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India Needs To Check Exploding Population; Develop Health Infra To Fight Covid 19

By Dr Sunit Mediratta

NEW DELHI, June 29: As expected India is seeing a catastrophic increase in its Covid 19 numbers. We are still hitting new daily peaks in the number of cases on a regular basis. We now have more than 5,30,000 cases and are the 4th worst affected country in the world.

Delhi and Mumbai continue to be the worst affected cities in India. The Delhi government estimates the number of Covid 19 cases in the city is expected to go up to 5.5 lakhs by July 31 and the city will need 80,000 beds. At present it has 12,600 beds.

Even if we assume hypothetically the government is able to arrange the requisite number of beds, the country does not have the required manpower to treat such a large-scale calamity. One cannot produce doctors, nurses, trained paramedics overnight. And even if such specialized talent could be identified and adequately trained, we would possibly be unable to pay them fair wages.

The Covid 19 crisis has not yet reached its peak, doctors working in many large Government hospitals in Delhi such as Hindu Rao, Kasturba hospital and many more, have not been paid salaries for over 3 months triggering litigations. In Mumbai, doctors are facing salary cuts upto 30-40 percent.

Our Covid 19 mortality rate at around 3.4 % is significantly low, not because we have an outstanding healthcare system. We have in fact done nothing different than what is being practised elsewhere in the world. Researchers believe the reason for low mortality in India could be attributed to a low percent of elderly population, high temperatures and humidity and widespread BCG vaccination for tuberculosis. Many believe, the exposure to a wide variety bacteria and viruses, has increased our immunity. However, all of this is less than convincing.

The central governments and various states are at loggerheads about several aspects of pandemic management such as testing protocols, quarantine requirements and declaration of Covid mortalities. To make matters worse, these guidelines keep changing. This isn’t helping anybody’s cause in this fight.

However, if there is one thing that most governments and the opposition parties agree upon, is that the root cause of all problems is our exploding population. Currently, India adds 15 million people to its population base every year --- by far the largest in the world.

All political parties agree that the state of the infrastructure in the country has failed to meet the demands of the growing population, evident by absence of basic education and health facilities in many districts.

The Population Regulation Bill tabled in Parliament during the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1992, is now being studied to assess its feasibility in present times. Sadly, it has taken us 28 years to get to the point of assessing its feasibility.

The bill has been tabled in the parliament three times since last July by Rajya Sabha MPs of BJP, Shiv Sena and Congress, however it is yet to see the light of day.

Last July, BJP MP Rakesh Sinha, had tabled this Bill in the Rajya Sabha as a private member Bill. It proposed to penalise people for having more than two children.

Also, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai in February 2020 moved a private member’s bill, that also proposed a constitutional amendment providing incentives in taxation, employment and education to people who keep their family limited to two children.

Congress MP, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, has raised concerns that our increasing population is putting pressure on India’s limited natural resources. In march this year, he moved a private members bill in Rajya Sabha, some of the provisions include :

· Barring the couple from contesting elections in Lok Sabha, state legislature and panchayat elections, elections to Rajya Sabha and other elective bodies.

· Barring from getting promotions in government services or applying to group A jobs

· Married couples below the poverty line (BPL) undergoing voluntary sterilisation to receive a one-time lump sum amount of Rs 60,000 if their single child is a boy or Rs 1 lakh if the single child is a girl.

BJP MP’s from Uttar Pradesh, Shiv Prasad Shukla and Harnath Singh Yadav have echoed the same sentiments. Yadav has gone on to say we may even face a food and water scarcity by 2025.

When everyone is aligned the public fails to understand why such an important bill is taking forever to get through the parliament. People remember the time taken by MPs to decide on their salary revisions, the speed and efficiency of which would have put many corporates to shame. Its time to show the same swiftness so that our children can see our face. This pandemic is a brutal reminder. These rising cases of Covid-19 are an immediate call to action.

@ Dr. Sunit Mediratta is a Neurosurgeon at Apollo Hospital

Scientists identify immune cells that can protect us from covid-19

NEW DELHI, June 28: In a study involving covid-19 patients, it was found that certain immune cells in the body might kick in shortly after a person gets infected.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: these are unprecedented times. Never before has the medical community delved deep into an infection with such urgency as they are now with covid-19.

As more and more research on SARS-CoV-2—the virus responsible for covid-19—surfaces, the more alarmed we seem to be. After all, science has proven how this virus not only attacks the respiratory system, but also the brain and nervous system.

But a recent revelation by the scientific community on our body’s ability to fight off SARS-CoV-2 has come as a ray of sunshine in the grey and cloudy word of covid-19 news. Turns out, some patients suffering from severe respiratory symptoms due to the novel coronavirus infection can rapidly generate an immune response in the form of virus-attacking T cells.

