Thursday, 23 June 2011

Demonetisation of small coins: As RBI demonetises coins below 25 paise, their intrinsic value goes up manifold

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: As the one paise and its "poor" cousins - 2, 3, 5, 10, 20 and 25 paise coins - are all set to face the "gallows" in the mint in the next one week, coin collectors suggest against their exchange with banks. Come June 30 and the Reserve Bank of India will demonetise all small coins up to the denomination of 
25 paise. They will now cease to be the legal tender 54 years after they were first introduced.
Though the Reserve Bank of India has asked people to exchange 25 paise and coins below,  numismatists estimate that once the demonetisation process is completed the intrinsic value of these small  coins will go up by as much as 500 times. Coins have two values depending on their rarity and antiquity - face value i.e 
the value printed, and intrinsic value i.e the actual value in the open market.
According to numismatists or coin experts, the intrinsic value of 25 paise coin will  shoot up to Rs 10 or 40 times the face value a few months after the RBI withdraws it from the banks' currency chests. 
Already the intrinsic value of one paise is Rs 5 or 500 times the face value. Similarly, two paise, three paise, five  paise, 10 paise and 20 paise coins command intrinsic value ranging from Rs 5 and Rs 10.
"As the coins are demonetised and withdrawn from the market, they become rare and difficult to acquire. It is the difficulty in obtaining and rarity of these coins that pushes up the intrinsic value by  leaps and bounds. If someone wants to collect 25 paise coin a year later, he or she has to shell down at least Rs 10 
to get it from coin collectors or coin shops," points out senior numismatist Dr Mohammad Safiullah.
The Central government introduced the naya paise concept under the decimal system in 1957. It was in this year that coins of the denominations - 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20 and 25 were introduced along with 50 
paise. With the cost of living increasing tremendously, the RBI has decided to withdraw coins up
to 25 paise denomination with effect from June 30. The small coins except 50 paise will be demonetised 54 years after they were introduced.
Though the RBI has long ago stopped production of coins of the denominations 1, 2, 3, and  5, it did not demonetise them. They still continue to be legal tender. But as minting of small coins has become  uneconomical, the apex banking authority in the country has decided to send these coins along with 10 paise, 20 paise and 25 paise to the gallows.
From July 1, India will be one of the few countries in the world where small coins are no  longer in circulation. Many countries continue to circulate small coins both for historic and economic reasons. The 
RBI has for reasons best known to it decided to tread a different path. In fact, there have been strong protests  from people in different parts of the country against the RBI's decision.
"Minting small coins may not be economical for the Central government. The cost of the  metal has increased, so also the salaries of the mint staff. The naya paise is the identity of Independent India. The 
naya paise or decimal series were introduced after India became Independent. Withdrawing them now five decades later  is nothing short of foolishness," argues coin lover and educationist B Moinuddin.
Incidentally, Hyderabad has a long association with small coins, including those minted  in pure gold and silver. The mint was set up in the city by the Nizams to produce their own currency (in contrast to  the British currency those days). The coins and currency notes were known as Osmania sikka. The naya paise later  rolled out of the Hyderabad mint eight years after the merger of the Hyderabad state with the Indian union.
Old timers recall how these "small coins" came handy for them in their daily lives. The 20 paise coin cast in brass with the lotus emblem was an instant hit. Enterprising people used to give the coins to  goldsmith so that he could add it to gold to prepare finger rings. Earlier, when copper coins were in circulation, they 
were melted and added to gold ornaments.
"I have noticed some people who used to sport the 20 paise coin on their finger rings.  Goldsmiths used to join the coin to the ring as an added attraction. There were times when grocers used to check the  genuiness of coins by using magnets. Fake coins were manufactures in those days using German silver or sattu. If the  coin is attracted to the magnet, it is considered genuine. Every grocer had a magnet in his cash box," recalled  senior homeopath Dr M Janardhan Rao.
The RBI may have withdrawn these coins through a small circular, but the memories  associated with them continue to linger for many years, specially for the old timers, who used to buy a pocket full of 
chocolates for just 25 paise.

