Monday, May 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Depending on diplomacy
Y asking Pakistan to recall its High Commissioner in New Delhi, Mr Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, India has tried to prove that it intends to avoid the use of the ultimate option, a war, to stop cross-border terrorism.

Another PSU selloff
NOTHER PSU has gone into private hands. As expected, Reliance Industries has picked IPCL to become the largest petrochemcals producer in the country. By bidding at Rs 231 per share of the government-owned Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd, Reliance has shelled out a hefty premium to the market price of Rs 134.


India’s foodgrains export
What about widespread malnutrition?
K.B. Sahay
HE Ministry of Food, Government of India, recently published an official advertisement in many of our newspapers proclaiming — though rightly so — that India now exports foodgrains to the world.




The SDM of Godhra
R.K. Kushik
ODHRA has been in news for the last three months because of communal riots. Riots broke out in Godhra exactly 71 years ago also in which nine persons belonging to a minority community were killed.


SYL: no link with share in Ravi waters
Harbans Singh
HE dispute between Punjab and Haryana on the sharing of Ravi Beas waters has been unduly politicised by both sides for deriving political advantage. At election time in either state, it becomes a major issue.

Novel fingerprint detecting method
HE police and forensic experts, who have the tough job of hunting barely-visible fingerprints from a scene of crime, have their task made easier after researchers in the country have developed a novel method of detecting latent fingerprints.


Vitamin D cuts colon cancer risk
ITAMIN D, which helps the human organism to absorb fats, could also help reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to a study. Researchers set out to find an explanation of why people who eat a lot of fat are at greater risk of developing colon cancer.

  • New pill slows cancer growth




Depending on diplomacy

BY asking Pakistan to recall its High Commissioner in New Delhi, Mr Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, India has tried to prove that it intends to avoid the use of the ultimate option, a war, to stop cross-border terrorism. This is so despite one act of provocation after another by the regime in Islamabad or its agents, the latest being the Kaluchak incident. Only a mature and responsible nation behaves in this manner. There are distress signals from various quarters in India and the patience of the nation is wearing out. People in general, it seems, expect the Union Government to take a decisive step to destroy the sources of terrorism on the other side of the border. This means a limited military strike inside Pakistan. Parliament has given the Atal Behari Vajpayee government its consent to take any decision it deems fit in the country's interest. But most strategic analysts fear that there is every possibility of a limited war soon taking the form of a full-scale military conflict between the two regional nuclear powers causing incalculable devastation. International opinion at that stage may go against India. Extremist elements in Pakistan, including terrorists and fundamentalists, may then acquire the commanding position, weakening the ongoing campaign against international terrorism. India, however, has a genuine grievance against the world community. Enough pressure is not being brought on Pakistan to force it to act as sincerely and effectively against Kashmir-related terrorism as it is doing for the US-led global initiative against the scourge. If the world, particularly the USA, refuses to take India's plea — to stop cross-border terrorism — with the seriousness it deserves, and New Delhi finally takes recourse to the military remedy, the blame will obviously lie with the international community for the consequences.

In response to the call for restraint from Washington and other world capitals, India is giving diplomacy every chance to deliver the goods. Forcing the Pakistan High Commissioner to depart for home, in fact, is a belated step. It was expected any time in the wake of the December 13 terrorist attack on the Parliament complex in New Delhi when India had recalled its High Commissioner, Mr Vijay Nambiar, from Islamabad. The message was crystal-clear: India could no longer maintain normal diplomatic relations with Pakistan owing to its use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy. There is the possibility of the two High Commissions' strength getting further reduced. India, however, seems to have very little diplomatic ammunition left with it. The USA, the European Union and others, which have their own long-term strategic interests to protect by preventing a military conflict between India and Pakistan, should move faster. President Pervez Musharraf must be bluntly told to quickly translate his January 12 speech into action to avoid a war, which may lead to cataclysmic results, jeopardising the very existence of Pakistan.


