Global Urban Vision

​J.N. Manokaran

I India

1   Get IIT, IIM degrees sitting at home: You may soon be able to finish a course in MBA or engineering from top government institutes like the IIMs and IITs, or premier private institutes, without attending regular classes. The government has now allowed leading institutes — both, government-run and private — like the Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management to offer their courses through distance learning programmes as well as classroom education. The University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Distance Education Council (DEC) jointly decided to allow all educational institutions to offer distance education courses. Institutes that want to set up distance learning programmes will need to get the approval of a joint committee of that the three regulatory bodies decided to set up earlier this month. The committee will help establish a ‘single window’ approach for institutes. The mechanism would be in place in few months so that institutions can start offering online courses from the next academic year. The AICTE has been entrusted with the job of monitoring distance education courses offered by institutions offering technical education whereas UGC will monitor universities, including deemed universities. The DEC will be the overall regulatory body for open education. According to UGC, the committee will evolve a mechanism to monitor institutions conducting courses in distance learning. It would identify thrust areas and develop curriculum and learning methods to bring uniformity to distance learning by laying 

​down quality guidelines. A UGC official said allowing top institutions to offer distance education would help meet the growing demand for quality higher education. In 2006-07, about 1.13 crore students enrolled in the Indian higher education system and by 2010, this may rise to two crore.


(Chetan Chauhan, http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=946ec2c2-88ab-41f8-ad90e6156ba0df04&MatchID1=4673&TeamID1=4&TeamID2=8&MatchType1=1&SeriesID1=1177&PrimaryID=4673&Headline=Get+IIT%2c+IIM+degrees+sitting+at+home accessed on 26th March 2008)



2  Mumbai-Delhi air corridor sixth busiest Survey: The Mumbai-Delhi air corridor has emerged as one of the busiest in the world. According to Mumbai International Airport (P) Ltd, a survey done last year, showed it was the sixth busiest corridor. The list was led by Barcelona-Madrid, Sao Paulo-Rio, Jeju-Seoul, Sydney-Melbourne and Cape Town-Johannesburg sectors. This survey was conducted by an international organisation, Official Airlines Guide, in late 2007. There are 53 daily flights between Delhi and Mumbai. Airlines already find it hard to get a new slot for a flight to and from Mumbai. MIAL has suggested to the aviation ministry that instead of 53 daily flights of medium-size planes like A-320 or Boeing 737, airlines be asked to operate fewer flights of bigger twin aisle planes like the A-330, A-340, Boeing 777 and even the Jumbo. 

​According to AAI estimates, Mumbai handles 680 to 700 aircraft daily and about 20% of them are small planes.

(Saurabh Sinha, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai-Delhi_air_corridor_sixth_busiest_Survey/articleshow/2899752.cms accessed on 26th March 2008)



3   India to have more IITs, IIMs soon: Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh has finally announced the names of the places where new IITs and IIMs would come up under the 11th Five-year Plan. He said that the eight IITs will be set up in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Himachal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab at a cost of Rs 760 crore each. The IITs in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar will start functioning from the coming academic session, which is to start in July. The seven new IIMs are slated to come up in Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, J&K, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, which will cost Rs 250 crore each. Of these, the Meghalaya IIM in Shillong will start operation from this academic session in July. Apart from this, the 16 states, which do not have central universities, will soon be able to boast of having the same. The government is also planning to set up 14 world-class universities in India.

(http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20080045277 accessed on 28 March 2008)

4   Mumbai doctors report rise in TB cases:  Doctors in Mumbai's public hospitals are reporting an alarming rise in the number of doctors contracting tuberculosis. One of the young resident doctors at a hospital in Mumbai thought he had a regular backache, brought on by long hours at work. But after several tests, a bone scan finally revealed that he had tuberculosis of the spine. TB is an infectious bacterial disease that spreads through the air and is increasingly affecting doctors at Mumbai's civic hospitals. Statistics put together by the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), show that just in the last one year over 45 doctors working with TB patients in Mumbai's public hospitals have contracted the disease. Resident doctors say that though the incidence of TB amongst doctors is not new, the increase in numbers has them worried. Regular exposure to TB infected patients' puts doctors at public hospitals at high risk. Added to this is the fact that TB patients are not always isolated, which is the usual protocol. Exposure to TB is an occupational hazard for most doctors, but the alarming rise experts say highlights the need for stricter enforcement of inspection control guidelines in public hospitals.

(Shai Venkatraman, http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20080045013 accessed on 26th March 2008)



5     4,750 rural bank branches closed down in 15 years: The Reserve Bank of India’s Handbook of Statistics on the Indian Economy (2006-07)

shows there were 30,639 rural branches of SCBs in 2007. That is, 4,750 less than the number in 1993. In other words, an average of 26 bank branches shut down each month, or one every working day. However, branches in metros shot up from 5,753 to 11,826 in the same period. In other urban centres, the number climbed from 8,562 to 12,792 in this period, while also going up in semi-urban locations from 11,356 to 16,214. Bankers and RBI officials argue that these are not all closures but “consolidation,” or “mergers” or the creation of satellite offices.  The fact remains, though, that there were 4,750 rural branches less in 2007 than at the start of the reforms period. The rapid decline of rural bank branches, has pushed more farmers towards moneylenders. If you ‘merge’ a couple of banks 200 kilometres apart, how does this make life easier for villagers already journeying far to their banks? It just rules them out. And it is absurd to say that more ATMs have opened to fill the need. ATMs are mostly in cities. Also, loans are not given at ATMs. The share of rural credit as a percentage of total credit disbursed by all SCBs (including Regional Rural Banks) stood at just around 7.93 in March 2007. Less than the previous year’s 8.39 per cent. Much less than the 10 per cent it stood at in 2001. And farmers account for only a part of it. ‘Rural credit’ includes many sectors beyond agriculture.

(P. Sainath, http://www.hinduonnet.com/2008/03/28/stories/2008032857540100.htm accessed on 28th March 2008)

6  Girls lose out on immunity boost: Discrimination against the girl child may start in the womb but its extent immediately after birth seems to be no less spine-chilling. According to figures given in the economic survey of Delhi for 2007-08, the household expenditure on immunisation per child in case of girls is less than half that in case of boys. Both costs though, are way above the national average and Delhi's average cost of immunisation per child — the highest in the country — is more than twice that of Maharashtra, which comes second. In the Capital, the average immunisation expenditure per child in case of boys is Rs 299 while that in case of girls in Rs 129. The national average stands at Rs 41 and Rs 37 respectively. In Maharashtra the figures are Rs 82 and Rs 81 respectively. Sixty years after Independence even in the more well-to-do families there is a reluctance to administer the slightly costly vaccines like chicken pox to the girl child for ‘personal' reasons. Whereas, in case of a boy there is hardly a second thought given.  The "mandatory" vaccines are BCG (for TB), polio, leprosy, triple antigen (diphtheria, pertusis, tetanus, hepatitis B) and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella). The essential vaccines include typhoid and meningitis, while the optional vaccines are pneumonia, influenza, chicken pox, hepatitis A and influenza vaccine. There are also cases when parents opt for the cheaper and often a less effective version of a vaccine if it is a girl child. A case in point is the DPT vaccine which comes in two varieties, standard costing Rs 30 per shot and acellular costing Rs 1,000 per shot. The cheaper version is opted by 

parents for girl child.