LungOver the past few months, scientists have been able to decode how covid-19 attacks the lungs, brain, and nervous system. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

These are the findings of a study, published in the journal Science Immunology, in which the researchers assessed T cells from 10 covid-19 patients under intensive care treatment.

According to the researchers, including those from the University of California in the US, two out of 10 healthy individuals without prior exposure to the virus also harboured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells.

Based on this observation, they said these T cells may be cross-reacting to SARS-CoV-2, due to past infection with related coronaviruses that cause common cold symptoms.

What are T cells?

T cells or T lymphocytes are an integral part of the immune system as they are responsible for attacking and killing pathogen-carrying host cells in the body. They also activate the body’s immune response by urging other immune cells to jump into the action.

Needless to say that T-cells are terribly important when it comes to fighting off infections, and even more so in the context of covid-19.

Why is this research so important?

For one, it helps the medical community understand whether SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses vary in patients over time depending on disease severity.

They researchers also say that the study may help understand whether patients with more severe symptoms can generate protective virus-specific T cells at all, and offer clues regarding the cells responsible for excessive immune responses which has led to the deaths of many covid-19 patients.

The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 helper T cells were active in all 10 patients, and CD8 “killer” T cells were present in 8 out of 10 patients.

They also characterised the cells’ production of specific inflammation-triggering cell-cell signalling molecules called cytokines.

According to the scientists, the strongest responses were directed to the virus’ spike (S) surface protein, supporting prior work that has pointed to this protein as a promising target to induce virus-specific T cells.

On screening all patients at 0, 7, and 14 days after inclusion in the study, it was revealed that SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were present relatively early during the course of infection, and increased in these patients over time.

The researchers believe a future study of how pre-existing SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in healthy controls correlate to protection against covid-19 can help shed more light on the disease and “and also inform vaccine design and evaluation.

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput, 34, found dead at Mumbai home

NEW DELHI, June 14: Actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead at his residence in Mumbai’s Bandra, his representative and Mumbai Police said on Sunday. The actor was found dead at his sixth floor apartment in Bandra (West). While the police have confirmed that he has died by suicide, no ‘note’ was found from his residence.

“Sushant Singh Rajput has committed suicide, Mumbai Police is investigating,” DCP Pranay Ashok, spokesperson Mumbai Police said.

The actor was known for his performances in films such as Chhichhore, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!. He started his career on television and is still remembered for his performance in Pavitra Rishta.

Sushant’s team shared a message for his fans: “It pains us to share that Sushant Singh Rajput is no longer with us. We request his fans to keep him in their thoughts and celebrate his life, and his work like they have done so far. We request media to help us maintain privacy at this moment of grief.”

Sushant Singh Rajput’s death comes days after his former manager Disha Salian reportedly died by suicide. Rajput had tweeted his shock at the news on social media.

Expressing shock at his death, Anurag Kashyap tweeted, “Wtf .. this is not true.” Akshay Kumar wrote, “Honestly this news has left me shocked and speechless...I remember watching #SushantSinghRajput in Chhichhore and telling my friend Sajid, its producer how much I’d enjoyed the film and wish I’d been a part of it. Such a talented actor...may God give strength to his family.”

Sushant made his debut with Kai Po Che in 2014 and later starred in films such as PK, Kedarnath, Shuddh Desi Romance and MS Dhoni: The Untold Journey. He was last seen in Netflix’s Drive. He made his acting debut with Zee TV serial Pavitra Rishta.

He garnered applause for almost all his films. MS Dhoni, in which he played the former Indian cricket team captain, was among the most successful film of 2016. He received critical acclaim for his role in Dibakar Banerjee’s 2015 movie, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy.

Sushant as the confused lover boy in Shudh Desi Romance also impressed the audience and proved that he can play the romantic lead with ease. Apart from the mainstream projects, he also worked in films such as Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya and hold his own against acting stalwarts such as Manoj Bajpayee.

In 2018,Sushant starred in Kedarnath opposite Sara Ali Khan. His last appearances were Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore and Drive that released on Netflix.

Indian Community to Hold Bike, Car Rally to Thank Taiwan on Successful Covid-19 fight

By Deepak Arora

Manoj KriplaniTAIPEI, June 12: In a first of its kind event, Indian community in Taiwan is organizing a bike and car rally here on Saturday to express its gratitude to Thank Taiwan for successfully fighting with COVID-19 and keeping life safe for its citizens and ex-pats, including the Indian community, according to Manoj Kriplani, Board of Director, Indians' Association of Taipei (IAT).

Manoj Kriplani said the rally also is to Thank Taiwan for helping out other nations, including India, by donating 27 million masks as well as various medical supplies and PPE kits.