Another PSU selloff

ANOTHER PSU has gone into private hands. As expected, Reliance Industries has picked IPCL to become the largest petrochemcals producer in the country. By bidding at Rs 231 per share of the government-owned Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd, Reliance has shelled out a hefty premium to the market price of Rs 134. Its offer was also way ahead of the rivals’ -- Indian Oil Corporation and Nirma Chemical Works -- which made bids at Rs 128 and Rs 110 a share respectively. Thus, the government has collected a pretty good amount ( Rs1,490 crore) by divesting its 26 per cent stake in IPCL. The disinvestment process is happily going ahead despite the gloomy political situation and tension on the border. The handing over of the management control of Maruti Udyog to the Japanese partner, Suzuki Motor, for a consideration of Rs 1,000 crore has gone down well without any protests from any quarter. The nation, it appears, has come to terms with the changed economic situation in keeping with the global trends and accepted the need to privatise public sector undertakings. Given the huge debt, an alarming fiscal deficit, the declining revenue collections and almost sluggish exports, the proceeds from disinvestment are welcome, even if these may not help the government much in achieving its target of Rs 12,000 crore for the current fiscal. India has come a long way after Balco, whose disinvestment had raised the political temperature as many in the opposition had called it a selloff of national interests for private gains. The situation was controlled after the Supreme Court upheld the sale decision. It gave a boost to the disinvestment process.

One question that many will askabout the latest deal is: has Reliance overpaid for IPCL? At the first glance, the price offered does look on the high side, but never underestimate Reliance Industries, which enjoys a good reputation for excellent fiscal management. Reports suggest the company had started picking up IPCL shares from the market when the price had not yet shot up. On average the IPCL won’t appear to be an expensive bargain. Still, the bid shows how desperate Reliance was in acquiring IPCL. The acquisition makes Reliance a petrochemicals giant. This may make the company dictate terms. Competition is the core of a market-driven economy. Any monopoly or near monopoly situation can lead to the manipulation of prices and harm consumers. On the other hand, had Indian Oil Corporation taken over IPCL, this would have invited the criticism that it was no disinvestment, but just passing over of control of one PSU to another. And if a foreign company had won the bid, it would have made “swadeshi” followers uncomfortable. The disinvestment show has just begun. Next on the agenda are BPCL and HPCL, besides many non-oil PSUs.


India’s foodgrains export
What about widespread malnutrition?
K.B. Sahay

THE Ministry of Food, Government of India, recently published an official advertisement in many of our newspapers proclaiming — though rightly so — that India now exports foodgrains to the world. The advertisement asks boastfully to “recall that how in the past we were importing foodgrains and now we are removing the world’s hunger.” The advertisement carries the photographs of the Prime Minister, the Food Minister and two Ministers of State and highlights that (i) till now 82 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice have been exported; (ii) foodgrains have been exported to 20 countries; (iii) foreign exchange worth Rs 4000 crore has been earned; and (iv) India is now the seventh among the wheat exporting countries.

The advertisement has obviously been given to infuse in the country a sense of national pride. Besides, of course, it comes handy as a good propaganda material for the ruling political conglomerate. But is the export of foodgrains per se a matter of pride for the country?

It would be so if and only if our foodgrain production is in excess of our own minimum requirements. But since the foodgrains are being exported despite their production being less than our own necessary requirements, surely the country should feel concerned — and not proud — about this basic item so critical for survival. Therefore, to judge the merits and desirability of this official advertisement we must know our own foodgrain requirements.

According to the principles of nutrition, a well developed branch of medical science, a person must take a balanced diet which is defined as one which contains a variety of food items in such quantities and proportions as fulfils the need for energy, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and other nutrients is adequately met for maintaining health, vitality and general well-being, and also makes a small provision for extra-nutrients to withstand a short duration of leanness.

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has formulated the details of balanced diets required for Indian people according to their age, sex and physical activities, eg sedentary, moderate or heavy. These specific balanced diet charts prepared for the different groups of people vis-a-vis age, sex, etc, indicate the corresponding minimum dietary requirements of food, item wise.

Hence to estimate the minimum foodgrain requirement for India, the norms for cereal and pulse requirements as given in the balanced diet charts prepared by the NIN are obviously the most and perhaps the only suitable criteria.

