Monday, February 20, 2017

How protein deficiencies impact the health of communities in India

Parvati Singh's picture

Soybean farmers discuss best practices that can leverage improvement of food and nutrition security in Madhya Pradesh.
The state of Madhya Pradesh in India is largely vegetarian with limited consumption of eggs and meat.
While these dietary preferences are commonplace in other Indian states, Madhya Pradesh is facing a protein deficiency epidemic which threatens the long term health of its population.
How did it get there?
In 2015 I spent five weeks in rural and tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh evaluating the World Bank’s Madhya Pradesh District Poverty Intervention Project (MPDPIP II), with the support of the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI)
Across the 8 districts I visited, families shared how they had improved their agricultural productivity, started backyard kitchen gardening, and supplemented their income through dairy and poultry farming, collective procurement and small scale enterprises.
As I examined local village level health records, Anganwadi Center (AWC) registers, Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife (ANM) registers and Primary Health Center (PHC) documents, I noticed a reduction in severe malnutrition and severe anemia among pregnant women and under 5-year-old children.
However, this decrease did not extend to moderate or mild malnutrition and anemia.
This was puzzling, as I had expected rates of malnutrition and anemia, be they moderate or high, to be lower for families who were backyard gardening and therefore benefited from a more diverse and nutrient-dense diet.
Furthermore, I did not observe a correlation between higher income and reduced malnutrition. I realized that perhaps acute malnutrition can be addressed to a certain extent by rise in income, but improvement of chronic conditions cannot be brought about by income increase alone.
Based on the data I had gathered, and several discussions with PHC doctors, the missing link, I concluded, appeared to be the lack of dietary protein in daily consumption. This deficiency may be the result of multiple factors:
First, there are no incentives for small farmers in Madhya Pradesh to cultivate dried legumes known as pulses, which are very high in proteins.  Additionally, market prices of pulses and lentils are prohibitively high, which discourage consumption by poor families.
Second, the government practice of banning eggs in mid-day meals and Anganwadi health centers for children has exacerbated the current protein deficit.
Finally, and ironically, household consumption of the protein-rich soya bean is almost non-existent, despite Madhya Pradesh being one of the largest soya producers in the country.
Addressing this grave issue will require a multi-pronged approach involving improved accessibility to food items rich in protein, behavior change communication, and fortification of commonly used food products.
There is also a need for production support, through agriculture extension services, value chain interventions that make protein rich crops lucrative for farmers, input support through credit access and convergence with allied government activities.
Furthermore, households that cannot afford to produce or purchase protein-rich foods need to be provided consumption support through credit access and subsidies through public distribution systems and other means.

Trump remarks on immigrants ‘problems’ baffles Sweden

US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Sweden experienced an immigration-related security incident prompted a baffled response from the Scandinavian country on Sunday as diplomats asked for an explanation and citizens responded with amusement.
Trump, who in his first weeks in office has tried to sharply tighten US borders on national security grounds, cited Sweden as a country that had experienced problems with immigrants in remarks at a rally on Saturday.
“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” Trump said. “Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
That appeared to confuse the Swedish government, which asked the US State Department to explain what the new president meant.”We are trying to get clarity,” Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said.The State Department said it did not comment on diplomatic communications.
Trump has been widely criticised for making assertions with little supporting evidence.
In recent months, he has argued that more than 3 million people voted fraudulently in the U.S. election, an assertion that election officials say is false, and incorrectly stated that he won the election by the most decisive margin in decades.
Swedish news sources made no mention of a recent terrorism attack or other high-profile crime in the country.
“Nothing spectacular happened in Sweden on Friday,” wrote the Local, an English-language website in Sweden.
Fox News, a US cable news channel that has sometimes been cited favourably by Trump, ran a report on Friday night about alleged migrant-related crime problems in the country.
Sweden’s crime rate has fallen since 2005, official statistics show, even as the country has taken in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom appeared to respond to Trump’s latest statement by posting on Twitter an excerpt of a recent speech in which she said democracy and diplomacy “require us to respect science, facts and the media.”
Her predecessor was less circumspect.
“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter.
Other Swedes mocked Trump’s remark on Twitter using the hashtag #LastNightInSweden, posting pictures of reindeer, Swedish meatballs and people assembling the country’s famous IKEA furniture.
“#lastnightinsweden my son dropped his hotdog in the campfire. So sad!” Twitter user Adam Bergsveen wrote.

100 Days of Demonetisation Observed with Protests:

Citizens’ Protest Demand Whitepaper on Impacts of Demonetisation

New Delhi: “Demonetisation policy has been proved to be a disaster for the people”, D Raja, Rajya Sabha MP and Communist Party of India leader said at a Citizens’ March and Protest today at Jantar Mantar.

