Friday, June 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


NMD yes, ABM also yes
NDIAN diplomatic tradition shuts out playing from both sides of the court. It is often loud and blunt but never the sly wink-and-nod variety. That is why External Affairs/Defence Minister Jaswant Singh’s unequivocal defence of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in Moscow has raised eyebrows. 

Elections in Iran
ESTERDAY the process of electing a new government was completed in Britain. Today it is the turn of Iran to undertake a similar exercise. The contrast in the values the two countries share is instructive.


By Hari Jaisingh
Vajpayee’s dialogue with Pakistan
Can Musharraf roll back the ifs and buts of history?
ILL the forthcoming dialogue between Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan’s Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf be different from such exercises in the past? A number of attempts have been made during the past 50 years or so to put Indo-Pakistan relations on an even keel, but in vain.



Our own “Dr Ranawat”
Rajnish Wattas
EADING about the legendry Dr C. Ranawat’s arrival, for the PM’s second knee surgery, I thought of our own local, self-effacing doc, who performed a similar miracle on my wife recently. And there are some remarkable similarities too. 


Will USA cut overseas deployment?
M.S.N. Menon
S the USA planning to withdraw its military forces from abroad? Is it more willing today to entrust security duties to regional powers? And is the National Missile Defence part of this new strategy? There is no doubt that a revolution is taking place in military technology.


Heart muscle regenerates after attack
HALLENGING one of medicine’s long-standing beliefs, a team of scientists has found the strongest evidence to date that human heart muscle cells regenerate after a heart attack, according to a study published in New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

  • Breast cancer numbers up


A Multan Sub-Inspector on trial


‘Fish medicine’ for asthma patients
ome June 8, and thousands of asthmatics who have descended on Hyderabad from all over India will open their mouths wide and let some live fish slither down their throats. It’s actually a dose of herbal medicine!

  • The blind reaches Everest top

  • Honour for creator of Jaipur Foot




NMD yes, ABM also yes

INDIAN diplomatic tradition shuts out playing from both sides of the court. It is often loud and blunt but never the sly wink-and-nod variety. That is why External Affairs/Defence Minister Jaswant Singh’s unequivocal defence of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in Moscow has raised eyebrows. Only a few days earlier he had enthusiastically supported the US dream plan of a National Missile Defence (NMD), which can materialise only on the ruins of the ABM. He told mediamen on Wednesday that an emasculation or burial of the ABM would create uncertainty and though it was a bilateral one between the USA and the former USSR (now Russia), it covered several military arrangements. This is the firm stand of Russia and his Russian counterpart voiced it powerfully and by his meaningful silence, Mr Jaswant Singh has owned it. How the USA interprets it is a different matter. But by insisting on prior consultation with and concurrence of Russia to tinkering with the ABM, he has cast India’s vote with the host country to make it two to one in favour of retaining the ABM, meaning scrapping the NMD. If China’s raucuous protests are counted, it is three to one. Mr Jaswant Singh has a nimble mind and thinks fast and sharply. He must have his reasons. He perhaps welcomed NMD because it discarded outmoded philosophy which had terrorised the world. Now he opposes abolishing the ABM because it will strip the world of comforting (read restraining) curbs. Anyway, he will have a lot of explaining to do when Mr Richard Armitage or whoever comes calling.

His four-day visit was a smashing success on the primary purpose. He went there to jointly preside over the Intergovernmental Commission for Military Technology Cooperation. Mr Jaswant Singh choked his hosts with a long shopping list. Deeply obliged, the Russian side placed on the table all it has, all it plans to have and whateverelse India might fancy. The Indian Army will have the fancied T-90 tanks, Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers, and one or more AWACS plane to monitor enemy troop movement. The Air Force demands and is about to get the fifth generation Sukhoi fighter jets, TU-22 long-range strategic bombers, powerful transport planes based on IL-204-214 and advanced jet trainers (an old demand). The Navy gets the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, a decommissioned one but retrofitted to serve for another 15 years. Then there are frigates, submarines and the whole works. In the past four years India has bought or contracted to buy military hardware worth $ 10 billion and the latest orders will cost nearly that much. More importantly, India becomes a partner in designing and production, not just a buyer and its needs for spare parts will be promptly attended to. 