So, by making use of the details as given in the balanced diet charts with the corresponding population distribution, the average per capita requirements for cereals and pulses for our population has been worked out. These come out to be respectively 477 and 46 grammes (g) per day, that is, a total of 523 g of foodgrains per day. This estimate is based on the assumption that all Indians are vegetarian. But we know that about 70 per cent of the population is non-vegetarian and takes meat, fish and eggs.

Now, according to the balanced dietary requirements, the difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets is that for non-vegetarians the pulse intake is reduced to half of the recommended for vegetarians for an intake of every 30 g of meat or fish or of one egg per day. So, the average total per capita foodgrain requirement for the non-vegetarian population become 500 g per day (i.e. 477 g of cereals and 23 g of pulses) instead of 523 g per day for vegetarians as stated above. Therefore, assuming that 70 per cent Indians are non-vegetarian and the rest 30 per cent are vegetarian, the overall average per capita foodgrain requirement works out to be 507 g per day.

By making allowance for the additional foodgrain requirements of 50 million pregnant and lactating women in India, the minimum per capita requirement of foodgrains comes to 510 g per day, that is, 186 kg per year (175 kg of cereals and 11 kg of pulses per day). In case the per capita consumption is less than 30 g of meat and fish per day, the pulses requirement will go up accordingly and vice-versa. To meet this demand of 186 kg per person per year our yearly foodgrain production has to be at least 10 per cent more than the demand of 186 kg to provide for seeds, wastage and animal feeds even if at the present awfully inadequate level. Thus, our total foodgrain production is required to be at least 205 kg per person per year.

This proves the correctness of the well-known thumb rule that a nation must produce more than 200 kg per person per year to come out to the famine-like conditions. Unfortunately, our average per capita foodgrain production during the period 1971-76, 76-81, 81-86 and 86-91 has been, respectively, only 180 kg, 186kg, 195kg and 198 kg as against the required 205 kg. And the situation was even worse before 1971: the average per capita production being mere 165kg, 175kg, 170kg and 180 kg per year during 1951-56, 56-61, 61-66 and 66-71 respectively. It is only in 1991-96 that our average per capita foodgrain production became 204 kg per year which is almost equal to our minimum requirement and has crossed that ominous 200 kg mark. But, unfortunately, the average per capita foodgrain production has not shown any increase during 1996-2001 and has remained at the same level of 204 kg.

Attempts are now being made to underestimate and lower down our foodgrain requirements and also the production targets by propagating undesirable myths. For example, it is being proclaimed that the national average of cereal requirement has now come down to only 420 g per capita per day (as against the balanced dietary requirement of 477 g of cereals). This — as is being asserted — is due to the increased consumption of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products. It is also being claimed that our cereal consumption will remain at this very level — 420 g per day in future also. This claim is not only fallacious but also harmful for the nation for various reasons.

First of all, according to the principles of nutrition, fruits and vegetables, even if taken in excess of the amount recommended for a balanced diet, cannot reduce the requirements for foodgrains as prescribed in the balanced diet charts just as excess consumption of foodgrains cannot lower the need for fruits and vegetables. And the current consumption of cereals at the average rate of 420 g per day, as stated above, is significantly lower than the recommended 477 g per day.

Moreover, our vegetable production is now about 70 million tonne per year, which comes to only 200 g per capita per day; whereas our average per capita requirement of vegetables is 160 g per day. And after providing for wastage, rotting and export (worth Rs 4 billion per year) there is hardly any excess of vegetable available in the country.

Yes, indeed we are somewhat better off in the case of fruit production, which is estimated at about 115 g per person per year, significantly more than the balanced dietary requirement of 30 g per capita per day. So, even after accounting for wastage, rotting and export (worth Rs 5.4 billion per year) we have perhaps adequate availability of fruits. But let me re-emphasise that fruit intake cannot lower our foodgrain requirement. However, our “direct” foodgrain dietary requirements, on the other hand, can very well come down by additional intake of meat, fish, eggs and dairy products as it has happened in many developed countries. But, incidentally, the production of milk and other non-vegetarian items in India are quite inadequate for that to happen.

