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India’s first uterine transplant performed

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first_imgA team of 12 doctors at the city’s Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute (GCLI) successfully completed the highly complex and delicate procedure of India’s first uterine transplant on a woman from Solapur district on Thursday.The woman suffers from congenital absence of uterus and is to be fitted with her mother’s womb to enable her to conceive normally.The operation, in which the uterus was retrieved from the donor and transplanted into the recipient around 9 a.m., stretched well beyond its projected eight-hour duration exceeding 12 hours in time. The surgeons are retrieving the uterus using a laparoscopic technique. According to team members, the surgery was successful. While the donor’s health is fine, the recipient has been placed under a 24-hour observation, said Dr. Sanjeev Jadhav, one of the members of the team.Dr. Shailesh Puntambekar, Medical Director, GCLI, who headed the surgery, was not available for comment.Earlier, Dr. Puntambekar said the recipient would remain in the ICU for a week and for another fortnight in the general care following the surgery.“During this period, the transplanted uterus will be studied,” he said. The immediate success of the surgery could then be assessed after sonography studies which would determine whether the uterus was getting regular blood flow and functioning normally. The hospital, which has been granted a licence by the State Directorate of Health Services to carry out the uterus transplant, is scheduled to conduct another womb transplant on Friday on a 24-year-old woman from Baroda who suffers from Asherman’s Syndrome (scar tissue in the uterus) and who will receive her mother’s womb.Still in its nascent, experimental stage, only a handful of these operations have met with success in other countries, primarily in Sweden.The operations are meant to help women who want to conceive but cannot because they were born without uterus, suffered damage to it or had to have it removed.Organ rejectionHowever, the 20-odd uterine transplant operations round the world have often been frustrated by organ rejection (in which the patient’s immune system attacks the organ; an infection of the organ; or problems with the organ’s blood supply.)In 2012, doctors at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden led by Dr. Mats Brännström performed nine uterus transplants, resulting in five births. Two of the nine transplants failed during the first year after the surgery and had to be removed.The first baby, born to the recipient in 2014, was delivered prematurely through Caesarean section, and was healthy.If the surgery is successful, both the recipients will be able to conceive using in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and have children. Both donor and recipients undergo screening procedure post which the uterus is retrieved and transplanted in the recipient, who undergoes three surgeries.The first uterine transplant in the U.S., which was performed in February last year on a 26-year-old woman from Texas, Lindsey MacFarland, at a Cleveland clinic in Ohio, failed despite the efforts of a team of highly experienced doctors who had practised on animals and cadavers.It was the first of 10 uterine transplants planned by the clinic, in an experimental programme meant to enable women without uterus to become pregnant and give birth.In April 2000, a woman who received uterus transplant in Saudi Arabia (considered to be the world’s first uterus transplant) needed the organ removed barely three months after the operation. In that case, the organ deteriorated after clots blocked the blood supply.Another woman in Turkey received uterus transplant from a deceased donor in 2011, and while she was able to conceive, she unfortunately miscarried.In the Swedish trials, the uterus came from a live donor unlike the U.S., where the donor was deceased.Some experts have expressed concern about the operations, terming them an invasive surgical procedure fraught with risks.last_img read more

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Report sought over lynchings

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first_imgThe National Human Rights Commission on Monday took cognisance suo motu of the lynching of seven persons near Jamshedpur in Jharkhand and issued notice to the Director-General of Police, asking him for a “detailed report” within four weeks.“The Commission also expects comments on the preventive measure taken/proposed…to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur,” the NHRC said in a statement. It said such incidents amounted to violation of the right to life of the innocent victims. “A civilised society cannot allow such heinous crimes to occur, in which human lives are taken by angry mob merely on suspicion of their being anti-social elements…The law enforcement agencies of the State have failed to perform their lawful duty,” it said. In Ranchi, DGP D.K. Pandey and Home Secretary S.K.G. Rahate said at a press conference that the officers in charge of the Bagbera and Rajnagar police stations were suspended and 18 persons were arrested for the killings and the subsequent violence. ‘Will probe incident’ADG (Operation) R.K. Mallick said officials had failed to anticipate the situation brought on by rumours about child-lifting gangs. Mr. Rahate said the Kolhan DIG and Commissioner would probe the incident and submit a report in a month. “We are investigating whether there was any criminal conspiracy behind the circulation of such rumours,” he said. On May 18, seven persons were lynched, in areas under these two police stations, allegedly by a mob that suspected them of being child-lifters.last_img read more

