Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Thursday, September 27, 2007

1 October: International Day of Older Persons

World Elders Day is celebrated on 1st of Oct every year.
Following is UN note on Ageing for 2007:
Older people – a new power for development
Why a "new power"?

A demographic revolution is underway throughout the world. Today, world-wide, there are around 600 million persons aged 60 years and over; this total will double by 2025 and will reach virtually two billion by 2050 - the vast majority of them in the developing world.

In our fast ageing world, older people will increasingly play a critical role - through volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities and increasing their participation in the paid labour force.

Already now, older persons make major contributions to society. For instance, throughout Africa –and elsewhere - millions of adult AIDS patients are cared for at home by their parents. On their death, orphaned children left behind (currently, 14 million under the age of 15 in African countries alone) are mainly looked after by their grandparents.

It is not only in developing countries that older persons' role in development is critical. In Spain for example, caring for dependent and sick individuals (of all ages) is mostly done by older people (particularly older women); the average number of minutes per day spent in providing such care increases exponentially with the carers' age: 201 minutes if the carer is in the age group 65-74 and 318 minutes if aged 75-84 - compared to only 50 minutes if the carer is in the age group 30-49 (Durán H, Fundación BBVA, 2002).

Such contributions to development can only be ensured if older persons enjoy adequate levels of health, for which appropriate policies need to be in place. In line with the Madrid International Plan of Action, the World Health Organization launched in 2002 a document "Active Ageing - A Policy Framework", outlining its approaches and perspectives for healthy ageing throughout the life course.

"Ageing is a development issue. Healthy older persons are a resource for their families, their communities and the economy."
- WHO Brasilia declaration on healthy ageing, 1996.

So I request all the like minded NGO'S,Associations,Corporate,Karmayog Clubs,Individuals to celebrate this 1st Oct as 'World Elders Day" - Remember the contribution our Elders have made in our Life,Society,,Country and the world.

Lets Stand together and honour the Senior Citizens,"We are proud to all our elders for being part of our life".

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Possible Causes of Elder Abuse & Prevention

In Family Members

Only 10% of the elderly who need care resides in a long term care facility. This leaves 90% of the elderly either living in their own home or with their family. Not all caregivers abuse their loved ones. However, it is important to know the warning just in case you suspect a family member or just in case you may be at risk for abuse.

Elder abuse by family members may occur because of:

Caregiver burn out- caregivers feeling the day to day pressures of caregiving and not receiving help when needed

Caregiver stress- caregivers not detecting stress early on and taking it out on loved ones

Psychological and emotional problems of the family member- caregivers may have had an emotional or psychological problem as a child

History repeating itself if the caregiver was abused- the caregiver grew up in an abusive home

Caregivers who have an alcohol or addiction problem- alcohol and drug use can deter behaviors

Economic conditions- caregivers may feel pressure if unemployed and take it out on the loved one; blaming the loved one

Living arrangements- the caregiver may live in a small home and not have enough room for the loved one

Not wanting to be a caregiver- the caregiver may feel like they don't have to provide care and resent the individual who is being cared for

Preventative measures that can be taken by family members:

Catch stress early on- educate yourself on the sings and symptoms of caregiver stress

Receive help from others- if you do everything on your own, you may feel burnt out

If you cannot afford (in mind and finance) your loved one to live with you, see other options- if not, you may resent your loved one in the future

History of abuse- if you have a history of abuse, ask another family to help

Stop Elder Abuse!

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Depression in Children

Depression is a type of mental illness that sometimes affects children, causing them to feel sad, angry or frustrated for long periods of time. Major depression among children affects about 2 percent of children ages 6 to 12 years and 4 percent of adolescents, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Some bouts of depression in children are severe but relatively short in duration. Others are mild, but may continue for years. Children may become depressed after a trauma, such as the death of a parent, family strife or illness. In other cases, the source of this change in mood is less obvious.

Experts classify depression in many different ways. The two general categories of depression are:
Major depression. Also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression, it is a severe type of depression that requires treatment. Most patients who experience a bout of major depression are likely to have recurrent bouts in the future.

Bipolar disorder. Formerly known as manic depressive illness, it involves alternating periods of extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression). Youth symptoms related to bipolar disorder differ somewhat from those experienced by adults.

Experts may also use other categories to classify certain types of depression. They include:
Dysthymia. A chronic form of low-level depression that lasts for at least two years. Children with dysthymia have a perpetually gloomy mood.

Adjustment disorder with depressed mood. A bout of depression that occurs after a significant life change, such as the death of a loved one or a major disaster.
The causes of depression are not fully understood. Changes in brain chemistry appear to be responsible. In some children, depression may have a genetic link.

Depressed children may experience ongoing sadness, irritable mood and a sense of overall hopelessness. They may have little interest in new activities, and may no longer enjoy activities that previously provided them with pleasure. These children may have difficulties at school, somatic complaints, and aggressive or antisocial behavior patterns. Some may experience weight changes or disruption in their sleep patterns. Many depressed children complain of persistent boredom and may exhibit low levels of energy. They may even talk about wishing they were dead, or may make similar statements that indicate suicidal thoughts.

Parents are urged to seek medical attention for any child who exhibits symptoms of significant depression that appear to be negatively impacting the child’s quality of life. If the physician suspects that a child is depressed, the patient may be referred to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment.

Treatments for depression in children usually consist of psychotherapy, medications or a combination of the two. Psychotherapy may consist of individual therapy and family therapy, and antidepressants typically are the medication of choice in treating depression.

It is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has advised that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thinking in some patients, especially children and adolescents, and all people being treated with them should be monitored closely for unusual changes in behavior.

About depression in children
Depression is a mental illness that causes people to feel sad, angry, hopeless or frustrated for long periods of time, resulting in impaired psychosocial functioning. Major depression affects about 2 percent of children aged 6 to 12 years and 4 percent of adolescents. An estimated 20 percent of all youths will experience at least one episode of major depression by the time they are adults, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Everybody has occasional periods in which they feel blue. Children are no exception to this rule. However, depression is a significant feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities which interferes with a child’s ability to enjoy life. Scientists realize that depression among children is actually quite common. Also, juvenile mood disorders tend to be more chronic than adult-onset mood disorders.

Some bouts of depression in children are severe but relatively short in duration. Others are mild, but may continue for years. Children may become depressed after a trauma such as the death of a parent, family strife or illness (e.g., cancer, diabetes). Children who are abused or neglected are also at greater risk for depression In some cases, children may become depressed despite the lack of an obvious event that might have triggered the change in mood.

A child may experience just one episode of depression or may have several that are broken up by periods of normal mood. An episode of depression typically lasts for six to nine months. Children who have a bout of depression are at increased risk of suffering another similar episode within five years. They also are five times more likely to have depression as an adult than children who do not have depression, according to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). In some cases, a child’s depression may go into remission before appearing again years later. In other cases, children may have more continuous depression that requires treatment into the adult years.

Children and adolescents with depression also frequently have or may develop other mental health disorders such as self-injury, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, learning disorders or substance abuse problems.

Children who suffer from depression may not always be able or willing to approach a parent or others about their condition. For this reason, parents must be vigilant in looking for signs that their child may be depressed. Parents are urged to ask about their child’s thoughts and feelings. In addition, parents can consult with a physician about whether or not the child’s emotions or behavior might indicate a problem.

Types and differences of depression in children
There are several different types of depression that a child may experience. They include:

Major depression. Includes at least one episode of this disorder (also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression) marked by persistent sadness and symptoms such as weight changes, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, changes in sleeping patterns, social withdrawal and suicidal thoughts. Children who experience major depression are likely to experience future bouts of depression.

Bipolar disorder. Formerly known as manic depressive illness, it involves alternating periods of extreme mood swings (highs [mania] and extreme lows [depression]). Periods of depression are similar to those experienced during major depression. Manic periods include symptoms such as reduced need for sleep, rapid speech, racing thoughts and impulsive behavior. Youth symptoms related to bipolar disorder differ somewhat from those experienced by adults. For example, children who are in a manic phase are more likely than adults to be irritable and to engage in destructive behavior. They are also less likely than adults to be elated or euphoric. Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose in children, as the signs and symptoms may be mistaken for those of other conditions, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorders, as well as normal childhood development.

Dysthymia. A chronic form of low-level depression that lasts for at least one year in children. Children who have dysthymia have a perpetually gloomy mood and are more likely to be irritable than depressed. Dysthymia in children may be associated with ADHD and other medical or psychological conditions. Patients with dysthymia often go on to develop major depression, and vice-versa.

Adjustment disorder with depressed mood. A bout of depression that occurs after a significant life change, such as the death of a loved one or a major disaster. Children with this disorder go through a period of adjustment that is longer than normally would be expected or that interferes with their daily activities.

