Indian Scientific Study Shows Neural Connection to Type 2 Diabetes

Pic Courtesy: sciencedirect.com

The Indian Diabetes Consortium (INDICO), a Pan-India initiative led by CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) with AIIMS as a principal clinical partner, has recently brought to light an entirely novel candidate gene, TMEM163 implicated in Type 2 Diabetes. 

TMEM163 encodes a probable vesicular transporter in nerve terminals; and the study established a plausible mechanism of action for TMEM163 through impaired insulin secretion. This lends an unprecedented ‘neural angle’ to diabetes that needs to be explored further and holds immense potential in understanding new pathogenetic mechanisms involved in diabetes causation 

The study currently accepted for publication in the ‘DIABETES’ (American Diabetes Association’s flagship journal), authored by 37 researchers, is the first and the largest ‘Genome Wide Association Study’ (GWAS) conducted for any complex disorder conceived and executed entirely in the developing world. 

The work involved 12,535 Indians; with an initial phase involving 2465 subjects; Type 2 Diabetes patients and matched control individuals, followed by validation in two ethnic populations of India including Indo-Europeans and Dravidians, followed by a comprehensive meta-analysis. This effort places India to the list of countries which have the technology and human resource to perform high throughput complex genomic experimentation, at par with leading researchers in the developed world. 

“The breakthrough represents the triumph of ‘Indian Functional Genomics Capacity’, whose nucleation started almost fifteen years ago under the CSIR umbrella with an objective to advance understanding towards complex diseases prevalent amongst Indians” said Prof Samir K. Brahmachari, Director General, CSIR. 

“This study is an outstanding example from India, of a close collaboration between genomic scientists and clinical partners” said Prof Nikhil Tandon, AIIMS, a lead investigator of the project. 

“This study shall go a long way in furthering the aims and objectives of INDICO as well as untangling the intricacies involved in this complex disorder” said Dr. Dwaipayan Bharadwaj, Principal Scientist, CSIR-IGIB. Further work on functionally validating this genomic discovery has already been initiated by Dr. Dwaipayan Bharadwaj’s group, in the well-established facility at CSIR-IGIB, through the development of zebra fish models. The article will be available online in the forthcoming week in ‘DIABETES’. 

About INDICO 

The INDICO consortium attracts countrywide participation spanning Delhi, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Chennai, involving premier research institutes and stalwarts of diabetes research like Dr. Nikhil Tandon, M.D, Ph.D (Dept of Endocrinology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences). Since Indians are not only genetically diverse but also have an exceptionally high prevalence of type 2 diabetes, the consortium provides researchers a unique and unparalleled opportunity to investigate the complex dimensions of diabetes genetics. 

Major Initiatives for Farmers

Pic Courtesy : indiainfoline.com

The Government gives very high priority to agriculture and specially to the prosperity of farmers. It is implementing a number of large schemes and providing funds to State governments for taking new initiatives for increasing farmers’ incomes. Some of the major actions taken in the recent past are given below: 

• Government has raised MSP in recent years by huge margin. MSP for wheat and rice has been more than doubled in last 8 years. MSP for some pulse crops has gone up three times. 

• Government has doubled the sugarcane support price in four years. It stands at Rs. 170 per quintal now. 

• Record foodgrain production of 257 million tonnes last year, supported by massive increase in MSP to farmers. It is more than thrice of foodgrain production 45 years back. 

• Government subsidises farm loans considerably. Crop loans upto Rs. 3 lakh are available at 4% interest. Other farm loans too are available at a subsidised rate of 7%.

• Farm credit has gone up substantially. Over 6 crore farmers avail of loans from banks and cooperatives. Total farm credit exceeds Rs. 5 lakh crore. 

• Government has made law for warehouse receipts to be negotiable. It allows farmers to take loan from banks on such receipts. 

• Banks have issued nearly 12 crore Kisan Credit Cards, helping farmers take loans hassle-free. KCC can now also be used as ATM card. 

• A special scheme, BGREI (Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India),has been launched to support farmers in eastern India. Farmers in eastern UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, WB benefit from this scheme. 

• Government focus on raising pulses production. Initiatives such as special scheme to organise pulses villages and significant rise in MSP will reduce import of pulses. 