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2 policemen hurt in row over ‘beef’

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first_imgTwo policemen were allegedly injured on Monday night during a clash with the residents of Chaprasi village during a raid at a house following allegations of cow slaughter. The incident comes just weeks after residents of Sherpur village clashed with police personnel after a similar raid following a tip-off about cow slaughter but failed to find evidence. Over 300 people were booked for attacking the police party and setting police vehicles on fire. Ombir Singh the Superintendent of Police (Muzaffarnagar city) told The Hindu on the phone that the police had recovered the meat and hide of a bovine from a house in the village after the raids. “We got a tip-off that cow slaughter was being carried out in a particular area in Chaprasi village. Acting on the tip-off, a team of two policemen had gone to the village to raid and investigate the issue. After the police managed to find meat and a skin, the occupants in the house attacked the police team with stones in which Tarik Waseema nd Bhishember Singh (policemen) got injured,” Mr. Singh said. “Police have registered a case against the residents and sent the meat sample for testing if the meat is beef. We are also making raids to nab the accused. Besides police have been deployed in the village,” Mr. Singh added.Man arrestedThe clash with the police over alleged cow slaughter comes a day after the U.P. police arrested a man allegedly involved in cow slaughter in Samraspur village of Saharanpur.According to Additional Superintendent of Police, Saharanpur, Prabal Pratap Singh, the police seized 40 kg of beef and tools used to slaughter the cow.last_img read more

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Call for law to end mob killings

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first_imgThe National Campaign Against Mob Lynchings (NCAML) released a draft law of the Manav Suraksha Kanoon on Friday to tackle such killings and asked the Modi government to get it passed by Parliament in the upcoming monsoon session. Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B.R. Ambedkar released the document, along with NCAML core members Tehseen Poonawalla and Shehla Rashid, in the presence of lawyer Sanjay Hegde and Shehzad Poonawalla here at the Constitution Club. The NCAML was launched last month by Mr. Poonawalla, along with Ms. Rashid, Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mewani. The move comes in the wake of alleged government indifference to mob killings in different parts of the country.The draft law includes a definition of ‘mob’ and ‘lynching’, suggests that lynching be made a non-bailable offence, recommends immediate suspension of the SHO of the area until a time-bound judicial probe takes place and mandates life imprisonment for the for those convicted under mob lynching.The draft also has India-specific provisions stating how mobs are created, with technology being used for rumour-mongering. It states that a peaceful protest against leaders, policies etc. cannot be termed as a mob. Under the draft law, videographic evidence of survivors statements would also act as evidence. It also has provisions for a time-bound judicial enquiry, which should not take more than six months. Even compensation and rehabilitation has been recommended for the victims’ families.last_img read more

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Akhilesh held on way to SP protest

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first_imgSamajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav was on Thursday detained and later released by the Uttar Pradesh police in Unnao district while he was on his way to attend a protest called by his party in Auraiya against alleged police harassment.Mr. Yadav accused the BJP government of misusing State machinery and posing danger to democracy.Mr. Yadav’s convoy was stopped by the police near an under-construction toll plaza in Hasanganj on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway from where he was escorted to an agriculture research centre before being asked to return to the State capital.“Police and the government do not want that I go and meet SP workers. They don’t want us to meet because the people and the party workers will reveal the truth of their acts,” Mr. Yadav said.He accused the BJP government of lodging false cases against his party colleagues, especially former MP Pradeep Yadav.Mr. Yadav was travelling to Auraiya when he was detained.“The BJP is on a mission to end democracy. The Samajwadis will continue the struggle for the interests of people,” he tweeted.last_img read more

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SP seeks Opposition support against EVM

