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Showing posts from February, 2012

Why are toilets low priority in India?

No amount of stink, or raising one to correct it, would work quick enough to change the order of things. Toilets, you see, are our least priority A nyone who had travelled by trains in India [  Images  ] does not have to be told of the toilet-effect. It is the stench that permeates the coaches, the mess within the toilets which are places with a hole in the floor over which a commode or a squat pan is placed. It lacks three elements: a proper design, enough water to service it, and proper user-habits. Now, it transpires, these toilets on Indian Railway coaches also do damage to the rail tracks and they very coaches on which they are housed as a passenger amenity. The human excrement falls on to the tracks and corrodes the tracks. They splatter the coaches' undercarriages and maintenance crews shy away from servicing those parts. Thus, they make train travel unsafe. A committee of rail safety headed by nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar has suggested that railways opt for a new d

India's hunger 'shame': 3,000 children die every day, despite economic growth

India's hunger 'shame': 3,000 children die every day, despite economic growth Severely malnourished girl Rajni, 2, is weighed by health workers in Madhya Pradesh, India, February 1. By Reuters Crying as she is put on an electronic scale, two-year-old Rajini's naked shriveled frame casts a dark shadow over a rising India, where millions of children have little to eat. The children are scrawny, listless and sick in this run-down nutrition clinic in central India with its intermittent power supply. If they survive they will grow up shorter, weaker and less smart than their better-fed peers. Rajini weighs 5 kg (11 lb), about half of what she should. "She's as light as a leaf, this can't be good," says her grandmother, Sushila Devi, poking her rib-protruding stomach in the clinic in Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh state. Almost as shocking as India's high prevalence of child malnutrition is the country's failure to reduce it, despite the econo

Microsoft founder Bill Gates urges digital revolution against hunger

Microsoft   founder   Bill Gates   on Thursday called for a "digital revolution" to alleviate world hunger by increasing agricultural productivity through satellites and genetically-engineered seed varieties.   "We have to think hard about how to start taking advantage of the digital revolution that is driving innovation including in farming," the US billionaire philanthropist said in a speech at the UN rural poverty agency   IFAD in Rome .   "If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture. We believe that it's possible for small farmers to double and in some cases even triple their yields in the next 20 years while preserving the land," Gates said.   He gave as one example of innovation the genetic sequencing that allows cassava farmers in Africa to predict how individual seedlings will perform, shortening the time it takes to develop a new variety from 10 years to two.   Another key development is the use of   satellite technology   develo

Will India's poor remain hungry?

A proposed Food Security Act would help - but not solve - the nation's food insecurity. Farmers are now the primary beneficiaries of India's public food distribution systems  [GALLO/GETTY] Salina, KS  - As India's proposed new Food Security Act hovers in political limbo, the nation remains hungry. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made headlines in early January when he labelled the fact that 44 per cent of children less than five years old were underweight and 65 children die each day of malnutrition " a national shame ". In all, 21 per cent of all Indians are undernourished. Indeed, India ranks among the  15 hungriest countries  in the world according to the Global Hunger Index - a grim fact made even grimmer when one recalls that one out of every six people on Earth lives in India. There is much talk these days about a human right to food. Even the governments that don't recognise such a right are aware of the political and social turmoil that erup