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Archives for : Health Care

Activists set for another legal war against new Kudankulam nuclear plant units in Tamil Nadu


Even the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, being built by Russia, is using the heavy water reactor valves and motors manufactured at the city plant of Peekay Steel Castings Pvt Ltd. | Express Photo Service

CHENNAI: Anti-nuclear activists are gearing up for yet another legal battle with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) granting ‘first pour of concrete’ (FPC) to units three and four in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP).

A writ petition is likely to be filed in the Madras High Court in a week.

The activists claim the regulatory body has overlooked its own guidelines and the clearance is illegal. The AERB has given the FPC order at the 121st meeting held on June 19. The activists said the order is in violation of AERB code that defines the “Criteria for regulation of health and safety of nuclear power plant personnel, the public and the environment, 2001.” Para 2.4 (b) of the Criteria reads: The total population in the sterilised area should be small, preferably less than 20,000.

In the case of Kudankulam, within a distance of five km from the site for KKNPP units 3 to 6 (sterilised zone) there are three villages having a population of 23,060 (as per 2001 census). Since the sterilised zone has more population than specified in the Criteria, the AERB ought not to have granted the FPC clearance to the units in question, said Sundar Rajan of city-based NGO Poovulagin Nanbargal.

The NGO has been fighting the case against the clearance. Not just the FPC, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance granted to units 3 to 6 of Kudankulam is based on an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) done by Engineers India Ltd, a non-accredited agency to do EIA for nuclear power plants and it is under the Supreme Court review.

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Nepal asks Ramdev’s Patanjali to recall six medical products

All medicines mentioned in the notice — six out of seven from Patanjali — had failed the microbial tests used to detect bacteria, mould and other toxins.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published:June 23, 2017 5:45 pm

Ramdev, patanjali substandard, nepal department of drug administrationPatanjali founder Baba Ramdev performing Yoga in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki).

The Nepal Department of Drug Administration has asked Patanjali Ayurved in a public notice to immediately recall the six medical products as they were found to be of “substandard quality”, the Hindustan Times reported. All medicines mentioned in the notice — six out of seven from Patanjali — had failed the microbial tests used to detect bacteria, mould and other toxins. These were: Patanjali’s Amla Churna of batch no AMC 067, Divya Gashar Churna of batch no A-GHCI31, Bahuchi Churna of batch no BKC 011, Triphala Churna of batch no A-TPC151, Aswangandha of batch no AGC 081 and Adviya Churna of batch no DYC 059.

Patanjali’s revenue turnover more than doubled from last year — from Rs 5,000 crore in FY16 to Rs 10,216 crore in FY17. Moreover, the market penetration of Ayurveda or “natural ingredients” products has on the whole increased since Patanjali has been scaling new heights. Ayurvedic products now reach 77 per cent of Indian homes, up from 69 per cent two years ago, according to a recent ET report based on the findings of Kantar Worldpanel, the consumer insights arm of WPP.

In spite of its financial feats, Patanjali’s products have simultaneously and variously been found guilty of violating food safety regulations and advertising codes in the past:

–    A recent RTI reply revealed that nearly 40 per cent of Ayurveda products (32 out of 82 samples), among them Patanjali’s Divyangi Amla juice and Shivlingi beej, were found to be substandard by Haridwar’s Ayurveda and Unani office.

–    Patanjali’s Amla juice had also been suspended by the armed forces’ Canteen Stores Department (CSD) in April after it failed the quality test at a Public Health Laboratory in Kolkata.

–    Factly reported in January this year that 25 out of 33 complaints registered against advertisements of Patanjali products in various sectors such as Food and Beverages, Personal care, Health care etc, between April 2015 and July 2016, were found to be in violation of the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) code for making misleading, false and unsubstantiated claims.

–    In December 2016, a Haridwar court had slapped five production units of Patanjali Ayurved with a fine of Rs 11 lakh for “misbranding and putting up misleading advertisements” of their products. The company had been found guilty of outsourcing the products that it claimed to have manufactured in its own units.

–    In April 2016, Patanjali aata noodles were found to be substandard since they contained three times more ash than the acceptable limit. In the same month, Patanjali’s desi ghee was also found to contain artificial colour.

–    As early as in 2012, a case had been filed in the court against Patanjali by the District Food Safety Department after samples of mustard oil, salt, pineapple jam, besan and honey produced by Patanjali had failed quality tests at a laboratory in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand. The products were found to be in violation of sections 52-53 of Food Security norms and section 23.1 (5) of Food safety and Standard (packaging and labelling) regulation.

Nepal asks Ramdev’s Patanjali to recall six medical products

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Open letter to the designers and implementers of #UID. .. #Aadhaar

We write this letter to you as a question, a comment, a complaint, and finally an appeal. We do want to clarify at the outset that we have had many intellectual and theoretical problems with the UID (Unique Identification) related to surveillance, privacy and how it actually has the potential to turn the Right to Information (RTI) on its head. Nevertheless, we have since its inception carefully watched Aadhaar or the UID as per its primary stated objective (even in the legislation) to benefit the poor. You promised that there would be at least three big advantages that would accrue from the roll out of this “game-changing” platform.