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first_imgSamajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is rallying Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh against the use of Electronic Voting Machines in the long-pending Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.Mr. Yadav convened a meeting with representatives of various Opposition parties here at the Janeshwar Mishra Trust office on Saturday to build consensus.However, the initiative lacked political muscle as the two other major non-BJP parties, the BSP and Congress, did not attend the meeting.According to leaders present in the meeting, they unanimously decided that they were against the use of EVM in the upcoming polls and favoured voting through ballot papers.“We don’t trust the EVM and it was agreed upon by all parties, barring the CPM, that ballot paper should be used. All leaders and parties which attended the meet will write to the Election Commission soon demanding that the upcoming polls be held through ballot paper,” Ramesh Dixit, Nationalist Congres Party state president, told The Hindu.The CPI(M) supported the use of VVPATs in counting and had reservations over ballot paper, Mr. Dixit said.Apart from Mr. Yadav, the SP contingent was represented by senior leaders like Azam Khan, Ramgovind Chaudhary, Ahmed Hasan, Naresh Uttam Patel and Rajendra Chaudhary. Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party, Mohammad Ayub of Peace Party, Pallavi Patel of Apna Dal (Krishna Patel faction), Ramesh Dixit of the NCP, Ashok Singh of the RJD and former BSP leader Nasimuddin Siddiqui attended the meeting. Representatives of the RLD, AAP and JD(U) faction of Sharad Yadav were also present.Ram Achal Rajbhar, BSP UP president, did not explain why there was no representation from the party in the meeting and said he was travelling in Uttarakhand where he had prior plans. He, however, said that his leader Mayawati had already made her point clear against EVM and even gone to court on the issue.Congress spokesperson Amarnath Agarwal said that the party had received an invitation but did not send any representation. However, Mr. Agarwal said the party had sent a letter of consent to the SP on the issue.last_img read more

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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation sets up inquiry panel

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first_imgMumbai: The city civic body has set up a committee to inquire into the death of a man after he allegedly got sucked into an MRI machine and inhaled the liquid oxygen that leaked out of a cylinder he was carrying. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is also planning to issue stricter guidelines to all civic body-run hospitals in view of the incident, an official said. Authorities at the Nair Hospital, where the incident occurred, said they were cooperating with the police in its investigation. Rajesh Maru (32), carrying a liquid oxygen cylinder, was killed on Saturday evening when he was yanked into the jaws of the MRI machine and inhaled the gas that leaked out of the container, his family said. The police, however, said Maru was killed when he inhaled excessive oxygen that oozed out of the cylinder when he entered the MRI room with a relative, who was there to undergo the scan. A senior official of the civic body-run Nair Hospital in Central Mumbai on Monday told PTI, “The BMC administration has set up a probe committee, headed by the deputy municipal commissioner. The inquiry report is expected by next Monday.” He said the BMC will issue stricter orders for hospital staff for handling MRI machines. Nair Hospital’s dean, Dr. Ramesh Bharmal, said, “It is a tragic incident and we will cooperate with police officials. We cannot make any comments on how the incident occurred as it is under investigation.” Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners use strong magnetic fields, electric field gradients, and radio waves to generate images of organs in the body. Metallic objects are not allowed in MRI rooms. As regards the Nair Hospital incident, the patient’s family members said they were made to remove all such items, including mobile phone handsets, before going inside. They claimed the ward boy said the oxygen cylinder could be carried in the room as the machine was not switched on. A relative of the victim on Sunday said the powerful magnetic field of the machine pulled Maru towards it along with the oxygen cylinder. “Maru’s hand got trapped in the machine while the opening of the oxygen cylinder snapped. After hearing this commotion, we all rushed inside the room and pulled him out of the machine,” he said. However, a police official said the victim, as directed by the doctor, took the patient to the MRI room for the scan.There, an oxygen cylinder leaked. The official claimed that the oxygen was in liquid form which is poisonous and the victim inhaled it in an excessive amount and died on the spot. The police booked three staffers of Nair Hospital for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and arrested a doctor and a ward boy.last_img read more

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Trinamool cadres accused of assaulting Opposition candidates