Elections in Iran

YESTERDAY the process of electing a new government was completed in Britain. Today it is the turn of Iran to undertake a similar exercise. The contrast in the values the two countries share is instructive. One is praised for its commitment to free speech and liberal thought and the other is condemned for not having these two political virtues. The election-eve race riots in Oldham and Leeds exposed the real face of British society. The election-eve utterances by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami show that he wants to pull his country out of the phase of religious bigotry and towards the path of liberal values. Britain had led the chorus of protest when Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his "satanic" utterances. Khatami showed rare political courage to not only mention his name in the course of a hectic election campaign for his reformist agenda, but also declare the withdrawal of the controversial edict against an equally controversial author. Britain was at the end of its lection campaign when Mr Khatami made the bold announcement. It would have added to its reputation as champion of free speech had it been as loud in praising Iran for withdrawing the fatwa as it was in condemning it when the religious edict for Rushdie's head was issued. But who had the time to include positive global developments in his or her election speech when pockets dominated by people of Asian origin were on fire? The election-eve developments in Britain and Iran are both happy and unhappy. Happy for those who want to see Iran inch its way in the direction of free speech and liberal values. Unhappy for those who believed that Britain was still the land of "total goodness".

The winds of change which are blowing in Iran should have a positive impact not only on the region, but a world rocked by religious fundamentalism. Mr Khatami's first term as President was not without problems. The hardliners came down heavily on his pro-reforms supporters. Journalists and writers where targeted for supporting Mr Khatami and his liberal agenda. Four years ago he had offered a dream to the people of Iran which acquired shades of a nightmare because of the acts of repression of vigilante groups. It is clear that the President has taken a calculated risk by stating categorically that "we should consider the question of Salman Rushdie as closed." The statement was a warning to the hardliners that they should not interfere with his reforms programme as also an invitation to his supporters to not be cowed down by the threat of harassment. Four years ago he was vague about what shape his reforms programme would take. This time he knows what he wants. He wants to give every Iranian the freedom to speak up for what is perceived to be right and speak out against what is perceived to be wrong. But protecting freedom of speech is not possible in any society which has no respect for the rule of law. That is why Mr Khatami has promised enforcement of the rule of law and more as part of of his reforms package. He has succeeded in checking the activities of the vigilantes. But his re-election would depend on his followers turning up in large numbers to cast their votes.


Vajpayee’s dialogue with Pakistan
Can Musharraf roll back the ifs and buts of history?
By Hari Jaisingh

WILL the forthcoming dialogue between Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan’s Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf be different from such exercises in the past? A number of attempts have been made during the past 50 years or so to put Indo-Pakistan relations on an even keel, but in vain.

Factsheets of what went wrong are part of history. Most of the accounts of earlier happenings are available with us. A lot still remains hidden in yesteryears. They remain to be critically examined with a view to drawing appropriate lessons. In any case, we can broadly identify certain problems which kept India and Pakistan stuck in a never-ending zone of hostility, notwithstanding some feeble attempts to come out of it.

One, Islamabad could never settle down politically and psychologically as a nation on the basis of which Mohammad Ali Jinnah had sought partition on communal lines. Pakistan was born out of bloodshed and hatred — the traits its leaders have shown right from its independence. Negativism can hardly help shape a rational and human outlook. Nor can it build bridges of friendship and tolerance. Therein lies Pakistan’s tragedy.

Two, as a country born in the name of Islam, the sole priority of Pakistani rulers has been to grab Jammu and Kashmir by hook or by crook. Islamabad’s numerous misadventures in the valley and beyond right from 1948 have been prompted by its misplaced zeal to enlarge areas of conflict and emerge as a major force of the Muslim world vis-a-vis India.

Pakistan has shamelessly played the Islamic card to wean away the people of Kashmir from their secular path. It must be acknowledged that Kashmiris have different traditions and cultural ethos. They are liberal in values and religious practices. Islamabad could never reconcile itself to the fact that despite partition, India continues to have the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia.

Three, the domination of the armed forces in Pakistan’s political life and widespread tentacles of the ISI have virtually made it impossible for any leader to bury the hatchet with India. In fact, a retired Pakistani General once told me at Islamabad during the Nawaz Sharif regime: “Why should we drop our guns and go along with political leaders? This will finish the supremacy of the army and the ISI. Our Generals will never accept any proposal for a settlement as it will reduce their importance and force them to play second fiddle to the civilian authorities.”