First, we were told, that it would foster and ensure inclusion at all levels. It is now becoming clear, that Aadhaar is actually just an authentication mechanism using biometric technology threaded through a vast, centralised, data gathering platform. It has provided citizens with no unique benefit, except (potentially dangerously) being used as an ID/KYC card. Since Aadhaar has been made absolutely mandatory for drawing benefits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in Rajasthan over the last year, we confine ourselves to use the detailed evidence that exists of the devastating consequences of its imposition in rations leading to mass anguish and distress. In a recent meeting with officials from the Department of Food and IT officials in Rajasthan, certain statistics from the Rajasthan Government website were discussed and confirmed- Out of approximately 1 crore NFSA beneficiary families, nearly 30 lakh families i.e. approximately 30% of intended beneficiaries, were not drawing their monthly rations over the last 10 months. These were families with Aadhaar numbers, so you will agree that they could not be “bogus”.

It also makes no sense for these families to willingly forego wheat at Rs 2 per kg when the market price is ten times that amount. The statistic of 30% masked the old and the physically challenged who could not reach the ration shop to place their fingerprints on the machine and those who migrated in search of work, for a season, or even a whole year. The most vulnerable, who should be our highest priority, are being excluded by design. Should the designers not have made sure this situation did not continue for the last 10 months and beyond? Other reasons offered to explain the exclusion are poor performance of the machine, the network, biometric mismatch and even the dealer’s poor performance.

The government has not invested any effort to match the breakdown of numbers with reasons. Instead, it made inflated claims on equating denial with savings and thereby ending corruption. Would you not agree that to classify exclusion as a saving is unethical and cruel? And this continues despite an unequivocal Rajasthan High Court order of May 30 that Aadhaar can’t be the basis for denial of rations. But ignoring Supreme Court and high court orders is a nurtured pattern in the UID paradigm.

Second, we were told that Aadhaar would be an almost foolproof method to de-duplicate and therefore eliminate corruption. Duplication is not the biggest source of corruption in welfare. There are other citizen-based methods to de-duplicate. But, you never had an answer to the many other forms of corruption it leaves untouched. And we now know that in fact, it fosters some new forms of corruption! Out of the 70% of rations the dealer is distributing, he is making his cut in numerous ways. He almost never provides a receipt. He authenticates for everything and gives only kerosene. He authenticates for several months and gives only for one month. He overcharges, overbooks, manipulates seeding and in the cruellest joke on your system, tells the beneficiary that her biometric has failed, even when he gets a positive authentication. The challenge for the anti-corruption RTI user is that the paper trail has been replaced by digital databases, sometimes secret, run by a system that does not have the inclination to act on complaints. The officials often say that biometric authentication means proof of no corruption!

Third, we were told that this delivery highway would greatly increase efficiency. It would allow administrators to see what was going on where and immediately respond at the minutest level. That leads us to ask why not one FIR has been registered for perpetuating the massive corruption that you apparently eliminated. All of you repeatedly assured us from the seniormost levels to those implementing that pilots would be watched very carefully to learn and correct, and you assured us that Aadhaar would become widely used, not from compulsion but from popular demand.

So we address this to all of you who have brought us till here – the celebrated architects, the political leadership pursuing this with an unprecedented zeal, our very competent technocratic friends, researchers who have been singing praises of Aadhaar and administrators at every level. We are baffled about how this can continue. The poor, the excluded, the anaemic and the hungry have questions that relate to their life, and death. So many of those who have passed away over these last 10 months and were not able to access their food grain or pension entitlement have pleas that went unanswered. Can you please answer these questions and tell us who will be held responsible? This calls for an “evidence-based” point by point public discussion. We hope that in the course of the debate if you accept that injustice has been done, you will help correct it. Before we proceed further, citizens across India deserve a chance to better understand what the implications of using Aadhaar could be.

In anticipation..

(The writers are social activists who live and work in rural Rajasthan)

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Wombs for rent: Indian surrogacy clinic confines women in “terrible conditions” #Vaw

Hyderabad Raid Shows What Happens To Surrogate Mothers Post-delivery

Legal and medical aides are provided to the surrogate mothers but much of it remains on paper only. The health conditions of surrogate mothers can deteriorate if they don’t receive timely medical and sanitary facilities.

CHENNAI, India, June 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – P olice raided an illegal fertility clinic in southern Indian at the weekend and discovered 47 surrogate mothers – who had been lured to rent their wombs for money – living in “terrible conditions”, they said.

Following a tip-off, Telangana state police raided the fertility clinic in the city of Hyderabad on Saturday and discovered the women, nearly all from northeastern India.

“The women were all huddled in one large room and had access to just one bathroom,” investigating officer B. Limba Reddy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday.

“They were mostly migrants from northeastern states who had been brought here through agents and promised up to 400,000 rupees (around $6,000).”

An official from the clinic, who declined to be named, said the facility operated within the law and the women were not confined against their will.

“They were staying here as part of an agreement between the (adoptive) parent and the surrogate,” he said.