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first_imgA day after she was allegedly abducted in broad daylight by Trinamool Congress (TMC) cadres near her home in the Sagardighi block of Murshidabad district, Hasina Begam is yet to get over the trauma. Ever since she filed her nomination as a zilla parishad (district council) candidate of the CPI (M), she was allegedly being threatened by ruling party cadres. Saturday was the last date for withdrawal of nominations for the panchayat polls to be held on May 14.“Police at the behest of TMC leaders arrested my husband from our house,” Ms. Begam told The Hindu. After hearing this news, she was rushing back to her home, when a vehicle stopped beside her and some men allegedly dragged her in. “They were TMC cadres. They took me to the Sub-Divisional Officer’s (SDO) office and forced me to withdraw my nomination. I had no choice as the lives of my family members were at stake,” she said. The family members of another CPI (M) candidate in Sagardighi, Smita Dalui, who was also allegedly abducted by Trinamool cadres from her residence on Saturday, refused to speak fearing repercussions from them. “Kindly spare us and let us live in peace,” said her husband. They are just two among the scores of Opposition party candidates in several districts of Bengal, who were forced to withdraw their nominations for the panchayat polls, following alleged assault and abduction by Trinamool cadres. However, most of these candidates are unwilling to speak to the media fearing repercussions. The CPI (M) district leadership in Murshidabad alleged that 311 candidates in the gram panchayat, panchayat samiti and zilla parishad were forced to withdraw their nominations. In South 24 Paraganas, the party leadership alleged that three of their panchayat samiti candidates in Baruipur’s Ramnagar I panchayat samiti, were abducted and assaulted by Trinamool cadres, who forced them to withdraw nominations. A similar incident took place at Bhangar, where relatives of a CPI (M) zilla parishad candidate were kidnapped by Trinamool workers on Friday, forcing him to withdraw his nomination. “In the Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha seat, there are no Opposition party candidates in 1,000 gram panchayats, 196 panchayat samitis and 20 zilla parishads. This speaks volumes about TMC’s terror tactics,” CPI (M) district secretary in South 24 Paraganas Samik Lahiri said. However, the party leadership was unable to provide any State-wide figure regarding withdrawal of nominations. “We will get the State- wide figure tomorrow [Monday]” CPI(M) State secretariat member Rabin Deb said. State Congress alleged that in the districts of Purba and Paschim Medinipur, South and North 24 Paraganas and Murshidabad, scores of Congress candidates were forced to withdraw nominations due to the terror tactics of the Trinamool. “TMC cadres are making a mockery of democracy in the State. If such a situation continues, the Panchayat polls will be reduced to a farce,” State Congress vice- president Debabrata Basu said. State BJP vice-president Sayantan Basu alleged that about 250 of their candidates were forced to withdraw their nominations following threats from the ruling party. Trinamool reacts Denying the allegations, Trinamool secretary-general and State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said that “the CPI (M) is making contradictory statements.”“First they alleged that they were not allowed to file nominations, and now they are saying that they are being forced to withdraw nominations. The fact is that the CPI (M) is afraid to take part in the polls and hence is making such baseless allegations,” Mr. Chatterjee told The Hindu.last_img read more

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Assam MLA carries, cremates body of poor man

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first_imgDilip Dey had only a physically challenged cousin to call family. So when he died in his hometown Mariani on Thursday, there weren’t enough people to carry his body to the crematorium.Mariani, in Assam’s Jorhat district, is about 320 km east of Guwahati.Local Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi, 40, stepped in to be one of the pallbearers as well as cremate Mr. Dey’s body.“He was too poor and lonely to have a decent funeral. As a human being and responsible for the people I represent, it was the least I could do for him,” Mr. Kurmi told The Hindu.Mr. Dey, who was in his mid-50s, lived in the Deberapar Chariali locality of Mariani. Rupom Gogoi, a trader in the neighbourhood, came to know about his death and informed Mr. Kurmi.“He lost no time in helping prepare the chita (stretcher-like bamboo structure on which a body is taken to the crematorium) and carry the body for cremation,” Mr. Gogoi said.Locals said Mr. Kurmi, a three-time MLA from Mariani constituency has had a history of humanitarian service – at times in situation considered too dangerous for VIPs, thus earning him the ‘quirky’ tag.Do-gooderIn July 2017, he hoisted a bag of 50 kg rice on his back and delivered it to a flood relief camp near Kaziranga National Park.On Friday evening, less than 24 hours after ensuring Mr. Dey’s cremation, the MLA became a pallbearer for the janaza (funeral) of a local auto-rickshaw driver’s mother.Kabir Ahmed, the auto-rickshaw driver, had wanted the MLA to be part of his mother’s final journey.Mr. Kurmi won his first Assembly election from Mariani in 2006. The seat had earlier been represented by his mother Rupam Kurmi, who was the first woman graduate among Adivasis in Assam.The Adivasis are often called ‘tea tribes’ though they do not enjoy the Scheduled Tribe status.last_img read more

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Protests snowball over Article 35A

