What is a Geo Sitemap?

Google Geo Sitemaps is an extension of the Sitemap protocol that enables you to publish geospatial content (geo content) to Google, in order to make it searchable in Google Earth and on Google Maps.

With Geo Sitemaps, you can tell Googlebot about your geo content, rather than waiting for us to discover it “in the wild”. While we cannot guarantee when or if your geo content will be added to our GeoSearch index, we are continuously working to improve the coverage, freshness and quality of our index.

There are several formats for specifying geo content, including KML and GeoRSS. Google currently supports both of these formats, and we plan to add support for more popular geo formats in the future.

You create and add Geo Sitemaps in the same way as you create regular Sitemaps.

More information about creating Geo Sitemaps.

GM food: How safe is it?

 gm_tomato1

In India the elongated, deep purple ovoid is considered one of the humblest of vegetables. The Bengalis call it ‘Begun’ which means a vegetable that has no virtue. But now the lowly brinjal has become the eye of the storm that is forcing you to sit up and take notice as you sit down to eat.

 For if the Union Government accepts an expert committee report that last week cleared a genetically modified (GM) brinjal for commercial cultivation, it may open the floodgates for a host of such technologically engineered vegetables and fruits that will hit market shelves and eventually your dining table.

gm

 At the core of the acrimonious debate is just how safe these foods are for you and for the environment. The final nod may well remain elusive as the Government is in a bind with consumer and environmental activists joined by politicians of different hues taking sides fired by emotion and, in some cases, informed opinion on issues of safety.

 “There are strong arguments for and against the introduction of GM brinjal and it will take a lot of time to study them and the final decision would not be taken under the influence of any company or any NGO,” says Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh. He plans to hold a series of consultations with scientists, agricultural experts, farmer’s organisations, consumer groups and NGOs before finalising his views.

 The brinjal brouhaha

 

brinjal-1

 – A genetically modified (GM) brinjal that promises high yield and is the first of its kind in the world is likely to be cleared for commercial crop cultivation in India.

brinjal-diversity

 – NGOs vehemently oppose such transgenic foods, saying they are unsafe for human consumption and would adversely impact the environment.

 – The Union Government has called for a national debate and opened the research to scrutiny.

 It is not as if genetically engineered crops are new to India. In 2002, after an equally divisive debate, the government permitted the commercial cultivation of genetically engineered cotton called Bt cotton. Despite the widespread criticism that greeted the first cultivation of Bt cotton, it has been an unqualified success.

 Transgenic cotton is grown in 90 per cent of the cotton growing areas in the country, increasing yields by as much as 50 per cent in certain regions.

 Globally, since its introduction 12 years ago, Bt cotton now occupies over 40 per cent of the total cotton sown area and has been adopted by countries such as the US, China, South Africa and Australia. Disputes, however, continue about its efficacy, safety and environmental damage.

 The criticism, about the safety and utility of genetically modified food products, is focused on the assumption that altering the genetic make-up of a food item is bound to have consequences, which could prove to be deadly. No adverse effects on health have been reported for any transgenic product introduced anywhere in the world so far.

 Besides, it is a myth that traditional food has no toxic effects. But there are worries like allergic reactions as well as fears posed by gene transfer and out-crossing that may lead to unforeseen consequences like resistance to antibiotics.

 This springs from the worry that GM foods would cause genetic modification in those who eat them. While that is the consumers worry, farmers concern is that when GM crops get mixed with traditional crops, these may get destroyed.

bt-brinjal-mela-teaser

 The reason why the clearance of a GM brinjal has raised a fresh squall is that apart from it being the first time India would be clearing a GM food crop for commercial cultivation, it is the first time in the world that a genetically engineered brinjal is being introduced. GM crops are those in which the genetic material (DNA) is altered for some perceived advantage either to the producer or consumer.

 In the case of the brinjal, the problem farmers faced is a particularly pesky and resilient insect called the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) that eats into tender shoots and fruits retarding growth, making the brinjals unsuitable for the market and unfit for human consumption. Heavy doses of pesticide just didn’t seem to help.

dsh-brinjal

 That’s when Maharashtra Hybrids Seed Company (Mahyco) combined forces with the US seed giant Monsanto to come up with a GM brinjal variety that would become resistant to the borer. Both these companies had in the past jointly developed the genetically modified Bt Cotton to successfully tackle the bollworm problem that had devastated cotton crops in the past.