India’s surrogacy industry has come under attack from women’s rights groups who say such clinics are “baby factories” for the rich, and lack of regulation results in poor and uneducated women signing contracts they do not fully understand.

Activists say there has been a surge in demand for surrogates after the Indian government drafted a bill to outlaw commercial surrogacy – a multi-billion dollar industry.

The bill is pending clearance in the Indian parliament.

Until the ban on surrogacy passes, India continues to be among a handful of countries where women can be paid to carry another’s child through in-vitro fertilization and embryo transfer.

“The demand is very high right now and the involvement of migrant workers coming down from the northeast to take up surrogacy is new,” said Hari Ramasubramanian of the Indian Surrogacy Law Centre.

“It raises concerns about the information the surrogates have, whether they have understood the agreement (and) the risks involved.”

The Telangana health department is investigating the background of the surrogate mothers, said an official who declined to be named, adding the women are now under the department’s supervision at the clinic.

Hyderabad Raid Shows What Happens To Surrogate Mothers Post-deliveryProper medical facilities to surrogate mothers after needed after delivery

  1. Surrogacy as a practice boomed after when it was legalized in 2002
  2. The surrogate mothers are deprived of post-delivery health services
  3. No proper medical attention to surrogates deteriorates their health

After the Hyderabad police raid on a fertility clinic, the spotlight is back on the legal ambiguity around surrogacy and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in the country.

During a raid at Sai Kiran Infertility Centre on Saturday, 48 women who signed up to be surrogate mothers were found holed up in the building. The women were kept at the centre for the entire duration of their pregnancy.

The women staying in the centre said that they were not being forced into surrogacy. However, they’re reportedly not “allowed” to go out.

As the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 is still pending in Parliament, commercial surrogacy is legal in India. Some health officials have said that while the operation may not be illegal, it is unethical at many levels.

The authorities are in a legal quandary since there are no clear cut guidelines on surrogacy which helps them to know if any illegal activity is being carried out at clinics where ART procedures are practised.

Due to this, the health department says, they cannot seize the hospital, as it is a registered clinic.

In 2005, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued guidelines for accreditation, supervision, and regulation of ART clinics in India. These guidelines, however, are not binding and attract no penalties if flouted.

The health department in Telangana decided to hold a review meeting on Thursday to devise an action plan for strict implementation of surrogacy rules.

A health officer was quoted as saying in The News Minute that they have questioned the doctors and staff about the condition of the centre, but cannot do anything more for now. More so because all the women are voluntarily staying there.

Reports say that the fertility centre hired brokers, and was collecting Rs 15 to Rs 30 lakh from their clients, while only paying Rs 3 lakh to the surrogate mothers.

Presently, the bill which is yet to pass, proposes “extra protection” for surrogate mothers through mandatory “insurance cover” and complete abolishment of commercial surrogacy.

The bill also prohibits single parents, homosexuals, and live-in couples from becoming commissioning parents.

Speculations begun to brew over the newborns left unaided at the Sai Kiran Fertility Centre in Hyderabad which was raided by the Hyderabad Central Task Force in the early hours of the 20th of June 2017. While the health issue of the babies born at the centre is of major concern and needs to be tackled at the earliest, the post-delivery repercussions on the surrogate women at the centre and in India at large also need serious attention. The health inspectors who reached the centre along with the task force reported that the sanitation facilities provided to surrogate mothers is worrisome. The women are not allowed to go out of the hospital during the pregnancy period and are locked in rooms which are not in good condition.

Many Laws, Zero Action

There has been a slew of bills favoring the surrogate mothers ever since it was made commercially legal in 2002. However how far has those been dutifully implemented has been an issue of grave concern. The non-availability of proper medical facilities for surrogate mothers at private fertility centres like the one in Hyderabad has serious impact on the mothers who lend their wombs to couples in need. The laws provide both legal as well medical benefits to the women involved in this service but the laxity of the administration which in most cases are not properly monitored does not allow the surrogate mothers to avail those benefits.

The legal support is one of the essential supporting tools for the surrogate mothers who are hired by couples who usually don’t follow the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) guidelines on deciding the total cost of the surrogacy. Apart from proper financial help to the surrogates, the post-delivery medical benefits also need to reach the mothers so that their body recovers fast and quickly gets back to normalcy. The actual scenario, on the other hand is not so impressive. The mother is left to herself after the baby is legally taken away by the couples. With no proper financial and medical attention, the surrogates acquire many diseases and other health related problems.

Health repercussions on surrogate mothers

The mistreatment of surrogate mothers at different private fertility centres during and post gestation period affects them badly, as a result of which their body takes longer time to get back to its normal metabolic rate. Some couples take the baby away just one or two weeks after the delivery and this can affect the surrogates badly who can face many problems, like-

1. Breast engorgement and sore nipples

2. Deficiency of essential supplements like- Calcium, Iron, DHA and Omega-3 fatty acids

3. Excessive Vaginal bleeding

4. Anemia

5. Bone deformation

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Not life-saving and complicated, yet womb transplant in demand #medicalethics

Umesh Isalkar & Sumitra Debroy| TNN | 

Not life-saving and complicated, yet womb transplant in demand Not life-saving and complicated, yet womb transplant in demand
The success of the country’s first two uterine transplants in Pune last month has prompted many more women to queue up for it. At last count,156 women from India and abroad had joined the wait list.