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first_imgSeparatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, who have come together under one umbrella of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), met in Srinagar on Sunday to “assess the situation in the wake of the hearing on Article 35A in the Supreme Court on August 6.”They called for a shutdown on August 5 and 6 in the Kashmir Valley in protest.“Tampering with Article 35A is an attempt to change the demography of J&K. [The] people of Kashmir will not take this attack lying low and [it] will be stiffly resisted,” said the separatist leaders in a joint statement.J&K Governor N.N. Vohra has asked the Centre to defer the hearing on Article 35A, which grants special rights to people here.The J&K Civil Society Coordination Committee (JKCSCC), Deputy Grand Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam and Awami National Conference president Muzafar Shah said they would “not allow Kashmir to become another Palestine and render the local population homeless”.The National Conference (NC), the Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also warned the Centre.‘Veritable inferno’ “Any tinkering with it would turn the State into a veritable inferno,” said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, as she called for a united front of all political parties in J&K to protect the Article.Former Chief Minister and NC president Farooq Abdullah said his party “won’t allow the powers…to fiddle with our political status and honour.” Mr. Vohra, administrative head of the State after the PDP-BJP government parted ways in June, has suggested the Centre “to defer the hearing until the elected government is in place in the State, where the sensitivities and sensibilities on the provision are quite high.”“The request by the Governor to New Delhi to defer the hearing is the need of the hour. Both the Centre as well as State governments can make a request to the Supreme Court to adjourn the case because there is no democratically elected government in J&K,” said CPI (M) leader M.Y. Tarigami.At least three petitions have challenged the Article in the SC.last_img read more

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Militant killed in encounter in J&K

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first_imgAn unidentified militant was killed in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Saturday. Based on specific intelligence inputs, security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Babgund area of the south Kashmir district in the morning, a police official said. He said the search operation turned into an encounter after the militant fired upon the forces who retaliated. In the ensuing gunfight, the militant was killed, the official said. He said the identity and group affiliation of the slain ultra is being ascertained. Some arms and ammunition have been recovered from the encounter site, the official said, adding the gunfight is over.last_img

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No govt. role in SIT summons to Badals, says Amarinder

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first_imgPunjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said his government had no role in the summoning of former CM Parkash Singh Badal, former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, and actor Akshay Kumar by the Special Investigation Team probing the 2015 Bargari sacrilege case and subsequent police firing incidents.“The SIT is an independent entity and is functioning without any government interference,” Capt. Amarinder said in Sangrur. He said his government’s job was to form the SIT as per the unanimous decision of the State Assembly, which it had done, and now the onus of investigation was on the SIT.The SIT had on November 11 issued summons asking Mr. Kumar to be present before the SIT in Amritsar on Friday. Mr. Parkash Singh Badal has been summoned on November 19, while Mr. Sukhbir Badal on November 21. The summon orders were issued on behalf of the SIT by its member, IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh.“The summons have been issued under Section 160 of the CrPC, relating to the Bargari sacrilege case and the Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura police firing incidents,” the member said in a statement.The Akali Dal said on Monday that both Mr. Parkash Badal and his son will appear before the SIT after a decision on it was taken by the party’s core committee a day earlier. “SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal and party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal will cooperate (with the SIT) so that the truth (behind sacrilege incidents) comes out,” party leader and former Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said, adding, “We expect that the SIT will conduct a fair probe into the matter.”.Akshay denies roleOn Monday, Mr. Kumar also denied arranging any meeting between Mr. Sukhbir Badal and Dera Sacha Sauda sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The actor denied having ever met the Sirsa-headquartered Dera’s chief, who is currently serving a 20-year jail term in a rape case. “I have never ever met Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in my life, anywhere,” he clarified on a social media site.(With PTI inputs)last_img read more

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15 newborns die in Assam hospital in 6 days, probe ordered

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first_imgAt least 15 newborns have died at Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) in Assam between November 1 and 6, prompting the State health department to rush a team to investigate the matter, officials said on Friday. The hospital authorities have also formed a committee to look into the matter, they said.According to JMCH superintendent Saurav Borkakoti, 15 newborns have died at the special care newborn unit of the hospital between November 1 and 6. Mr. Borkakoti, however, claimed the deaths were not due to medical negligence or neglect of the hospital.“Sometimes the number of patients coming to the hospital may be large and so the figure of death of newborns may also be large. It depends in what situation the patients have come to the hospital. They may have come with prolonged labour, with low birth weight. In such circumstances, those newborns may die,” Mr. Borkakoti said.He said ever since the civil hospital was converted into a full-fledged medical college and hospital, the number of patients have soared, exceeding the available 141 bed SNCU capacity. This has forced the hospital to sometimes accommodate more babies, he added. The hospital has formed a six-member committee to probe the deaths, Borkakoti said.Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters that a team of experts, including the director of medical education assisted by UNICEF and a paediatric doctor from Gauhati Medical College and Hospital along with another doctor of Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh have proceeded to Jorhat to investigate the deaths.last_img read more

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Specific Naga names to be mentioned in ST list