This is actually the main reason why no Pakistani leader could pick up courage to sort out bilateral problems. Of course, India could have imposed its will when the Pakistani army was in retreat in 1948 and the subsequent wars of 1965 and 1971. Viewed in this light, the Tashkent declaration, the Shimla accord and the Lahore declaration are basically documents of sentiments lacking in direction.

It is one thing to float lofty ideas. But a meaningful dialogue requires sincerity and singleminded efforts at the ground level. Such an exercise also requires the right atmosphere at the people’s level. Unfortunately, this has never been the case. Much of the efforts have either been half-hearted or lacked transparency.

Call it a hidden agenda. Islamabad specialises in this area. The Kargil conflict is one such example of Pakistani duplicity. Even now, General Musharraf is inciting the jehadis while holding out an olive branch to Mr Vajpayee.

Four, from India’s point of view, a viable solution of Kashmir and other related problems has been elusive mainly because Indian leaders have never been sure of what they ought to be doing. Jawaharlal Nehru could have clinched the matter following the Pakistani-sponsored invasion in 1948. But perhaps his idealism overshadowed his calculations.

The problem with our leaders is that they tend to be naive and docile instead of striking tough postures. That is how Indira Gandhi missed the bus during the Simla summit. She could have avoided being taken in by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s pleading for mercy. She released over 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war because she did not want to finish Bhutto politically on his return to Islamabad.

We have already paid a heavy price for appeasement. Ours is not an activist civilisation, crusading for causes.

There are, of course, several ifs and buts of history. Equally critical are numerous hazy factors. Certain deductions are drawn on the basis of available information which could become irrelevant once new facts, if any, come to light.

It is easy to surmise after the event. All the same, if the leadership has a vision for tomorrow and shows sufficient guts to translate it into action, solutions of even very complicated problems can be explored.

Five, a Kashmir solution could have been evolved if the Indian leaders had played their cards intelligently. The ground realities today are different from what they were in the sixties and the seventies. The emergence of Talibanised Afghanistan has added the most dangerous element in subcontinental politics.

Six, the USA continues to be a major player in the area. It once heavily armed Pakistan and also backed it to achieve its objective in Afghanistan. Washington may not be as friendly with Islamabad as it once was. This could be to India’s advantage, provided we identify our interests and pursue them vigorously at the diplomatic level.

It will be futile to expect a miracle. It needs to be remembered that Gen Musharraf’s response to Mr Vajpayee’s invitation has been prompted more by his pressing internal and external compulsions than any genuine desire for a patch-up. It is doubtful if the Pakistani establishment has undergone a change of heart.

What is Islamabad’s possible line of thinking? It is no secret that General Musharraf is struggling to survive amidst mounting pressure from the Punjabi-dominated armed forces and the serious slowdown in the economy.

An equally critical factor for him is the growing influence of the mullahs and other Talibanised elements. These fundamentalists would like to overthrow Gen Musharraf’s regime and grab power in Islamabad. It is a delicate situation for Pakistan’s Chief Executive. No wonder, he has been talking in different tones to different audiences and for different reasons.

In the circumstances, the moot question is: can a solution to the Kashmir imbroglio be evolved? A way out of the messy situation is possible if the two sides are ready to adjust on the basis of give and take.

One proposal which has often figured behind the scene of Indo-Pak talks — even at the Simla summit — is to turn the Line of Control (LoC) into an international border with certain adjustments. Once this is done, other modalities can be worked out, including the movement of people. A soft international border is feasible provided Islamabad gives up its terrorism-cum-jehadi card. This will require ruthless curbs on foreign mercenaries now operating freely from across the border.

In fact, General Musharraf should be thankful to Mr Vajpayee that South Block has dropped the pre-condition of “stop terrorism first” for starting talks. In this context, he should show a friendly gesture by handing over the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane, who are now in Pakistan.

Islamabad must realise that it cannot have better ties with India unless it stops aiding and abetting terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, etc.

Also, it needs to be noted that the All-Party Hurriyat Conference does not represent the wishes of Kashmiris. It only represents the wishes of the military establishment in Islamabad.

As for the question of referendum, it is a dead issue. The USA too thinks so. India is a liberal democracy and these traits can be seen in Jammu and Kashmir. The pro-Pakistani elements should thank their stars that because of India’s liberal and secular traditions, the Hurriyat and other pro-Pakistani leaders continue to live in Srinagar with full freedom. Let them try their luck in Islamabad. They will then understand the ground reality in Pakistan.