The surgeons who performed the transplants are in a fix as half of them are unmarried. Since the basic purpose of a womb transplant is re production, there is now a debate on whether such women should be put through a series of serious surgeries for a non-vital organ transplant.

On the other hand, these unmarried women between 18 to 30 years, who are either without uteruses or have dysfunctional ones, have heartbreaking stories to tell of the absence of menses, marred marriage prospects and an inferiority complex. The growing list of unmarried women, who are queuing up for uterus transplant, has surgeons planning to raise the issue with the government to get permission.

“The issue is much bigger than we thought and must be addressed with compassion. These women, many from highly educated families, now have great hope of having their own children. Their parents are willing to pay anything to get the operation done,” said onco-surgeon Shailesh Puntambekar, who performed the two transplants with 11other surgeons.

A 28-year-old woman from Mumbai said her mother was willing to donate her uterus. “I am in a steady relationship but my prospective husband and his family want the transplant to precede the marriage,” she said.

A married woman from Chandigarh was served a divorce notice by her husband when he realised she could not have kids due to a dysfunctional uterus. “However, he is ready to accept me if I go in for the transplant. My family is more than willing to get it done,” she said.

The surgeons’ hands are tied by the Montreal Criteria – a set of ethical guidelines formulated internationally – that discourages uterine transplants unless absolutely necessary. India is yet to make its own norms.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, head of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said seeking permission for the young women could set off a dangerous trend in a country where health consciousness and literacy are low. “Women are already under too much pressure to reproduce and this will add to that. The surgery has a success rate of 10% globally and should be offered only to selected cases… There should be serious attempts at convincing the family to opt for other safer options, including adoption,” she added.

“It’s not life-saving and it’s expensive, so what happens to the majority of Indian women who are poor?” asked Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, head of Tata Memorial Hospital‘s tissue bank. In the absence of proper regulations, it may go the surrogacy way, where several women were exploited, she pointed out.

Gajiwala also felt the risk to the donor has not been adequately recognized. “To me, the risk-benefit in such a transplant is skewed. Also, from a feminist point, I find this argument disturbing that a woman is not a woman unless she has her own biological child. With such procedures, we are perhaps buttressing such beliefs,” said Gajiwala.

Puntambekar is also aware Puntambekar is also aware of the human cost involved. “The main purpose of such a transplant is not about the menstruation problem; it is to help women produce children. Therefore, only married women should undergo the surgery.”

He added: “The life span of a transplanted uterus has been set at five years or till childbirth. After that, the uterus should be removed… Imagine if an unmarried woman either fails to find a match or have a child within five years of the transplant?” said the surgeon.

Experts say that for science to progress, the first step has to be taken. The ethical issues surrounding it can be debated later. “Who would have thought about all these issues had the government not allowed the first womb transplant surgery and the surgeons not performed it? The guidelines will come once experts view these issues critically,” said gynaecologist Sanjay Gupte, former president of FOGSI, a pan-India body of gynaecologists.

Dr Duru Shah, gynaecologist and president of the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, said uterine transplants, despite not being a life-saving surgery, deserve a fair chance like IVF or surrogacy. “The fact that it could improve the quality of life of some women born without a uterus cannot be undermined… What we need is stringent monitoring of transplant protocols…. The government should start doing that right away.”

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Indian nurse from Karnataka trafficked and pushed into slavery in Saudi Arabia #Vaw

HYDERABAD: A kafil in Saudi Arabia is holding Jacintha Mendonca – an Indian nurse from Karnataka – to ransom and is demanding 24,000 Saudi Riyals (Rs 4.32 lakh) to let her go free; even as the agent in Mangalore who illegally trafficked her to Saudi is roaming free.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj are aware of her plight.

The victim was trafficked to Saudi Arabia via Qatar on June 19, 2016. The last time she was able to speak to her family was in December 2016.

“My mother has been sold for Rs five lakh by an agent. She is suffering terribly in Saudi Arabia. She is ill and is being beaten by the kafil. She is helpless. She has to be rescued,” Jacintha Mendonca’s son Vinroy told TOI. “She was promised a job as a home nurse in Qatar for Rs 25,000 salary a month, but was trafficked to Saudi Arabia and pushed into slavery,” Vinroy said.

The Indian Embassy in Riyadh was able to establish contact with Jacintha Mendonca and the kafil holding her. However, the adamant kafil who is also said to be torturing 46-year-old Mendonco, has made it clear that until the 24,000 Saudi Riyal is paid to him, he would not let her go back to India.

The woman, who has three children, was sent to Saudi Arabia by a Mangalore agent named James.

While police have the authority to order the local agent to ensure her return, James was supposedly let off by the Mangalore police after questioning. The Telangana police, on the other hand, has been able to rescue some women from Saudi Arabia by applying pressure on the local agents. At least three women who were trafficked to Saudi Arabia were rescued by the Telangana police who dealt severely with the illegal agents.