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first_imgThe Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Home Ministry’s proposal to replace the generic term ‘any Naga tribes’ with the specific names of the tribes that will qualify for recognition as Scheduled Tribes (ST) in Arunachal Pradesh. “The proposal to replace ‘any Naga Tribes’ with the specific names of Tutsa, Wancho, Nocte and Tangsawas was cleared by the Tribal Affairs Ministry first,” said a senior official.Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2018, for revision of the list of the Scheduled Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, was cleared, and the names of some communities would be deleted. An official statement said ‘Khampti’ would be replaced with ‘Tai Khamti’ in the list. ‘Abor’ would be deleted and ‘Mishmi-Kaman, Idu and Taraon’ would be included. ‘Monpa, Memba, Sartang, Sajolong’ would be included in lieu of ‘Momba’ in the list of the Scheduled Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. The winter session of Parliament, technically the last for the NDA government, comes to an end on January 8. The Home Ministry will have to move the Bill in Parliament before the winter session concludes on January 8 for the changes to come into effect.last_img read more

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MDM scheme food found to be unsafe in 2 Odisha districts

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first_imgThe State food analyst has found food served as part of the Mid Day Meal programme “unsafe and substandard” in Kendrapara and Kandhamal districts.Based on the finding, the Odisha State Food Commission has directed the Secretary of Department of School and Mass Education and Collectors of the two districts to take action.According to the report, samples of loose dals sent from Kandhamal loose boiled rice collected from Kendrapara were deemed unsafe. Salt samples in Kendrapara were also substandard.The State food testing laboratory has found synthetic colour in samples of split arhar dal, which is unsafe under Section 3(1)(zz) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.last_img

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Assam’s tea garden labour are champions

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first_imgTabi Bhengra’s ancestors were brought to Assam by British tea planters more than 170 years ago. She doesn’t even know which part of central India her ancestors came from. But thanks to a skill passed down across six generations, she now knows that she is her family’s first tea-plucking champion.Ms. Bhengra, 30, is not the only one though. Seven other pluckers from 17 estates of one of the largest tea companies in Assam have received recognition for their unique skill: consistently plucking around 21 kg of the highest quality tea leaves every day. “It feels nice to be awarded for something that I have been doing routinely for 13 years,” said Ms. Bhengra, one of about 1,200 permanent and casual tea pluckers at Borjuli Tea Estate, located in Sonitpur district, 200 km northeast of Guwahati.The 566.56 hectare Borjuli garden is one of a cluster of five tea gardens owned by the Apeejay Group. “Plucking is indeed a special skill. The quality and quantity of tea we produce depend on how Tabi, Gumi and the other workers pick the best leaves,” said Somnath Nandi, Borjuli’s manager. Ms. Bhengra beat Gumi Sanga of an adjoining estate for the awards that were announced during the plucking season of April-November, 2018. The award was based on attendance, and the quality and quantity of leaves. Plucking is mainly done by women, with a worker putting in eight hours a day for six days a week. Ms. Bhengra’s attendance was 97% and she plucked an average of 2,489 kg every two months, with 62% quality. The benchmark at Borjuli is 60-65% of tender leaves, of two leaves and a bud, or an unopened leaf at the tip of a stem. Karan Paul, Apeejay’s Kolkata-based chairman, said the industry had been slow to recognise the workforce. Thirteen workers, including eight champions, would be given a certificate and a cash prize ₹5,000.last_img read more

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Video: How Dogs Show Their Love

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first_imgWant to know if your dog loves you? Watch his left eyebrow. Researchers have used high-speed video cameras to capture the subtle facial expressions of 12 dogs of various breeds. Each animal was led into a room divided by a curtained partition. Then the curtains briefly parted, and the dog might see its owner (who was instructed to show no emotions), an unfamiliar person, or an object the dog loved, such as a squeaky ball, or an object it feared, such as nail clippers, for 800 milliseconds. The scientists marked the dogs’ faces with blue tape to pinpoint their facial tics. The dogs’ facial expressions varied in response to what they saw, the scientists will report in an upcoming issue of Behavioural Processes. When the dogs saw a person, they lifted their eyebrows—and if the person was their owner, they raised their left eyebrow even higher. (In the video, the poodle’s eyes widen slightly as its eyebrows rise and ears drop when its straight-faced owner appears.) Strangers caused the dogs to move their left ears back slightly, a sign of caution. Beloved toys elicited no response, but those dreaded nail clippers caused dogs to twitch their right ears—perhaps a sign of a learned response, which is governed by the left side of the brain. Some of the results are puzzling, the researchers say, because previous research showed that dogs’ positive emotions are displayed on the right side of their faces. Why then did the pooches raise their left eyebrows upon seeing their owners? It may be due to mixed emotions—something dogs were not known to experience. While seeing their owners made the animals happy, they were blocked by the partition from reaching out for that all important touch—which made them sad.last_img read more