Potential causes of depression in children
The causes of depression are not fully understood. Changes in brain chemistry appear to be responsible for depressive emotions. Chemicals called neurotransmitters help send messages between nerve cells in the brain. Some of these neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating mood. Too many or too few neurotransmitters, particularly norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, are believed to cause alterations in mood.

In some children, depression appears to have a genetic link. The disease runs in families, and some children may be born with inadequate levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters. This often results in depression.

In other cases, stressful events – such as the death of a loved one – can alter the levels of these neurotransmitters in a child, causing the child to become depressed. Children at high risk for depression include those who have conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disorders, conduct disorder and anxiety disorders. A history of abuse, neglect, trauma or chronic illness (e.g., cancer, diabetes) also places children at greater risk for depression.

In many cases, depression is the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In other instances, the source of depression is not as obvious.

Signs and symptoms of depression in children
Depressed children may experience irritable mood or sadness that is frequently expressed by crying (especially in preschool-aged children) and a sense of overall hopelessness. They may have little interest in new activities, and may no longer enjoy activities that were previously pleasurable. These children often have difficulties at school, somatic complaints, and aggressive or antisocial behavior patterns. Some may experience changes in weight or disruption in sleep patterns.

Many depressed children complain of persistent boredom and may exhibit low levels of energy. They may have few friends, or begin to abandon friends they made earlier. They may even talk about wishing they were dead or make similar statements that indicate suicidal thoughts. Symptoms of depression may vary according to the age of the child.

Symptoms associated with preschool- or elementary school-aged children include:

Academic difficulties
Crying more often than usual
Decreased interest in playing
Easily discouraged
Emotionally distant with family and friends
Increased irritability
Listlessness and moodiness
Sad appearance
Talk of death

Symptoms of depression among teenagers include:

Arguments with parents and teachers
Constant tiredness
Harmful behavior, such as self-injury
Refusal to do chores or homework
Withdrawal from favored activities
Suicidal thoughts or statements

Other general symptoms associated with depression in children include:
Poor self-esteem
High levels of guilt
Fear of rejection or failure
Persistent anger or hostility
Regular headache, stomachache or other physical ailments
Inability to concentrate
Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
Self-destructive behavior
Threats to run away from home

A child who has five or more symptoms associated wth depression for a period of at least two weeks is likely to be depressed. Depressed children are at significantly increased risk for attempting suicide. Suicide rates among young people have nearly tripled since 1960. According to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), almost 5,000 individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years kill themselves each year. It is believed that most of these suicide victims suffered from untreated depression.

Children whose depression continues into adolescence are at increased risk for abusing drugs and alcohol or engaging in unsafe sex or other risky behaviors.

Diagnosis methods for depression in children
Parents are urged to seek medical attention for any child who exhibits symptoms of depression that appear to be negatively impacting the child’s quality of life. In diagnosing depression, a physician compiles a thorough medical history and performs a complete physical examination. If the child shows signs of depression, the physician may order blood tests and other procedures to help rule out medical conditions that may cause similar symptoms.

If the physician suspects that the child is depressed, the child may be referred to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional who can help make a more definitive diagnosis of depression. This evaluation includes a complete history of symptoms, including information about their onset, duration and severity. It is also noted whether the child has had these symptoms before and, if so, whether and how they were treated. Questionnaires (e.g., the Mood Disorder Questionnaire) and other evaluation tools may also be used to confirm diagnosis.

The physician or non-physician mental health professional will also ask about whether the child has thought about death or suicide and whether other family members have had a mood disorder or history of alcohol and drug use.

The child will also be examined for other mental health disorders that often accompany depression. For example, children who have bipolar disorder may be found to also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a conduct disorder.

Treatment options for depression in children
Treatments for depression in children usually consist of psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two.

Psychotherapy is often valuable in helping children to address symptoms related to depression. This may include both individual therapy and family therapy sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) appears to be particularly effective in treating a child’s depression. As part of this therapy, children learn to develop a healthier, more positive view of themselves. Children may also benefit from interpersonal therapy (IPT), which focuses on a child’s relationship with others and attempts to improve the child’s interpersonal skills. Family therapy is a form of interpersonal therapy that involves the entire family. It may be particularly helpful when there are specific family-related stresses.

Medications such as antidepressants often provide significant relief from symptoms associated with depression. They are used most often in cases when psychotherapy alone fails to relieve symptoms and in situations where children have chronic or recurrent depression. These drugs help restore the proper balance of neurotransmitters in the brain and are typically used for a period of at least six months to one year. Some children may require long-term treatment that lasts for years. Although there has been little study regarding the efficacy of older drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) in treating depression in children and adolescents, newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) do appear to be effective.

To date, only fluoxetine has been specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression in children. However, many physicians prescribe other antidepressants on an “off-label” basis. This means physicians use their own judgment in deciding whether or not the drug may be helpful for the child, based on the child’s individual symptoms. This is considered to be a common and ethical practice, and in many cases these drugs are helpful for children with depression. However, recommendations vary between physicians, and parents are urged to discuss what is known about the drug with the physician, as well as weigh the potential benefits and risks of using such medications.

Parents should be aware that the FDA has advised that antidepressants – including fluoxetine – may increase the risk of suicidal thinking in some patients, especially children and adolescents, and all people being treated with them should be monitored closely for unusual changes in behavior.

However, recent research indicates that the benefits of such medication in the treatment of depression far outweigh the risks.

Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder are usually treated with mood stabilizers (e.g., valproate) and antipsychotics. Supportive psychotherapy has been found beneficial as an additional treatment for bipolar disorder.

The FDA recommends special guidelines for children whose depression is being treated with medications. For the first month of treatment, children should visit the physician on a weekly basis. This should shift to every other week during weeks five through eight of treatment. If no problems emerge, the child should then visit the physician on week 12, and thereafter according to the physician’s recommendations.

Questions for your doctor
Preparing questions in advance can help patients to have more meaningful discussions with their physicians regarding their conditions. Parents may wish to ask their child’s doctor the following questions related to depression in children:

What symptoms might indicate that my child has depression?

Which signs and symptoms might indicate that my child’s depression requires medical attention?

How will you diagnose my child’s condition?

What type of depression does my child likely have?

Should I alert school or day care officials about my child’s depression?

What are my child’s treatment options?

Are there any potential risks or side effects of these treatments?

Should my child take antidepressants despite FDA warnings about the drugs? What are the potential benefits and risks of taking these medications?

When will I know that it’s appropriate for my child to discontinue antidepressant use?

What steps can I take to increase the odds that my child’s treatment will be effective?

Should my child undergo psychotherapy? Would family therapy be helpful?

How long will it take for my child’s condition to improve?

What signs might indicate that my child’s depression is improving?

How likely is it that my child will suffer another bout of depression in the future?


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Indian Village tries to remove Sati stigma by empowering girls

Deorala looks like any other village of Rajasthan with dusty bylanes and brick houses, but the village that made headlines 20 years ago, when Roop Kanwar performed Sati, today presents a different picture with girls in school uniforms walking to school.

The practice of Sati practised by Hindus, where a widow was placed on her husband's funeral pyre, was banned during British rule, after Brahmo Samaj founder, Raja Rammohan Roy, led a campaign against the evil practice and urged British rulers to make it illegal.

In 1829, Sati was made illegal through an act, but it shot into prominence in 1987 with Kanwar performing the act in front of thousands of villagers in Rajasthan.

Her death sparked a national outrage, and forced the government to ban the glorification of Sati, making the offence punishable with a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment and a fine of up to 30,000 rupees.

Today, reformed Deorala, is spreading awareness against the practice through the education of its daughters.

The village has four secondary level schools, which over 600 girls attend. Armed with a broadened worldview, the girls are determined to fight the age-old tradition.

"I want to educate students about Sati and tell them it is not good. I will take them towards growth," said Dheeraj Shekhawat, a student.

Village elders and teachers believe that enlightenment through education would finally wipe out such practices .

"The girls are well aware and so educated that they don't even think about Sati," said Gyanendra Shrama, a school teacher.

Roop Kanwar's father-in-law, Sumer Singh, has also joined the girls education campaign.

"I feel bad about what has happened and even today I do not want such incidents to happen," said Sumer.

The Centre is now mulling over plans to tighten laws against the practice. These include holding entire communities responsible and life imprisonment.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Making every child count in the streets of Kolkata, India

In a unique initiative to protect street children from exploitation and ensure their rights, birth certificates were awarded to 50,000 youths from underprivileged neighbourhoods at a glittering ceremony in Kolkata this week.

Without birth certificates, children have difficulty gaining access to health care, education and other services. Registration also helps protect children against potential abuse.