The Karnataka police can possibly look at how the Begumpet police in Hyderabad got a woman rescued from Saudi Arabia. The woman Haseena Begum had been thrown from the third floor of a building in Damam by the kafil. The Begumpet police got the illegal agent to get through to the Mumbai agent to ensure her return.

Following stern action against them, Haseena Begum could be freed and she returned in May.

This month the Kadapa police in Andhra Pradesh and Wanragal police in Telangana coordinated and rescued a woman, P Subbalaxmi, who was trapped in Saudi Arabia. She could be brought back because the police acted firmly against the local agent.

In another instance, this month, the Shalibanda police in Hyderabad got a woman Saira Banu rescued from Saudi Arabia in a similar manner.

In Jacintha Mendonca’s case, though the names and telephone numbers of both the local agent James and Mumbai agent Shabha Khan are disclosed; precious little has been done about getting the woman rescued.

Ravindranath Shanbhag — president of Human Rights Protection Forum, Udipi — has also shared with the Deputy Commissioner of Police Mangalore, the telephone number of an Indian driver in Yanbhu, Saudi Arabia, who knows the whereabouts of Jacintha Mendonco and is also willing to help. He said the embassy informed him that the Recruiting Agency that sent her to Saudi Arabia had been blacklisted by the MEA.

“James and Shabha Khan are responsible for sending Jacintha to Saudi Arabia. They were working for Trio Tracks Travel, New Delhi. As per the website maintained by the Ministry of External Affairs, this Travel Agency has been black listed. We do not understand how a blacklisted company could arrange visa for Jacintha,” said Ravindranath Shanbhag.

He told TOI that the Under Secretary of MEA had written to the Home Secretary of Maharashtra and DGP of Mumbai to investigate and report the matter.

When TOI contacted DCP Mangalore K M Shantha Raju on Friday to find out if anything had been done to rescue Jacintha Mendonca, he said he would have to look into the case details. Bangalore city police commissioner Praveen Sood is also aware of Jacintha’s suffering.

Jacintha’s son Vinroy said the family had lodged a complaint against the agent in Karkala police station in January this year. “What we know is that the agent was questioned and let off. My mother has not been rescued from slavery yet,” he said.


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India Better Than Only Pakistan Among 19 Neighbours In Improving Health Access

Vipul Vivek,



India did better only than Pakistan over 15 years to 2015 among 19 countries in South and Southeast Asia (including China) by potential and actual healthcare access and quality.


The second largest and the fastest growing economy in the region, India saw its gap widening by 5.5 points, 1.4 points less than Pakistan, in 1990-2015, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of the Healthcare Access and Quality (HAQ) Index published in The Lancet, a British medical journal.


The median country in the region, Laos–10th among the 19 countries–saw its gap narrow by 3.5 points in 15 years. Thailand, the top country in the region, narrowed its gap by 8.1 points in the same period.


The study–published on May 18, 2017–argued that inequality between states and the health sector that has failed to keep up with changing trends in diseases could be responsible for the widening gap in countries like India.


The gap narrowed globally by 1.1 points and the index rose from 40.7 in 1990 to 53.7 in 2015.


The index goes from 0 to 100: the higher a country’s value, the better.


The study used a socio-demographic Index consisting of income per capita, average years of education and total fertility rates and the HAQ index to calculate “the maximum levels of personal health-care access and quality achieved” at a level of development. This helped quantify the difference between a country’s HAQ index and the highest value the index could attain given the country’s stage of development in 1990 and 2015.


The change in that gap from 1990 to 2015 was used to calculate this ranking.


For instance, Turkey tops the chart as it has the moved greatest distance (14.2 points) in the direction of closing the gap (hence negative sign), while Lesotho is at the bottom as it has slipped the greatest distance (21.1 points) away from its potential (hence positive sign) in the 15 years to 2015.


“If every country and territory had achieved the highest observed HAQ Index by their corresponding level of [development], the global average would have been 73.8 in 2015,” the study noted.


“Several countries, particularly in eastern and western sub-Saharan Africa, reached HAQ Index values similar to or beyond their development levels whereas others, namely in southern sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and south Asia, lagged behind what geographies of similar development attained between 1990 and 2015.”


India at the bottom in BRICS group, 178th among 195 countries


India was at the bottom of the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), with the median country, Russia (third among the five countries), narrowing its gap by 3.3 points over the 15 years to 2015. China topped, narrowing its gap by 5.5 points in 1990-2015.


Source: Lancet study

For data on 195 countries evaluated in the study, click here.


India, along with Djibouti and Kenya, stood 178th among the 195 countries surveyed. The median countries (ranked 98th)–Azerbaijan, Antigua and Barbuda, and Montenegro–saw their gaps narrow by 2.3 points in 1990-2015.


Countries worse than India included Mozambique (181th), Honduras (184th), Iraq (190th), Zimbabwe (191st) and Oman (193rd), which saw their gaps widening by 5.8, 6.4, 7.9, 10 and 13.3 points, respectively.


Source: Lancet study


For South Asia–comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan–the gap widened by 4.1 points over 15 years even as the index rose from 30.7 in 1990 to 44.4 in 2015.


