with love to indore

Friday, September 21, 2012

gutak ban in MP

Madhya Pradesh stands out as the best model of implementing gutka ban. This is the result of administrative will coupled with political and public action

The implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) notification 2011 that effectively prohibits the production, sale, and consumption of gutka products containing tobacco and nicotine is one of the landmark public health interventions in Madhya Pradesh in recent years. In a country where 90% oral cancers are directly related to use of smokeless tobacco, the State-level intervention that Madhya Pradesh has initiated is of high importance for two apparent reasons. First, this has undone the previous history (also the myth, of an impractical ban!) of 2001 that failed to sustain the ban due to various pressures including that of judiciary and industrial lobbies. Secondly, the current move has provided momentum to the action against gutka and pan masala all over the country. , After Madhya Pradesh imposed gutka ban, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Haryana followed suit.

The health challenges of the gutka products have long been a concern for public health activists and people. In India, the consumption of gutka is widespread and this outnumbers any other form of tobacco use. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India 2010, 75% of the current 275 million tobacco users consume gutka. Because of easy availability, low prices and the attractive marketing, gutka products have gained popularity among schoolgoing children and adolescents over the years. As per the Global Youth Tobacco Survey India Report, 2006 the use of gutka is 10% among the boys and 5.5% among girls of schoolgoing age. The National Institute of Health & Family Welfare in its fact-finding report mentions of 3,028 chemical ingredients in gutka products. Of these, 28 chemical ingredients are proven carcinogens! As per the study of Indian Council of Medical Research, 70,261 people were detected with cancer of the mouth, tongue and hypo pharynx in 2010 because of “smokeless tobacco products.” The numbers of those affected have been steadily rising from 2008.

Madhya Pradesh stands out as the best model of implementing gutka ban and this is importantly, the result of administrative will coupled with political and public action. The need for enforcement primarily originated from the high levels of gutka consumption in the State. The State developed an initial plan of action under the leadership of the then Food Commissioner, and implemented the plan rigorously by ensuring the support of district administrations, the general public and the media. As of July 2012, approximately 50 raids were conducted and four million pouches confiscated.

The implementation has evidently succeeded to curtail both the supply and the demand for gutka in the State. The enforcement of ban is widely discussed and appreciated en masse. Now, rampant use is reduced. Access is considerably reduced for casual users, children and women. Retailers had a loss of 50% turnover in the last four months after the ban and most importantly all the 16 registered factories were sealed to close. Certainly, blackmarketing exists through cross-border smuggling but the wide reach of the supply chain is shattered by the ban and subsequent administrative actions.

However, one of the major drawbacks is the lack of adequate cessation facilities in the State. In the absence of such facilities, gutka users may switch to other products that are cheap but equally harmful.

However, what is important now is to sustain the fight through continuous monitoring of implementation systems with coordinated inter-State/district activities. Further to this, the experience of Madhya Pradesh and other States should inform the National Tobacco Control Programme of India in order to extend the best practices across the country. This would surely provide a great leap forward to the tobacco control initiatives.

(Liju Ramachandran (alohiram@gmail.com) is a Public Health Researcher with Voluntary Health Association of India,

New Delhi.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bid to spread communal tension in Madhya Pradesh

Hope our police and intelligence is doing something about this


they seem to be based on falsehood, intended to incite passion and violence

Friday, September 7, 2012

coalgate and media of Indore

so muck falls on Indore as well thanks to Bhaskar-Patrika


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Narmada Fossils

From Indian Express

When geologist Arun Sonakia accidentally discovered South Asia’s first ancient human remains at a place called Hathnora in the Narmada Valley one winter 30 years ago, the region came under the trowels and maps of archaeologists and paleo-anthropologists worldwide.

Three decades on, Indian and international scientists have turned up treasures that are slowly adding pieces to the puzzle—how and when did early humans come here, what were they like, and what other creatures did they share these lands with?

No other ancient fossil has been dug up yet, at least not one that can be definitively identified as a specific early human species, but scores of what appear to be stone tools used by these missing people have certainly begun to tell us more about them, as have the animal fossils, which range from bones of an almost complete Stegodon, the modern elephants’ extinct cousin, to ancient wild-dogs and wild-boars, cousins of the modern horse, hippopotamuses and ostrich eggshells.

The stone tools are as old as 800,000 years and as young as 10,000 years, spanning a large swathe of the stone-age. While some believe modern homo sapiens entered the Indian sub-continent from Africa through West Asia between 70,000 to 50,000 years ago, the archaeological site at Attirampakkam, near Chennai, is believed to be between 1.07 and 1.5 million years old and was possibly home to the pre-modern species, homo erectus.

So what happened in the hundreds of thousands of years that fall between these time-lines—who lived in the landmass between these regions, and was the Deccan region a passage from north to south?

As of now, archaeologists agree they need to dig deeper and wider in the Narmada Valley, and a team has been formed to do that, involving experts from the Stone Age Institute in the US, M S University in Vadodara, and Panjab University in Chandigarh and the Deccan College in Pune.

“In India, we do not know when modern human groups first arrived, how many dispersals there were and if they inter-bred with the pre-existing hominin groups in the region. We don’t even know if there were any other hominin species in India when modern humans arrived there. But it is also possible that within the last two million years, India was home to one or more unknown hominin species, fossils of which we have not yet discovered,” said Parth Chauhan, a researcher with the Stone Age Institute and Department of Anthropology (Indiana University) in Indiana, USA, who presented some recent findings at the IIT-Gandhinagar this week.

Chauhan was one of eight scientists to co-author a 2009 paper in the Journal of Human Evolution that listed a wide array of discoveries such as stone blades, flakes, choppers, hand-axes, picks, cleavers, micro-fossils and other fossil teeth and bones. Over two years of combing the Narmada Valley, the team found stone tools in ten places. Considering the mixed nature of archaeological and fossil material dated from the deposits, the team’s preliminary analysis suggests the “Narmada man” may be much younger than 250,000 years as earlier believed, maybe between 160,000 years and 50,000 years old.

Meanwhile, findings at another site called Dhansi, about three kilometres south of Hathnora and separated by the Narmada River, have been significant. No Acheulian elements have been found there so far, and whatever stone artifacts have been found there are simple flakes, cores and a chopper. These resemble those of Oldowan, the earliest of all stone tool technologies—existence of which has never been “properly proven” in South Asia. Based on the previously-dated age of the sediments here, the artifacts are at least 780,000 years old but require further scientific verification, the researchers say.

Until younger implements are found, the present lot seems to suggest non-modern humans indeed lived there as long as two million years back. Tentative archaeological evidence from northern Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s also suggests this.