India’s plan to give millions cheap food will cost more than its forecast of Rs 1.3 trillion (USD 23.8 billion) a year and will accelerate inflation, a leading adviser on food issues for the government said in an interview.The bill aims to provide subsidized wheat and rice to 70 percent of the 1.2 billion people in India, home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry poor, according to a UN agency, despite being one of the biggest producers of food supplies.The Congress party, which leads the coalition government, is pushing to pass the National food Security Bill before elections, which are due by May 2014.But the government’s own estimates say the bill would increase India’s annual food subsidy by 45 percent, threatening to add to an already hefty fiscal deficit. Critics say it is little more than an attempt to divert attention from corruption scandals involving the government. Calculation is that (Rs 1.25 trillion) is front-end subsidy. There are many costs that have not been counted.Food Minister KV Thomas has said the bill could cost Rs 1.2-1.3 trillion a year. The budget for the current year ending March 31, 2014 sets aside Rs 900 billion as the bill still awaits passage by parliament. Gulati, who advises the government on prices to pay farmers for their crops, said large-scale state grain purchases to meet commitments under the bill would lead to higher inflation.
Category Archives: Health
The government which introduced amendments to the landmark Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha could not get it passed as opposition stalled proceedings in the House over killing of Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan and other issues.Food Minister K V Thomas moved amendments to the National Food Security Bill, which was originally introduced in Parliament in December 2011, but no discussion on it could take place as the Opposition-led by BJP persisted with protest over Sarabjit Singh’s death.The cause was also not helped as other members raised issued like Chinese incursion and coalgate scam, forcing adjournment of the House for the day without passage of the measure.Major changes in this bill include doing away with priority and general classifications of beneficiaries and providing uniform allocation of 5 kg food grains (per person) at fixed rate of of Rs 3 (rice), Rs 2 (wheat) and Rs 1 (coarse grains) per kg to 67 per cent of the country’s population. Protection to 2.43 crore poorest of poor families under the Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) to supply of 35 kg food grains per month per family would continue.That apart, nutritional support to pregnant women without limitation are among other changes proposed in the Bill. At the proposed coverage of entitlement, total estimated annual foodgrains requirement is 61.23 million tonnes and is likely to cost the exchequer Rs 1,24,724 crore.
Yoga – the 5,000-year-old Indian meditative practice – may have positive effects on major psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia and sleep problems, according to a review of over 100 studies.A systematic review of the exercise on major clinical psychiatric disorders by Indian origin researchers found yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, even in the absence of drug treatments, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD. The review focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders and cognition problems.However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype.
Researcher P Murali Doraiswamy, professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center, US, explained that the emerging scientific evidence in support of yoga on psychiatric disorders is “highly promising” and showed that it may not only help to improve symptoms, but also play ancillary role in the prevention of stress-related mental illnesses.The review found evidence from biomarker studies showing that yoga influences key elements of the human body thought to play a role in mental health in similar ways to that of antidepressants and psychotherapy.One study found that the exercise affects inflammation, neurotransmitters, oxidative stress, lipids, growth factors and second messengers.While there has been an increase in the number of medications available for mental health disorders, many of which can be life saving for patients.Poor compliance and relapse as well as treatment resistance are growing problems, and medications are expensive and can leave patients with significant side effects.
Different labels on food that clearly display the total number of calories and nutrients in the entire package, rather than just part of it, might help people make healthier food choices, according to a study from the US Food and Drug Administration.FDA researchers, whose results appeared in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that people were best at assessing things like chips and frozen meals – and comparing the healthfulness of multiple products – when the nutrition facts were presented for the entire container’s worth of food, or for both one serving and the entire container.This does away with the need to multiply the nutrition facts listed by the number of servings per package if people want to eat it all.Amy Lando and Serena Lo from the FDA surveyed close to 9,500 US adults, showing them one of the 10 different types of food labels that presented calories and nutrients per serving, or per container, in a variety of ways.Participants were asked how healthy they thought different products were, including how much fat, for example, was in one serving. They then compared types of chips or frozen meals to determine which was healthier.Currently, manufacturers are given a lot of leeway when it comes to deciding how much a serving size is, according to study.To make products appear healthier, some companies have started increasing the number of servings listed per container, thus lowering the number of calories per serving. All of that adds to consumers’ confusion.Researchers warned that it’s still not known whether clearer nutrition facts would change what people choose to buy or eat, and it’s also unclear if and when the FDA might issue changes to labeling requirements.But having a system that lists the nutrients for one serving and an entire package – as some products do already – would help simplify things,It’s so important to make the information as transparent as you can make it for consumers.