For Southeast Asia–comprising Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam–the gap widened by 1.5 points and the index increased from 38.6 in 1990 to 52.1 in 2015. (The study clubbed China with North Korea and Taiwan under East Asia.)


Creaky public health infrastructure leave poor to fend for themselves


Inadequate public infrastructure–the private sector accounts for 63% of hospital beds–and concentration of healthcare professionals around urban areas has left the poor to either fend for themselves or depend on non-governmental initiatives, IndiaSpend reported (click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).


Access to quality healthcare in rural areas also depends on location with even poor households able to access better services if they live in richer villages, according to this 2016 research report by Jishnu Das, a World Bank economist, and Aakash Mohpal, an economics PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, US.


(Vivek is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

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Shashi Tharoor Says BJP Renamed 23 Congress Schemes. He’s Right About 19



On June 15, 2017, Congress member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor claimed that 23 of the BJP-led government’s new programmes were merely renamed versions of schemes launched by the previous governments led by his party.


Why we in @INCIndia insist this is a name-changing government, not a game-changing one!


Another Twitter user made the same claim on June 11, 2017.


We found that 19 of the 23 programmes were indeed renamed versions of older schemes, as Tharoor claimed. Here’s our analysis:


Claim 1: Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana=Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account


Fact: True


Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account (BSBDA) was a no-minimum-balance service with all facilities of a normal banking account except that withdrawals were limited to four a month, according to this Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular dated August 17, 2012. The accounts came with an automated teller machine (ATM)-cum-debit card too.


The BSBDA accounts were also meant for beneficiaries of government programmes, according to this answer in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Parliament) on December 13, 2012.


Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), launched on August 28, 2014, an accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh, overdraft facility up to Rs 5,000 after six months and a life insurance of Rs 30,000 were added to BSBDA accounts.


Unlike BSBDA, PMJDY accounts had a credit limit of Rs 1 lakh because of which pension reimbursements were getting rejected, The Financial Expressreported on September 8, 2016.


While BSBDA covered only villages with above 2,000 population, PMJDY has been extended to all areas–rural as well as urban.


“They are more or less the same. All accounts opened prior to August 28, 2014, were BSBDA. Since then, they have all become PMJDY accounts. It’s only a change of nomenclature,” Prem Singh Azad, deputy general manager, Allahabad Bank, who is involved in the bank’s financial inclusion programme, told IndiaSpend.


Claim 2: Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana=National Girl Child Day programmes


Fact: True


The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-I declared January 24 as the National Girl Day in 2008-09 and several objectives associated with previous continuing programmes were adopted as targets.


Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana (BBBPY), launched in January 2015 under the ministries of women and child development, health and family welfare and human resource development, was a consolidation of old programmes scattered across schemes and ministries under the UPA government.


For instance, the girl child education programme of BBBPY was a repackaging of older education schemes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, according to this February 2016 report by the Centre for Development and Human Rights, a research and advocacy organisation in New Delhi.


Similarly, BBBPY’s objectives of improving the child sex ratio and reducing school dropout rates among girls were already present in the UPA’s Dhanalakshmi and Sabla schemes, respectively. Dhanalakshmi was later discontinued as states already had better schemes in place.


Claim 3: Swach Bharat Abhiyan=Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan


Fact: True


In September 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government approved a proposal that Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan scheme be restructured into Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, according to this government release.


Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was the new name adopted for the Total Sanitation Campaign on April 1, 2012 under UPA-II, according to the Abhiyan’s guidelines.


Total Sanitation Campaign was the new name given to the Central Rural Sanitation Programme–launched by the Congress in 1986–in 1999, according to the drinking water and sanitation ministry’s website.


Claim 4: Sardar Patel National Urban Housing Mission=Rajiv Awaas Yojana


Fact: True


“The government is shortly going to launch a comprehensive programme named Sardar Patel National Housing Mission by merging and improving existing urban housing schemes,” The Pioneerreported on October 10, 2014, quoting Housing and Poverty Alleviation Minister Venkaiah Naidu.


A parliamentary committee, headed by Biju Janata Dal member Pinaki Mishra, had even asked the government in December 2014 how merely changing the name could accelerate implementation, The Telegraphreported on December 30, 2014.


Claim 5: Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin)=Indira Awaas Yojana


Fact: True


A parliamentary standing committee report–submitted on August 31, 2016–pointed out that Congress’s Indira Awaas Yojana was “rechristen[ed]” Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin).


The “Guidelines”, “Scheme Allocation” and “FAQs” on the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) website still open Indira Awaas Yojana documents.


Claim 6: Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana=Rajiv Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana


Fact: True


The UPA’s Rajiv Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana was “subsumed” under Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana, according to this government release on July 23, 2015.


Claim 7: Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation=Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission


Fact: True


NDA’s urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu had said on assuming office that they would replace Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with their own urban renewal schemes, The Hindureported on May 29, 2014.


Subsequently, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), smart cities Mission and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Urban) were launched on June 25, 2015.


JNNURM was launched on December 3, 2005, for an initial period of seven years and then extended for two years up to March 2014, according to this Rajya Sabha answer on December 6, 2012.