(Abantika Ghosh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Girls_lose_out_on_immunity_boost/articleshow/2905572.cms accessed on 28th March 2008)



7    Corporation gets 10 vehicles for garbage: Local Administration Minister  handed over 10 advanced compactor vehicles to the Chennai Corporation for the removal of garbage. The corporation also had planned to purchase 80 compactor vehicles to put to use before the implementation of the clean city drive. As part of the drive, fine would be imposed on those who are dumping waste, urinating and spitting at public places from May 1. Eight jeeps had been provided for the corporation officials to inspect the clean drive. The corporation had also proposed to construct public lavatories wherever needed before the drive coming into effect. It may be noted that the corporation had postponed the date of implementation of the clean city drive from April 1 to May following opposition from a section to improve sanitation infrastructure.  The release said that the corporation, which handles about 3,200 tons of garbage a day, is planning to set up an integrated solid waste management plant at the Kodungaiyur dumping yard. It also said that the proposal included converting garbage to manure and generating electricity from it.  

(http://www.deccan.com/chennaichronicle/City/Citynews.asp#Corporation%20gets%2010%20vehicles%20for%20garbage accessed on 28th March 2008)

8   Non-metros catch up with big cities’ big spending ways: Move over from Delhi, Mumbai – Punjab, Gujarat and the Northeast are emerging as big spenders for luxury goods helping the Indian luxury market multiply 10 times by 2015. Landlords of Punjab and tea garden owners of Assam - Luxury brands in India, need to look beyond south Delhi and south Mumbai. There are about 16 lakh homes in India that annually spend at least Rs 4 lakh on premium and luxury products and services. Alongside, there is another emerging India, of 400 million upper middle class, with rising disposable incomes and big aspirations. But are luxury brands missing the opportunity? Rich professionals, small businessmen are the market. This because, industry players say, where apparel for men, tops the luxury brands in India, Indian women still prefer a rich Kanjivaram or a Banarsi.

(Bushra Bhushanhttp://www.ibnlive.com/news/nonmetros-catch-up-with-big-cities-big-spending-ways/62100-19.html accessed on 28 March 2008)

9    In booming India, hunger kills 6,000 kids daily: Two million children in India die and turn into statistics every year. That's about  6,000 deaths everyday. A CNN-IBN Special Investigation travelled to the rural heartlands of UP to document deaths and cases of malnutrition for a special edition of 30 Minutes. Nearly 60 percent of children in the Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh are malnourished. In the last 9 months, in Talbahat block alone, 183 cases were reported, out of which 116 were categorized as “severe”.  Local doctors say the biggest challenge is convincing parents that their children are undernourished. Very often, there are no medical facilities. Primary health centres in many places are understaffed and almost non-functional. Abject poverty, lack of basic health care facilities and poor health of rural women are all killing India's underpriviledged, malnourished children. The country consistently has let down children and today malnutrition rates in India are even worse than Sub Saharan Africa.



(Mridu Bhandari, http://www.ibnlive.com/news/in-booming-india-hunger-kills-6000-kids-daily/62220-17.html accessed on 29 March 2008)



10    Delhi kids pocket Rs 1,800 per month: Middle class parents may be feeling the pinch of spiralling prices, but it seems their teenaged children have never had it so good. A survey finds that the pocket money of urban Indian kids aged 10-17 years has gone up more than four times in the past 10 years, and children in Delhi

lead the pack with a princely average of Rs 1,800 to spend in a month. No wonder, even the spending pattern of children in this age group is changing fast - it now typically includes investments on DVDs, mobile phones and multiple outings. According to the survey - "Trends of pocket money in urban areas" commissioned by industry chamber, Assocham - the average monthly allowance of urban children in this age group was Rs 300 in 1998. It has now shot up to Rs 1,300. Kids in Bangalore are the richest after Delhi, with an average pocket money of Rs 1,600, followed by young Mumbaikars who get to blow up Rs 1,500.  Children in Chennai follow close behind at Rs 1,450 per month while Kolkata kids seem to be poor cousins in comparison - they get just Rs 1,200. The survey was done through interviews with 2,500 children across the country. The survey said, in the 12-15 age bracket, the average monthly pocket money was Rs 125 in 1998. This has risen by 550% to Rs 800 at present. Many schools have banned on-campus birthday celebrations to maintain some kind of equality. But, off the record, principals say it's tough to rein in expenditure when parents are increasingly looking at money as a substitute for not spending time with their children. In an interesting finding, the survey shows that girls aged between 15 and 17 years receive more pocket money than boys even though the trend is reversed for younger children. "This may be because girls are supposed to be bigger spenders with their penchant for shopping, and more importantly, parents often trust daughters more," said an Assocham official. The amount spent on various items varies according to gender - girls spend the most money on clothes, cosmetics and toiletries while boys spend most on computer games etc. In fact the amount is enough for children to save up for quite "grown-up" things, the survey showed, including vacations. A lot of times, pocket money is linked to academic performance. Of all the children interviewed, 24% said their pocket money increased once a year while 6% said it was revised more than four times a year. For 26%, the timing of the increase varied while 22% said their pocket money never went up. Birthdays are the most common occasion for parents to revise the amount of pocket money they give, with the annual increase at times being as high as 33%.

(Abantika Ghosh http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Delhi_kids_pocket_Rs_1800_per_month/articleshow/2962852.cms accessed on 19 April 2008.)

11     India headed for food shortages?: Surging grain prices and worsening global supplies are now bringing the domestic food crisis to a boil. In 1979, at the height of the Green Revolution euphoria, per capita, availability of cereals and pulses had gone up to 476.5 grams per day. The corresponding figure in 2006 was 444.5 grams per day, according to provisional government statistics. In 2005, it was still lower at 422 grams. In the case of pulses, per capita, net availability today is almost half of what it was five decades ago - 32.5 grams per day in 2006 compared with 60.7 grams per day in 1951. The reason for this fall in the availability of food is that our farm output is just not growing. Since the mid-1990s, the output has hovered around 415 million tons. In the eight years between 1996 and 2004, when agriculture was growing at a low 2%, there was, in fact, zero growth in food grains. This stagnation is hitting us all now. For one, food prices are rising and the rise is likely to continue. For another, despite nudging up wheat production in the last two years, the government still needs to import wheat. Last year India wanted to import around five million tons of wheat but couldn't get more than three million tons because there wasn't any surplus wheat going around in the world market.