Be that as it may, having revived the hope for peace in Kashmir, India should try its best to settle Kashmir and other problems without compromising its basic position. However, a reasonable response has to come from Islamabad as well. Here we have no choice but to keep our fingers crossed. As it is, Mr Vajpayee is the best bet for a peaceful solution of outstanding bilateral issues.

It is high time that Pakistani politicians, Generals and thinkers started looking at the positive aspects of a friendly India. Islamabad has everything to gain economically, politically and culturally if its Generals give up their belligerent attitude. The new “mantra” for Indo-Pakistan relations must be mutual benefit in trade and economy. The two countries can also open a new chapter in the social and cultural fields.

A hate-India campaign in Pakistan has vitiated the atmosphere. What Pakistan has been preaching and practising does not fit in the 21st century setting. We cannot generate peace and stability in the sub-continent by following 18th-century barbarism and fanaticism, as the jehadis are hellbent on doing in Kashmir and beyond.

Has General Musharraf an answer to Pakistan’s accumulated hatred, which can only be self-destructive?


Our own “Dr Ranawat”
Rajnish Wattas

READING about the legendry Dr C. Ranawat’s arrival, for the PM’s second knee surgery, I thought of our own local, self-effacing doc, who performed a similar miracle on my wife recently. And there are some remarkable similarities too. Both are tall, lean and wiry with athletic builds — and bald! Our doc — though much younger — also goes about his job, with absolute meticulousness and quiet efficiency, yet relaxing tense situations with his characteristic wry humour.

I remember vividly when he walked in unannounced — without the retinue of the usual trembling junior residents — into my wife’s room at the city’s premier institute, the night before surgery. After a brief examination of the knees and a look at the reports he enquired: “How are you bhenji?” Quite, quaintly he addresses all ladies as such, except for the nurses whom he calls sisterji! “Nervous? ... so would I be, if I had to be operated.” My wife replied: “Yes a little,” but added that as she had great faith in him it was OK. To which he advised — in all humility — to trust the Almighty instead, as he was merely his instrument.

“If you won’t sleep well tonight, I’ll somehow know, and not sleep well also,” he gently warned. As we all let out a little laugh, my pocket comb fell out. When I bent down to retrieve it; he gazed at my arid top and remarked that wasn’t it strange that all baldies — including him — were very particular about carrying combs! That immediately eased the tension, and I instinctively knew then, that all would come out well.

Next morning my wife was wheeled in for the surgery. She recalls everything in the OT, as she was awake throughout; eyes wide shut, having been given only epidural anaesthesia. While we all, the family and friends spent anxious moments outside, the patient was being nicely pampered inside and asked about her music preferences. Finally, it was Jagjit Singh and songs from Zubeida, that were played as a harmonious consensus between the doc and the patient!

After about four hours of anxious vigil outside, that felt like eternity; there was a call for me. I rushed into the recovery room with a palpitating heart and a prayer on the lips. But, there was the smiling doc in his “surgical regalia” that makes humans look like extraterrestrial beings, pointing towards my fully conscious, but pale looking wife with a half-smile on her face; assuring us that all was well. Then I was shown an X-ray of the new, normal, knee joint and jokingly informed that as the implant was of Swiss-make; my wife would always now carry a bit of the paradisical Switzerland in her. I could only mumble a relieved “Thank God”.

Undoubtedly, it was not a cakewalk after that. Days of intense pain and agonising physiotherapy followed. Finally, the day we had been all waiting for arrived. Both the knees had healed perfectly and the stitches taken out. It was time for the patient to go for her first walk. At first, my wife looked very unsure and jittery, but egged on by the doc she managed to take the agonisingly slow first step — straight, unbent and pain free! And then she let out an unbelieving, joyous shriek of excitement! We all had moist eyes, to say the least.

Even though it’s going to be long road to full recovery, she will now walk again. And walk tall! Thank you doc.


Will USA cut overseas deployment?
M.S.N. Menon

IS the USA planning to withdraw its military forces from abroad? Is it more willing today to entrust security duties to regional powers? And is the National Missile Defence (NMD) part of this new strategy?