• Kisan call centre provides expert advice to farmers. Toll free calls at 18001801551 get advice in 22 languages. 
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The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012


The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, has been passed by the Lok Sabha today, 22nd May, 2012. The Bill was earlier passed by the Rajya Sabha on 10th May, 2012.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 has been drafted to strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For the first time, a special law has been passed to address the issue of sexual offences against children.

Sexual offences are currently covered under different sections of IPC. The IPC does not provide for all types of sexual offences against children and, more importantly, does not distinguish between adult and child victims.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. These offences have been clearly defined for the first time in law. The Act provides for stringent punishments, which have been graded as per the gravity of the offence. The punishments range from simple to rigorous imprisonment of varying periods. There is also provision for fine, which is to be decided by the Court. 

An offence is treated as “aggravated” when committed by a person in a position of trust or authority of child such as a member of security forces, police officer, public servant, etc. 

Punishments for Offences covered in the Act are:
·   Penetrative Sexual Assault (Section 3) –  Not less than seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and fine (Section 4)
·   Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault (Section 5) –­ Not less than ten years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and fine (Section 6)
·   Sexual Assault (Section 7) – Not less than three years which may extend to five years, and fine (Section 8)
·   Aggravated Sexual Assault (Section 9) – Not less than five years which may extend to seven years, and fine (Section 10)
·   Sexual Harassment of the Child (Section 11) – Three years and fine (Section 12)
·   Use of Child for Pornographic Purposes (Section 13) –  Five years and fine and in the event of subsequent conviction, seven years and fine (Section 14 (1))

                           The Act provides for the establishment of Special Courts for trial of offences under the Act, keeping the best interest of the child as of paramount importance at every stage of the judicial process. The Act incorporates child friendly procedures for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences. These include:
·                                       Recording the statement of the child at the residence of the child or at the place of his choice, preferably by a woman police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector
·                                       No child to be detained in the police station in the night for any reason.
·                                       Police officer to not be in uniform while recording the statement of the child
·                                       The statement of the child to be recorded as spoken by the child
·                                       Assistance of an interpreter or translator or an expert as per the need of the child
·                                       Assistance of special educator or any person familiar with the manner of communication of the child in case child is disabled
·                                       Medical examination of the child to be conducted in the presence of the parent of the child or any other person in whom the child has trust or confidence.
·                                       In case the victim is a girl child, the medical examination shall be conducted by a woman doctor.
·                                       Frequent breaks for the child during trial
·                                       Child not to be called repeatedly to testify
·                                       No aggressive questioning or character assassination of the child
·                                       In-camera trial of cases

The Act recognizes that the intent to commit an offence, even when unsuccessful for whatever reason, needs to be penalized. The attempt to commit an offence under the Act has been made liable for punishment for upto half the punishment prescribed for the commission of the offence.

The Act also provides for punishment for abetment of the offence, which is the same as for the commission of the offence. This would cover trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

For the more heinous offences of Penetrative Sexual Assault, Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault, the burden of proof is shifted on the accused. This provision has been made keeping in view the greater vulnerability and innocence of children. At the same time, to prevent misuse of the law, punishment has been provided for making false complaint or proving false information with malicious intent. Such punishment has been kept relatively light (six months) to encourage reporting. If false complaint is made against a child, punishment is higher (one year).

The media has been barred from disclosing the identity of the child without the permission of the Special Court. The punishment for breaching this provision by media may be from six months to one year.

For speedy trial, the Act provides for the evidence of the child to be recorded within a period of 30 days. Also, the Special Court is to complete the trial within a period of one year, as far as possible.

To provide for relief and rehabilitation of the child, as soon as the complaint is made to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) or local police, these will make immediate arrangements to give the child, care and protection such as admitting the child into shelter home or to the nearest hospital within twenty-four hours of the report. The SJPU or the local police are also required to report the matter to the Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of recording the complaint, for long term rehabilitation of the child.

The Act casts a duty on the Central and State Governments to spread awareness through media including the television, radio and the print media at regular intervals to make the general public, children as well as their parents and guardians aware of the provisions of this Act.

The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been made the designated authority to monitor the implementation of the Act.