People from different walks of life, representatives of various people’s movements, civil society groups, trade unions and political parties protested on the 100th day of demonetisation questioning the motive and implementation and highlighting the colossal damage that has caused to the lives and livelihood of common people, while the ones with the black-money managed an easy escape.

Congress Party veteran and former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) Nilopal Basu, leader of National Federation for Indian Women Annie Raja, General Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha Hannan Molla, Vice President of All India Bank Officers Association Ravinder Gupta, leader of New Trade Union Initiative Gautam Modi were some of the prominent political and trade union leaders who spoke at the protest.

“Not only did Prime Minister Modi fail to bring black money back, or depositing Rs. 15 lakh in every bank account, as promised during elections, he snatched whatever little people had as savings through demonetization”, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said.

“Note ban devastated the lives of the poor and unorganised sector, while the rich lose nothing”, CPI (M) leader Nilopal Basu said.

“With 98% of demonetised currency returning to the banks, the said objectives of the demonetisation failed, while the miseries of common people, and the bank employees who had to face the wrath of distressed people kept growing”, Ravinder Gupta from Bank Officers Association.

Large number of people from Katputli colony, which is under the threat of demolition, and whose livelihoods have been severely hit because of demonetisation turned out in large numbers for the protest. Adding insult to injury to their lives, while the demonetisation left them nearly jobless, the threat of forced eviction, without adequate rehabilitation has put them in a precarious condition. Political party leaders extended support to their struggle.

Domestic Workers Union, Railway Mazdoor Union, Delhi Young Artists Forum, Safai karamchari Union, Jhugi Jhopdi Union, Construction Workers Union and farmers affected by industrialization in Kanjhawala in the outskirts of Delhi were some of the prominent people’s movements protested today.

People protested vehemently said, we, the common people of India, need people oriented governance and not corporate-driven economic emergency. We reject the economic and political premises of demonetization and affirm that a transparent and accountable government is required to replace the current logic of ‘we know what is good for the people’. We reject in totality the authoritarian drive to push the UID/Aadhar scheme down people’s throats and demand political and judicial intervention to stop the drive immediately. We demand that the government produce a white paper on the impacts of demonetization on people’s lives and livelihoods and compensate for the lives and livelihoods. We demand that the corporate-driven ‘cashless’ economy plan be immediately withdrawn.

Sanjeev Kumar – +91-9958797409
Joe Athialy – +91-9871153775

No need to include US in Ukraine peace talks

No need to include US in Ukraine peace talks, German FM says

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says he sees no need to add the US to the current format of four-way ministerial meetings concerning the Ukraine settlement, noting, however, that close contact with Washington on the matter is “necessary.”
There must be close contact with the United States, but we think this [Normandy] format… should be maintained,” Gabriel said after he met with his Russian, French, and Ukrainian counterparts on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. The Minister added that the matter had been discussed with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and that he had “agreed with this.”
taken to a new “higher level” with the participation of the US.
Ukraine’s representative to the Trilateral Contact Group for Donbass (the name commonly used for the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine), former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, said in December last year that Russia’s stance was an obstacle to including the US in the Normandy format.  However, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said that Moscow does not oppose the inclusion of other countries, including the US, in the talks.
Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine on Saturday talked mostly of the recent escalation in eastern Ukraine and ways to stem the violence. The sides agreed to use their influence to introduce a new ceasefire and facilitate the withdrawal of heavy weapons in the region starting Monday.
“We have reached several agreements. All sides have agreed to use their influence to implement the decisions made by the trilateral contact group on February 15,” Sigmar Gabriel said, as cited by Reuters. The group comprises Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and aims to facilitate the peace process.

We are going to meet in a few weeks for preparations of the political process, which will be the hardest task. But the political process cannot be started without a ceasefire and pullout of heavy weapons,” the minister concluded.“The aim is to have a ceasefire starting from February 20 and to do what has long been agreed but never implemented: to withdraw the heavy weapons from the region, to secure them and enable the OSCE monitors to control where they are kept,”
 Gabriel added. He noted also that the Normandy group will meet again soon to start preparing the launch of the political settlement process.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Russia has been actively supporting the decision to introduce an immediate ceasefire.
On February 20 the ceasefire regime will start and withdrawal of heavy military hardware will also start… We have actively supported this decision and obviously expressed a conviction that this time, failure should not be allowed,” Lavrov said after talks with his counterparts, adding that he believed both Kiev and the rebels would abide by the February 20 date. He noted, however, that the talks failed to bring about all the anticipated results.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said he was “not at all” happy with Saturday’s talks and complained about a lack of “powerful results,” speaking to Reuters after the ministerial meeting.RT news