(Amit Bhattacharya, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India_headed_for_food_shortages/articleshow/2912360.cms accessed on 31st March 2008.)



12     City lakes fill, summer chill: Chennaiites can look forward to a ‘cool’ summer. With all the lakes supplying water to the metropolis showing improved levels than that of the recent past, citizens need not fear about any shortage of water during the dog days. Water level at Poondi stood at 2,487 million cubic feet (mcft) as on April 1, which is 451 mcft more the level 

on the same day in 2007. Red Hills is comfortable with 2,910 mcft which is 433 mcft more than that of last year. Cholavaram is up by 462 mcft water than that of 2007. Water level at Chembarambakkam stood at a comfortable 2,434 mcft which was 825 mcft more than that of 2007. the desalination plant at Minjur which will start giving 15 million litres water per day by June will become fully operational by the year end.


(http://www.deccan.com/chennaichronicle/City/Citynews.asp#City%20lakes%20fill,%20summer%20chill accessed on 2nd April 2008)



13     India short of 6 lakh doctors: According to a Planning Commission report, while India is short of six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and two lakh dental surgeons, Indian doctors who have migrated to developed countries form nearly 5% of their medical workforce.  Almost 60,000 Indian physicians are estimated to be working in countries like US, UK, Canada and Australia alone. India, on the other hand, has a dismal patient-doctor ratio. According to the report, for every 10,000 Indians, there is one doctor. In contrast, Australia has 249 doctors for every 10,000 people, Canada has 209, UK has 166 and US has 548. India also faces an acute shortage of dental surgeons. At present, the number of dental surgeons registered in India stands at just over 73,000 against a requirement of 3 lakh. Similarly, the health ministry estimates that there needs to be one nurse for every 500 people. According to this, India required 21 lakh nurses in 2007. But only 11 lakh nurses were available.



(Kounteya Sinha & Mahendra Kumar Singh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India_short_of_6_lakh_doctors_/articleshow/2921262.cms accessed on 3rd April 2008)



14   1.75 lakh new private vehicles in 1 yr: Sample this. Mumbai, with an estimated population of 1.9 crore, has just 17 lakh private vehicles (cars and two wheeler) on the roads while Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, with a combined population of around 40 lakh, are already in sight of the 20-lakh private vehicle mark! With the authorities simply refusing to strengthen the public transport system in the city and Pimpri-Chinchwad, sales of cars and two-wheelers have risen alarmingly even as the infrastructure groans under the weight of the burgeoning vehicle population. During the last financial year (2007-08) alone, a whopping 1.75-lakh new cars and two-wheelers were added to the roads in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad (39,200 cars and 1.36-lakh two-wheelers). Of this, 28,000 cars and 87,000 two-wheelers were registered in Pune alone. Till March 2007, the total number of cars registered with the regional transport offices (RTOs) in both cities was 2.68 lakh and two-wheelers 15.12 lakh.

(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/175_lakh_new_private_vehicles_in_1_yr/articleshow/2921496.cms accessed on 3rd April 2008)



15      Teens stab cousin to death in Faridabad: In yet another incident of teenage violence, two 13-year-old boys stabbed their cousin to death with a kitchen knife on Thursday afternoon at Chand Hut village in Faridabad following an argument that erupted while playing cricket. The victim and the accused are class VIII students at a government school. The police said that the accused killed the boy while a group of 14-15 boys were playing cricket. The victim and the two accused had a heated argument when they were playing cricket. The accused could not tolerate the verbal assault by the victim and rushed back home, adjacent to the ground. The accusd soon returned with a kitchen knife and stabbed the victim on his chest. He was rushed to a local hospital but succumbed to his injuries and hour later. His kin were informed who reached the hospital. In December, 2007, two class-VIII students of a Gurgaon school had allegedly shot their classmate alleging that he was a bully.


(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Teens_stab_cousin_to_death_in_Faridabad/articleshow/2929873.cms accessed on 6th April 2008.)

16     98 Delhi Traffic policemen suspended: In a major crackdown, as many as 98 Delhi traffic Police personnel, who were allegedly caught on camera taking a bribe from private Blueline bus drivers during a sting operation, were suspended. Nine other traffic policemen also face departmental inquiry in connection with the sting operation carried out to expose the alleged nexus between police and the operators of the private buses that have gained notoriety for their high accident rate. Those suspended include 11 Sub Inspectors, an equal number of Assistant Sub Inspectors, 10 head constables and 66 constables, said Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat. The sting operation was conducted by one Chetan Sharma, who submitted the tapes to Delhi High Court on January nine this year, seeking strict action against the erring personnel. Policemen used to take Rs 400-500 from the drivers to overlook traffic violations, Sharma claimed. Previously, he had conducted a sting operation to expose how Delhi Police officials allowed illegal sale of liquor in lieu of money. Around 25 policemen were suspended after this expose.

(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Delhi/98_Delhi_Traffic_policemen_suspended/articleshow/2929008.cms accessed on 6th April 2008)



17     State has highest student enrollment rate: Tamil Nadu has the country’s highest student enrollment rate in primary (up to V Standard) and upper primary level (up to VIII Standard) education, a recently released study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has found. The drop-out rate in primary and upper primary schools in Tamil Nadu was also among the lowest in the country. The rate in primary schools decreased from 4 per cent in 2006-7 to 1.2 per cent. According to the study, Tamil Nadu recorded close to 100 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) at primary and upper primary levels. The study was based on 2007 estimates. Tamil Nadu is the only State where everything is provided free of cost for the children, from books and uniforms to meals. Accessibility to primary schools had also significantly improved in the last few years.  The Government have started new schools within a one-km radius. Initiatives like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) had helped to raise awareness about education programmes. Activity-Based Learning (ABL) had also helped to change the classroom environment. The enrollment of girls in primary schools had also substantially increased as a result of schemes such as the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) initiative that provides a residential school with boarding facilities for girls. ASSOCHAM, attributed Tamil Nadu’s high enrollment to an “aggressive expansion” of technical education institutions, the success of initiatives like the KGBV scheme, Information and Communication Technology schemes in the State as well as scholarships provided for students through private sector participation. While enrollment rates and student retention were creditably very high in the State, the quality of public schools still needed improvement.