The one-of-a-kind endeavour – made possible by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, other government departments, UNICEF and non-governmental partner organizations – calls attention to the issue of birth registration in India. Out of the estimated 26 million births in the country each year, approximately 9.4 million, or 36 per cent, go unregistered.

A moment of joy and affirmation

On hand for the momentous occasion in Kolkata were Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, Indian Registrar-General D.K. Sikri and UNICEF India’s Deputy Director of Programmes, Eimar Barr, along with magician P.C. Sorcar, Jr., a favourite children’s celebrity, and other dignitaries.

Over 700 children were in attendance at the ceremonial event as well. For them, it was a moment of joy and affirmation of their future as citizens. “The birth certificate will come to use for me in many ways,” said one recipient, Anil Paswan. “I can get a ration card made, apply for the Voters Identity Card, and when I look for job it will be helpful.”

For the representatives of 74 non-governmental organizations present, it was the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream: to make every child count on the streets of Kolkata (also known as Calcutta), which has been called ‘the city of joy’.

“Birth registration is the first right of a child,” said Mr. Barr. “Registration secures the recognition of every child before the law and safeguards their rights. Proof of age is also critical to protecting children from abuse and exploitation, child labour and early marriage.”

Hard-to-reach children

In 2000, India’s National Population Policy set a goal of 100 per cent birth registration countrywide by 2010. Efforts to reach that target and confer official identity on every child have now reached their most difficult stage. Most of the remaining unregistered births are taking place in extremely disadvantaged families, which may be unaware of the utility of birth registration and the procedures involved.

“A large proportion of these unregistered children reside in slums and on footpaths, especially in urban centres like in the city of Kolkata,” said Acting State Representative Sumita Ganguly of UNICEF’s West Bengal office. “This project was undertaken to reach these hard-to-reach [children].”

Providing 50,000 children in Kolkata with birth certificates is just the first step. There are still thousands of others for whom innovative ways will have to be devised to reach the target of registering all births. The successes to date have, nonetheless, have created a path for other unregistered, vulnerable children in Kolkata – and perhaps other cities – to be counted and to advance their rights.

Source :

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Cultural Diplomacy: Creating awareness and understanding

DIPLOMACY WHICH for couple of millennia at least, was the exclusive preserve of the rulers and their chosen representatives – His / Her majesty’s Ambassadors can no longer be conducted in this unaccountable and rarified atmosphere today. Most governments if not all including the undemocratic ones, have to be sensitive to the public opinion not only in matters concerning their internal governance but their external relations as well.

So how do we see or perceive that cultural diplomacy is indeed significant? Diplomacy seeks to deploy peaceful methods, generally persuasive though at times coercive, but not amounting to use of force, to explain and expand a nation state’s objectives. Cultural diplomacy plays an important role in creating awareness of a nation state’s cultural achievements and thereby to create better understanding amongst the target nations and peoples. Logic is that this awareness would lead to empathy and understanding and in turn to appreciation of our legitimate objectives and induce a spirit of willing compromise in the other nation states. This in turn creates a fertile ground for diplomats who can then negotiate with other states and advance our political agenda.

Cultural diplomacy is not limited to merely fine arts or performing arts or literature or academia. The world has seen great advances in democratization and increasing empowerment of people, and of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universal literary, global presence of mass media, over the past couple of hundred years but dramatically in the twentieth century. ‘Culture’ has, therefore, expanded its coverage and domain of influence. Public entertainers were on the fringe of culture and power circle throughout history except for the last two, three hundred years. Radio, television, print media, cinema and sports have revolutionized the public awareness and involvement. Framers and oracles of public opinion, have a very important role to us shaping the public psyche. Canadian thinker Marshall McLuhan went to the extent of saying that ‘medium is the message’.

Also the so-called entertainment culture has created a firm grip on the public psyche and imagination.

Information and communication technologies have acted as multipliers of the soft power. A follower of Real politic would argue that the achievement of national interests would have to be viewed in the perspective of a state’s power. In information age the distribution of this power is not so easily or clearly defined. For instance with the collapse of Warsaw Pact, disintegration of communist states in Eastern Europe, disintegration of the Soviet Union itself, the bipolarity in the world with the Soviet Union and the US as the two poles collapsed. In a strategic and military sense it left the US as the sole Super Power. In practice the US has now emerged, as a preponderant power but not the only dominant power. It is, therefore, difficult to see the world today as a unipolar world. It is also at the same time clear that the world is still far from being multi-polar; us remaining great powers are not in a position to act as independent poles.

With the ubiquity of mass media especially the telecast pictures of wars, famines, genocides, terrorism (most dramatic example being 9/11) of the sports, US landing on the moon beamed directly to homes have involved the people all over the world in these events with immediacy and urgency never experienced before in democracies. The impact of such a phenomenon confuses people’s perception of strategic and even vital interests of states. People get involved in decision-making, which traditionally was the sole preserve of the governments especially of its foreign policy.

One is not making the point that democracies are not suitable for exercise of power in the pursuit of a nation state’s vital and strategic interests. One is merely pointing out the enormous complexity that has arisen as a result of this phenomenon. It will be equally facile to think that non-democratic governments are necessarily better at this game than the democratic ones. The world has seen almost total collapse of the communist ideology and not only from non-communist states but from most communist states. One should also not underestimate the difficulties that Mao’s totalitarian China had to go through when from the US being the enemy No. 1 and being a paper tiger, China had to embrace not just the US at that time represented by Richard Nixon (well known for his anti-communist stand), but capitalism also. Inspite of being the most difficult form of government, democracy has many virtues, one of which being the articulation and representation of the national will and the willing cooperation of its people in exercise of power and implementation of government’s policies.

Till Vietnam War the conventional wisdom was that force was the ultimate arbiter in international relations, after all coercive and non-coercive measures including economic and trade sanctions had failed. Vietnam syndrome created a new paradigm, a new matrix of diplomatic factors and the biggest gainers were diplomacy and the so-called ‘Soft Power’. Gorbachov was able to state that there was a limit to the use of force in setting international disputes, that military power could no longer dictate the outcome of disputes and that it was time for the two Super Powers to agree to limit their strategic arms.

What are the cultural assets of a state? What institutions are required to preserve these assets, to strengthen them, and how to use them abroad to one’s advantage? What policy infrastructure is needed? How to train one’s diplomats and culture persons to that they can propagate their culture externally? These are important matters that need elaboration and analysis. I am merely alluding to them at this stage.

Fortunately for us, India is amongst the top few states in the world in terms of cultural endowment if not right at the top. Most important cultural endowment for India is the fact that India represents the only civilization continuum in the world. Previous great civilizations have either disappeared or changed beyond recognition. New ones are not ancient as us naturally. This factor of antiquity itself is a USP of immense diplomatic cache.

Second factor or importance to India is she is a large and diverse nation covering large and diverse area. Diversity engenders vitality, tolerance and creativity. Thirdly our religious and spiritual heritage has enabled us to make great intellectual, scientific and artistic progress. Mahatma Gandhi’s articulation that no religion is higher than truth is a very pithy statement of our heterodox tradition. Orthodoxy kills pursuit of truth, and buries new ideas and progress. The trait of tolerance of different religions and ideas has been fundamental to our survival as a civilization and to our renaissance over the millennia. This attitude of tolerance is the sine qua non for effective practice of diplomacy. There can be no diplomacy if one side or the other refuses to understand the legitimate rights and aspirations of the other side.

In the olden days, diplomacy was essentially backed up by force either the use of force or the threat of it. It may have been aided and abetted by cleverness and cunning occasionally but it was either the threat of use of force of the actual use of force, which made diplomacy either effective or ineffective.

Today, the picture is certainly not as grim though not simple either. Trade historically has been an important factor in the conduct of foreign relations. I would venture to say, however, that this factor is today of lesser importance than before, due to changed global circumstances. There are nearly two hundred countries in the world today, trading with each other under an international system governing trade. Trade is getting more open implying that arbitrariness and monopolistic / oligopolistic positions that great trading nations enjoyed in the past can no longer be deployed with the same effectiveness today. Inter-dependence in trade means that unilateral cancellation, or violation of trading agreements can lead to as much disruption within as without.

It would be a grave error to think that culture is used only as a tool of peaceful diplomacy. It can and has been used as a tool of war, of carrying out aggression and acts of belligerency against other states, and to undermine other states, to foment internal dissensions, even civil wars. The Crusades launched by West European States against Ottoman Empire and Muslim nations are a classical and historical example. Equally pernicious and more destructive has been the abuse of Islam by many Islamic nations in the recent past, leading to the formation of Al Qaida, the Taliban and Shiite insurgency to name only a few. Islamic fundamentalism of one kind or another has been a major historical phenomenon of the last quarter of the twentieth century unfortunately spawning global terror resulting in perhaps the greatest thereat to global peace by non-state players using terror causing enormous, and savage destruction of the lives of mostly innocent people.