 The claim

 – The Government says all studies put on website and clearance took nine years

 – Extensive trials done by public sector laboratories, like ICAR, cleared Bt Brinjal

 – Expert committee cleared all trials and was satisfied with governmental controls

 The refutation

 – NGOs charge lack of transparency and undue haste in GEAC clearance for Bt brinjal

 – GEAC poorly equipped to address bio-safety concerns and favours industry lobby

 – No independent evaluation mechanism and Government depends on the multinational

 They did this by introducing into the cotton seed a gene of the common soil microbe called Bacillus thuringiensis that encoded an insecticidal protein lethal to the bollworm hence the name Bt Cotton. When the companies found that the Bt gene was as effective in tackling the brinjal borer they decided to develop the transgenic Bt brinjal.

 Estimates are that Bt brinjal could add to the current annual production of 80 lakh tonnes by more than 50 per cent-that is as much destroyed by pests-with Bt brinjal. This offers a win-win situation both for farmers and consumers. Brinjal is grown in around 5.5 lakh hectares and is a critical cash crop for more than 1.4 million small and marginal farmers. The area under cultivation has gone up by 15 per cent in the last 10 years but production has barely increased because of repeated borer attacks.

 Sadly, despite a range of brinjal varieties, India, which is also the second largest producer in the world after China, has not been able to check the virulence of the FSB that is responsible for the pockmarks on the vegetable’s peel. “It will help millions of brinjal farmers who have been suffering from the havoc caused by FSB and it will help farmers tackle this pest in an environment friendly manner and increase yields and farm income,” says Raju Barwale, managing director, Mahyco.

 About safety concerns, Mahyco points out that the company fulfilled the series of trials both for its efficacy and safety including the toxicity tests on animals that the Genetically Engineering Approval Committee, (GEAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had ordered. Two expert committees formed by the GEAC had extensively reviewed the bio-safety data and had cleared Bt brinjal after large-scale field trials were done in public sector research laboratories.

 While the Indian Council of Agricultural Research did multi-location agronomic trials in 2004 and 2005, the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research did large-scale trials in 2007 and 2008. “Rigorous scientific tests, including toxicity and allergenicity evaluation as well as nutritional studies have confirmed that Bt brinjal is as safe as its non-Bt counterpart,” claims Mahendra Kumar Sharma, Mahyco’s general manager.

 Such assertions do not wash well with civil society groups and NGOswho have vehemently oppose the introduction of GM foods. They charge the GEAC with relying much too heavily on the trials and findings of Mahyco, without adequate independent testing and verification. “It is unacceptable and a shame that the regulator in the country has put the interests of corporations over the interests of ordinary citizens,” says Kavitha Kuruganti of the Kheti Virasat Mission.

 Greenpeace, the global environmental activist group, says that it is shocking that the GEAC has mindlessly gone ahead and approved Bt brinjal even when informed scientists and citizens of the country raised serious concerns on the nature of the safety studies. “The GEAC is hand-inglove with the industry lobby and is not on the side of the public. It has failed the country,” says Rajesh Krishnan, campaigner (sustainable agriculture) at Greenpeace.

GM_food

 The concerns and controversy spring from the initial failure of the GEAC over addressing issues of transparency, making public the nature and details of the trials carried out, the bio-safety of the products-there are four varieties of brinjals on the table for approval-and the conflicting interests of the experts in the committee reviewing the studies.

 Denying that they have held back information, Ranjini Warrier, member secretary, GEAC, says: “We have put out everything that the public and experts want to know about the entire process of granting approval for Bt brinjal on our website. We have nothing to hide.” Sajiv Anand, director, All India Crop Biotechnology Association, concurs and says, “The GEAC has looked at every possible bio-safety issue before clearing the crop. It is unlikely that Bt brinjal will not get approval from the Government.”

 Other opponents raise larger issues. “There is also the threat to future seeds and Indian agriculture coming under the control of multinational companies and charging of exorbitant prices for the seeds from Indian farmers,” says the All India Kisan Sabha.

 “The monopoly of MNCs like Monsanto over the seeds is another major concern, as seeds are no longer in the public domain as these are now the intellectual property of these multinationals.” The irony is that this argument may not hold good in the case of Bt brinjal as several Indian research institutions are closely associated with the research and testing.