(Ananth Krishnan,

http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/07/stories/2008040756080100.htm accessed on 7th April 2008)



18      Bleeding, she dies in garbage lorry:  A 23-year-old woman, who had delivered a still born baby in Chennai city, died in a garbage lorry due to excessive bleeding early  while she was being taken to the nearest speciality hospital.   The deceased Kalaivani was admitted at the Perambur Corporation Hospital. According to the relative, Kalaivani, who was heavily bleeding  was referred to the Raja Sir Ramaswamy Mudaliar (RSRM) Hospital at Royapuram as the hospital staff claimed that

their health care center did not have sufficient facilities to treat the mother and the child. However, Kalaivani delivered a still born baby and later passed away while she was being transported in a garbage truck to the RSRM Hospital. “In today’s world, it is a shame that a woman dies due to bleeding, that too in our city. We had all the facilities to save her if only the doctors at the Corporation Hospital had alerted the victim’s family in time,” said Mr Mahendran, local MLA. The hospital did not even arrange for an ambulance to transport a bleeding woman who had just delivered a baby. “Kalaivani’s family had to rely on a garbage lorry to take her to the RSRM Hospital. But  it was too late,” Mr Mahendran said.  Following the protests by the public, the medical authorities have suspended two nurses at the Corporation Hospital and have ordered an inquiry into the incident, he said.



(http://www.deccan.com/chennaichronicle/City/Citynews.asp#No%20toilets,%20so%20no%20to%20schools:%20Girls accessed on 8th April 2008)



19      Fewer poor in our big cities: Urbanisation may be the key to reducing poverty, if the Maharashtra’s state government’s survey on urban poverty is anything to go by. The results of the survey carried out in 225 towns and 18 big cities (results of Mumbai and Thane are not yet released) by the urban development department (UDD) reveals that families living below the poverty line (BPL) in cities have reduced by 9.03 percent, but BPL families in smaller towns have risen by 12.52 per cent in the last decade. “We need urbanisation at all costs in the state. The survey has revealed a decrease in poverty in cities and in developed towns,” said TC Benjamin, principal secretary, UDD. The door-to-door survey, which is yet to be officially released, identified around 6.98 lakh families that earn less than Rs 591 per person per month — the cut-off decided by the Union government to identify BPL families. The survey used 54 socio-economic parameters including housing, profession, family background to identify them. What’s good is that urban poverty in the state has gone up by only 3.46 per cent since 1998 when the last survey was done; 13.51 per cent of Maharashtra’s urban population lives below the poverty line. That’s better than National Sample Survey Organisation’s prediction that 18-20 per cent of the urban poor will be below poverty line. The bad news is that poverty has gone up in smaller towns — facing the brunt of rural migration — by 12-13 percent. Smaller towns in Vidarbha and Marathwada have 23 per- cent BPL families but bigger towns like Ambernath, Lonavala and Baramati have only six percent BPL families. Cities like Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Navi Mumbai have shown a nine percent dip in poverty levels since 1998. “In Mumbai’s hinterland [like Ulhasnagar, Kalyan-Dombivli, etc], many people listed in the 1998 survey as BPL said they were not in that bracket anymore,” said Prachi Jambhekar, survey official and deputy director of municipal administration directorate. However, the income criteria of Rs 591 may not give an accurate picture of poverty in the cities. “For cities the income criteria has to be higher. The cut-off income works out to Rs 20 per person per day. It is even lower than the minimum wages paid to unorganised labour,” said Sharit Bhowmick, professor of labour studies with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The results of poverty survey in Mumbai and Thane may change the overall picture in the state.

(Ketaki Ghoge, http://www.hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx?id=13254ae4-8f14-4981-82d0-44c7f6d1e948&&Headline=Fewer+poor+in+our+big+cities accessed on 8th April 2008)



20     Danger Signals: The smoking gap

between men and women is getting narrower.  One in 10 women smokes or chews tobacco in urban India today, says a new World Health Organization study, First Report on Global Tobacco Use.  Over 31 percent of women between age 15 and 49 use tobacco in one form or the other, shows the latest National Family Health survey. The first nationally representative study of smoking women in India, Canada and Britain and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2008.  It estimates that over 62 percent Indian women smokers will die in their productive years compared to 38 percent of non-smokers.  Over 20 percent are at the risk of getting respiratory diseases, 12 percent heart attacks and 9 percent tuberculosis.  Surveys suggest that since the 90's more women than men have started smoking in the crucial adolescent years when smoking careers are established.  A 2006 study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on over 6000 students across 32 schools in Delhi and Chennai showed, 20 per- cent sixth standard girls are lighting up.  87 per- cent of Hindi movies show on screen smoking. 26% of films have a heroine who smokes.      

(Damayanti Dutta, India Today, 14 April 2008, p. 53-56)

 

21     Mobile telephones:  At the end of February 2008, there were 250.93 million mobile phones in India.  China leads with 540.5 million users and the US is second with 256 million users.  India is expected to overtake the US by next month.

(Business Today, 20 April 2008, p.30)



22 IT Hurts:  Outside the metropolis, Bangalore’s information technology (IT) professionals carry an enviable image: fat salaries, perks in plenty, snazzy, hi-tech offices, frequent travel, global exposure, fancy apartments, and cars.  In short, the Great Indian dream.  Scratch the surface and there are disturbing signs that life in Silicon City is taking a heavy toll. In the first survey of its kind conducted by National Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences and four other medical outfits, among IT professionals, in December 2007 reports, at least 36 per cent of respondents can be classified as probable psychiatric cases while 10 per cent report severe mental distress.  One among 20 employees regularly considers suicide; 28% were constantly under strain; and 300 of 900 men and women faced infertility problems.  22% are unable to enjoy daily articles and a fifth that admit to being edgy and bad tempered all the time.    

(Swagata Sen, India Today, 14 April 2008, p. 86-87)



23   Rickshaw puller donates son’s eyes: A rickshaw puller and his wife donated the eyes of their two- and-a-half-year-old son to an eye bank after their child, who was suffering from a congenital heart disease, failed to survive a major cardiac surgery.  The parents, 40-year-old Daniel Thomas and 27-year-old Selvi who live at Thathankuppam in Villivakkam, said they had decided to donate the eyes of their third son Emmanuel as they wanted him to be of use to society after his death. “I make just around Rs 1,000 per month and could not afford the cost of Rs. 1.65 lakh for the surgery. It was only charity from the public that helped us in arranging for the operation. We thought that this would be the only way in which Emmanuel could thank all his sponsors,” Daniel said.