The analysis made so far makes it clear that (i) our required minimum foodgrain production is 205 kg per person per year and it is only during the last decade that our foodgrain production has reached this required level (ii) It is wrong to say that because of “increased consumption” of food items like milk, eggs, vegetables, fruits, etc, our foodgrain requirement has come down to less than even the minimum balanced dietary requirement.

It is very important to explain here that why in spite of being able to produce foodgrains equivalent to about 205 kg per person per year, so many people in India do not get the required minimum amount of food. The reason is that 205 kg is bare minimum requirement and those who are able to afford to consume more than the required minimum.

Therefore, it is no wonder that about one-third of our population does not get even the required minimum quantity of calories necessary for human beings, leave aside the shortages of other essential nutrients.

Over half of our children are malnourished and are suffering from a moderate-to-severe degree of stunting. Over 30 per cent of the newly born babies in India have low birth weight which indicates the level and spread of undernourishment in women. And if, in spite of such widespread malnutrition and under-feeding, the country is able to export foodgrains, it is simply because one-third of our people are unable to purchase foodgrains according to their requirements due to their poverty. How else can one explain the widespread malnourishment and stunting in India?

Thus our annual foodgrain production has got to be much more than 205 kg per person if even the poor in India are to be well-fed and remain so with their economic development. Affluence raises the demand for foodgrains in yet another, albeit “indirect”, way as it has happened in other countries. As people grow rich, their consumption and demands for items like milk, eggs, meat and fish increase. To produce these items in increased quantities domestic animals and chicken need to be fed more and in a much better way by feeding them foodgrains.

That is why the net per capita foodgrain consumption increases as people move from poverty to affluence. And this is an important factor that needs to be kept in mind while estimating India’s foodgrain requirements.

But before we make an estimate of our future foodgrain requirements we must ask a basic question as JRD Tata often used to do: “What do we want? Bare survival or vigorous growth?” That is to say: should we plan just to continue with the present state of mere survival or aspire for an India full of strong, vigorous and well-built citizens as we find in developed countries? An answer to this question is critical in assessing India’s future food requirements.

The analysis given above makes it abundantly clear that India is exporting foodgrains not because we have any excess production than what is nutritionally required. The export has been necessitated simply because a sizeable proportion of our population is incapable of purchasing the nutritionally necessary quantity of foodgrains due to abject poverty leading to widespread malnutrition and partial starvation.

It is this lack of purchasing power of the poor people in our country that has turned our inadequate foodgrain production into an “excess” one, constraining the government to export the “surplus” foodgrains. Anyway, so far so good.

The writer is a professor at the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, IIT, Delhi.


The SDM of Godhra
R.K. Kushik

GODHRA has been in news for the last three months because of communal riots. Riots broke out in Godhra exactly 71 years ago also in which nine persons belonging to a minority community were killed.

At that time this town was part of the Bombay Presidency which consisted of present-day Maharashtra, Gujarat and Sind Province of Pakistan. Major General Sir Fredrick Stykes, the then British Governor of Bombay Presidency, took a serious view of the situation and brought the British troops to control the situation.

Sir Roger Lumely, the Commissioner of Surat Division (later the Governor of Bombay in 1940s) conducted an enquiry to fix the responsibility. Sir Lumely held the SDM (Mr M.R. Desai) and the SHO responsible for negligence.

The SHO along with a few policemen was discharged from service whereas the SDM, a 1918 batch Provincial Civil Service officer who had joined the service after his graduation from Wilson College, Bombay, was punished by putting him five steps down in seniority.

Obviously, the SDM felt that justice has not been meted out to him in the enquiry and the Governor too had agreed straightway with Sir Lumely without giving him the opportunity of explaining his conduct during the riots. He felt disgusted and resigned from the Provincial Civil Service. The Governor too accepted his resignation.

Later, the SDM realised that he acted in haste and should not have resigned from the service. Thereafter, he met Mahatma Gandhi and explained his position and informed him of the acceptance of hasty resignation. Convinced that injustice has been done to the young officer, Mahatma Gandhi advised him to give him an application dilating there in all the facts of the case. After the receipt of the same, Mahatma Gandhi addressed a letter (along with the application written by the former SDM) to Lord Irwin, the then Governor General and Viceroy of India. But, the British rulers were meticulous followers of discipline and administrative sagacity and Lord Irwin after consulting the Governor Major General Sir Fredrick Stykes rejected the request of Mahatma Gandhi and Mr Desai’s prayer for resumption of the Service.