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Consultative Committee of Parliament for WCD Discuses Implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012

Pic Courtesy: shaktivahini.org

Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) chaired the meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Parliament here today. 


Speaking at the occasion, Smt. Tirath said that the increased number of sexual offences against children in the country necessitated an Act which would address this issue. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, which came into force on 14 November 2012 with notification of its rules, has been able to address most of the issues. Addressing the members, she said that the existing laws such as the IPC were insufficient and deficient to deal with the specific requirements regarding children as they do not distinguish between an adult and a child victim. Moreover, these laws are not gender neutral and the definition of ‘rape’ is also restrictive. The new Act, she said, is gender neutral and covers all persons below the age of 18 years of age. Clear definition and description of offences have been provided. Also, stringent and harsh punishment for the offences has been prescribed in the Act. 



The Minister stated that the Act will be effective when its implementation is effective, for which spreading awareness about the various features and provisions of the Act becomes extremely crucial. She also mentioned that the States have a very important role to play in the implementation of the Act. She therefore urged the members of the Consultative Committee to suggest ways and means by which the awareness campaign of the Act could be strengthened, and ways through which its implementation is made more effective. 



The Ministry of WCD made a presentation on the salient features of the Act covering the definition of the terms, prescribed punishment for the offences, the rules for its implementation and the role of agencies such as NCPCR and SPCRs in the implementation process. The WCD Minister, Smt. Tirath mentioned that she has written to all the States for necessary action to be taken at their end. The Act was also discussed in the meeting of the State Ministers and Secretaries in September this year. She said that the M/o HRD is being approached to include age appropriate information on the issue in school curriculum. Also, training of police functionaries at all levels and those of the Judiciary and Central and State governments is crucial for effective implementation of the Act, she noted. The States are responsible for designation of Sessions Court in each district as Special Court under the Act, along with appointment of Special Public Prosecutor, establishment of special Juvenile police Units, Child Welfare Committees and District Child Protection Units. Formulation of schemes for payment of compensation to the child victims is also responsibility of the State governments. 



The members, while lauding the Act, stated that various organizations within the civil society and the NGOs working in this field should be roped in to spread awareness about the Act. Also, it needs to be ensured that the provisions of the Act should not be misused to settle scores or to victimise people, the members mentioned. Proper and adequate training of the functionaries associated with the implementation of the Act should assume top priority. 



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Vice President Presents Moortidevi Award for 2010 to Prof Gopi Chand Narang

Moortidevi Award 2011 winner Prof. Gopi Chand Narang
Pic Courtesy: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_sdDafE2WSF4/S7UckjemkkI/AAAAAAAAASU/LlepzNzNyCY/s1600/narang.jpg

The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari presented the “Moortidevi Award for 2010” to eminent Urdu scholar Prof. Gopi Chand Narang for his outstanding work ‘Urdu Ghazal aur Hindustani Zehan wa Tehzeeb” at a function organized by Bhartiya Jnanpith here today. He congratulated Prof. Narang for receiving this award which he so rightly deserves. He also lauded the Selection Board which has chosen a litterateur whose work fully reflects the purpose and objectives for which the award was instituted. 

Shri Ansari said that Prof. Narang revived Urdu language in our country through his writings and he is one of the foremost theorist, literary critic and Urdu scholar of our country. His perceptive writings have helped Urdu criticism becoming more contemporary. It is befitting that his long academic life of excellence has been felicitated by conferring the Moortidevi award on him. He thanked Bharatiya Gyanpith for inviting him at the function to give away the Moortidevi Award to Professor Narang. 