(http://www.deccan.com/chennaichronicle/City/Citynews.asp#3-year-old%20girl%20gulps%20down%20‘soft%20drink’,%20dies accessed on 9th April 2008)

24   Govt. schools take the royal flight: Students in Delhi government schools will be taught how to speak better English and develop various technical skills in a bid to check the dropout rate in state-run schools and increase their employability. The plan is to give training in skill development and the English language to around 5,000 schoolchildren in the current academic session. It is being started as a pilot project in at least 60 schools. The optional training programme, which hopes to strengthen self-employment, will cover students of Classes 8 to 10. Students who enroll will learn how to repair air-conditioners, mobile phones, television sets, watches and other home appliances. They will also be taught how to make candles, paper carry bags and other such eco-friendly things. The programme will also address another problem. Students in government schools also find themselves at a disadvantage compared to those in private institutions when it comes to the English language. The Delhi branch of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is the city government's partner in implementing the innovative programme. The students will get certificates after successfully completing the optional courses. Government officials feel the scheme will substantially help students who drop out of school midway for various reasons like an inability to cope with studies and family problems. According to the planning department of the Delhi government, nearly two million students were studying in Classes 1-5 in state-run schools in 2006-07. The figure peters down to around 691,000 for Classes 10-12. As per the latest Economy Survey, around two million children study in the city's over 2,668 government-run primary schools, mostly run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). The city's 2,000 odd secondary schools offer education to over 700,000 children.

(Rajeev Ranjan Roy,  http://www.hindustantimes.com/Frames.htm?pageid=http://www.htnext.in/news/5922_2114462,008700010014.htm accessed on 9th April 2008)



25    Supreme Court bans hoardings in Chennai: The Supreme Court upheld the Madras High Court's order, banning illegal and hazardous hoardings in Tamil Nadu. Following this decision, Chennai will soon have a skyline free of hoardings. The apex court turned down the hoarding owners' plea and around 80,000 such hoardings in the state will be affected by this judgement. Over 2000 hoardings were removed in Chennai during November 2006 and currently, around 3000 applications for hoarding licences are pending with the state government.

(http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20080046371 accessed on 9th April 2008)

26      A laptop stolen everyday in Ahmedabad: Police records show that one laptop is stolen from cars almost every day from posh and busy zones like Drive-In Road, SG Highway, Shivranjani Crossroads and Gurukul Circle. In the last month alone, 23 laptops worth Rs 10.56 lakh were stolen from Satellite, Naranpura and Ellisbridge areas. The profile of the victims also varies from businessmen to professionals to students who had left their laptops in their cars. The dossier prepared by the cops lists three kinds of car burglars — those who bait victims by saying they have dropped money near the car, and when they go to check the belongings are stolen; those who use powerful catapults to break car windows and steal valuables; and the latest and most successful are those who work noiselessly with glass cutters. The 'art' of stealing a laptop takes barely 10 minutes. The thieves do a recce, one of them stands guard at the car while another cuts the glass window — this way the car alarms are not triggered off. The laptop is removed quietly. According to police officials, "Recovery of stolen laptops is extremely difficult because once stolen; a laptop is first reduced to small hardware parts and then reassembled for various home-made laptops sold in the grey market." In the grey market, which consists of several non-descript shops in different parts of the city, offers spare parts of these stolen goods at almost half the prevalent market rate. Thus, when a company laptop costs around Rs 25,000 to 45,000, an assembled one can be procured at around Rs 15,000 to 30,000 with almost the same configurations. In Ahmedabad, shops in Kalupur, Gheekanta Road, Naranpura and Navrangpura offer this sort of laptops for cheaper prices. A standard laptop's spare parts get for around Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 in grey market, said a computer trader from Navrangpura. However, when the high-configuration laptop is found, it is sent to bigger centres such as Bangalore and Mumbai for sale, the official added. According to professionals involved in glass cutting business, the cutter comes in two variants — one with a diamond tip and the second with a metal tip. However, the diamond tip cutters are used in burglary.  They apply thinner on the piece of glass or sometimes kerosene before cutting the glass. Applying lubricant makes it easier to cut glass. It then becomes as easy as slicing butter with knife.

(Parth Shastri, ihttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Ahmedabad_A_laptop_stolen_everyday/articleshow/2939258.cms accessed on 10th April 2008)



27  India becoming a major illicit opium producer: India is slowly emerging as a major opium producer in areas near the notorious

Golden Triangle trinity. Myanmar, along with Thailand and Laos, has for long ruled the world's

illicit opium and heroin supply. Now large tracts in the north-east bordering Myanmar have been found under opium cultivation. The Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) completed a week-long operation destroying illicit opium poppy crop over 450 hectares of land in three bordering districts of Arunachal Pradesh. This is just a fraction of the total land under illicit opium  cultivation. Last year, the agency had destroyed opium over 850 hectares. The illicit opium is not only sourced by major drug syndicates in South-East Asia to cater to the heroin demands in the region but is also considered as the major source of funding for insurgents operating in both the north-east and elsewhere. The alarming trend of rising production of illicit opium has direct co-relation with terrorism as has been evident in Afghanistan which has seen a resurgence of Taliban. Afghanistan supplies almost 92% of the world’s heroin today. In India, the illicit opium production has witnessed a steady growth.

(Pradeep Thakur, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India_becoming_major_illicit_opium_hub/articleshow/2939587.cms accessed on 10th April 2008)



28     Meltdown effect: High-end apartments bite the dust too: When South Mumbai-based Orbit Constructions launched the 27-story Orbit Arya on Napeansea road, the question on everyone’s mind was whether these luxury apartments would sell, given the rising interest rates on home loans and commercial lending. In the past 18 months, Orbit has sold only 7 of the 14 flats. The company recorded its last sale (at Rs 62,000 a sq ft) some four months ago. Similar is the case at the super luxury residential building Oberoi Skyz launched by Oberoi Constructions at the erstwhile Glaxo plot at Worli. Having sold off 30 of the 60 flats, the company claims to have stopped sales for the past few months. The last sale at Rs 25,000 a sq ft was also recorded quite some time ago. The luxury apartment market, which seemed immune to the slowdown in the property market in the rest of the city  is not true. Property rates in the suburbs have dropped by 30 to 40%. Usually, say property consultants, the luxury market remains unperturbed by rising interest rates. “But the US sub-prime crisis along with the slide in India’s stock market is starting to affect the realty market. With the result, investors are thinking twice about buying property. The fluctuating market has affected investors like diamond merchants and stock brokers who may now want to repay their losses by selling their property at reduced profit margin,’’ said Dinesh Sheth, treasurer of Real Estate Agents Association of India. 