A comparison of some key objectives of the two programmes shows that under the NDA government, the targets of UPA’s umbrella programme have been spread over several schemes.


The “sectors covered under JNNURM and [AMRUT and other urban development programmes] overlap significantly,” according this March 2016 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global consultancy .


“[V]arious urban sector components [that] were earlier addressed through a single mission (JNNURM) … have now been split across missions [such as AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission],” the report said.


Comparison of Urban Development Programmes

Sources: Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation,Town and Country Planning Organisation, AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission, PM Awaas Yojana-Urban


Claim 8: Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana=Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme


Fact: Unclear


Three older programmes– Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme of the water resources ministry, Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the land resources ministry and the On Farm Water Management of agriculture and cooperation department–were merged to create the NDA’s Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, according to Yojana’s website.


As government websites (click here, here, here, here and here) do not reveal when exactly the programme was launched in 1996, it is difficult to check this claim, as three prime ministers–Congress’s P.V. Narasimha Rao (till May 16), BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee (May 16-June 1) and Janata Dal (Secular)’s H.D. Deve Gowda (June 1 onwards)–governed India during 1996.


The watershed management programme goes back to the late 1980s when the country was mostly under Congress’s rule.


Claim 9: BJP’s neem-coated urea=Congress’s neem-coated urea


Fact: True


Neem-coated urea was included in the Fertiliser (Control) Order of 1985 in 2004, according to government-owned National Fertilizers’ website, and was notified on June 2, 2008, according to this government communication.


It was finally included in the 1985 Order through an amendment on February 6, 2017.


Claim 10: Soil Health Card scheme=National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility


Fact: True


A soil health card was “added” to the National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility, according to the Outcome Budget 2015-16 of the agriculture and cooperation department.


The centre would earlier provide support to states for issuing soil health cards under the central scheme, according to Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) answers (click here and here).


Under the UPA government, soil health cards were also issued under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, one of its several organic-farming programmes, according to the Outcome Budget 2015-16. This scheme was also merged with NDA’s renamed Soil Health Card programme.


Claim 11: Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana=Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and other programmes


Fact: True


“Some existing components … have been clubbed together as a cluster based programme and named Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana,” according to the Outcome Budget 2015-16 of the agriculture and cooperation department, FactCheckerreported on July 22, 2015.


Claim 12: Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana=Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana


Fact: Unclear


The ministry of women and child development’s website does not use the new name–Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana–for the maternity benefit programme (see the latest release dated May 19, 2017) but archives releases under the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana under the same head.


A senior ministry official was quoted as saying the name had been changed, Hindustan Timesreported on May 25, 2017.


Claim 13: Atal Pension Yojana=Swavalamban Yojana


Fact: True


Even as the Modi government folded Congress’s Swavalamban Yojana–a pension scheme for unorganised sector workers launched on September 29, 2010–under its Atal Pension Yojana, the features of the two schemes remain the same, according to this comparison by the Rajiv Gandhi Institute For Contemporary Studies, a think tank in New Delhi.


Claim 14: Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana=Jan Aushadhi scheme


Fact: True


The decision to launch the Jan Aushadhi scheme, a programme to supply unbranded medicines at lower prices, was taken on April 23, 2008. The first store under the scheme was opened on November 25, 2008, according to the Bureau of Pharma PSU in India, established under the department of pharmaceuticals on December 1, 2008, to coordinate the scheme through government-owned companies.


The scheme is now called Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, according to this Lok Sabha answer on March 14, 2017.


Claim 15: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana=Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme


Fact: False


The 1985 Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme concluded in 1999, according to this report of the agriculture and cooperation department.


Claim 16: Make In India=National Manufacturing Policy


Fact: True


The Make In India website not only summarises the scheme as Congress’s “National Manufacturing Policy” but even the broken download link unsuccessfully directs you to a 2011 document of the older policy.

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MP- Tubectomy done on a woman post delivery without information #WTFnews

Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh
Aarti Gupta wife of Pradip Gupta was admitted to the District hospital for delivery on 13th June where she had a cesarean and gave birth to a boy.
However, on the next day while completing discharge formalities Aarti’s brother was shocked to learn that tubectomy had also been performed. He immediately confirmed this from his sister who had no idea about the operation and clearly no consent was taken from her. The family members created a furore  on learning about this unscrupulous behaviour of the hospital administration.
RMO Dr SS Gurjar said that consent from the husband/ family is taken prior to the cesarean and that the mother in law has signed on a paper which says that tubectomy can be done if a boy is born to Aarti. The mother in law Ramsakhi vociferously opposed this and said that she was only informed about the need for cesarean operation and that is why she signed. RMO said that difference of opinion within the family is often witnessed in the case of tubectomy. 
The matter was directed to the civil surgeon Govind Singh who assured of conducting an enquiry on the matter.