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Schemes & Facilities for the Senior Citizens



 FEATURE

SJE




A demographic revolution is taking place throughout the world indicating a phenomenal rise in the population of the elderly. According to a UN estimate, the population of the people aged 60 years and above is expected to grow to 1.2 billion by 2025 and to 2 billion by 2050. Today, about two thirds of all the older people are living in the developing world. As per the Census 2001, in India, there were 77 million persons above 60 years constituting 7.5% of the total population of the country. This number is projected to go up to 12.4% of the population in 2026. Such an increase obviously will throw up numerous challenges in designing old age specific programmes and schemes and addressing their issues in a comprehensive manner.  
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment announced a National Policy for Older Persons in January, 1999. This policy reaffirmed the commitment of the Government to ensure the well-being of the older persons in a holistic manner. The National Policy for Older Persons essentially envisages support from the State to the older persons to ensure their financial and food security, health care, the need for shelter as well as other needs of the older persons, providing them an equitable share in development, giving them protection against abuse and exploitation, and ensuring the availability of services to improve the quality of lives of the older persons.
Thirteen years have elapsed since this policy was announced. Keeping in view the changing demographic pattern, the socio-economic conditions and the technological development in the country, the Government is in the process of bringing out a new National Policy. The draft of the new policy is ready. The new Policy is expected to cover a wider spectrum of the issues and challenges facing the elderly.
An institutional mechanism has been put in place to monitor the implementation of the existing national Policy for older persons and to advise the Government regarding the formulation and implementation of the policy and programmes for the aged through a National Council for Older Persons, under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment. The Council was first constituted in the year 1999 for a period of five years. It was reconstituted for another period of five years in the year 2005. However, the composition of this Council was not comprehensive enough as it did not contain sufficient non-official members to maintain regional balance. Besides, it also did not include the representatives of some of the Ministries/Departments dealing with issues related to the senior citizens.  With a view to address these issues, the Council has been re-constituted and has now been renamed as the National Council of Senior Citizens. A Resolution to this effect has been issued in the Gazette of India (Extraordinary) on 22nd February 2011.
The Parliament enacted the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act in December 2007, a landmark development. This Act has made the maintenance of parents and senior citizens by children, and where there are no children, then by the relatives, obligatory and justiciable through Tribunals. The Act has to be brought into force by the individual State Governments. It is not applicable to the State of Jammu & Kashmir, while Himachal Pradesh has its own Act, with the concerted efforts made by the Ministry, all the States and UTs have been persuaded to bring the Act into force in the respective States.
For the effective implementation of the various provision of the Act, the States and UTs are required to take further steps, such as framing Rules, appointing Maintenance Officers, and constituting the Maintenance and Appellate Tribunals. As per information available in the Ministry, 14 States and 5 UTs have taken all these necessary steps.
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is also implementing the “Integrated Programme of Older Persons" since 1992 with a view to improve the quality of life of older persons by providing basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care, entertainment opportunities, etc. Under this Scheme, financial assistance up to 90% is provided to Governments/Non-Governmental Organizations/ Panchayati Raj Institutions/ local bodies etc. for running and maintaining old age homes, day care centres, mobile medicare units, day care centres for Alzheimer's disease/Dementia patients, physiotherapy clinics for older persons, sensitization programmes for children, particularly in schools and colleges, Regional Resource and Training Centres, etc. About 350 NGOs are being supported every year for running and maintaining around 550 projects.
In order to address the increasing demand for care givers, the National Institute of Social Defense (NISD), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has been conducting One-Year, Six-Month and One-Month Courses on Geriatric Care. Besides, the Institute also collaborates with reputed institutions for organising short term training programmes for the caregivers.
To ensure effective implementation of the policies and programmes of the Ministry and also to augment the activities of the NISD, the Ministry presently supports 3 Regional Resource Centres (RRTCs) namely, (i) Anugraha, New Delhi, which caters to the requirements of the northern States, (ii) Nightingale Medical Trust, Bangalore, which caters to the requirements of the southern States, and (iii) Integrated Rural Development and Educational Organization (IRDEO) which caters to the requirement of the north eastern States. These RRTCs undertake (i) Training of functionaries of grantee organizations under IPOP and monitor their work; (ii) Advocacy and awareness generation; (iii) Liasion with the concerned State Governments in the field of old age care, with specific reference to the implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007, and the National Policy for Older Persons, 1999 and the other programmes and interventions for the senior citizens; (iv) Maintain a data-base of the institutions working in the field of old age care; and (v) Research and such other functions as the Ministry may assign from time to time.
The need of the hour is to create a caring society, especially for the ageing population with the help of representatives from the Central Ministries and Departments, the State Governments, experts, academicians and many other stakeholders.                       (PIB Features.)
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The Environment Pledge: Tourism and Environment Protection