(Rajshri Mehta,

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1159190 accessed on 10th April 2008)

29      90% of low-income urban workers’ debt is ‘informal’: Statistics show that almost 90 per cent of the 2.8 million low income urban workers who borrowed in the last two years, obtained loans from ‘informal sources’ like moneylenders, friends and relatives at very high interest rates — contrary to the popular perception that urban areas have better access to institutional credit. Only 10 percent managed to secure loans from banks, cooperative societies and micro finance institutions. Put together, the urban poor accumulated outstanding debt of over Rs 5,300 crore over the last two years, which is estimated to be 60 percent of the total outstanding debt of all 19 million urban poor currently. And only 22 percent of this lending came from the institutional credit net. (An urban low income worker is defined as one with an annual household income of up to Rs 39,600). On the other hand, small and marginal farmers who form the biggest component of the ‘rural poor’ fared markedly better, securing almost 25 per cent of their loans through formal channels. Statistics indicate that the largest proportion of urban low income borrowers (48 percent) obtained funds from relatives and friends, while 24 percent approached moneylenders. In contrast, 32 percent and 41 percent of the small and marginal farmers resorted to loans from these sources respectively. The statistics come from a survey of 1 million houses conducted by Invest India Market Solutions last year. The highest number of these low income workers turned out to be ‘own-account workers’ like domestic help, rickshaw-pullers and carpenters, who do not operate on a fixed contract. Almost half of them lived in class 1 towns having populations greater than 1 lakh. As in the case of the rural poor, almost half of these urban borrowers secured informal loans at interest rates greater than 36 percent. Even self-help groups, which are thought to have greater penetration in urban areas, failed to provide any succour to the poor there. “It is a fact of the matter that financial inclusion for urban poor is not much better than in rural areas. Banks are hesitant to lend to urban poor since their income tends to be less regular and much more volatile,” says National Council for Applied Economic Research director general Suman Beri. The survey findings too indicate that 25 per cent of urban poor reported problems in generating a sustainable, level income throughout the year. Banks agree that lending to the urban poor is often much riskier.

(Zeenat Nazir, http://www.indianexpress.com/story/294783.html accessed on 10th April 2008.)

30     B'day celebrations for Jharkhand kids: The birthdays of poor children will soon be celebrated in Jharkhand government schools - a move to make them feel cared for and also attract more kids to school. The birthday celebration will create a bond among the students. The idea is to build confidence among the poor students. Poor students rarely celebrate their birthdays and the introduction of birthday celebration will give a feeling that they are cared for. The birthdays will be short listed from the admission list. The school will announce the all birthdays at morning assembly and distribute chocolates. In Jharkhand around 300,000 children aged between 6 and 14 are out of schools. This move will bring them back to school.


(http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=d2cb0fc4-07b9-4f50-aad1-f0138e9b6143&MatchID1=4680&TeamID1=6&TeamID2=3&MatchType1=1&SeriesID1=1179&PrimaryID=4680&Headline=B'day+celebrations+for+Jharkhand+kids accessed on 13 April 2008)



31     Nearly 175 terror groups are active in India: Manipur has the highest number of terror outfits, followed by Assam and Jammu and Kashmir, according to a list prepared by the union home ministry in consultation with state governments and intelligence agencies.  The home ministry is closely monitoring the activities of nearly 175 terror organisations spread across India and attempting to ascertain their links both within and outside the country. The list includes those suspected of, or indulging in terrorist, insurgent, extremist or fanatical activities. The majority of the outfits are centred in and active in the northeast, according to intelligence sources. Manipur tops the list with a whopping 39 organisations, followed by Assam with 36 organisations that are under the scanner of the state and central intelligence agencies. The next is the sensitive border state of Jammu and Kashmir with 32 such groups active, semi-active or dormant. In addition to these, there are at least four other independent groups that are not based in Kashmir but are coordinating or supporting terror groups in the state from across the border. The surprise inclusion here is Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an all-women organisation that exerts community pressures to further social norms dictated by Islamic fundamental groups. Most of the groups named in the list are engaged in secessionist activities, mostly armed and violent, either independently or with support from across the border, mostly in regions neighbouring Pakistan and China. Thirty groups belong to Tripura, 

followed by four in Meghalaya, three in Nagaland, two in Mizoram and one in Arunachal Pradesh. This makes a total of 115 groups in seven states in the sensitive northeast, including those bordering China. Punjab, which witnessed heavy terrorism in the 1980s, has at least 12 active or potentially dangerous terror groups in the state. Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare said there are around 8-10 frontline terror groups on which they keep tabs on a regular basis, but he declined to identify them. "In addition, there are more than a couple of hundred other such groups of which we have knowledge. At times, new ones suddenly crop up, like the Hindu Garjana, which attacked communist party workers in Pune last fortnight. Then we do the needful investigations," Karkare told IANS, but did not elaborate. In addition to these state-level groups, the agencies are keeping tabs on the activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, Tamil National Retrieval Troops, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI - banned since September 2001), Deendar Anjuman, Asif Reza Commando Force, Kamatapur Liberation Organisation and the Ranvir Sena. Even some Nepalis in India have their own struggle group - the Akhil Bharat Nepali Ekta Samaj - fighting for different causes. Left-wing extremist groups that are under a close watch include the Communist Party of India-Maoist, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Janashakti and People's Guerrilla Army. As far as Mumbai Police are concerned, they are quite pleased with the recent successful investigations that led to the nabbing of important terror operatives who were reportedly targeting sensitive installations and religious places in Mumbai. These include terror suspects caught from Goa, Karnataka and from Thane district, bordering Mumbai, in Maharashtra.

(http://www.ibnlive.com/news/nearly-175-terror-groups-are-active-in-india/63211-3.html accessed on 13 April 2008)

32    Thirty two brands of water in city not fit for drinking: Packaged water in the city is not safe for drinking. In fact, there is evidence with the government that this water, which we believe to be pure, is a concoction of bacterial germs. Still, nothing is being done to correct the situation despite a sharp increase in water-borne diseases in Chennai over the last one year. The inaction is a classic case of how the government gets blind-sighted by red tape. There is just one post for a ‘public analyst' in the city and he is the only official empowered to act against erring water bottlers and dealers. The post has been lying vacant since June last, and even though the government lab has detected contamination in packaged water, the absence of the official has been sufficient reason for government inaction. Meanwhile, the number of diarrhoeal ailments – the most common water-borne disease - in Chennai has shot up from 1,744 in 2006 to 2,581 in 2007, signifying an alarming 48% increase. The spike in cholera has been 900% - from just 59 in 2006 to 602 cases in 2007. Typhoid, another water-borne disease, has gone up by 28%, from 18 to 23 in the same period. Chennai consumes 60 lakh litres of packaged drinking water every day, the highest among Indian cities. Virtually every household buys packaged water for drinking and cooking. In the fierce summer months, when water dries up in the corporation taps, Chennai quenches its thirst only with packaged water. In short, unlike other cities, packaged water is the main source of drinking water in the city. Therefore, checking the quality of packaged water is very important here. It is done periodically by the Public Analyst Laboratory (PAL). And the lab has found as many as 32 brands unfit for consumption out of 46 samples it collected in July, 16 in November and seven in December. The most contaminated samples showed an e-coli count of 1,200/100 ml and a coliform count of 200/100 ml. Ideally, the figure should be zero in both cases. The presence of e-coli and coliform bacteria means the samples could, in fact, be contaminated with faeces. And yet, none of the offenders have been booked because the Public Analyst's post lies vacant. Now the results of the samples lifted in January and February are awaited.