There is no doubt that a revolution is taking place in military technology. And with each innovation, there is a change in strategy. Of course, strategy can change with changes in politics and economics too. But it is technology which is driving the entire military outlook.

Wars are fought today by machines. Robotics are taking over much of the work of the battlefield. And war has become bloodless. In the entire Gulf war, the USA lost only a few of its soldiers. The day is not far off, says a US journal, when the computer chip and the robot will be mobilised as the military’s shock troops. There is truly a revolution in military affairs.

At the core of this technological revolution is the emergence of precision guided munitions, as well as speed, memory capacity and networking capabilities of the modern computers.

In fact, American generals are so confident of technological advance that one air force chief claimed that in the first quarter of the 21st century, it would be possible to find, fix or track and target anything of consequence that moved upon the face of the earth.

What will be the effect of this revolution in technology on American foreign policy? With the US being able to strike at will any potential enemy anywhere in the world, overseas military bases and deployments of troops will become much less important. A 1997 Congressional report says that US-based forces can project significant power within hours and days rather than months. Various “vision” statements by the services anticipate a rapidly deployable, automated, precise and long-range strike force by 2010 or 2020.

After the cold war, the USA has reduced its military personnel abroad by 50 per cent. But there are still about 250,000 uniformed personnel abroad, out of a total military strength of 1.4 million. The cost of equipping, training and paying these troops comes to $ 50 billion out of a total defence outlay of about $ 300 billion. So any reduction in overseas deployment can mean substantial saving. But the idea is not to disband them, but to retain them within the USA.

The deployment of forces abroad has often led to irritation with host countries. US troops are often targets of ire of the local population. In Saudi Arabia they came under terrorist attacks. All these have led to the demand that overseas deployment must be reduced.

That is why there are many advocates today for a home-based force that can strike out in times of emergency. But this is easier said than done. In practical terms, this is not yet possible.

The idea of a push-button war is based on the technical advance in methods of warfare from the times of the First World war. From mechanised vehicles to nuclear weapons — the march had been phenomenal. The next great leap will be marked by miniaturisation, automated control systems, sensor technology and precision guidance weaponry.

Today the enemy is not the conventional state. More often the enemy has no “borders”. These stateless enemies could be “an amalgam of transnational and sub-national adversaries, outlaw syndicates, corporations or drug cartels.” Such formations are more likely to forsake conventional combat tactics in favour of psychological warfare, information sabotage and terrorism.

But it is not yet time to write off the nation state or inter-state conflict. But in inter-state conflicts, reliance is on technology to enhance war-fighting capacity. The Gulf War is the model for such conflicts, where integration of command, control, communications and intelligence provided the model for future wars.

Of course, the military revolution gives America a supreme position in both weapons and strategies. It will be able to dominate the weapon market. The European Union is concerned over it. The Chinese are said to be avid students of the military technological revolution. In fact, China is planning short duration, high intensity regional wars by creating small forces armed with advanced weaponry. For example, China is specialising in introducing viruses in computer systems on a large scale.

But it is too early to bring back the yankees. It is like this : the introduction of nuclear weapons did not make conventional war or conventional weapons obsolete. In fact, if we are to examine the future wars, it will be found that several of the old technologies will continue to endure.

For example, aircraft will be needed to patrol the skies. They will, in turn, need dependable bases in the actual theatre of the conflict. Air superiority will continue to be in need for years to come in spite of missiles. There is considerable reliance on the B-2 stealth attack bomber.

Ground forces are still necessary to seize and hold territory. That role is still needed. Ground forces are still needed to overthrow an enemy that is planning to go nuclear.

Or, it may be necessary to evict an aggressor from a territory. But future ground forces need not be large. In fact, smaller forces will be effective in 21st century. Robotics may allow individual soldiers to investigate their near-abouts. Accoustics sensors may allow troops to pick up the precise location of an enemy sniper from the report of his weapons. All these help reduce the number of soldiers actually employed in operations.

Alvin Toffler, the futurist author, who is highly influential with the defence forces and strategists, is advocating today anti-war strategies. In fact, he suggests victory without combat. He relies on information superiority.

There are other problems. The only way to move heavy ground forces and their equipment is still by sea. And moving these forces by sea takes time. So ground forces that must be on hand early in a fight will have to be based in the region. Or, at least their equipment must be stored in the area.