This is the other side of the coin of cultural diplomacy – not a campaign to win the hearts and mind of other people but to bludgeon them into submission, to blackmail the societies and the government of democratic nations into surrendering their freedom and the right to pursue their democratic policies. The use of violence and total intolerance militate against the basic tenets of diplomacy.

By Mr. Yogesh Tiwari is a retired IFS officer


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Can yoga help India take on China?

Can mass practice of yoga help India compete with China in economic growth? Yoga guru Swami Ramdev is convinced it can.

Speaking at a discussion on 'Bridging the gap: nanohealth' held as part of the Assocham-organised 5th Global Knowledge Millennium Summit on bio and nanotechnology here last week, Ramdev said the majority of India's population could not afford healthcare.

'India spends around Rs.500,000 crore (Rs.5 trillion) annually on various health services. The truth is that only 35 percent of Indians are able to afford medical treatment and 65 percent of the country's population are not able to afford the costs of medicines and treatment,' said Ramdev, just back after an extensive tour of the US, Europe and Africa.

'Every Indian has to bear 93 percent of the medical expenses and the government's contribution is a negligible seven percent.'

He said that even if one assumed that every Indian could afford to take allopathic medicines, the total expenditure would be to the tune of Rs.13.7 trillion.

'Hence disease prevention is the key to India's economic growth,' he contended, adding yoga was the road to that end.

'Every person in the country and even the world needs a medical system that can provide good healthcare at no cost or minimal cost and the only such system is yoga.'

He said once people cut down on health expenses by going for disease prevention rather than treatment, India would not need to take recourse to some new industry or other economic steps to see its growth rate jump from 'nine point something to eleven point something', enabling it to compete with China.

Ramdev, who shared the dais with Peter Grutter, professor of physics and the world's leading authority on nanotechnology, claimed that yoga was very much a medical science like the allopathic system of treatment.

'Even the doctors at the Johns Hopkins University (in the US) have accepted that my yoga-based treatments are result-oriented,' he said.

Calling his style of treating diseases through yoga an example of nanotechnology at work in medicine, he said, 'In yoga, we use breathing techniques to treat a disease. This provides oxygen to the affected parts of the body.

'Just as nanotechnology has the potential to send nano particles within the body system to seek out and treat afflicted parts, pranayam in yoga sends oxygen to the remotest parts inside the body which need oxygen for cure.'

He said that life itself has its origin in nanotechnology.

'Our very existence is a result of a form of nanotechnology at work. We are born after the fusion of egg and sperm. Aren't these nano particles?' he said.

Following the yoga guru's discourse, Grutter said, 'From a philosophical point of view, as a scientist, for me it was very interesting how you described curing diseases through yoga.'

On the question whether yoga was a science or not, the professor said, 'There is no such thing as dogma in science. It is all about theories being proved.

'I liked what you (Ramdev) said - one should not mess with nature.'

Grutter said that just like in other fields, nanotechnology had to be evaluated for its positive and negative impacts.

In the end, he said, it was all about what society needed.

'Do people want nano particles running in their body to cure some cancer or do they not?' he wondered.

In a broader perspective, however, the professor differed with the opinion of one of the session moderators, H.K. Chopra, chief cardiologist in Moolchand Hospital, who said that 'the laws of science are the same as the laws of spirituality'.

'I personally am not sure that science and spirituality can fuse. This is because both take different approaches though they might come to similar conclusions,' Grutter said at the end of the stimulating discussion.

By Aroonim Bhuyan


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Salute to Mumbai Police,We are proud to have you

We are pleased to inform you all the success of "National Dementia Awareness Week".ARDSI,Mumbai chapter had arranged for various programme in different localities in association of many NGO's and support groups.

The conclusion programme was "Walkathon",which was held Shivaji Park,Mumbai on Saturday Sep 22nd 2007.This was in association with S.N.DT Nursing Collage.

For this event we had invited D.C.P Zone V,Mumbai Mr.D.M.Phadtare (IPS) as Chief Guest and to Flag Off the Walk.
It was nice to see the D.C.P Mr.D.M.Phadtare and Mr.S.A.Sanghai,Sr.P.I.,Shivaji Park Police Station gracing the event for Senior Citizens.

The DCP of Mumbai Police not only Flagged the Walk but also actively participate in the whole event.He with around 25 police personnel walked hand in hand with other volunteers and supporters.The police also on their own gave welcome 'Rose Bookey' to all the participant(most of them nursing students) and also to all the senior citizens we met during the circular walk around Shivaji Park.

The enthusiasm and excitement was visible on the face of all the participant and the policemen's.The DCP himself became the Ambassador and started talking about Dementia to all the Sr.Ctz he met during the walk.

It was nice to see the active particpantation of the Police force in this Awareness programme,it shows how much they care for the Elders and how good they can be to the society.

We were also told by Mr.S.A.Sanghai,Sr.P.I.,Shivaji Park Police that Shivaji Park area has maximum numbers of Sr.Citizens and one constable from his police station visits the Elderly once every week.

We all felt that there is a need to also educate the Police force about The Dementia and its problems.It was mutually agreed by ARDSI and Mumbai Police to do more such kind of programmes with the Seniors and to hold an Awareness programme for Police Force with regards to Alzheimer's Diseases.So that the guardian of the society will be more effective in addressing the needs and problems of Elders.

We are proud to have police officers like D.C.P Mr.D.M.Phadtare and Mr.S.A.Sanghai,Sr.P.I,Hats off to "Amchi Mumbai Police".

Together we all can do a lot for Alzheimer's people,so join the movement called "ARDSI"

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

From Darkness to light

From Darkness to light - India’s Voice on MENTAL HEALTH

September 22, 2007
Dear Friend of NAMI INDIA,
The theme for this year’s NAMI WALK is

“Reform, Recovery and Rehabilitation”

A plea for help... join the NAMI Walk on October 7th,2007 Sunday

The World Health Organisation has classified mental illness as a major health issue that is likely to drain the coffers of many countries. Many of us have family members or friends that have experienced mental illness, or have personal experience with mental illness. Please note that even spare change can make a difference. We are short of many kinds of supportive allied health workers like psychologists, counsellors and medical social workers to help the psychiatrists manage the entire range of mental conditions. Stigma is still associated with mental illness. “Indians tend to sweep such problems under the carpet”.

The Disability Act of 1995 defines 'disability' to mean (i) blindness; (ii) low vision; (iii) leprosy-cured; (iv) hearing impairment; (v) locomotor disability; (vi) mental retardation, and (vii) mental illness.
According to an estimate, mental disorders afflict five percent of the country's population. With as many as five crore of our people in need of special care, the importance of setting up an effective, countrywide system of mental health and social care cannot be over-emphasised.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

1. Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.

2. Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion—about 6 percent—who suffer from a serious mental illness. It is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 6 families in India.

3. The World Health Organization has reported that by 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world.

4. Mental illnesses usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.

5. Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion rupees each year in India.

6. The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; around 70 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.

7. With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.

8. Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.

9. Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.

As the reform process continues, with its positive features and with its flaws, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make a real difference. As NAMI INDIA continues to get stronger and more involved in the reform process, we have an obligation to get our message out to those who need to hear from us, and to be part of the decision-making process.

Schizophrenically Yours,

Akila Maheshwari Charagi

The walk at Mumbai starts from Juhu beach at 10.a.m. and ends at Larsen and Toubro Health Centre- Andheri East.

For further inquires and registration call on
Aarti Naik: +91-9223276472, Rucha at 67251451
Website :

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wisdom – A valuable gift from our elders

WHEN MY 77 year - old mother met with an accident recently and fractured her hip, during one of her "dark nights of the soul", she expressed the view that people like her had already lived out their productive lives and had nothing more to contribute to society. She recalled that in the olden days, people had a much shorter life span and did not usually have to contend with the spectre of degenerative diseases that would render them increasingly frail and dependent on others. She also mentioned that once one got to that point, it was a frightening situation because while some people were lucky to be well taken care of, many others were treated callously, as burden.

Since then I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be productive. If my mother in her late seventies worries about being productive, I need to worry too. Often as I buy and read business magazines at airports and railway stations, I realise that one of the features of today’s knowledge-based economy is that often, the people needed are youngsters, who bring with them the latest technology and domain knowledge. It is of course another matter that today’s young people become tomorrow’s middle-aged and today’s emerging platform is tomorrow’s obsolescence.

I have noted though that in the manufacturing industry, experience carries more value than youth perhaps because technology does not evolve as rapidly there. The trick is in reinventing ourselves at every age, every decade, so that we remain productive forever.