(Julie Mariappan, Times of India, 14 April 2008, Chennai edition, p.3)

33      Spring in the autumn: Here is good news for Senior Citizens of Chennai.   Senior Citizen Bureau has launched a scheme that will cover 22 areas in the city of Chennai.  In the last six weeks, 42 doctor 15 physiotherapists, and four psychologists have signed up with Dr. Natarajan (Retired head of the geriatric unit of the Madras Medical College) who initiated this.  Since the launch of the scheme in February, doctors have made dozens of  calls to treat patients from age of 75-80.  The scheme is run on a no-profit basis.  

(Outlook 14 April 2008, p.10)



34     Kannadigas outnumber Malayalis 2:1 in state: According to just released census figures, there are about 35 lakh Telugu speaking people in Tamil Nadu, constituting 5.7 percent of state’s population.  The Kannada speaking add up to about 10.8 lakh (1.7%) almost double the number of Malaylis who – at 5.55 lakhs strong-make up less than 1 percent.  With 2 lakh population Gujaratis are the fifth largest population – largest community outside Gujarat and Maharastra.  Marathi population is 62000 and Bengali, Punjabi and Nepali are 6000 plus each. Urdu speakers are 9 lakhs and they constitute 1.5 percent of the state population.  

(Rema Nagarajan, The Times of India, 15 April 2008, p. 1)



35    90% of buildings in city are fire traps:  Only 47 multi-storied building among the hundreds being constructed in the city of Chennai have applied to the Tamil Nadu Fire Services Department for a no-objection certificate to proceed with construction in the year 2008. The city is growing rapidly with multi-storied buildings, multiplexes and hotels springing up on every road.  But 90% of the new buildings have either deviated from or defied fire safety norms.  Last year only 138 new buildings approached for no objection certificate.  For multi -storied buildings there is a need to leave 7 metres gap around the building for fire fighting vehicles to move, but these areas are used as parking lot.  All buildings are expected to have fight safety equipments such as hose reels, automatic fire detectors, sprinkler systems, fire alarms, and a storage tank at ground level.  There are more than 3000 mercantile buildings 

in Chennai.  The shops do not have fire fighting equipments in these buildings.



(Vivek Narayanan, The Times of India, 15 April 2008, p. 2)



36      Where will our children play? Only 10 per cent of the 457 schools in the city of Chennai have playgrounds. Of these barely 2 percent have well-equipped play fields for games such as football, cricket, basketball and volleyball – according to Chief Inspector of Physical education.  The most common reason cited for the shrinking grounds is expansion of school blocks.  Lack of physical exercise and a diet dominated by junk food are the two main reasons for obesity among children.  In contrast Karnataka’s 50%  of the 44,849 primary schools have playgrounds and the same goes for about 70% of government high schools.  A majority of the 900 government schools in Delhi have playgrounds. 

(Karthika Gopalakrishnan, Times of India 18 April 2008, p. 7)



37    Women lead the flock: Chennai has most female pastors:  Church of South India – Madras diocese has the largest number of women priest around 20.  

(Ajitha Karthikeyan, Times of India, 18 April 2008, p. 4)



38    City’s roads the deadliest in country:  Delhi was considered most accident prone among the six metros.  In 2007, Chennai recorded 8,680 mishaps with 1,146 people dead and has 2,419,178 vehicles; accidents per thousand vehicles is 3.59 and deaths per 1,000 vehicles is 0.47.  Delhi had 8270 mishaps leaving 2050 people dead and has 5,140,000 vehicles; Accidents per 1,000 vehicles is 1.61 and deaths per 1,000 vehicles is 0.40.  Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad had 6,510, 8,426 and 3,278 respectively; with 651, 981 and 391 persons dead; the cities have 1,503,000, 3,107,000 and 1,850,000 respectively.   

(Rema Nagarajan, The Times of India 21 April 2008, p.1)

39      Urban children not getting enough sleep:  The findings of the study conducted by researchers at University college of Medical Sciences and GTB hospital show that sleep debt of the approximately one hour per day was seen in all adolescents and progressed with higher grades.  The study of students from IX- XII in an average sample age of 15.1 years found that the total sleep time was 7.8 hours per day.  Most of the students said they went to bed by 11 PM and took 23.6 minutes to leave the bed after waking up.  Though sleep efficiency of the sample was 92.6 percent, refresh sleep was reported by less than half of them.  According to experts, adolescents need at least 8-9 hours of night time sleep for optimal daytime alertness. 

(Hindustan Times 21 April 2008, p.7)



40    Safety first? Not always: At last count, there are 10 commercial airlines, two cargo airlines, 65 non-scheduled operating airline companies and several helicopter operating firms in India, most with growing fleets of aircraft. But, there are only four flight inspectors to conduct safety audits and clear licenses for pilots and crew. Meanwhile the global benchmark, based on fleet size – one flight inspector for every airline.  India needs at least 25 flight inspectors. 

(Hindustan Times, 21 April 2008, p.9)



41    Teen Suicides: Being a teenager has never been easy.  India tops the world in teen suicides.  Depression, anxiety, stress and suicides among teenagers are mounting across the country.  More adolescents die of suicide than AIDS, cancer, heart disease, obesity, birth defects and lung disease.  In 2006-2007, 5,857 students took their own lives.  That means 16 suicides a day, says the National Crime Records Bureau.  While the global teen suicide rate is 14.5 per 100,000, a 2004 study by Christian Medical College, Vellore, reported 148 for girls and 58 for boys in India.  In India it is at number one in some pockets and is the third largest killer all across.  Over 150 students ended their lives across the country in the month of March 2008.  56% of teen suicides in the country are reported between March and July every year.  The tips of troubled  teens over the edge:   43% have examination fever; 40% sibling rivalry; 36% issues at school; 33% warring parents; 20% fear of punishment; 17% death of a loved one and 17% distressed parents.  The warning symptoms are:  90% show extreme reluctance to go to school; over 70% are depressed, with irritable mood, ill-temper, feelings of worthlessness, sadness, self-hatred…etc; around 40-50% report headaches, loss of appetite; 30% have persistent difficulty falling or staying asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating; and 48% think about suicide, have obsessive fears or worry about death and plan to commit suicide or actually attempt one.  It is a pity to know that 65% of families don’t have any inkling about their children’s depression or suicidal thoughts.  57% of suicide attempts by teenagers are sudden acts of frustration and anger.  Teenagers have growing pains:  35% youngster complain that they have too many things to do every day; 33% feel lonely; 33% are irritated at the frequent scolding from parents and teachers; 31% fear major exam, while 26% complain about frequent tests at school; 29% get irked at the constant reminders from parents to study and 21% get anxious over school work and problems with teachers.  60% of parents ignore signs of stress and tend to consult doctors for failing grades.  82% teens wish to talk about themselves, but 76% parents discuss only career issues.