 There is valid scepticism about the integrity of the approval process. This is why renowned molecular biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava, the member appointed to the committee by the Supreme Court, in the light of public interest litigation on the functioning of the GEAC, to oversee matters of the GEAC, emphasises that its proceedings fall far short of the rigour required before passing something as contentious and complex as a genetically modified food crop.

 “It is a disaster. It is unethical. No time was given to us as members to review the findings. Why was it rushed? I had suggested to them to invite all stakeholders and have a scientific discussion on the matter. But they avoided it,” says an enraged Bhargava.

 Under trial

 The GM crops that are being tested in India for release

 CAULIFLOWER: Sungro Seeds and Nunhems India.

 RICE: Bayer Bioscience, Avesthagen, Mahyco and Metahelix Life Science.

 TOMATO: Avesthagen, IARI and Mahyco.

genetically-modified-foods

 GROUNDNUT: ICRISAT

 CABBAGE: Nunhems

 POTATO: Central Potato Research Institute

 CORN: Monsanto, Pioneer Overseas and Dow Agrosciences

pharmcorn1

 SORGHUM: National Research Centre for Sorghum

 OKRA: Mahyco

 BRINJAL: Mahyco, Bejo Sheetal Seeds, Sungro Seeds, University of Agricultural Sciences and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Univ.

 MUSTARD: Delhi University

 What the moderates among the critics argue is that not enough is known at this point in time about the all round impact of GM crops to clear their release into the environment. Much more rigorous testing is needed before this can be done. They also point out that studies on Bt crops show that there are potential health hazards in bio-engineered foods.

 Animals ingesting GM food have shown problems in growth, organ development and immune responsiveness. Studies in other countries have found allergies, disturbance in immune system responses, damage to organs like kidneys and liver, alterations in blood chemistry, slower growth and development.

 In real life instances in India, there is the phenomenon of animals falling sick after grazing in Bt cotton fields and, in some cases, dying, and workers reporting allergies. But these cases have not been investigated fully by the health authorities.

 Some NGOs have raised concerns about the absence of labelling laws in India. Groups like the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) have warned that without a regulatory regime in place, it would be impossible to monitor the impact of such new food products.

 “In India, there is no labelling regime for genetically modified foods which will give consumers a choice to make a decision whether they want to consume genetically modified food or not. Till the time this is done, regulators should not clear edible GM crops,” says CSE Director Sunita Narain.

 Whatever needs to be done, whether it is clearing doubts NGOs and activists have about the independence of the GEAC or addressing health and safety concerns, the Government now needs to do it swiftly.

 The country cannot afford to ignore biotechnology options to increase agricultural productivity as it does hold the promise of a second green revolution.

organic

 But, for the moment, it has to evolve stringent and transparent testing before GM foods are released into the market to ensure these are safe for human consumption. For want of a proper regulation in place, an opportunity to meet food security needs must not be lost.

 Amarnath K. Menon

 

Kashmir pre-paid mobile ban leaves 20,000 jobless

Srinagar  — The ban on use of pre-paid SIM cards for mobile phones in Jammu and Kashmir has not only created difficulties for about 3.8 million users but has rendered more than 20,000 people, mostly youth, jobless. This was stated by Bashir Ahmad Dar, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir STD and PCO Owners Association. “I think the ban was part of the political package which the Prime Minister offered the people of the state,” he said sarcastically. On October 31, the home ministry, citing security concerns, had announced that new pre-paid SIM cards would not be issued in the state and old ones would not be renewed. The ban came into effect a few days after the Prime Minister offered fresh talks with Kashmiris. “On an average, each person (dealing in pre-paid SIM cards and recharging them) used to earn Rs 8,000-10,000 a month. Now they are on the street. Unemployment in the state is at its peak. How can the government do this?” Bashir said. He said the instructions of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India were followed strictly while verifying credentials of users. “For pre-paid and post-paid cards, the verification process is the same. How then are pre-paid cards a security threat and post-paid cards are not?” Bashir asked. Mushtaq Ahmad, 29, who lives on the outskirts of Srinagar said, “I had taken a loan from a bank to start an outlet selling SIM cards and recharge coupons. How will I repay the loan? I am a graduate and there are no jobs in Kashmir. How can I earn for myself and my family? Where do they (government) want to push us?”

 

In Jammu, home minister P. Chidambaram said on Wednesday, “Don’t hype the issue as it is in the interest of security of the country and don’t send an alarming picture. We have called for a meeting with service providers and we have to reconcile the security of the country and the interest of service providers and whatever decision is in the interest of the country will be taken.”