The letter declining to accept the same written by Lord Irwin is very much available even now in the National Archives, New Delhi. Mr M.R. Desai joined the Indian National Congress and six years later became the Home Minister of Bombay Presidency. In 1946 he again became the Home Minister of Bombay Presidency and later the Chief Minister of Bombay Province (which at that time consisted of Maharashtra and Gujarat) the Union Finance Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister of India and from March 1977 to June 1979, Mr Morarji Ranchhodji Desai was the Prime Minister of India.


SYL: no link with share in Ravi waters
Harbans Singh

THE dispute between Punjab and Haryana on the sharing of Ravi Beas waters has been unduly politicised by both sides for deriving political advantage. At election time in either state, it becomes a major issue. Such disputes cannot be settled by reciprocatory fiery speeches delivered at political platforms. The Supreme Court judgement of 15.01.02 ordering construction of the SYL canal has been misconveyed by Haryana leaders to the public by projecting it as a victory regarding its share in the river waters. It was celebrated throughout the state as if Haryana had won a war. This was too much of politicisation of the issue.

Under the Constitution courts have no jurisdiction over the dispute relating to sharing of river waters. Commissions have failed to resolve the dispute. In fact, the Eradi Commission, instead of providing a solution, has made the issue more complicated by incorporating unsubstantiated figures about the availability and actual usage by each state. The only way to arrive at an acceptable solution is by mutual discussions based on certain ground realities, internationally accepted principles and the line adopted earlier in similar cases.

First, let the substance of the S.C. judgement be understood clearly. This has clarified one thing; by not detailing as to what is the share of Haryana in river waters (which of course is not in its jurisdiction) and which water has to flow in the SYL, it has de-linked the construction of SYL from the claim of Haryana on Ravi waters. The construction of SYL has, therefore, to be viewed independently of Haryana’s claim to Ravi waters. In case Haryana wants to use SYL for conveyance of a part of its share already available to it from the Satluj and Beas rivers, then it is altogether a different matter and presumably no one in Punjab would object to it.

The 1960 agreement between India and Pakistan, allocated to India, in addition to the waters of Satluj & Beas covered in the projects already completed or under-execution, the surplus waters of the Ravi which had not been harnessed & were flowing into Pakistan. It is being claimed by governmental & non-governmental organisations in Haryana that with this agreement, this surplus Ravi water became the joint property of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. First, this agreement was between two countries & not between the states or provinces of the two countries and hence waters were allocated to the two countries. Just as India could not tell Pakistan how & where to use the waters of Sindh, Jhelum & Chenab, Pakistan or that agreement could not say anything about the use of surplus Ravi waters allocated to India (not to any Indian state). More importantly, Haryana was not in existence in 1960 & accordingly there could be no question of its being mentioned as a joint partner in Ravi waters.

It is true that 20 years back, Punjab agreed to construct SYL, but it had never agreed that Ravi waters will flow through this canal. It was for Haryana to ensure which water would flow in it; if without ascertaining this, it undertook the risk of spending huge funds, it was its own decision, good or bad. Punjab has been forced to resist its construction only when Haryana started claiming a share of Ravi waters. Some advocates of Haryana’s claim go to the extent of saying that where is the question of Punjab having sole riparian right on the Ravi waters. This right accrues to Punjab as per the physical location, to the exclusion of everyone else and it is the only Indian state having this position. Nothing can alter this physical situation irrespective of any justified or unjustified claim on the Ravi waters. On the other hand, the apex court has recognised that Haryana is not a riparian state for the Ravi (page 6 of the judgement). With this, Haryana’s claim to the Ravi waters as a riparian state stands extinguished, not withstanding anything in the 1960 agreement.

