochloride is a powerful decongestant and opens up the nasal blockade in  case of cold. There have been debates in developed nations including the USA on the need to regulate it. There are also arguments that the drug does not serve its purpose, but only increases the blood pressure.
"Cold and cough prescriptions should be advised by the doctors keeping the age and  patient condition in mind," says senior physician Dr Aftab Ahmad. Discouraging use of OTC drugs, he says certain ingredients in these can have harmful effect on heart and can be fatal leading to death.
According to him, cold remedies can increase blood pressure and lead to fast and  irregular heart beat with serious consequences. In Pranita's case, headache could be because of cold and an underlying  cardiac problem could have got aggravated. "Since it is dangerous, it should not be sold as OTC drug," he points out.
The tablet must have triggered hypertension in the girl leading to headache and nausea  and as the girl was on empty stomach it caused severe weakness. "Phenylephrine hydrochloride is not advised for people  with a history of seizures (epilepsy) and those with high blood pressure. As many do not know the side-effects of 
certain drugs, it is always better to take medication under the supervision of a doctor or a qualified pharmacist," warns physician Dr M Ramachandra Murthy.
People should be extra cautious about certain "cold and cough" drugs as they may trigger  stroke or seizures and cause abdominal cramps, says pharmacist S Koteswara Rao. Some drugs like decongestants increase the heart beat, elevate blood pressure, and cause restlessness. The complications can be dangerous if  they are taken on empty stomach.
Any medicine taken on empty stomach mixes fast with the blood stream and if the drug is  known for its side-effects, the results can be quite dangerous, says Dr Aftab Ahmad. Doctors point out that the side-effects of cold and headache  medicines include dizziness, vomiting, irregular heart beat, stomach upset, and damage to liver.
How to use OTC drugs

1. Never get influenced by TV advertisements on pain and cough relievers. Certain seemingly harmless drugs can be fatal for some individuals. Do not take overdose of medicines i.e two or more same tablets at a time. It will increase the drug potency, which the body may not tolerate.
2. Always consult a doctor or a qualified pharmacist even if you want to use OTC drug.  Certain drugs react severely if a person is already on other medication. Drug-drug reaction is potentially dangerous.
3. Never exceed the dose prescribed. Simple drugs like paracetamol can stay within our  body for as long as five years. The drug traces build up in the body resulting in a synergetic effect, which can be quite harmful.
4. Check for the active ingredients in a medicine. Do not go by the brand name.
5. Always use single drug medicines if you are suffering from one problem. Multi-drug tablets will only harm the body and give unnecessary resistance to medicines. When required, these drugs will not work thanks to body resistance.

Mobile spoofing fast catching up in Hyderabad city

By Syed Akbar
Strange it may sound, but one can create mistrust between two persons by sending hate sms to one of them through the other's mobile, without actually touching his or her mobile phone. All one has to do is to login to a certain website, register and start sending sms to any person in India faking  someone else's mobile number.
Mobile spoofing or sending sms to persons using a third person's mobile number, is fast catching up among youngsters in the city, causing concern to security agencies. Mobile spoofing is a new security breach to hit the country, after internet protocol (IP) or caller ID faking. Though mobile or sms spoofing has been there for quite some time, it is of late catching up with students and youths.
Ethical hackers warn that many youngsters think they are playing a prank, but this innocent prank may turn out to be a major security risk for the country, if some anti-social elements get involved in mobile spoofing.
According to cyber crime experts, the person receiving the fake sms will not know that the message is spoofed or fake. There's no technical way of finding out from where the sms has originated. The websites facilitating mobile spoofing exploit certain security vulnerabilities to obtain access to sms-internet tunnel by creating a malicious code or Trojan.
Even the mobile service provider does not know that the network is being misused. The software allows one to send sms from any sender ID to any mobile and one can fake the sender ID to any phone number.
Says additional SP (cyber crimes) U Rammohan, faking sms can pose security risk if some terrorist or anti-social groups are involved in it. “We can trace the sender of fake smses through the IP address, but it is quite a challenging task. If the proxy IP address is used to send sms, it becomes difficult, though not impossible, to reach the sender,” he points out.
Mobile spoofing websites offer both free and paid sms spoofing service. Sites offeringfree service limit the number of fake sms between 10 and 30. But those charging a fee provide unlimited sms facility. The mobile spoofing websites quite popular among youngsters playing prank with their friends include,,, and
Ethical hackers blame it on mobile companies for the continuation of the menace. Cell phone companies need to set up advanced authentication mechanism. SMS servers are victims of huge vulnerability exploits since they are not properly secured and widely exposed, observes networking security engineer MM Ganga Raju.
“The only way of detecting and blocking spoofed messages is to screen incoming mobile originated messages to verify that the sender is a valid subscriber and that the message is coming from a valid and correct location,” he adds.
There's also a dedicated software "sms spoof" which is freely available in the internet.Once it is downloaded in the mobile phone, one can send sms using a third person's number.
"You can send sms from the website to a woman using her husband's number informing her to hand over money to a person he deputes. Since the woman gets sms from her husband's mobile number, chances are she may hand over money or jewellery to an impostor, if she fails to cross-check the message with her husband," says ethical hacker MV Rama Rao.

China root or Chopchini: Smilax china controls white discharge

By Syed Akbar
Chobchini or China root has been used for ages in various tribal and folk medicine for a large number of health issues. Technically called Smilax china, Chobchini is hailed as a wonder medicine in Ayurveda
and Unani too. The root or rhizome of Smilax is used in herbal formulations in India, China, Japan, Iran, Indonesia and in many countries in Africa and South America.
The rhizome of Chobchini can be used in the form of powder or paste, cooked or raw. The daily intake of the rhizome should not exceed 10 grams a day, as heavy dosage may result in nausea and vomiting. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid Chobchini formulations as it may affect their health.
Ayurveda and Unani doctors prescribe Chobchini for white discharge or leukorrhea in women. It has been found to be quite effective in controlling the problem. Chobchini contains several medicinal properties including control of swellings (anti-inflammatory), removal of pus from wounds, promotion of urine (diuretic), bringing down high body temperature, removing gas (flatulence) and clearing bowels.
The most important medicinal properties of Chobchini however, are its ability to fight psoriasis, syphilis and leprosy. It is a preferred herbal treatment for psoriasis.
Home remedies
Leukorrhea or white discharge can be controlled effectively by taking Chobchini with milk. Take Chobchini rhizome from a herbal shop, powder it and keep it in a dry and clean bottle. Take 5 mg of Chobchini
powder, mix it in milk and drink it.
Chobchini powder is also prescribed as a general health tonic. Chobchini is bitter in taste. A little quantity of Chobchini power can be taken after meals to tone up the body system and purify the blood.
Ready-made Chobchini churna is available in herbal stores and it can be used for skin ailments like psoriasis, leprosy and venereal diseases like syphilis.
There are Chobchini formulat
ions which serve as aphrodisiac, besides improving the sperm count.

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This Day In History

Mother's Care

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

Someone with Nature

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

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Under the shade of Baobab tree

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

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Convention on Biodiversity

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