But how to we define productivity? Is it all about moving our hands and feet and being seen to be agile and mobile? I think that is how youth defines it - speed is everything and you ought to be always seen as doing something. Being productive is being active; being productive is being proactive - being there before any one else has got there. Of course these attributes are important - doing the right thing, at the right time and at the right place is a sine qua non of being strategic.

There is a trait, a quality, that we use everyday all our life but it is one that is forever hiding itself in the shadows. It is called wisdom. Wisdom is never a part of the curriculum of any management school or institution but can only be learnt on the job as one goes through life in its many shades. And the longer one lives, the longer one is engaged with the world, the sharper its nuances as it is expressed out and lived out in life’s diverse situations.

Sometimes, I feel that we have not quite learnt to value and evaluate the weight of experience, wisdom and the value addition they provide. This explains our propensity to regard the gifts they bring and the insights they provide as the obsolete thinking of senile minds. Because their understanding and practice is often not expressed in the here-and-now jargon, we often look upon their opinion and insight with a dismissive air.

Wisdom and its importance cannot be ever weighed on a scale. Its power is subtle and its influence nuanced. It cannot be easily captured on balance sheets; nor can its astuteness be easily encashed as dividends. Yet this is the one commodity that our senior citizens have in abundance and is on tap; and yet it is a resource we rarely remember to tap as we busy ourselves paying obeisance at the altar of youth. The spring fountain of youth is indeed enthralling but can it match the depth of eyes and ears which, having seen off spring, have witnessed, summer, autumn and now winter?

By Shantanu Dutta

Source :

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Philosophical Facts In The Ramayana

Stories from mythology portray the sublime essence of the supreme truth. It is for this reason that mythology has become an integral part of Hinduism encapsulating and sugar coating the lofty ideas for easy digestion or comprehension by the aspirant. It is a tendency to just not look beyond the story or the spiritual thought embedded in it which is the actual import of the story itself. Swami Vivekananda throws light on the underlying essence of Ramayana, thereby exposing the seeker to a new angle of thought rationalizing the facts in it to expose its philosophical aspect.

Swami Vivekananda in the course of a conversation unveiled the higher truth in 'Ramayana'. The different characters in Ramayana explains different philosophical notions. Swami Vivekananda explained that Shri Rama is the personification of the Paramatman, the absolute reality or the self. Sita is the portrayal of the Jivatman or the individual soul or the false notion of the true self or 'I'. 'Lanka' where Sita was held by Ravana is the body, mind complex which has the individual soul imprisoned within it. The Rakshasas represent the characteristic traits or Gunas of the body like the Sattva, Tamas and Rajas.

Vibishana is the portrayal of Sattva guna which is sheer goodness, Ravana of Rajas which is lust, passion, malice, avarice, etc and Kumbhakarna of Tamas which is darkness, stupor, lethargy etc. Hanuman is the portrayal of the 'Guru' as he is the one who presents Sita(Individual soul) with the Rama's ring which is the Brahma Jnana. Brahma Jnana or the supreme wisdom is that which unites the Jivatma with the Paramatma.

Sita(Individual soul) thus confined within the boundaries of Lanka(Body, mind complex) constantly struggled against the gunas(Rakshasas) pertaining to the body for union with Rama or Paramatma. Hence with the help of Hanuman (Guru) who shows her Rama's ring(Brahma Jnana) ultimately joins Rama(Paramatman).

In a different connotation, the ten heads of Ravana represent the bloated ego, the annihilation of which only would lead to realization. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has stated that Ravana( individual soul, or the false I) could attain self realization ultimately as his thoughts were always with Rama (Reality, true self, paramatman) though they were tainted with hatred. Bhagavan Ramana's prime teaching is to know one's true self and to abide in it.

Hence we aspirants instead of speculating about the authenticity of mythologies as to whether they are facts or fiction should venture to unearth the underlying spiritual treasure. After all spirituality is the kernel of religion.

By: Priya Devi R


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Enrich Your Life

A friend of mine once posed this question to a group of people with early-onset dementia:

“What do you do to enrich your life?”

What a brilliant question! We should all poke heads up from our jobs, responsibilities, and schedules, take a look around and ask ourselves this question. It’s a brilliant question for any human being but is especially challenging and critical for those with Alzheimer’s, when what has always been life-enriching is leaving.

Following the thread of the story in a novel or movie may become too difficult, lack of coordination or memory for sequential steps may render previously beloved hobbies like woodworking, gardening, playing chess, or knitting impossibly frustrating, an intolerance for too much noise may prevent dining at a favorite restaurant, and travel may become too confusing and tiring to make it worth packing for that tropical vacation.

If the ground you’re standing on has cracked, shifted, or eroded too much to enjoy those things that have always enriched your life prior to Alzheimer’s, it’s time to assess the landscape you’re standing on now. This is also true for caregivers, whose days can become consumed with running the household alone and nights with exhaustion and isolation.

For both those with dementia and those caring for them, what you lose can be staggering and more than mildly depressing. Finding new hobbies and passions, new ways to relax and connect with friends and loved ones requires courage, determination, and creativity. I invite you to share the adaptations and strategies you’ve found with others who have begun to look. However you are affected by dementia,

What do you do to enrich your life?

Lisa Genova, author of STILL ALICE,


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Renewable Energy Act: To meet India’s future needs

INDIA IS ALL SET to formulate a Renewable Energy Act with the target to meet 20 per cent of country’s energy requirements from this sector by 2020. The Pune-based, non-profit and non-governmental institute, The World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE) has drafted a model act.

A delegation led by Dr Pramod Deo, Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission and G.M. Pillai, the Founder Director General, WISE, has submitted the Model Renewable Energy Law to Vilas Muttemwar, Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India, last month. The Minister has promised to process the same for Parliament’s approval.

The WISE, which has been working for a transition to a green, clean and sustainable energy sector in the country, has declared 2007 as the ‘Year of the Renewable Energy Law for India’. A nation-wide media advocacy campaign is being launched.

The urgent need of the law was felt in view of the deepening energy crisis. Availability of adequate amounts of energy and water at affordable prices and equitable access to them for all sections of society will be a defining characteristic of life in the 21st century.

India with 17 per cent of the world population and just 0.8 per cent of the world’s known oil and natural gas resources is going to face serious energy challenges in the coming decades. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam talked of the need for ‘energy security’ as a transition to total ‘energy independence’. The draft law prepared by WISE charts a road map for such energy independence.

Besides energy independence, the devastating impact of climate change has become an issue of critical importance. Energy production using fossil fuels is the major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, transition to a low-carbon energy economy is the real solution for mitigating the impact of climate change.

According to Pillai, India has huge potential for producing electricity from renewable sources. Our achievement so far is about 10406.69 MW, as against global installed capacity of approximately 200000 MW of renewable electricity generation. While India’s achievement is commendable, it is necessary for us to keep pace with the fast growth in developed countries.

There are three imperatives that necessitate a transition to a sustainable energy system in the 21st century: They are Climate change and its potentially disastrous consequences,

Peaking of production, depletion and extinction of fossil fuels and Energy Autonomy/ Independence.

The single biggest reason for global warming is the burning of fossil fuels. So the solution lies in effecting an accelerated transition to a low carbon energy economy, which means large scale development of renewable energy. Fortunately there are several emerging technologies that will facilitate this.

Peaking of production of all fossil fuels (viz. oil, gas and coal) in the next two decades and gradual extinction of these resources is an accepted scientific fact. Even assuming that they would be available, India, which is already dependent on their import, would become more and more import dependent. The financial implications of large scale imports would destroy our economy and necessitate strategies to move towards energy autonomy or independence.

Pillai said that the Electricity Act, 2003 addresses issues related to renewable power only marginally and is not at all effective in facilitating the much needed transition to a sustainable energy system. The barriers to the development of renewable energy run across a wide spectrum. A comprehensive legislation aimed at removing these barriers and accelerating the development of renewable energy technologies is thus necessary, he added.

Even though the government has been favourable towards renewables, the efforts so far are not backed by legislation. Legislation is a proven instrument of change in this field, as seen in many countries across the world. It was this conviction and the institutional philosophy of striving for concrete action that spurred WISE to undertake the task of preparing a Model Renewable Energy Law for India, and pursue it to its logical conclusion viz. adoption by the Indian Parliament.

The draft law proposes to increase the target for electricity generation from renewables to 10 per cent by 2010 (as against 2012 currently) and 20 per cent by 2020, of the total electricity generated in the country (and not as a percentage of installed capacity). The draft law also seeks to remove some ambiguities or amplify some provisions in the Electricity Act, 2003, relating to provisions dealing with renewable electricity generation.

Such clarifications and amplifications deal with issues of access to the grid, grid expansion costs, charges for access to the grid network and tariff setting. In all these areas, preferential and priority treatment to renewables has been proposed to hasten its growth.