 Hindustan Times

 

India Inc on the road to recovery

 India Inc is on the road to recovery from the global downturn struck the world economy, with companies showing buoyancy on hiring and salary increases, a survey by global HR consultancy Mercer says.

 Corporate India is expected to witness an average eight per cent salary increase this year and as much as 50 per cent of companies have strong hiring plans for the next three months.

 India Inc’s hiring activity has picked up 4.1 per cent with IT, BPO and real estate sectors turning bullish after a long time, according to a report by job portal naurkri.com. Meanwhile, officials from several colleges say that firms such as TCS, Wipro, Infosys, HP, Cisco, Sapient, IBM, Convergys BPO and Symphony Services plan to hire in a big way.

 Infosys has announced an across-the-board salary hike and promotions with effect from October 1. When domestic salaries have risen by 8 per cent, onsite remunerations have gone up by 2 per cent. This is expected to reduce the company’s margins by 2 per cent in the next two quarters. Wipro is also looking forward to campus hiring by the end of the year.

 Outsourcing giant Accenture and India’s largest IT firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have approached HR firms for large scale recruitment. In response to a rebound in IT outsourcing contracts, IT services provider iGate has also announced it plans to hire 1,500 people in the calendar year 2010.

 India’s fourth-biggest software exporter, HCL Technologies, said its revenues for the first quarter ended September 30, 2009, rose almost 29 per cent and is planning to hire 2,600 software engineers in October-December quarter to cope with a growing demand by expanding its existing service lines.

 The ITeS/BPO sector saw an increase of 18.3 per cent in hiring activity in September, while real estate and retail saw a rise of 36.8 per cent and 12.2 per cent, respectively.

 However, students are aware of the weak dollar and the impact of the credit crisis, and are ready to get placed with salaries ranging between Rs 1.8 lakh and Rs 5 lakh.

 Yahoo! India News

Google gets a googly

 Imagine opening a website, keying in a few search terms and presto! You are on the page of a rival website. Users may not mind such an occurrence, but the website in question surely will. That’s exactly what happened recently when Consim India, owners of bharatmatrimony.com and indiaproperties.com, petitioned the Madras High Court against Google.com for “infringing on its trademark. In its petition, Consim said Google ads were being used in Bharat Matrimony’s platform to sell space to the latter’s competitors. For instance, if a user keys in “Tamil matrimony in the Google search field on Bharat Matrimony, the websites thrown up include competitors such as shaadi.com.

 According to cyber law expert Pavan Duggal, Google Adwords has been the subject of different litigations in the US as well. The thrust of the subject matter in those cases has been Google’s supposed infringement of the trademark of third parties. “In some cases, Google has been able to show that its usage of trademarks in Google Adwords does not constitute any confusion. However, different cases have different facts, says Duggal.

 Legal experts say the court will have to examine whether Google has used a mark that is deceptively similar to the trademark of Bharat Matrimony. It will then be imperative for Google and the others involved to demonstrate that the usage of the trademark is in accordance with honest practices in industrial and commercial matters.

 According to Duggal, companies can guard against such situations by writing to Google to specifically exclude their registered trademarks from the ambit of Google Adwords. ‘If even after that there is no response, and a case is made out for infringement of registered trademark, then the company could take appropriate legal steps’, he says.

 Wordsmith (New words in business)

 Freemium

 What: A business model where 90 per cent customers receive a company’s basic products and services for free, and the other 10 per cent choose to pay for advanced, special features.

 Where: American venture capitalist Fred Wilson coined the term in 2006. He described the model and asked readers for suggestions of what to call it; Jarid Lukin, from one of Wilson’s portfolio companies, came up with the winning ‘freemium.

 Why: According to Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson, freemium has become a hugely popular model with Web 2.0 companies like Flickr, LinkedIn and Skype. The model works because the cost of serving the majority of non-payers is so close to zero, thanks to technological advances, that online companies still make a profit from the paying minority

Murdoch finds it tough to tax readers for browsing newspapers

ALBERT_CHINA_MEDIA

Chinese President Hu Jintao, third from right, walks to the opening ceremony of the World Media Summit with President of The Associated Press, Tom Curley, second from left, and Chairman of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, third from left, in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 9. The leaders of two of the world’s major news organizations said it is time for search engines and others who use news content for free to pay up.