Green schemes to fight climate change by producing more bio-fuels could actually worsen a little-known type of air pollution and cause almost 1,400 premature deaths a year in Europe by 2020.The report said trees grown to produce wood fuel – seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal – released a chemical into the air that, when mixed with other pollutants, could also reduce farmers’ crop yields.Growing biofuels is thought to be a good thing because it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Biofuels could also have a detrimental effect on air quality. There would be a similar impact wherever biofuels were produced in large quantities in areas suffering air pollution, including the United States and China.Poplar, willow or eucalyptus trees, all used as fast-growing sources of renewable wood fuel, emit high levels of the chemical isoprene as they grow, the study said. Isoprene forms toxic ozone when mixed with other air pollutants in sunlight.Large-scale production of biofuels in Europe would have small but significant effects on human mortality and crop yields.The report estimated that ozone from wood-based energy to meet the European Union’s 2020 goal would cause nearly 1,400 premature deaths a year, costing society USD 7.1 billion.The European plan would also would reduce the annual value of wheat and maize production by USD 1.5 billion since ozone impairs crop growth.
Delhiites today pulled put more woollens from their winter wardrobe as morning temperature plummeted to the seasons lowest of 2.7 degree Celsius. Today’s minimum is four degree Celsius below normal and down from yesterday’s 4.4 degrees Celsius. Yesterday, the maximum was 12.7 degree Celsius.Fog in the early morning hours slowed down traffic. On Tuesday, the minimum had dipped to four degree Celsius, the previous lowest for the season. On Wednesday, the city witnessed the coldest day in 44 years when maximum plummeted to 9.8 degrees.The weatherman has predicted similar weather conditions for tomorrow with temperature between four and 15 degrees.
Scientists say there is an “overwhelming lack of evidence” that ingredients in energy drinks, other than caffeine, enhance physical or cognitive performance. In a new study published in the Nutrition Reviews journal, researchers suggested the main benefit of energy drinks is probably down to a generous dose of caffeine. Researchers found that while energy drinks often contain ingredients such as taurine, guarana and ginseng, there is an “overwhelming lack of evidence to substantiate claims that these ingredients boost performance”. Energy drinks often contain taurine, guarana, ginseng, glucuronolactone, B-vitamins, and other compounds. The researchers went through dozens of articles that examined the effects of energy ingredients alone and/or in combination with caffeine. With the exception of some weak evidence for glucose and guarana extract, there was little evidence substantiating claims that components of energy drinks, other than caffeine, contribute to the enhancement of physical or cognitive performance.Earlier this year, a study found that energy drinks have up to 14 times more caffeine than other soft drinks. Furthermore, doctors warned that children given energy drinks could pile on the pounds because they are not active enough to burn off the extra calories. They say energy drinks – which contain between 10 and 270 calories a serving – should never be given to children. Instead they should be offered water to quench their thirst, and drink the recommended daily amount of fruit juice and low-fat milk with meals.
India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, has been named among the world’s ‘dirtiest’ cities, ranking last in the ‘cleanest streets’ category, a global survey of 40 key tourist cities has found. According to TripAdvisor’s Cities Survey, Tokyo grabbed the first place while Mumbai ranked last in the list of ‘cleanest streets’.Similarly in the category of ‘ease of getting around’, Mumbai ranked at the last position while Zurich stood at first place, the survey revealed the cities with rudest locals, dirtiest streets and worst shopping.It found that Moscow was home to world’s least-friendly locals. The Russian city ranked last in a number of categories, including ‘friendliest locals’. Tokyo was the most highly decorated world city, ranking number one for best taxi services, friendliest taxi drivers, best public transportation, cleanest streets and safety. New York City took out the top spot for shopping, but travelers felt the city’s streets could use a sweep with the Big Apple ranking 28 out of 40 for cleanliness. “New York City’s global reputation as a shopping mecca was reinforced by the opinions of the TripAdvisor community worldwide.The survey, completed by more than 75,000 people, looked into how travelers and locals viewed 40 key tourist cities around the world.
Studying the immunology of bats with white-nose fungus – who sometimes suffer in the same way that humans with AIDS do – could help in the development of treatments for the deadly disease, scientists say.Carol Meteyer, a scientist for the US Geological Survey, peered through a microscope at hundreds of little bats and noticed that they had managed to survive the white-nose fungus that had killed millions of other bats hibernating in caves.However, they had succumbed to something else that had left their tiny corpses in tatters, their wings scorched and pocked with holes.
Meteyer realised that the bats were killed by their own hyper-aggressive immune systems in a struggle to fight off the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. Meteyer had stumbled upon a phenomenon never before seen in mammals in the wild – a similar finding had been observed only once before – in people with AIDS. Now scientists hope studying the immunology of bats might help in the development of treatments for AIDS.When bats hibernate in winter, their heart rates slow and their immune systems all but shut down, making them vulnerable to the cave-dwelling fungus Geomyces destructans that causes white-nose and eats away skin, connective tissue and muscle. It’s not natural. It’s cellular suicide. It comes out in a huge wave, going out to those areas of infection and kills everything. For AIDS patients, after antiretroviral treatment improves patients’ health, their restored immune systems can launch an exaggerated attack against any previously acquired infection the treatment didn’t catch, causing extensive damage. Scientists now hope to study the immunology of bats to try to uncover findings that can assist the development of treatments for AIDS. Meteyer envisions a day when “we can look closely at the mechanism driving this intense response in bats and potentially get insight into this phenomenon in humans.