(Damayanti Datta, India Today, 28 April 2008, p. 40-50)



42     Researchers in India:  119 researchers are in India for every million population in India.  China has 1,564; 2,706 in UK, 4,605 in the US and 6,807 in Iceland according to United National Human Development Report 2007-08.

(Business Today 4 May 2008, p. 34)
 

43    Obesity: 13% of Delhi kids at risk: A study by the ministry of women and child development has found that 13% of Delhi city children to be obese.  Lack of enough physical activity and unhealthy food habits are the main culprits.

(Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, 23 April 2008, p.1)
 

44      Sending money by ‘tatkal seva’:  Migrant workers in Surat use tatkal seva to send money to their families across North India.  Tatkal seva centres offer doorstep delivery in far flung corners of states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa and the time frame could be anything from two hours, in eight days.  The amount transferred range between Rs. 500 and Rs. 50,000.

(Hindustan Times, 23 April 2008, p. 14)



45      In Gujarat, nobody is free to convert:  A person has to get permission from the District Magistrate to convert from one religion to another.  In the application he has to specify reasons for conversion.  District Magistrate has to maintain a register of conversion and submit report to Government once in three months.  DM could reject an application for conversion by assigning reasons for the same.  A priest could be fined Rs. 50,000 and imprisonment of three years or four years (for SC and STs)  if he forcibly converts any one.   

(Rajiv Shah, Times of India, 26 April 2008, p. 12)

46     1,600 drown off Marina in a year:  Marina beach is the second longest beach, that is thronged by lakhs of people, but is a death trap for at least 4 people per day.  Bathing in the sea is banned but many do not know it.  In 2007, 231 adults, 225 children and 1157 teenagers drowned off Marina.  Police have put warning signs in at least 20 places. 

(Praveen Kumar, Times of India, 22 April 2008, p.1)
 

47     30 lakh bogus rations cards detected in Tamil Nadu: The Government has proof that 30 lakh ration cards of the 2 crore ration cards in Tamil Nadu are bogus.  Rs. 300 crore is the loss as subsidies as 15% of money is going to undeserving people.

(T/K Rohit, Times of India, 23 April 2008, p.1)



II         Diaspora

90% female migrants in Singapore:  According to figures for emigration for employment, the application numbers in 2001 was 2.79 lakhs and it has increased to 8.1 lakh in 2008.  Nearly 90% of women migrants from Tamil Nadu make their way to Singapore to work as household help, according to the study.  Most of the women are from Tuticorin, Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli.  Migrants are from other states like Kerala and Andhra also.  They work hard and help brothers and sisters get educated, but when they come back they are unable to get grooms for themselves. 

(Daniel P. George, Times of India, 24 April 2008, p.9)​



III Asia


I    House rents: Mumbai No. 3 in Asia: According to a report by Hong Kong-based human resources consultancy major ECA International released on Wednesday, Mumbai recorded second highest annual growth of 21 per cent in residential rental after 33 percent for Singapore in 2007. Following the surge witnessed last year, Mumbai has now become Asia's third and the world's sixth most expensive location to rent a three-bedroom apartment. This makes it costlier than places like Seoul, Singapore, Paris, Shanghai, Dubai, Beijing, St Petersburg and Amsterdam, ECA found. Earlier on Tuesday, global real estate consultancy major Cushman Wakefield had said in a report that Mumbai recorded the world's highest rise in industrial property rent in 2007, while IMT Manesar area near the national capital saw fifth highest increase. According to ECA International, New Delhi - the second most costly in India - is Asia's ninth and the world's 22nd most expensive location in terms of residential rentals. Singapore saw the highest increase in Asia with the residential accommodation rental rates for a three-bedroom apartment there increased by more than 30 per cent from 2006 to 2007. Singapore is now fifth most expensive residential location in Asia, after Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mumbai and Seoul. Hong Kong also tops the global ranking in terms of residential rentals, followed by Moscow, New York NY, Tokyo, London, Mumbai, Seoul, Caracas and Singapore. ECA said that Karachi in Pakistan is the world's cheapest location to rent a three-bedroom apartment, followed by Guangzhou, Vilnius, Nairobi, Atlanta GA and Ankara. There are no Indian cities among 20 cheapest locations, while Mumbai is the only Indian city in the 20 most expensive across globe. Six of the top 10 most expensive locations in the world are in Asia and the average rental prices in Asia are approximately 3,820 dollars - well above the global average of 2,950 dollars, ECA International Hong Kong's General Manager Lee Quane said. According to ECA, the high rental prices in Moscow, New York, Tokyo, London and Seoul largely reflect high living costs in these locations, while in Mumbai and Ho Chi Minh City, increasing demand has pushed prices up.

(http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEP20080416094606&Title=Nation&Topic=0& accessed on 17th April 2008)



2      Motorcycles in Asia:  32.91 million is the number of motorcycles sold in Asia in 2006, compared to 2.75 million in Latin America, 2.47 million in Europe and 1.85 million in North America. 



(Business Today 4 May 2008, p. 34)



IV        Global

Solar flares cause quakes on sun:  Data obtained from the ESA/NASA spacecraft SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) has shown that powerful quakes ripple around the sun as a result of powerful solar flares that explode above its surface. 

(Hindustan Times 21 April 2008, p. 14)

V         Seminar/Conference/Training
 

Summer School of Leadership: A crash course of leadership is being offered from 12-16 May (Monday to Friday) for Pastors, mission leaders, Christian professionals. The course would be Christ-centered, Bible based and Mission focussed. The subjects would include: Personality Development, Life Plan, Inter- personal Relationship, Self care and management, Communication, and other leadership skills. The cost of this programme is subsidised and is Rs. 2500/- only, which includes course material, books and lunch.
The number of candidates admitted would be limited to 20. To reserve your place, send mail providing your name, address, phone number and e-mail. Application form would be mailed by e-mail. Candidates would be accepted only after the scrutiny of the application form. Please send your e-mail to: <jnmanokaran@gmail.com>. The programme is organized by Trainers of Pastors International Coalition (TOPIC) and Glocal Leaders Network.

VI        Word from the Editor
 

Thank you for subscribing for this free e-mail newsletter.  We would like to have volunteers who could help us to garner and edit news items for this newsletter.  We also need donors to sustain this flow of information. You are welcome to use this material for mobilizing prayer, personnel for missions, and educate the Church on these issues.  Please acknowledge the source when you quote from this newsletter.  Request your friends to join this group.  Please visit this website. http://www.glocalassociates.org/

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