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Total Solar Eclipse on 22nd July Surya Utsav

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Public Health

BETWEEN December 4 to 8, a major International Conference on Health was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The event was the culmination of a two-year long co-ordinated International effort. It was attended by about 1,500 delegates from 94 countries. The Indian delegation, consisting of 383 participants, was the largest and a majority of them represented a year long process in India that involved mobilisation of people on the central slogan of Health For All—Now. The Indian process culminated in a very successful National Health Assembly at Calcutta, on November 30 and December 1. We have reported in this column, earlier, about the activities leading to the build up to the Calcutt ...

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Ten Years of Reforms: The State of the Health Sector By Amit Sen Gupta

With the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Policies in 1991 there has been a major shift in the government's policy towards  social sectors like health. These policies sought to -- by way of fiscal austerity measures -- cut Govt. spending and subsidies in social sectors, reduce direct taxes, increase administered prices, liberalise trade by reducing tariff rates and providing other incentives for foreign investments, privatise public enterprises, deregulate the labour market, etc. The policies were designed to clear the path for withdrawal of the State from the social sectors like health, education, food security, etc. The ideological barrage associated with the re ...

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Lamentations on the Billionth Baby By Amit Sen Gupta

The arrival of the billionth baby in India has been greeted with the expected responses. International financial institutions, NGOs, the Indian Government and assorted political parties have seen this as an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment towards population control. The, parrot like, mouthing of platitudes regarding the dangers to the nation of a rapidly increasing population reminds one of an old adage -- the more things change, the more they remain the same. India's population control programme is arguably the oldest in the world -- started shortly after India's Independence. On the balance all it has to show are repeated lamentations on the programme's inabilit ...

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Genes in Private Hands By Amit Sen Gupta

Biology’s Big Moment

 Many call it biology’s big moment -- the equivalent of setting foot on the moon. In June, next year, after a decade of work by thousands of researchers across the globe, we will have a rough draft of the human genome: the blueprint for a human being.

Living beings are made of tiny building blocks, called cells. Depending on the size of the creature, the number of cells in a being may range from one (as in tiny bacteria), to millions (as in the case of complex beings like humans). These cells contain a central portion called a nucleus, and the nucleus is made of a complex molecule called DNA (Deoxy Ribonucl ...

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Drug Donations From US Charity or Waste Disposal? By Amitava Guha

ANY major disaster, natural or man-made, is invariably followed by reports of massive donations of medicines, usually from the US, made by "charitable" institutions. There have been reports of a large number of US charity organisations rushing medicines to Kosovo, Macedonia, Turkey, and now Orissa. But these "donations" are often a cover for a major fraud being perpetrated by some of these organisations. The New York Times (June '99), for example, reported that Project Hope, an American medical charity, shipped 1.5 million dollars worth of "emergency" supplies to Kosovo refugees. But relief workers, starved of essential drugs like antibiotics and insulin, found Chap-sticks ...

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