Indian coins - some little known facts
==========================* The Coinage Act, 1906 passed by the erstwhile British government empowers the Reserve Bank of India to come out with coins up to the denomination of Rs 1000. If the RBI has its way, it can  introduce Rs 500 and Rs 1000 coins.
* The RBI has introduced Rs 75 coin and plans to introduce Rs 150 coin. However, these  coins are part of "collection series" and not meant for public circulation.
* Though India won its independence on August, 15 1947, it did not come out with its own  distinctive currency for the next three years till August 15, 1950. Pakistan introduced a new series of coins in 1948 and notes in 1949.
* Coins that were legal tender between 1947 and 1950 are called the Frozen Series. During  the period, the monetary system remained unchanged at One Rupee consisting of 192 pies or 16 annas. Each anna was 
divided into 4 pice and each pice was sub-divided into 3 pies.
* The Anna Series was introduced on August 15, 1950. It represented the first coinage of  Republic India. The King's portrait was replaced by the Lion Capital of the Ashoka Pillar. A corn sheaf replaced the 
tiger on the one Rupee coin. However, the monetary system was largely retained unchanged with one Rupee consisting of  16 Annas.
* India moved to the Decimal Series on April 1, 1957 after the Indian Coinage Act was  amended in September, 1955 to introduce a metric system.
The rupee remained unchanged in value and nomenclature. It, however, was now divided into 100 'Paisa' instead of 16 Annas or 64 Pice. For public recognition, the new decimal Paisa was termed 'Naya 
Paisa' till  June 1, 1964 when the term 'Naya' was dropped.

Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance: Now family planning is just a jab away for men, as India's indigenous male contraceptive is ready

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Birth control is now just an injection away. Take an injection and stay infertile for as long as 10
years. The process can be reversed to fertility anytime through another injection. India's first indigenously
developed male contraceptive is all set to be launched in the market in the next few months.
The wait for a safe, hassle-free and "anytime-reversible male contraceptive" has been quite long and
arduous. Almost three decades after it was first developed, the injectible male contraceptive is now ready
for general use in India.
At present men, who prefer family planning, have only two major options - condom or vasectomy, while
women have more than a dozen including pills and jabs. While condom cannot be relied upon always,
vasectomy is largely irreversible. The new male contraceptive is more reliable than condom and more
temporary than vasectomy. This is the first non-hormone based male contraceptive, and thus safe and
IIT Kharagpur's Prof Sujoy Kumar Guha, who developed the famous female contraceptive CopperT, is the
brain behind the reversible male contraceptive that works on the principles of "Reversible Inhibition of
Sperm Under Guidance".
During advanced clinical trials as many as 200 men have undergone the procedure with quite encouraging
results. The Indian technology has attracted world-wide medical attention with experts from the USA ready
to licence it. Since clinical trials done in India are not recognised by the Food and Drug Administration of
the US, it will take a couple of years for the male contraceptive to enter the United States of America.
"Every few weeks we get people coming from the West. A lot of them write to us, and a number of them
even come and sit in our hospital, asking for the injection," Prof Sujoy Guha said.
An injection containing a non-hormonal polymer is given in the vas deferens or the sperm tube. Vasectomy
involves cutting of the vas deferens, so sperm though produced in testes does not come out. But, this non-
hormonal polymer stays in the vas deferens and makes the sperm less active by taking away its natural
energy. Since the injection is given in the vas deferens, there may be temporary swelling of the scrotum.
Except for this temporary swelling, there are no side-effects.
The spermatozoa though produced in millions, do not make way to the egg thanks to their de-activated
motility. Since testes continues to produce sperm, it does not affect the biology of the person like
maintenance of muscle mass and male hormonal levels. Another injection (sodium bicarbonate) in the same
region makes the polymer ineffective, and thus the person turns fertile once again. Both the injections are
given under local anaesthesia.
A non-profit organisation, Parsemus Foundation, is trying to purchase the rights outside India to utilise the
RISUG technology in the USA. The male contraceptive faced a number of hurdles, both bureaucratic and
technical, in the last 30 years before the dream could become a reality.
When the contraceptive was in phase-III trials, it was stopped abruptly thanks to Central government
intervention. Now that all the hurdles have been cleared, India's own anytime reversible male contraceptive
is ready to make waves in the medical world.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Antibiotics in honey: FSSAI wants States to check honey samples to make it antibiotics free

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabad, June 14: All honey consignments imported into the country will henceforth be tested for presence of antibiotics and other contaminants before they are released into the market for public consumption.
Even the local honey brands will be subjected to stringent food quality norms in view of reports of honey being contaminated by antibiotics meant for veterinary use. As many as two dozen antibiotics have been found in different honey samples across the country. Presence of antibiotics in honey will create severe health complications, particularly in children and the aged.
The Food Safety and Standards Control Authority of India has dashed off letters to all State governments to ensure that honey sold in the market is pure  and clean, free of antibiotics. In its advisory to State governments the FSSAI, which ensures that the food distributed in the market is healthy, has directed
them to keep a "strict vigil" on the quality of honey. Since honey is a natural food that can be fed even to infants and the feeble, the FSSAI through new guidelines asks State governments to ensure that only pure honey is available to consumers.
"All honey consignments imported into the country or being sold in States should be free of antibiotics. Honey should adhere to the quality parameters prescribed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. The FSSAI has also sought details on the number of contaminated honey samples seized," said Dr Dhir Singh, FSSAI's assistant director-general.
The FSSAI wants honey to be just natural honey without any additives, whether deliberate or accidental. Honey itself is a natural antibiotic and has several curative properties. But the presence of artificial
antibiotics will rob honey of its natural goodness and turn it into a dangerous potent, even causing cancers and aplastic anaemia, doctors warn.
Antibiotics make their way into honey if apiculturists use veterinary antibiotics to treat diseases among bees. Major antibiotic traces found in honey include macrolides, tetracyclines, quinolones and  sulfonamides. In some samples erythromycin, tylosin and sulfachlorpyridazine have been noticed. Antibiotics like chloramphenicol cause cancer if consumed in large doses.