To address the energy problems faced by the rural areas and to facilitate faster growth of grid-independent distributed and small-scale (micro) generation, numerous provisions have been included in the draft law. Special provisions for meeting dispersed pumping energy needs of the agricultural sector using modern technologies have been included.

Other advanced provisions relating to renewable stand-alone and micro systems are as follows:
Solar water heating to be made mandatory throughout the urban areas of the country by 2012, in a phased manner.

A time-bound programme of demonstration of solar rooftop lighting systems in 10,000 government buildings by 2010, also incorporating building integrated photo-voltaics.
Conversion of fossil fuel based industrial heating to solar thermal heating using new solar concentrator technology or its hybrids.

India has at present about 30,000 MW captive generating units (industrial units), of which about 18,000 MW are diesel based. The draft law proposes time-bound conversion of these captive units to bio fuel based generation. This will save large amounts of diesel.

Provision for small biomass based energy systems for rural areas.

Indigenous development of small wind power systems upto 25 kW (and hybrids) for stand-alone applications.

Widespread application of co-generation concepts (heat and power) for lighting, heating and cooling.

A separate chapter of the law deals with accelerating bio fuel development and transportation energy to displace fossil fuels. A time-bound Renewable Fuel programme covering ethanol and bio diesel has been proposed. Backward and forward linkages of the programme to facilitate employment and rural livelihood improvements are also included.

Time-bound programmes for bio diesel engine production, introduction of hybrid vehicles, fuel cell bus demonstration, increasing railroad efficiency and development of ultra-efficient aircraft technology have been proposed. Most importantly, modern concepts of Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations have been proposed.

A very futuristic provision made in the proposed law, is a definite road map for developing a hydrogen and fuel cell economy. Hydrogen has extremely varied applications, from electricity storage, as transportation fuel, in fuel cells, which can power all imaginable devices as well as huge multi-storeyed buildings. Care has been taken to include safety and environmental protection safeguards while developing a futuristic hydrogen energy infrastructure.

Three separate time-bound Technology Missions have been proposed, to begin with, to achieve the objectives of energy independence. Such technology missions are to be established in the areas of: Solar Energy, Bio fuels and Hydrogen.

All the growth and development is to be achieved through introduction of innovative market-based policies and instruments. WISE has done extensive documentation of over 4000 pages of such international practices. Some of them are renewable energy certificates, renewable rebate programmes, etc. Their introduction would facilitate market growth, without government subsidies. Government participation would, however be necessary in research and development and infrastructure improvements. Establishment of Renewable Energy Development Funds in all states (on the pattern of Maharashtra) has also been proposed.

Involvement of all National Research Laboratories, IITs, Universities, Industry, Specialist, Non-Government Institutions and User Groups has been proposed. Participatory approaches have become most important in sustaining our development.

To guide and advice comprehensive achievement of the objectives of the Act, a national level apex body called the Renewable Energy Council with the Central Minister for Non-conventional Energy Sources as its Chairman has been proposed. The Council shall have 15 members drawn from the Government (only 5), Industry, Academia, Non-Government Institutions, Researchers and User-Groups.

By Narendra Ch


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hey Ram, where are you?

THE ISSUE of Setusamudram has created quite a stir in the Indian political jungle. Why would someone want the proof of Lord Ram’s existence produced before court? Who is this God anyway— A mythological invention or a reality? People need facts and want to challenge existence… times have changed.

Who is God? For some he is the mind, the essence of all individuality. For others he is a myth, a concoction of the mind. Religion is the all inspirational force backing it all. What is this religion? Where did it come from? Who invented it? For millions of people across the globe, it is their faith that has led to the establishment of some of the greatest religions of the world.

First it was Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie that created a sizzle in the religious world, then Da Vinci Code had the Vatican raising eyebrows and now…the Ramsetu issue has religious heads bewildered. Greg Isles, in his best seller, The Footprints of God points out that God is all powerful. God is all good. Evil exists. You can logically reconcile any of those two statements but not all three.

Religious controversies sell, create a debacle, flare communalism and then fade away. What emerges strongest is one’s faith in his belief. In a nation of billions, Lord Ram is a principle deity in every second home. The biggest festival of the year, Diwali, is celebrated to commemorate his victory over Ravana, the evil king of Lanka. The saga is recited over and over again, being passed down from generations. The teachings of the Ramayana form an integral part of our culture— to respect one’s parents and obey them. The family ties in India are known to be strong. Thus, to raise a question on the existence of God is to provoke antagonism in the minds of those who have been thriving on this belief.

Radheykrishan, a pundit from Raghunath Temple in Delhi says, “Religion means everything to the people of India. It is a sin to raise question on the existence of Lord Ram. The sin has been committed by the Congress. Ram is everywhere. He dwells in the hearts and souls of his worshippers. It is insane to declare that he did not exist. These people are asking God to prove whether he is there or not. Why would millions of people pray to him if he was incapable of answering back?”

Culture and Tourism minister, Ambika Soni is in hot water with all fingers pointing in her direction. The issue has created havoc in the Congress itself. The Bhartiya Janta Party is trying to make most of the situation. Religious sentiments have been hurt and this isn’t for the first time that such an instance has occurred in the history of our country.

Kailash Bagga, Project Manager in an MNC says, “Lord Ram is worshipped in almost every household in our country. The political parties have a certain moral duty towards the citizens. One fine day, out of the blue someone says that Ram did not exist. Someone else ends up saying that they can prove this. In doing this, they have shaken the foundations of Hinduism. Why do they forget that Ayodhya exists, so does Lanka? Now it could be possible that evidence was destroyed centuries ago when people were forced to convert to other religions.”

Amid all the chaos, the government has finally said that it will soon approach the Supreme Court to obtain appropriate orders to resume work on Adam’s bridge with a view that the Setusamudram ship canal would be completed at the earliest.

TR Baalu, Shipping Minister says, “The work in the Adam’s Bridge portion of Setusamudram has only been stopped and will be resumed shortly.”

Ram Setu is the legendary bridge that was built by Lord Ram in order to reach Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from the captivity of Ravana. For the country’s economic growth the Setusamudram project is bound to reap benefits. The faith of millions of devotees will remain undeterred but political parties will feast on the injured sentiments and religion inspired hatred.

By Rachel Arora


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A missing child is counting on us

Since its inception in 2000, National Centre For Missing Children is making a impact in protecting India's children, it offers hope to families who know that the search will not end till their child is found. We need your help to get these missing children home soon and safely. It is impossible for any one person, organization or government to search for the missing children on their own. All of us have to join together and help in the search for missing children. Please visit the page "You Can Help" for more details.

National Centre For Missing Children (NCMC) is a non political, non profit making and a non-governmental organization offering the services free of charge.

The site is presented for the parents, guardians, law enforcement agencies, free of charge, on a one to one manner as an alternative and unconventional method for locating a missing child who is lost or is suspected of having been kidnapped or is a runaway. It serves as a complement for the conventional methods and is not intended to interfere with the system's procedures or to promote false hope.

How many children go missing in a year in India?
In India no exact figures are available, however, according to an article in an English daily, the number of runaways is 10 lakhs per annum, i.e. every 30 seconds a child runs away from home. If you add the number of missing, lost and abducted children the number of missing children is phenomenal.

National Centre For Missing Children has more than 61,000 members and is growing steadily. Imagine the impact we all can make - if each one of us just took one printout of the poster (A/4 size) on his/her printer and pasted it on the notice board of his/her office/school/college or in a public place - cinema halls, bus stops, markets, shopping malls/centres etc. Car owners can stick the printouts on the rear window of their vehicles. Together we can make the difference. Just ONE poster.

You can make an impact in protecting India's most precious resources - our children and offer hope to families who know that the search will not end till their child is found. Without your help and support we will not be able to find the missing children. It is impossible for any one person, organization or government to search for the missing children on their own. All of us have to join together and help in the search for missing children. We really need your help in finding these children, to put smiles back on their faces. Let us make a beginning and let us convey to the families of the missing children that never again this crisis will be endured alone. We care and it's our united efforts that will make the difference. No one suffering the misfortune of a missing child should ever feel and be left to cope alone.

A missing child is counting on us. There are many ways in which you can help. One of the easiest one is by just keeping a watchful eye at the children you see. Your own powers of observation may be the greatest asset. Some of the most memorable and successful locations of missing persons have come through individuals who have recognized the face of a new neighbour.

Our aim is to disseminate as many pictures of the missing children as possible. More are the pictures distributed; more are the chances of finding these children.

Community involvement is vital for the ultimate success. Please invite your friends/colleagues to become a part of this meaningful and fast growing community. We are already 61,000 plus. A sample invitation letter can be found at .

A missing child is counting on us
Our efforts can help reunite a missing child with his parents.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

British scientists unfold new frontiers of biotechnology

Will duckweed and algae be floating down Indian rivers soon, cleaning up waste and generating bio-fuel?