The Chief Minister, Haryana, had recently stated that Haryana was claiming a share in the Ravi waters not as a riparian right but as a successor state. The joint Punjab had a share of 5.6 MAF in the Yamuna waters. At that time, the only unharnessed waters available to joint Punjab were surplus Ravi waters not being utilised in Punjab & 5.6 MAF of Yamuna water. Both these waters had the same status but a great discrimination was made & injustice was done to Punjab by allocating the Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966, the Yamuna waters to Haryana & leaving Ravi waters aside to become a source of dispute later. If Haryana claims a share in the Ravi water as a successor state, Punjab cannot be similarly denied 60% of the share of joint Punjab in the Yamuna water.

When Haryana came into existence, both these resources, being un-utilised, had the same status; no work had been started on the Thein dam to harness surplus Ravi water. Mustering courage, Punjab embarked upon this project more than 10 years back, undertaking a huge financial burden. Haryana is getting benefits from the Bhakra & Beas projects by sharing the financial burden. In the case of the Thein dam, Haryana had neither made any proposal to take up this project jointly to harness surplus Ravi water nor made any offer during its construction to share the cost. Punjab certainly cannot be expected to gift away benefits accruing to it after spending nearly Rs 5000 crore. What moral right does Haryana have now to claim a share in its benefits? The share of joint Punjab in the Yamuna waters was allocated to Haryana and if even after more than 35 years of having this right, though not in a justified manner, Haryana has not been able to make use of this asset, whatever the reasons, it has to blame itself and bear the consequences. Nobody would deny that Haryana needs more water (Rajasthan needs much more), but this need cannot be met at the cost of Punjab.

If need has to be considered, Punjab’s case is more forceful & serious. Punjab is feeding the nation but at a very heavy cost. In addition to the contribution of canal irrigation, Punjab’s food production is being supplemented by more than eight lakh electrically operated and a large number of diesel-operated tubewells. Such a large number of tubewells has resulted in lowering the subsoil watertable which is going down precariously and very fast. This is causing a huge burden on the farmers for deepening the tubewell bores, simultaneously increasing electricity & diesel consumption. And if this danger is not checked, Punjab would become another Rajasthan before very long.

A lesson from the USA is worth mentioning. This had happened in the State of Arizona. Excessive subsoil pumping resulted in the watertable going so deep that pumping became uneconomical & farmers had to abandon their farms. This happened about 30 years back & my father was one of the sufferers. The remedy is either to stop tubewell irrigation or alternatively increase the recharge through surface flow. Rain water is not enough for his purpose; increased surface flow from canals is the only answer and even from this angle, Punjab badly needs the additional Ravi water for which it has sunk all its resources in the Thein dam during the last more than 10 years.

Haryana would, therefore, do well by forgetting its claim on the Ravi waters and instead concentrate on harnessing the water available to it in the Yamuna and also more than 2 MAF in Ghaggar and rivulets like Tangri & Markanda. If Haryana wants a part of its share in the Bhakra & Beas waters to flow through SYL, it should say so clearly; and in that case, construction of SYL would have some meaning and presumably Punjab may not obstruct its construction. Haryana has to understand this position clearly instead of politicising the issue. A good neighbourly relationship has to be built on proper understanding of the situation based on ground realities.

Punjab on the other hand is unduly on the defensive. The question is not whether Punjab has or does not have a drop of surplus water. The correct position is that Haryana has no right or justification for a share in the Ravi waters. Punjab has already suffered by the denial of a share in the Yamuna waters — a serious discrimination and it can tolerate no more. Good neighbourly relations are certainly very desirable but no one should expect a neighbour to starve himself to feed a needy neighbour. Issues like the present dispute have to be resolved on the basis of legalities and ground realities and not in the background of politicised emotions.

The writer is a former Chairman of the PSEB



Novel fingerprint detecting method

THE police and forensic experts, who have the tough job of hunting barely-visible fingerprints from a scene of crime, have their task made easier after researchers in the country have developed a novel method of detecting latent fingerprints. “The new method, the only one of its kind in the world, of detecting fingerprints, which utilises novel spray formulations based on dyes, is cost-effective and non-hazardous,” Gurvinder Singh Sodhi, Reader, Khalsa College, who developed the technique along with his wife Jasjeet Kaur, lecturer, College of Applied Science for Women, told PTI.