   FEATURE

Tourism



Dr. K. Parameswaran*

The International Ecotourism Society has defined Ecotourism as the "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people". The Australian Commission on National Ecotourism Strategy defines ecotourism as "nature-based tourism that involves education and interpretation of the natural environment and is managed to be ecologically sustainable".
In modern times, eco tourism has been expected to help in achieving the following also: involve travel to natural destinations, minimize impact on natural resources, build up environmental awareness, provide impetus and financial support for conservation, financially benefit and empower local people and inculcate respect for local culture.
A travel enthusiast from Kanyakumari in Tamilnadu and an avid practitioner of eco tourism guidelines, R N Kesavaperumal says that "ecotourism, to be worthy of its name, should be able to ensure financial benefits to the people from the locality where tourism activities are being developed and encouraged. From the other side, eco tourism as an activity has to pro actively teach travelers and tourists to respect local cultures of tourism destinations”.
The International Society for Eco Tourism has made a special mention of the economic significance of eco tourism activities. The society points out that eco tourism activities always takes care that money generated through the tourism must not go out from the local economies. It discourages mass tourism, mass constructions of hotels, tourism resorts and mass activities in fragile areas".

Environment Friendly Tourism: A Reference from Sanskrit Literature

As far as India is concerned, the famous Sanskrit poem the “Meghadoot” by the immortal poet Kalidasa, on close examination, proves to be a manual for eco tourism. The lyrically sublime poem is an explanation and description of the route to be taken to reach the abode of the lover of a Yaksha. The poem is structured as if the Yaksha is describing the route to a rain cloud and requesting the rain cloud to carry his love message to his lover!
The poem stresses on the care that should be taken to protect nature and natural resources. For example, there is sloka in Meghadoot which means “we have watered the trees that blossom in the summer-time. Now let's sprinkle those whose flowering time is past. That will be (a) better deed, because we shall not be working for the reward.”
The poem, describes with great care and diligence, the way through the Central Indian plains, noting with surprising involvement the flora and fauna as well as the geographical and natural particularities of each region that the cloud has to pass through.
The famous Mayoora Sandesham (The message send through a Peacock) in Malayalam describes the famous paddy fields and unique irrigation facilities of the then Travancore (now Kerala and parts of Tamilnadu) in minute detail. Such poems have been the earliest call for conservation and environment friendly travel and tourism.

The Environmental Pledge

Pic courtesy : http://365give.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/EarthDayPledge.jpg

In keeping with the tenets of eco tourism, India has decided that the Environmental Pledge will be honoured as far as environmental activities are concerned. The following are the principal aspects of the environmental pledge.
·                  All stationery and various kinds of publicity material will be made only on paper that has been recycled. The Ministry of Tourism has also pledged itself to implement a recycling programme for all its activities.
·                  As far as possible, the use of polythene bags will be avoided as far as tourism related activities are concerned. Plastic is non biodegradable and a single polythene bag might take up to centuries for decomposing. Each tourist is putting in his or her effort in conserving nature when they use a cloth or paper bag to carry consumables!
·                  Another important area where eco friendliness of tourism is reflected is in the use of power and its generation. The environmental pledge makes it concomitant for the tourists as well as the tourism practitioner to utilize environment friendly forms of power like solar energy or wind turbines.
·                  A related area of concern, from the point of view of eco friendliness, is the care and attention given to the judicious use of water resources. Recycling of used water, installation of active rain water harvesting systems, use of toilets where the amount of water needed is comparatively less etc are some of the important initiatives possible in this area.
·                  Along with this has to be mentioned the concern that eco tourism projects should have as for protection and conservation of bio diversity and plant and animal life. For this purpose, afforestation activities like planting of tree saplings, medicinal plants etc will be given more prominence in tourism sites. The use of fire wood for heating purposes will be severely curtailed. Use of eco friendly, non plant materials for landscaping, interior designing etc is also part of the environment pledge in this area.
·                  Segregation of waste is an important part of activities in eco friendly tourism projects. Only bio degradable waste materials will be buried at the sites or used for making compost manure etc.  Non bio degradable waste, if any, will be taken to other facilities nearby for scientific disposal.
(PIB Features)
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