Bixa orellana: Lipstick tree is a female aphrodisiac

By Syed Akbar

A cheaper alternative to saffron, Bixa orellana is a natural dye that’s free of any toxicity. It is used as a colouring agent in food preparations, like saffron. Bixa orellana is commonly known as lipstick tree or achiote. It is present in many parts of the globe, across the continents and used in local traditional medicines for ages. In different countries it is used for different purposes.
However, the most common herbal properties of lipstick tree are its ability to treat skin diseases like leprosy, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, control blood pressure, provide relief from sinusitis and keep the blood sugar levels under check.
Lipstick tree is regarded as a female aphrodisiac and in several traditional medicines it is prescribed to increase fertility levels in women. It is also known for keeping the uterus in good condition and fighting problems related to women’s reproductive system. It also reduces inflammation or swelling in the body, control fever and dysentery and stops vomiting and gives relief from nausea.
Home remedies
Women suffering from infertility problems may try decoction of lipstick tree’s root. Take a few grams of root of lipstick tree, clean it with water. Take a glass of water and put the roots in it. Boil the water and filter it to obtain decoction. As a female aphrodisiac, besides fighting infertility, it keeps in check the diseases related to uterus.
It is natural hair dye for those who want to give a slight pink shade to their hair. The natural chemical that is used as dye is called Bixin.
Decoction obtained from the leaves of lipstick tree helps in controlling vomiting and nausea. It is onsidered a natural anti-emetic. The decoction also solves urinary problems and fights heartburn due to acidity.
Decoction of seeds of lipstick tree is used in traditional medicine to keep the cholesterol levels under heck. Some believe that it maintains the blood pressure.
Pulp obtained from the plant can be mixed with coconut oil to serve as a natural ointment to prevent carring in case of wounds and burns.
Root decoction is believed to posses anti-diabetic properties as it reduces the blood sugar levels.In case of throat infection, gargle the decoction of leaves of lipstick tree.
Oil obtained from the seeds of lipstick tree is believed to have properties that provide relief from leprosy.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Xeromphis spinosa: Mainphal induces vomiting

By Syed Akbar
Xeromphis spinosa or Mainphal is a shrub that’s native to north India, Bangladesh and 
Pakistan. Mainphal is widely used in Unani and Ayurveda as well as ethnic medicines 
practiced by tribals in north India. In English Xeromphis is called emetic nut as it 
induces vomiting.

Tribals have been utilizing Mainphal to induce vomiting to clean the stomach and keep it 
in good functioning. The fruit of Xeromphis is so powerful that it causes vomiting within 
a few minutes of consuming the herbal preparation.

A number of medicinal benefits of Xeromphis have been listed in Ayurveda, Unani and 
ethno-medicines of various forests in the country. The herb kills head lice, removes 
dandruff and promotes hair growth, improves functioning of liver, fights gastric 
troubles, reduces swelling, gives relief from pain and controls fever.

It is also prescribed for stomach ache, pain in the muscles and bones, paralysis, skin 
problems and diarrhoea. Mainphal is often prescribed for relief from rheumatic pains and 
respiratory problems including asthma.

Home remedies

To induce vomiting to clear the stomach of poisons, herbal doctors recommend the extract 
of Xeromphis fruit. The extract can be obtained by soaking the fruit rind of Xeromphis in 
water for six to eight hours. Filter the water and consume it in small quantity. Within a 
few minutes it induces vomiting.

For relief from lice and dandruff infection, pulp obtained from Xeromphis can be applied 
externally on the head. Keep it for some time and later wash it off. Besides killing 
fungus and lice, it promotes hair growth.

The bark powder can be consumed for relief from swelling and pain. It is analgesic and 

Xeromphis herbal formulations available in market can be taken for relief from stomach 
ache, fever, bronchitis, and asthma and skin ailments. Some herbal doctors claim that it 
helps in toning up muscles in case of paralysis.

The fruit pulp is applied externally
for relief from rheumatic pains.

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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