Ajeetesh Sandhu retains title in style with playoff win over Khalin Joshi

Ajeetesh pulls out dazzling 63 on final day to set up win
Hyderabad, February 19, 2017: Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu continued his love affair with the city of Hyderabad as he won the Golconda Masters, a Rs. 40 lakh event, for the second year running at the picturesque Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC) on Sunday.
Sandhu (70-67-73-63), lying a lowly 17th, five shots off the lead, after the penultimate round, literally pulled a rabbit out of the hat on day four as he fired a dazzling eight-under-63 to take his total to 11-under-273 and as a result earn his place in the playoff against Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (65-70-70-68) in the second event of the 2017 PGTI season. Joshi, the overnight joint leader, posted a three-under-68 in the final round.
Ajeetesh finally sealed his third professional title with an eight feet birdie conversion on the first playoff hole (played on the 18th) even as Khalin could only manage a bogey after finding the bunker with his tee shot.Ajeetesh, who refreshed memories of his victory last year, took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 6 lakh to emerge as the PGTI Order of Merit leader.
Sandhu didn’t have the best start to the day as he struggled on the first three holes. He found the water on the third where he dropped a bogey. The turnaround for the 28-year-old began from the fourth where he drained a 25-footer for birdie. From there on, he went on to add an eagle and six more birdies to match the tournament’s best single-round score achieved earlier in the week by Pune’s Sameer M Shaikh.
Sandhu, who has a conditional card on the Japan Golf Tour, scored heavily on the par-5s. He eagled the eighth from 20 feet and sank birdies on the sixth, 10th and 17thto be five-under for the day on the par-5s. A magnificent tee shot set up a tap-in birdie for him on the seventh.
The wiry Chandigarh lad also drove the green on the 15th and rolled in a 25-footer on the 16th that contributed towards his hat-trick of birdies in the closing stages.
Sandhu, composed as ever, despite his sensational win, said, “I’m enjoying a terrific start to the season. This win comes after a good performance in Noida last week where I finished tied third. The HGC is turning out to be one of my favourite courses. Interestingly, I had missed the cut in the first edition. To follow that up with wins in the next two editions is quite incredible.
“The third round was my worst as far as putting is concerned. But I was in prime form with the putter today. The eagle on the eighth lifted my confidence. It took me to four-under for the day and at that stage I had this gut feeling that I was in with a chance since I also had some good memories from last year.
“I was quite relaxed in the break I had between my round and the playoff. I didn’t think too much about the playoff and just focused on repeating what I had done during the round.
“I had the advantage of teeing off second in the playoff. I hit a cracking drive to the centre of the fairway even as Khalin landed in trouble. That got me going. I must thank my friend and fellow professional Naman Dawar for sharing a valuable putting tip with me last evening. It worked for me.”
Khalin Joshi was on course for his fourth win being four-under for the day through the first 10 holes thanks to a hot putter. However, a missed birdie opportunity from three feet on the 14th followed by an erratic tee shot that led to a bogey on the 15th, saw him lose his grip of the match.
Khalin said, “It was a good putting day for me, unlike the previous rounds. But the stretch on the 14th and 15th was a poor one for me. I lot some momentum there. Nonetheless, I’ve relished the playing conditions here at the HGC and look forward to coming back next year.”
Veteran Mukesh Kumar of Mhow struck a 68 in round four to clinch third place at 10-under-274. Delhi’s Shamim Khan (69) was a further shot back in fourth place.
Delhi’s Himmat Singh Rai, the overnight joint leader, slipped to tied 13th at three-under-281 after a final round of 76. Harendra Gupta (71) of Chandigarh, the 2015 champion, also took a share of 13th place.
Interestingly, the trophy was won by a Chandigarh golfer for the third time as Ajeetesh’s city-mate Harendra Gupta had won the first edition two years back.
Adyar Day celebrations at Intl Headquarters at Adyar
17 new photos · Album by Secretary HQ

Putin signs decree legalizing some Donetsk, Lugansk documents in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Saturday that will immediately legalize documents issued by authorities in the troubled Donbass region in eastern Ukraine in the territory of Russia. “Based on the norms of international humanitarian law,” IDs and other documents, such as education diplomas, marriage certificates, and car license plates issued for Ukrainian citizens and persons without citizenship in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, will be “temporarily” regarded as legal in Russia, until the Ukrainian conflict is settled based on the Minsk agreements, the decree states. It also stipulates that people with such IDs can enter Russia with no visas required. Kiev and authorities of the self-proclaimed people’s republics signed a peace agreement in Minsk almost two years ago, with the document aiming at a full ceasefire in the region, as well as providing for constitutional reforms that would give both the LPR and DPR greater autonomy and special status.

Iran not to produce nuclear weapons

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has once again assured that his country has no plans to produce nuclear weapons. He added that it would take forever for Iran, as quoted by RIA Novosti. According to the Iranian official, it is time to destroy nuclear weapons worldwide, rather than think about ‘joining the club,’ because “it is a dangerous club,” he concluded.