डिलेवरी के लिए हुई भर्ती, लेकिन कर दिया ऐसा ऑपरेशन

मामला सिविल सर्जन गोबिंद सिंह तक पहुंचा तो उन्होंने मामले की जांच कराने की बात कही है।

शिवपुरी। प्रदेश के आदर्श अस्पतालों में शुमार जिला अस्पताल में कथित तौर पर प्रसूता व उसके परिजनों की बिना सहमति से नसबंदी करने का चौंकाने वाला मामला बुधवार को सामने आया। करैरा की रहने वाली प्रसूता आरती पत्नी प्रदीप गुप्ता को 13 जून को प्रसव पीड़ा के बाद जिला अस्पताल में भर्ती कराया गया। इसी दिन डॉ. मोना ने सीजर किया और आरती ने बेटे को जन्म दिया।

परिजन बेटा होने की खुशी में मग्न थे, लेकिन बुधवार को जब प्रसूता का भाई सत्यम गुप्ता उसे डिस्चार्ज कराने आया और पर्चा देखा तो उस पर सीजर के साथ ही टीटी (नसबंदी) किए जाने का उल्लेख था, इस पर सत्यम ने बहन से पूछा कि क्या उसने नसबंदी भी करवाई है।

जब आरती ने मना किया तो परिजनों के होश उड़ गए और उन्होंने मनमाने ढंग से अस्पताल प्रबंधन द्वारा बिना सहमति के टीटी किए जाने को लेकर हंगामा कर दिया। मामला सिविल सर्जन गोबिंद सिंह तक पहुंचा तो उन्होंने मामले की जांच कराने की बात कही है।

दूसरी डिलेवरी थी आरती की

आरती गुप्ता को करीब ढाई वर्ष पूर्व सीजर से बेटी पैदा हुई थी। यह उसकी दूसरी डिलेवरी थी। बताया जाता है कि आरती के पति प्रदीप डिलेवरी के बाद डीएड परीक्षा होने के कारण ग्वालियर चले गए थे। आरती भी डीएड की परीक्षार्थी थी, लेकिन डिलेवरी के कारण उसने परीक्षा नहीं दी।

मुझसे तो सीजर के कागज पर कराए थे हस्ताक्षर- सास

इस मामले में जब परिजनों को टीटी किए जाने का प्रमाण पत्र अस्पताल प्रबंधन ने थमाया तो प्रसूता की सास रामसखी ने जमकर हंगामा करते हुए विरोध दर्ज कराया, लेकिन इस मामले में अस्पताल के आरएमओ डॉ. एसएस गुर्जर का कहना है कि सीजर के समय पति या परिजनों की सहमति ली जाती है और बाकायदा सहमति फार्म भी भरवाया जाता है।

मामले में भी प्रसूता की सास रामसखी ने सहमति पर हस्ताक्षर किए हैं, लेकिन रामसखी का कहना है कि उसे हस्ताक्षर कराते समय सिर्फ यह कहा गया था कि ये सीजर के कागज हैं और नसबंदी के संबंध में कुछ भी नहीं बताया गया था। सहमति पत्र में लिखा है कि अगर बेटा हुआ तो टीटी कर दी जाए।

इसके नीचे सास रामसखी के हस्ताक्षर भी हैं। इधर हंगामे को लेकर आरएमओ डॉ. एसएस गुर्जर का कहना है कि अक्सर टीटी के मामलों में परिवार में आपसी सहमति न होने से इस तरह की बात सामने आती है।

एक महिला डॉक्टर के भरोसे सैकड़ों प्रसूताएं

जिला अस्पताल में जहां पिछले कई महीनों से विशेषज्ञ डॉक्टर न होने से आईसीयू पर ताले पड़े हैं तो वहीं मेटरनिटी विंग भी इन दिनों सिर्फ एक महिला व प्रसूति रोग विशेषज्ञ डॉ. मोना के भरोसे है। यहां पदस्थ दूसरी महिला डॉक्टर नीरजा शर्मा खुद मेटरनिटी लीव पर हैं, जबकि डॉ. उमा जैन अस्वस्थता के चलते मेडिकल लीव पर हैं।

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Aadhaar Case -Petitioners’ Rejoinder to Govt in Mid-day Meals and welfare schemes #Mustread

Read the Rejoinder-By-ShanthaSinha  petitioner Shanta Sinha (political scientist, anti-child labour activist and padma sri winner) and Kalyani Menon-Sen (noted feminist activist) against the counter affidavit filed by the State on Aadhaar.

It’s not just the savings numbers that have been cooked up, but several other claims as well.

Journalists: Focus on the authentication & savings claims rather than enrollment.
What matters more?
How it works and how much does it save?
 Lies, damn lies & statistics.
1. Aadhaar authentication fails up to 60% of the time.
2. Aadhaar (gross) savings nowehere close to 50,000.
1. The rejoinder relies on government documents and audit records which make the 50,000 crore savings claims incredibly suspect.
 2. The rejoinder relies on government documents to whatever extent available (since UIDAI doesn’t keep records) of authentication failures.
3: Backed up by the tireless work of independent researchers, field workers & activists. Please take some time to read & understand the issues.
4: Denial of rations and exclusion data due to authentication failures from Page 15 onwards.
5: Saving claims of 50,000 crores debunked from Page 19 onwards.
More data in the documents. Built of painstaking field research, analysis of government docs & RTIs by journalists + researchers.

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