For his pioneering work, Sodhi and his wife were jointly awarded a gold medal on the National Technology Day (May 11) in Delhi. The award has been sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a specalised agency of the United Nations.

Explaining the principle behind the technique, Sodhi said human sweat contains certain inorganic constituents. The new method fixes the calcium ions present in the sweat, which has not been resorted to uptil now. By using flourescent dyes, the fingerprints shine in the dark thereby aiding in their easy detection, he said. “As compared to conventional fingerprints, under this method, the entire fingerprint is clear, can be seen even with naked eye, persists over prolonged periods and does not distort by rubbing when developed on paper,” Sodhi said. PTI


Vitamin D cuts colon cancer risk

VITAMIN D, which helps the human organism to absorb fats, could also help reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to a study. Researchers set out to find an explanation of why people who eat a lot of fat are at greater risk of developing colon cancer.

“The rate of colorectal cancer is much higher in the USA — where a high-fat diet is common — than in Japan, where people don’t eat a lot of fat and colorectal cancer is almost non-existent. But no one has understood why that is,” said pharmacology professor David Mangelsdorf, one of the researchers.

The study shows that one part of the answer is the human organism’s inability to handle large quantities of lithocholic acid, which the body produces to absorb cholesterol. Vitamin D helps detoxify lithocholic acid produced during digestion, researchers said.

“Lithocholic acid is highly toxic, and it builds up in a high-fat diet. We don’t know how it causes cancer, but it is known to cause cancer in mice, and people with colon cancer have high concentrations of it,” said Mangelsdorf, of the University of Texas at Dallas.

But taking too much Vitamin D or a drug that mimics it has an undesirable side-effect which must be avoided, raising the level of calcium in the blood to dangerous levels, they warned. AFP


New pill slows cancer growth

A once-a-day pill that slows cancer by jamming its internal growth signals shows encouraging benefits in terminally ill lung cancer patients, quickly easing symptoms for many.

Research released yesterday showed that the drug, called Iressa, can shrink tumors in some patients who have failed all other therapy. But perhaps even more important for these patients, it relieves cancer symptoms in one-third or more of cases.

The drug, not yet approved for routine use, is one of the new class of so-called targeted therapies that works by specifically interfering with cancer rather than all fast-growing tissue, a standard chemotherapy does. As a result, it carries far fewer side effects, and patients often can safely take it for months or even years.

Many experts doubt that Iressa and drugs like it will cure cancer alone, but they say it may help hold the disease in check — especially if given in early stages. AP


A Dialogue

Yaksha: What are austerity, self control, forbearance and shame?

Yudhishthira: Austerity is observance of one's own dharma;

control of mind is self control;

forbearance is to endure the pairs of opposites like happiness and misery; turning away from improper action is shame.

Yaksha: What are knowledge, calmness, compassion, and uprightness?

Yudhishthira: A direct perception of the Supreme Reality is knowledge;

tranquility of the mind is calmness;

desire for happiness of all is compassion;

and sameness of the mind is uprightness.

Yaksha: Which enemy is difficult to vanquish?

What is a perpetual disease?

What distinguishes a good man from a bad one?

Yudhishthira: Anger is the enemy difficult to conquer;

greed is the perpetual disease;

a man engaged in the good of all is a good man;

and the hard-hearted, unsympathetic, a bad man.

Yaksha: What makes one a real brahmin-birth, good conduct or learning?

Yudhishthira: Neither birth nor learning makes one a brahmin. Good conduct alone does. A person will not be a brahmin if he is a slave to bad habits notwithstanding his vast learning. Even though he may be well versed in the four Vedas, a man of bad conduct falls to a lower class.

Yaksha: Righteousness, acquisition of wealth and fulfilment of desire seem to be contradictory to one another. How can these be harmoniously practiced by a householder?

Yudhishthira: When righteousness (dharma) and one's wife are helpful to each other, then only can these be harmoniously practised.

Yaksha: What is the greatest wonder in the world?

Yudhishthira: Every day living beings die in this world. Yet those that are left behind desire to live for ever!

This verily is the greatest wonder.

— The Mahabharata, Aranya Parvan

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