That is what researchers in Britain are doing, and some of Britain's top cell scientists are on a weeklong tour of India to talk about frontiers biotechnology.

Their effort is being matched by some of India's own scientists explaining the country's attempts in the field, in a joint initiative of the British Council and the Centre for Biotechnology (CBT) at the Anna University here.

Eminent British and Indian scientists are talking about agriculture biotechnology, bioprocess technology, genetics and forensic science, healthcare and of course, the stem cell and micro array technology, in a series of lectures that include a two-day seminar.

The British scientists spoke of dogs that could smell urine and detect onset of diseases, bandages when applied that could detect onset of infection, vaccinations that could be introduced through bananas - research into applications that would be non-invasive, cost-effective and quick in delivery.

'Biotechnology is not about whether we can create genetically manipulated species or the number of GM species we can create. It is about creating drought resistant species that can grow in arid areas and provide a country much needed food in starvation situations,' said Steven Neill, eminent British molecular scientist and associate dean of the University of West England.

'The UK pioneered cloning but the UK will never accept human cloning,' he added.

'We think the UK has something to offer the international community in this sphere,' Chris Gibson, British Council Director for south India, told IANS.

'We are living in a global village and the UK-India collaboration in this area bodes well for the future,' he added.

As many as 23,000 Indian students went to Britain last year for higher education. The UK-India Education and research Initiative has a corpus fund of four million pounds.

'We designed the biotechnology meet between Indian and UK academics in Chennai because we had feedback from UK colleges touring India that as much as 22 percent students from south India wanted to know about scope of biotechnology in the UK universities,' L. Dhanasekaran, head of education at the British Council's southern division, told IANS.

CBT director R.B. Narayanan said: 'Environment has to be built in India for excellence in science research' and partnering British universities will provide great learning opportunities.

'Scientific audit, criteria for quality research, time schedules for research projects, transparency are all that help create such an environment for international standard research,' he said.

He said India's biotechnology research at present focuses on agricultural, drug making and its engineering aspects, veterinary and healthcare biotech and forensic genetics like DNA finger printing.

Neill said the commonalities between India's research needs and Britain's focus on biotechnology extended to three major areas, of which 'developing rapid and cheap diagnostic tools' was one of the most important.

'Imagine,' he said, 'if we had a bio-sensor to identify the various kinds and types of diarrhoea, so very common a cause of disease and death in developing countries.'

Explaining how it could work, he said, a biosensor would just be a card with a bar code, like the one on credit cards, that a physician could dip into a bottle containing a faecal sample and the gases emanating from it would mark the card (like a chromatograph test). And within minutes, the physician would know what ails the patient. He wouldn't have to wait two days for the pathology report from the lab.

'The UK is concentrating on stem cell research and tools to control aging diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, arthritis,' said Georgina Manning, a senior scientist from the Nottingham Trent University. She also leads the bioinformatics programme run jointly by the NTU and the Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research in Mumbai.

Developing neuro-sensors is another area of research focus and lifestyle disease detection she said. India too is beginning to look at life-style diseases, aging in a big way, she noted.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

India calls for global set-up for cyber safety

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Thursday urged the Interpol member countries to set up an international organisation for cyber safety, and took the initiative of proposing a five-step solution to combat cyber related crimes more efficiently.

'There is a need for an international organisation for safety in cyber space on the lines of ICAO and ITU - agencies in civil aviation and telecommunications sectors to deal with cyber crimes,' the CBI said at the 7th international conference on cyber crimes here that security agencies, representatives of several countries and IT firms attended.

Rakesh Aggarwal, superintendent of police with the CBI, pointed out that there have been flaws in procedural applications, capacity building and partnership with other agencies.

'Cyber crime is borderless, the solutions are often local or at best regional. The problem is quite often considered purely a technical one, expecting technology alone to provide a solution and ignoring the problem of management of cyber spaces,' Aggarwal said in his presentation.

He noted that there are significant legal disparities on what constitutes cyber crime and how and when evidence is to be collected and shared with foreign countries.

'The existing mechanism of international cooperation, including Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) and Letters Rogatory (LRs) for the purpose of collection of evidence, 24x7 contact points such as Interpol and G-8 networks for police-to-police cooperation are inadequate and insufficient,' the police officer said.

India's premier investigating agency also stressed that the private sector is often guilty of not reporting cyber crimes and patching the vulnerabilities with quick-fix solutions.

'On the other hand, public sector perhaps due to mistrust fails to take full advantage of technical expertise available with the private sector,' he said.

The CBI also proposed five-step solutions before the Interpol member countries in tackling cyber crime.

The steps include a comprehensive multilateral treaty on e-commerce, standardisation of procedural obligations and capacity building where countries can be divided into three categories - those which are in information Super Highway, those which are in the process of doing so, and those which are yet to effectively participate in this revolution.

'The other two proposed plans include partnership with other agencies, private sectors and a high-level monitoring agency,' Aggarwal said.

The three-day conference, which began Wednesday, is being attended by representatives from 37 countries, EUROPOL, UNODC, UNICR, Council of Europe, multinational IT firms, Indian state-run firms and the department of electronics.

Over 40 senior police officers from 20 Indian states are also participating in the conference.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Child Participation

What is children's participation

In the most obvious sense, participation means taking part. In order to participate, children need to have a meaningful role - to do something they think is worthwhile, to play a role that shows people care for them and overall to have their rights to dignity, safety, protection and comfort respected.

According to the UN Convention on Child Rights, all children are equal, and have human rights such as the right to food, shelter, health care, education and freedom from violence, neglect and exploitation. The Convention also states that children have the right to participate in decision-making and due weight should be given to their opinions, according to their age and maturity.
This means that children and young people have the right to participate in family decisions, in school and class decisions, in faith communities, in their cultural and sporting organisations, and also in local and national government, and in the UN and other international bodies.

Children and young people often represent over 40 percent of the societies in which they live, yet they have traditionally been excluded from decision-making all over the world.

Children have the right to freedom of expression, to form and join associations and to seek and receive appropriate information. These rights should empower children to bring about changes in their own lives, to build a better future.

What participation is not

Children do not participate by merely attending a function. That is decoration and not participation.

They do not participate by being merely consulted when adults make all the decisions (For example the children have no say concerning what questions they will be asked, how they will express their answers, and what will be done with the results.)

They do not participate if they are manipulated so that they express views that are not genuinely their own, nor rooted in their own experience.

It is merely tokenism if they are asked to give their opinion as representing "the children" when they are not properly briefed nor have the opportunity to discuss the issues with the very peers they are meant to be representing.

To be meaningful, participation must involve at least some degree of power- sharing and some involvement in at least some of the processes. Participation is not autonomy - children cannot always have what they want. Limits have to be set to children's power as adults have the responsibility to ensure that they are safe, healthy and educated. There may also be financial and practical limits which adults will need to apply. Adults cannot stand by and let children make irreversible mistakes that would cause serious harm or loss to themselves or others.

Asking children and young people what works, what doesn't and what could work better, and involving them on an ongoing basis, in the design, delivery and evaluation of services helps to develop new skills and promote links within communities.

Why should children participate?

There are benefits to children and young people themselves, to adults and to society when children participate.

They become more clear about and understand their own wants and needs, in the light of the values of the community and the rights of the child.

They explore the possibilities of their lives by being offered choices and having to prioritise them. Also by realising the constraints or limitations to their development or happiness children are able to come to terms with the inequities of life. And by being offered a way forward to overcome them and attain a happier life for themselves and others too.

They also learn to consider the needs of others and to gain social skills as they negotiate, debate and problem-solve together.

Their developmental needs are met, particularly the need for responsibility, respect and recognition, which increases their confidence and self-esteem.

Because they are part of the process by which decisions are reached, they feel more committed to make those decisions work.

Adults and society benefit

Children can help shape policy and practice. Insights gained from children and young people help adults to be more effective in meeting their changing needs. These needs are best defined by children from their everyday interests and problems, because what they actually experience may be different from what we had intended or expected.

Children can change our perception of ourselves as adults and help us to avoid assumptions about what we think "childhood" is. We will be more effective if we do not generalise, for example we should not say that "all children are helpless against violence" or "cannot reason until they turn seven".

Children who participate are more likely to go on to become capable and involved citizens as they grow up. They learn democratic procedures and responsibilities by participating.

UNICEF has a long-standing commitment to ethical and meaningful participation of children as a guiding principle of all it's work. UNICEF’s mandate to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child necessitates that all children under 18 are included in its programming. UNICEF is committed to building partnerships that promote meaningful participation of children and adolescents in programmes and decision-making processes that affect their lives.