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Elite Violinists Fail to Distinguish Legendary Violins From Modern Fiddles

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first_imgIf you know only one thing about violins, it is probably this: A 300-year-old Stradivarius supposedly possesses mysterious tonal qualities unmatched by modern instruments. However, even elite violinists cannot tell a Stradivarius from a top-quality modern violin, a new double-blind study suggests. Like the sound of coughing during the delicate second movement of Beethoven’s violin concerto, the finding seems sure to annoy some people, especially dealers who broker the million-dollar sales of rare old Italian fiddles. But it may come as a relief to the many violinists who cannot afford such prices.”There is nothing magical [about old Italian violins], there is nothing that is impossible to reproduce,” says Olivier Charlier, a soloist who participated in the study and who plays a fiddle made by Carlo Bergonzi (1683 to 1747). However, Yi-Jia Susanne Hou, a soloist who participated in the study and who until recently played a violin by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri “del Gesù” (1698 to 1744), questions whether the test was fair. “Whereas I believe that [the researchers] assembled some of the finest contemporary instruments, I am quite certain that they didn’t have some of the finest old instruments that exist,” she says.The study marks the latest round in debate over the “secret of Stradivarius.” Some violinists, violinmakers, and scientists have thought that Antonio Stradivari (1644 to 1737) and his contemporaries in Cremona, Italy, possessed some secret—perhaps in the varnish or the wood they used—that enabled them to make instruments of unparalleled quality. Yet, for decades researchers have failed to identify a single physical characteristic that distinguishes the old Italians from other top-notch violins. The varnish is varnish; the wood (spruce and maple) isn’t unusual. Moreover, for decades tests have shown that listeners cannot tell an old Italian from a modern violin.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Still, the belief in the superiority of the rare old Italians persists: Even if listeners can’t tell the difference, players can, adherents say. But that position has also come under fire. In 2012, Claudia Fritz, a musical acoustician at Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris; Joseph Curtin, a violinmaker from Ann Arbor, Michigan; and colleagues published a study in which 21 violinists compared three old Italian violins and three new ones and were unable to tell the two types apart. However, critics noted that only six instruments were compared; the players were not top-flight soloists; and the test was conducted in a hotel room, close quarters that should make any violin sounds vibrant.Now, Fritz, Curtin, and colleagues have performed a larger study that addresses those concerns. During 1 week in 2012, they invited 10 professional soloists to Vincennes, a suburb of Paris, and assembled 13 new violins and nine old Italians, including six Stradivariuses and two made by Guarneri del Gesús. The researchers did not tell the musicians that they would be playing old and new instruments and instructed them to suppose they were picking an instrument to use on a tour.The violins were winnowed to six old and six new in a double-blind listening test judged by the soloists. Then, each of them donned dark goggles so they couldn’t distinguish the instruments by sight and tested out these top fiddles in two 75-minute sessions, one in a small room and one in a 300-seat auditorium. (Soloists could also play their own instruments for comparison.) After each session, the soloists picked his or her four favorites fiddles and rated them on scale of zero to 10 for qualities such as articulation, projection, and playability. Finally, after the second session, each subject had to guess whether instruments in a small selection that included some of their favorites were old or new.The consistency of results from session to session showed that soloists could definitely distinguish one violin from another. However, the soloists seemed to prefer the new violins, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In their lists of favorites, new violins outnumber old ones roughly 3-to-2, and the most popular violin by far was a new one, denoted N5. Musicians rated qualities of new instruments higher, too. And when it came to telling old violins from new, the soloists did no better than if they had simply guessed.Fritz cautions that the study cannot be generalized to draw broader conclusions about all new or old violins. “Our observation is about these 12 violins,” she says. “Maybe if we had done this with 12 other violins people might have been able to tell the difference, although I don’t see any good reason why they might.” One aim of the study was to determine what violinists look for in an instrument, which remains hard to quantify scientifically. “I don’t like violins that are too direct,” says soloist Solenne Païdassi. “I like a sound that’s more diffuse.”Still, several of the players involved in the study say they now think there is no reason to believe that a new violin cannot produce the same qualities of sound as an old one. And that’s a very good thing for young musicians, they say, given the enormous expense of old Italian violins. This June, a Stradivarius viola will go to auction for $45 million, and a Guarneri del Gesú recently sold for $16 million. In contrast, the record auction price for fiddle by a living maker is $132,000. “I grew up thinking that if I am going to be a soloist, I really need to play an old Italian violin in order to be successful,” says Giora Schmidt, who participated in the study. “I tell my students that’s no longer true.” Schmidt has played old Italians in the past but now plays a modern violin made by Hiroshi Iizuka.Not everyone is convinced that there isn’t something special about the old instruments. Hou says she found the study somewhat artificial in that choosing an instrument for one tour isn’t the same thing as choosing one to use for the long haul. A modern instrument may sound better right away, she says, but an old Italian may be able to produce more colors of sound that only become apparent after months of use. “I played the Avery Fisher Stradivarius for 6 years,” she says, “and it took me 3 years just to get accustomed to it.”Even if new violins can rival old Italians, that fact won’t bring the price of old violins down, musicians predict. Stradivariuses and Guarneris are works of art by the masters who essentially defined what a violin is, says Elmar Oliveira, a soloist who participated in the study and owns a Guarneri del Gesú worth millions but often plays a modern replica in concert. “You’d pay $250 million for a painting by Matisse,” Oliveira says. “Why wouldn’t you pay $25 million for a Stradivarius?”The issue of finding an instrument is real and pressing, violinists say. For example, Païdassi now plays a violin by Lorenzo Storioni (1744 to 1816), but will have to return it next year to the foundation that owns it. “I have no idea what I will do,” she says. “Maybe I can find out what that N5 is.” But violinmaker Curtin is sworn to secrecy.*Correction, 7 April, 4:39 p.m.: The story was changed to correct the numerical scale for judging instrument properties.*Correction, 9 April, 3:04 p.m.: The story has been changed to correct the length of the testing session and to indicate that the identities of the instruments will never be revealed.*Correction, 9 April, 4:42 p.m.: The story has been changed to better reflect Fritz’s thoughts on the significance of the results.last_img read more