Moreover, through this event, he said “we would like to bring awareness about Taiwan on a global scale.”

He said “this will be the first time that any foreign community is coming out in large numbers to Thank Taiwan and added “let the world know that Taiwan Can Help”.

Even thought Taiwan is excluded from World Health Organisation (WHO), Taipei has been sharing the success of dealing with the grim pandemic that has taken the world by a storm this year. With millions of people affected by the novel Corona virus around the globe, Taiwan has risen like a roaring lion.

Learning from its previous SARS-2003 epidemic and the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the island was well prepared with the appropriate laws in place, timely tracking of the outbreak in China, scrupulous monitoring and testing, and effective treatment in well-equipped hospitals.

However, Taiwan did not just bask in the glory and praise it received from around the world in effectively dealing with COVID-19, it has gone many steps further and is sharing its technical know-how and equipment with other countries.

It may be mentioned that Taiwan has provided more than 27 million medical masks to support medical professionals around the world and has worked together with the US and the EU on the most advanced rapid tests and vaccines for COVID-19.

Manoj Kriplani said “the Indian community in Taiwan has felt touched by how Taiwan has treated citizens, residents and tourists alike -- with respect, dignity and compassion. Taiwan has seemed like the safest place to live on earth during these tumultuous times.”

“We have felt proud to be living in a country that was one of the few who reached out to Red Cross Society of India and sent one million masks to protect its vulnerable medical personnel. We want not only our fellow citizens back home but also the whole world to know how much we appreciate this beautiful island that we call home. We hope that the world will take notice of this event and support Taiwan in every way possible as it is not just Taiwan, but the rest of the world too which gains from being inclusive,” he added.

On June 13, he said almost 150 members of the Indian community from all walks of life will come together in the form of a motorbike and car rally to show our appreciation to the government and people of Taiwan. The event is organized and supported by the different Indian associations of Taiwan.

Under the guidance and coordination of the Government of Taiwan, Manoj Kriplani said the Taiwan textile industry quickly assembled the “national epidemic prevention team” and has received numerous praise from the international community.

“We would like to give special thanks to Grandetex for sponsoring the moisture-wicking fabrics and Kuen Long for turning these fabrics into Made-in-Taiwan functional T shirts for the riders in this memorable event. Their premium fabric has provided a comfortable wearing experience for the event participants and demonstrates the technology and skills of Taiwan textile suppliers,” he added.

Towards preserving the inalienable rights of children

By Lakshmidhar Mishra

Lakshmidhar MishraNEW DELHI, June 11: There are occasions when historic events occur without premeditation, though at other times they are the outcome of planned, coordinated and concerted efforts. While some of these events are routine, a few shake the collective conscience of all human beings. The exhilaration of men and women who are witness to these events is no less than that of the dramatis personae of that historic event.

I had the pleasure of being a witness to one such historic event - the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 against worst forms of child labour.

The Convention was the result of relentless struggle of Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi. He started a movement against child labour in India in 1980, when child labour was an acceptable social practice. Satyarthi did not rest content with creating a movement against child labour in India, instead, he worked along with others to create awareness globally against child labour.

As a part of this endeavor he spearheaded the Global March Against Child Labour during November 1997 to June 1998. This was the game changer which brought the attention of global leaders to the worst forms of child labour across the world and led to adoption of Convention 182, followed by recognition of June 12 as World Child Labour Day by ILO.

The Global March, one the largest movement against child labour, was a crusade through 103 countries and across 80,000 kms, where nearly 1.5 million women, men and children across the globe thought, planned and walked together to demand a strong international law to promote, protect and preserve the inalienable rights of children through elimination of the worst forms of child labour. The march culminated in Geneva on June 6, 1998, when an ILO conference was in the midst of its 80th session.

The ILO Convention on immediate action for elimination of the worst forms of child labour No 182 includes physical and sexual abuse of children, child pornography including pornographic performances, child trafficking, recruitment of children for war and subjecting children to harsh, arduous and hazardous work detrimental to health, safety and morals of children.

It was adopted on June 19, 1999 and June 12 was declared as the World Child Labour Day to promote, mobilise and consecrate the conscience of the international community towards achieving this goal.

I happened to be present at the ILO, Geneva, as the deputy leader of the Indian delegation both on June 6, 1998, and on June 19, 1999, and had the opportunity and privilege to extend my delegation's solidarity and support to Convention 182. India has, ratified both the ILO Conventions No 138 of 1973 and 182 of 1999, though belatedly.

The problem of child labour, both globally as also in India, is quite grim; so also are the other problems of violation of inalienable rights of children. June 12 this year must be a day of reckoning and it should herald a new era in which children feel that they matter, that childhood matters and that none can dare to violate these rights and yet escape with impunity.

@ The writer is a former Union labour secretary



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