As the world’s leading agency on children, UNICEF has organized and participated in various high level events involving meaningful child participation, including the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children 1 Junior 8 Summit (July 2006, St. Petersburg), UN Youth Leadership Summit (November 2006, New York).

Source; UNICEF

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Childrens in India

In India, children’s vulnerabilities and exposure to violations of their protection rights remain spread and multiple in nature. The manifestations of these violations are various, ranging from child labour, child trafficking, to commercial sexual exploitation and many other forms of violence and abuse. With an estimated 12.6 million children engaged in hazardous occupations (2001 Census), for instance, India has the largest number of child labourers under the age of 14 in the world. Although poverty is often cited as the cause underlying child labour, other factors such as discrimination, social exclusion, as well as the lack of quality education or existing parents’ attitudes and perceptions about child labour and the role and value of education need also to be considered. In states like Bihar, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, 60 per cent or more girls dropped out before completing their five years primary education.

Trafficking of children also continues to be a serious problem in India. The nature and scope of trafficking range from industrial and domestic labour, to forced early marriages and commercial sexual exploitation. Existing studies show that over 40 per cent of women sex workers enter into prostitution before the age of 18 years. Moreover, for children who have been trafficked and rescued, opportunities for rehabilitation remain scarce and reintegration process arduous. (more on child trafficking)

While systematic data and information on child protection issues are still not always available, evidence suggests that children in need of special protection belong to communities suffering disadvantage and social exclusion such as scheduled casts and tribes, and the poor. The lack of available services, as well as the gaps persisting in law enforcement and in rehabilitation schemes also constitute a major cause of concern.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Making Modifications for Age and Disability

AS people age, the home that has been second nature to navigate can become an obstacle course. But there are ways to prepare a house for the needs of tomorrow without making it look like a geriatric ward today.

“Nobody really wants to think that they’re going to get old,” said Elinor Ginzler, director for livable communities at AARP in Washington. “But there are things you can do now to keep your home safe and comfortable as you age.”

For example, Ms. Ginzler said, round doorknobs can be changed to lever-type handles. “This is good for people of any age,” she said. “It helps if you have arthritis, and it helps if you still have kids at home and have a pile of laundry in your hands, because you can open the door with your elbow.”

If drawers and cabinets have small round knobs, they can be replaced with D-shaped handles that are easier to grasp.

Another simple change that will make life easier, both now and later, is adding a bench by the front door. “If you’re older, you may need it for resting,” Ms. Ginzler said, ”and you can use it now if you have to set down a bunch of packages or a child before opening the door.”

Ms. Ginzler said that it also helps to have handrails installed on each side of a staircase and lights at both the bottom and the top of the stairs. It is also wise to install night lights in all rooms; lights in closets (along with adjustable rods and shelves); and large rocker-type light switches, preferably illuminated.

Richard Duncan, the director of universal design training at the College of Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, said homeowners should plan for the future whenever they build or renovate. “The advice I give people is to consider including user-friendly features whenever they make a major change in a home,” he said. “If you wait until someone has a problem, there’s going to be a huge sticker shock.”

Marcel DeWinter, a Manhattan architect, said that when renovating a bathroom, for example, it makes sense to install a shower stall that does not have a high step. And if a new bathtub is being installed, getting a model with a built-in seat is a good idea. If work is being done on the bathroom walls, he said, it pays to reinforce them so that grab bars can be installed later if they become necessary.

Such reinforcements should be added between the studs around the shower or tub and around the toilet.

When needed, one grab bar should be placed at a height so that it can be used when getting in and out of the tub, and another should be placed lower, so that it can be used while in the tub itself.

It may also make sense to install reversible hinges on the bathroom door. In most cases, Mr. DeWinter said, bathroom doors swing in. But for someone in a wheelchair, this could be a problem. A reversible hinge allows the door to be mounted so that it swings out instead.

If renovations are being made to a kitchen, Mr. DeWinter said, it makes sense to install telescoping drains and flexible supply lines for the sink so that the counter can be lowered to accommodate a wheelchair if that becomes necessary.

Another thing to consider when making renovations is that all doorways should be wide enough for a wheelchair when the door is open. “If you have 32 inches of clearance when the door is open, you’ll be fine.” Mr. DeWinter said.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO)

The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) is an international organization uniting NGOs worldwide in the cause of advancing peace and global well being. WANGO helps to provide the mechanism and support needed for NGOs to connect, partner, share, inspire, and multiply their contributions to solve humanity’s basic problems.

Initiated in 2000 by a handful of international NGOs and prominent visionaries, WANGO has quickly become one of the premier international bodies for non-governmental organizations that are committed to the ideals of universal peace, justice, and well being for all humanity.

Concerned with universal values shared across the barriers of politics, culture, religion, race and ethnicity, the founding organizations and individuals envisioned an organization that would enable NGOs to work in partnership across those barriers, thereby weaving a selfless social fabric essential to establishing a worldwide culture of peace. By optimizing resources and sharing vital information, WANGO provides a means for NGOs to become more effective in completing their vital tasks.

With its global network of NGOs, as well as affiliates drawn from the ranks of governmental and intergovernmental bodies, business, and universities, WANGO has become an international leader in tackling issues of serious global concern.

So register your NGO:

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Child Mortality at Record Low

For the first time since record keeping began in 1960, the number of deaths of young children around the world has fallen below 10 million a year, according to figures from the United Nations Children’s Fund being released today.

This public health triumph has arisen, Unicef officials said, partly from campaigns against measles, malaria and bottle-feeding, and partly from improvements in the economies of most of the world outside Africa.

The estimated drop, to 9.7 million deaths of children under 5, “is a historic moment,” said Ann M. Veneman, Unicef’s executive director, noting that it shows progress toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of cutting the rate of infant mortality in 1990 by two-thirds by 2015. “But there is no room for complacency. Most of these deaths are preventable, and the solutions are tried and tested.”

Interestingly, Unicef officials said, the new estimate comes from household surveys done in 2005 or earlier, so they barely reflect the huge influx of money that has poured into third world health in the last few years from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Gates Foundation; and the Bush administration’s twin programs to fight AIDS and malaria. For that reason, the next five-year survey should show even greater improvement, they said.

“We feel we’re at a tipping point now,” said Dr. Peter Salama, Unicef’s chief medical officer. “In a few years’ time, it will all translate into a very exciting drop.”

The most important advances, Unicef said, included these:

Measles deaths have dropped 60 percent since 1999, thanks to vaccination drives.

More women are breast-feeding rather than mixing formula or cereal with dirty water.

More babies are sleeping under mosquito nets.

More are getting Vitamin A drops.

In 1960, about 20 million children died annually, but the drop since then has been steeper than 50 percent because the world population has grown. If babies were still dying at 1960 rates, 25 million would die this year.

There are still wide disparities. The highest rates of child mortality are found in West and Central Africa, where more than 150 of every 1,000 children born will die before age 5. In the wealthy countries of North America, Western Europe and Japan, the average is about six.

The most rapid progress has been made in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Central and Eastern Europe, and in East Asia and the Pacific.

Despite the improvement, two sets of countries have worsened, Unicef said: those in southern Africa that have been hit hardest by AIDS, and those that have been at war recently, like Congo and Sierra Leone.

The improving economies of India and China have helped pull world figures upward. More girls are getting education and jobs, they marry later and they have fewer children, more of whom survive.

Also, because malnutrition is an underlying factor in 53 percent of all child deaths, anything that feeds children — whether that means large-scale aid during famines or simply better seeds and fertilizer — reduces deaths.

Among countries that made particularly rapid progress since 2000 are the Dominican Republic, Vietnam and Morocco, which all cut child deaths by more than one-third.

Madagascar cut its deaths by 41 percent despite going to the brink of civil war in 2002, and São Tomé and Principe managed to cut its deaths by 48 percent.

Domingos Ferreira, a minister counselor at São Tomé and Principe’s mission to the United Nations, was pleasantly surprised to learn that his country — two islands in the crook of West Africa — had bested the world.

He guessed that credit was due to a national antimalaria campaign that had drained swamps, sprayed houses and provided mosquito nets. “Malaria used to be the first source of killing in our lives,” he said. “And now I hear that the hospital beds on Principe are empty for the first time.”

In Madagascar, Dr. Salama said, the difference was Vitamin A drops, which drastically reduce the chances that a child will die of measles, diarrhea or malaria.

In general, Ms. Veneman said, the countries that did best concentrated on extending simple measures to rural areas, and focusing on inexpensive prevention rather than expensive care.

Ethiopia, many of whose doctors and nurses emigrate, trained 30,000 community health workers for tasks like weighing babies, advising on breast-feeding, giving shots, testing for malaria and handing out mosquito nets.

Success, Ms. Veneman said, “is not just linked to money, it’s linked to setting priorities.”


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.