Avigdor Lieberman believes in 2-state solution

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday he supports the possibility of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, but only if it is based on an exchange of territories and population. “I believe that there is a […] misunderstanding because today on the table we have a proposal to establish a Palestinian state without a single Jew and Israel will become a binational state where more that 20 percent of the population are Palestinians,” he told the Security Conference in Munich, as cited by Sputnik news agency. “I think that the basic principle of solution must include an exchange of population. It doesn’t make sense or create one homogenous Palestinian state and binational state of Israel,” the minister noted. Earlier in the week, Lieberman also stated that Israel was ready to invest in infrastructure and create jobs in the Gaza Strip, but that Hamas has to “give up the terror tunnels and the rockets” first

Thousands take part in procession at St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg

Around 8,000 people have taken part in a sacred procession near the iconic St. Isaac’s Cathedral in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region said on Sunday, as cited by TASS. The procession which marked Orthodox Youth Day ended without incidents, he added. Between 10-12 thousand people attended the march, according to estimates by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The landmark cathedral, currently run as a museum, has been the focus of an escalated dispute sparked by the city authorities’ decision to hand it over to the ROC. St. Petersburg has seen multiple protests; by those who support the handover and others who oppose the move.


In the wake of recently released RBI Data showing digital payments lower by 10.2 per cent in volume and 7 per cent lower by value in January,2017 in comparison to December,2016 as also increasing trend of usage of cash among Merchants & Consumers due to availability of cash, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has suggested the Government to subsidise transaction charges directly to Banks and absolve either the Merchant or the consumer from the liability of paying such charges. Transaction charges are one of the major deterrent in adoption of digital payments in the Country since neither the merchant and nor the Consumer is willing to pay transaction charges.
The CAIT said that the Country was effectively going on path of digital payments but lack of structured planning, non- inclusion of stakeholders in digital payment initiative and in effective role of National Payments Council of India has brought a break on fore sighted vision of Prime Minister. It suggested the Government to hold Digital Payment Camps in commercial markets across the Country for promotion of adoption of digital payments.Incentives to shopkeepers accepting payments in business transactions through digital payments will encourage traders to embrace e-payment system.
The recent proposal of RBI to subsidise charges on digital payments made for Government revenue is not sufficient. All sorts of digital payments made either for personal expenditure or for business to business or for making payments of Government revenue should be included in the proposal to ensure faster adoption of digital payments in the Country-said Mr. B.C.Bhartia, National President & Mr. Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of the CAIT. Both leaders further said that another proposal of RBI prescribing different slabs of transaction charges will make the system more complicated and as such transaction charges as a whole should be subsidised by the Government directly to Banks.
Both Mr. Bhartia & Mr. Khandelwal said that in order to curtail flow of cash, the Government should levy a nominal surcharge on withdrawal of cash from ATM machines. They have also called for a comprehensive incentive policy for the persons and business entities using any mode of digital payments.
The trade leaders also suggested to make a separate body for regulating Rupay Card and the National Payment Council of India should be made an independent regulator to regulate payments market of India. They have further suggested that to intensify digital payments in the Country in a structured way, the Government should form a Digital Payment Promotion Board and representatives of trade & commerce may be included beside officials. The Non-Banking Finance Companies & Micro Finance Institutions should also be brought under the landscape of digital payments to install white label POS terminals by encouraging a scheme to subsidize POS terminals directly or indirectly across both urban and rural areas.
India is predominantly a cash-based economy, with less than 5 per cent of Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) of INR 70,000 crore transacted by electronically payments. Those cards are used almost entirely at ATMs rather than at the point of sale (a ratio of 10 cash transactions to 1 at the point of sale). Considering just currency, the ratio of currency to GDP in India (12.2%) is higher than countries such as Russia (11.9%), Brazil (4.1%) and Mexico (5.7%). It is an admitted fact that true value of electro

Gender and Public Transport in India:

Italy’s Renzi defies foes

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Party (PD) on Sunday, triggering a leadership battle in which he will take on rivals threatening to split the center-left. Renzi quit as prime minister in December after losing a referendum on constitutional reform, but is eager to return to power and is pushing for national elections to be held this year rather than early 2018 as scheduled. Renzi did not say when the leadership ballot would be held, but allies say he is keen to hold it before local elections in June, fearing that defeat for the PD then could sink his chances. Recent opinion polls have put the PD neck and neck with the 5-Star Movement, founded by comedian Beppe Grillo, which wants a referendum on Italy’s euro membership.

Competitiveness, climate, security Finn’s priorities Ministry of Finance release Finnish road map of EU presidency. Finland i...