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Shuttered Japanese proton accelerator nears restart

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first_imgTOKYO—Idled after a radiation leak in May 2013, the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) in Tokaimura took a step toward resuming full operations yesterday when the governor of Ibaraki Prefecture accepted a set of countermeasures aimed at preventing another accident. If the facility passes a final inspection by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, J-PARC could resume normal operations by the end of next month.It has been a long slog. An independent investigative panel convened by J-PARC concluded that the accident resulted from a combination of equipment malfunction and human error. In J-PARC’s Hadron Experimental Facility, a proton beam from a 50-GeV synchrotron strikes a target to produce a variety of secondary subatomic particles, including kaons, pions, and muons for use in experiments to determine their characteristics and interactions. On 23 May 2013, a malfunction sent a brief, unexpectedly high intensity beam at a gold target and vaporized radioactive material leaked into the experiment hall. Unaware of what had happened, researchers and staff inhaled contaminated air and also vented it outside the building. J-PARC took 34 hours to notify local and national authorities of the accident. All experiments were halted pending an investigation.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The expert panel later determined that 34 people had inhaled the vapors and received slight internal radiation exposure that wasn’t deemed harmful and that the release outside the building posed no threat to area residents or the environment. Nonetheless, J-PARC, operated jointly by the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, then had to convince local and national authorities they could resume operating the facility without endangering staff or the community.The countermeasures developed over the past 2 years include upgrading schemes to minimize the impact of equipment glitches, making key experimental chambers airtight, fitting ventilation equipment with filters, and upgrading radiation monitoring and alarm systems. Researchers and staff have received safety training. Designated, trained emergency response personnel will be on hand at all times during operations and J-PARC will conduct accident drills several times annually.Experiments resumed at J-PARC’s Materials and Life Science Experimental Facility in February 2014 and at the Neutrino Experimental Facility last May after reviews and strengthening of safety programs. But more extensive work was needed in the hadron facility. The upgrades were accepted by the prefecture’s own panel of experts earlier this month. Yesterday’s presentation to the governor was largely symbolic. Starting next week, J-PARC officials will explain their strengthened safety measures at three public meetings in nearby towns. The final green light must come from the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which will inspect the facility next month.Chastened J-PARC officials are confident their countermeasures will pass muster. Speaking to reporters yesterday after meeting the Ibaraki governor, J-PARC Director Yujiro Ikeda said that he wanted a commitment to safety “inscribed on everyone’s hearts.”last_img read more

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Google Changed Itself For India in a Mission to Connect The World

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first_imgAlphabet Inc’s Google is ready to spend billions to get millions of Indians online– through a slew of India-specific products and initiatives. Related Itemslast_img

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