Forward presence is important for the USA to demonstrate its commitment to maintain the security of its allies. In fact, their very presence is like a guarantee to the host countries. Withdrawing them would appear as if the USA no more honours its commitment. This is why full withdrawal is out of question. It is likely that the USA will now rely more on regional powers for the upkeep of security around the world.


Heart muscle regenerates after attack

CHALLENGING one of medicine’s long-standing beliefs, a team of scientists has found the strongest evidence to date that human heart muscle cells regenerate after a heart attack, according to a study published in New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

Scientists from New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York reported their success in finding large scale replication of heart muscle cells in two regions of the heart and in identifying several other key indicators of cell regeneration.

Dr Piero Anversa, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, led a team that studied myocytes, or heart muscle cells, from 13 patients, 4 to 12 days after their heart attacks. The team also looked at myocytes from 10 patients who did not have cardiovascular disease.

Samples were obtained from the border zone near the site of the heart attack and from a more distant site from the damaged tissue.

By viewing these areas of the heart with a high resolution confocal microscope, Anversa and his colleagues reported they were able to measure the expression of Ki67, a protein found in the nucleus of dividing heart muscle cells. Ki67 is expressed during all phases of a cell’s life cycle and is a strong indicator of cell division.

The scientists also obtained images of mitotic division and found other evidence of myocyte replication, including the formation of the “mitotic spindle,” and “contractile ring,” critical structural indicators of cell division.

Important evidence of myocardial repair was demonstrated by the mitotic index, a measurement of the degree of myocyte division. In comparison with normal hearts, the number of myocytes multiplying in diseased hearts was 70 times higher in the border zone and 24 times higher in the remote myocardium, the researchers found.

Research on animal models supports this possibility. In the April 4 issue of Nature, the Anversa team and a colleague at the National Institutes of Health reported that adult stem cells isolated from mouse bone and injected into a damaged mouse heart became functioning heart muscle by developing into myocytes and coronary vessels.

Moreover, the newly formed tissue partially restored the heart’s ability to pump blood. Although a cardiac stem cell has not yet been identified, scientists have identified a neural stem cell in the brain.

“Why not the heart?’’ asked Anversa.

The heart study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Institute on Aging.

Claude Lenfant, Director of the NHLBI, a component of NIH, called it a landmark study.

“It has long been assumed that when the heart is damaged — such as after a heart attack — heart muscle cells do not regenerate and the damage is permanent. This assumption has been challenged in recent years by evidence that heart muscle cells may in fact regenerate.

“Now, this latest research provides the most dramatic and clear-cut demonstration to date of heart cell regeneration after cardiac injury,’’ Lenfant said.

Breast cancer numbers up

Cancer death rates are steadily declining due to better screening and treatment and less smoking, but a worrisome rise in breast cancer has fueled a slight uptick in cancer cases among women.

The number of new breast cancer cases increased at a rate of 1.2 per cent per year from 1992 until 1998, capping an overall jump of 40 per cent over 25 years, researchers said in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Breast cancer death rates dropped even as doctors diagnosed growing numbers of new cases, particularly among white women 50 to 64 years old, they said. Breast cancer kills about 40,000 American women a year.

Breast cancer numbers were the driving force behind a 0.3 per cent per year annual increase in overall cancer rates among American women from 1992 to 1998. The number of new cancer cases among men fell 2.7 per cent per year in the same period.

Blacks continued to suffer the highest death rates of any racial group and a higher incidence of new cases of many cancers, but racial disparities may be narrowing. While the death toll among black men remained the worst of any category, they experienced the biggest drop in death rates from 1992 to 1998.

Researchers said one explanation for the increase is that aggressive screening, like mammography, has turned up more early cases that otherwise would have gone undetected for years. But increasing obesity and use of post-menopausal hormones also may be factors.

Lung cancer, a disease primarily caused by smoking, remains the No. 1 cause of cancer death among both men and women with 150,000 deaths a year. Lung cancer mortality began to drop for men in 1990 but women’s death rates continued to inch up.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a statement: “This welcome news on declining rates underscores the incredible progress we’ve made against cancer, but it also reminds us that our fight is far from over. It is clear that we must not only treat cancer, but beat this deadly disease.”

The report was produced by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, or NCI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the American Cancer Society and NAACCR.

It was based in part on data from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program, which since 1973 has collected cancer incidence data from geographic areas comprising 14 per cent of the US population.

Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. It is caused by internal factors such as inherited mutations and external factors such as exposure to chemicals, radiation and viruses.

“We have an aging population, and cancer is a disease of the older population. As our population ages, the chance that we will see more persons getting cancer is more likely. The good news is that we hope this decline that we currently see overall will continue,” added CDC’s Dr Phyllis Wingo. Reuters 


A Multan Sub-Inspector on trial

IN the case of alleged bribery and extortion pending against Abdul Karim Khan, Sub-Inspector of Police at Multan Cantt. Khuda Baksh, constable, being examined on oath, during the course of his evidence deposed that the Sub-Inspector asked Ala-ud-Din, complainant, if he knew anything about the stolen property, and if so to admit it. Alaudin said he was not guilty and knew nothing. The witness was s tanding about 1½ karams away and could hear what was being said. He then heard the sound of a chipate and a scream from Ala-ud-Din’s brother. He gathered it was Alauddin’s brother as he came out of Mistrikhana crying when this took place. One Chanan Din, another man, gave a bundle of notes to Ala-ud-din who gave these notes to Abdul Kasim.


Fish medicine’ for asthma patients

Come June 8, and thousands of asthmatics who have descended on Hyderabad from all over India will open their mouths wide and let some live fish slither down their throats. It’s actually a dose of herbal medicine!

The Hyderabad-based Bathini Goud family, which has been administering the famous “fish medicine” free of cost, is expecting at least 5,00,000 people to turn up this year to take the “wonder drug” based on what they call the “wisdom of the sacred sages of ancient India.”

The medicine involves putting a yellow colored herbal paste into the mouth of a live “Murrel” fish of 2 to 2.5 cm in size. This is then slipped into the mouth of the patient. It is believed the live fish travels, wagging its tail and fins through the throat removing phlegm along the way and thus providing relief to patients. IANS

The blind reaches Everest top

More than 100 people climbed Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, in the three-month climbing season that ended last week.

Those who successfully reached the top of the 8,850 metres mountain included the youngest person ever to do so, the oldest, and the first blind climber. Fifteen-year-old sherpa Temba Tsheri reached the top last month on his second attempt. American Sherman Bull (64) became the oldest person to reach the top and with his son Bradford (33), the first father and son to do it together. Erik Weihenmeyer, meanwhile, followed the sound of bells tied to the packs of his fellow climbers to become the first blind person to conquer the mountain. Reuters

Honour for creator of Jaipur Foot

Dr Pramod Karan Sethi, whose famous “Jaipur Foot” has transformed the lives of millions of land mine amputees and polio victims in India and abroad, will become the first Indian to be honoured with the Rotary International’s highest award later this month. Dr Sethi (73) will be given the prestigious Rotary Award for World Understanding and Peace, which carries a $ 100,000 grant, at San Antonio, Texas (US) on June 26. UNI


O Lord! may our wishes become always fruitful

Through Thy grace.

May our aspiration to participate

in the government of world-wide empire

be never frustrated.

— Yajurveda, V.II.10


Love is the foundation and the apex of the pyramid of our existence.

Love is "the affirmative of affirmatives";

It enlarges the vision and expands the heart.

Love is the creative fire, the inspiration that keeps the torch of progress aflame.

Love is the dove of peace, the spirit of brotherhood;

It is tenderness and compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.

Love is the supreme good; it is the overflowing life, the giving of ourselves to noble causes.

Love is down to earth and it reaches to the highest star;

It is the valley of humility and the mountaintop of ecstacy.

Love is the spiritual magnetism that draws men together for the working of miracles.

Love is the perfect antidote that floods the mind to wash away hatred, jealousy, resentment, anxiety and fear.

Love alone can release the power of the atom so it will work for man and not against him.

The art of love is God at work through you.

— Wilferd A. Peterson, The New Book of the Art of Living


I am not from east or west nor from land or sea

I am not from the quarries of nature, nor from the spheres of heaven,

I am not of earth, nor of water,

nor of air nor of fire.... I am not from India, nor from China... My place is placeless, my trace is traceless.

no body, no soul,

I am from the soul of souls.

— Jalaludin Rumi


Raising the word from the navel lotus,

They form the rhythm at the throat lotus,

Carrying the sacred word of the preceptor,

They practice concentration in the head.

— Sai Qutab Ali Shah

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