Media Moghul Rupert Murdoch is finding it harder than expected to introduce “pay walls”, a business model to charge readers for browsing his newspaper websites in a bid to shore up revenue for the struggling print media.

Newspapers are struggling with plunging print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

Mr. Murdoch, who controls the Times, the Sun, the New York Post and the Australian, had previously outlined plans to erect pay walls around his vast newspaper empire by the end of News Corp.’s current fiscal year in June but he indicated that was now unlikely.

News Corp. chairman and chief executive Murdoch admitted last night that the schedule was slipping. “I wouldn’t promise that we’re going to meet that date,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper today.

He declined to comment on the reasons. “It’s a work in progress and there’s a huge amount of work going on,” Mr. Murdoch said in the report by the British daily.

A plunge in Mr. Murdoch’s newspaper revenue was checked in the first quarter by strong results from News Corp.’s movie, cable television and book publishing divisions as the company posted an 11 percent rise in quarterly net profit, the report said.

Operating income soared 56 percent in the film division to 391 million dollars largely on the strength of 20th Century Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which has grossed more than 880 million dollars at the box office, the report said.

Wipro to acquire Yardley personal care business for $45.5 mn

 WIPRO

A file picture of Mr. Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro Limited(right) and Mr. Suresh Senapaty, Executive Director and CFO, Wipro.

Diversified firm Wipro Ltd on Thursday said it will acquire personal care brand Yardley for $45.5 million (about Rs 214 crore).

The company has signed an agreement with UK-based Lornamead Group, which owns the Yardley brand, for its business in Asia, the Middle East, Australia and certain African markets, Wipro said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Yardley is a global brand in personal care category offering fragrance, body wash and skin care products.

“This transaction adds a strong brand to our portfolio of personal care products. It fits into our strategy of increasing sales and brand presence in the Middle East,” Wipro President, Consumer Care and Lighting, Vineet Agrawal said.

The transaction is expected to complete by mid-December 2009, it said.

“Our understanding of Indian markets will also help to expand Yardley across this region,” Mr. Agrawal added.

Lornamead would, however, retain the Yardley business in Europe and America, the filing added.

“We will continue to invest in Yardley in Europe and America in particular through category expansion and new product development in these core markets where we see considerable growth opportunities,” Lornamead Chief Executive Mike Jatania said.

Rising IT security risk to India Inc: Study

At A BPO About 80 percent of Indian enterprises have agreed that loss or theft of critical data is a serious information security risk

 COMPUTER

A survey revealed only 15 percent of Indian enterprises had any form of data loss prevention measures in place

Increasing use of IT infrastructure by Indian enterprises has led to growing security risks such as loss of critical data, a study by the intelligence marketing firm IDC (India) Ltd. has revealed.

“About 80 percent of Indian enterprises have agreed that loss or theft of critical data is a serious information security risk they face after threats from viruses and hackers,” the survey, commissioned by security solutions provider Symantec India, said in its latest report.

Though enterprises have been sanguine on investing heavily in building their IT infrastructure for end-to-end efficient operations, adoption of technologies to prevent or detect data loss has been abysmally low due to lack of awareness or seriousness over the implications of the risk.

“The need to protect sensitive information like source code, intellectual property, employee and customer accounts has made enterprises realise that data loss can turn into a disaster in terms of competition, compliance and credibility,” Symantec India managing director Vishal Dhupar told IANS here.

The survey, conducted in August involving heads of IT infrastructure in verticals spanning banking and finance, manufacturing, media and entertainment, telecom, and IT and IT-enabled services, showed only 15 percent of Indian enterprises had any form of data loss prevention measures in place.

The awareness on the impact and consequence of data loss or how prevention technologies could safeguard them was only 32 percent among the 142 enterprises that responded to the survey.

“In fact, 16 percent of the enterprises admitted to have lost data in the recent past for various reasons, including unaware users, malicious insiders and external threats from hackers and cyber-criminals,” Dhupar said sharing the findings of the survey.

Keeping in view the criticality of data, large enterprises in verticals like banking, finance and insurance (BFSI) and IT/ITeS have been early adopters of data loss prevention technologies, as about 50 percent of the data is sensitive to their operations.

“But medium and small enterprises in diverse verticals have been lagging in adopting prevention measures due to difficulty in data classification, budgetary constraints and lack of priority or importance of protection,” Dhupar averred.

The survey also revealed how a majority of enterprises considered firewalls, log analysers, intrusion prevention and detection solutions as adequate to protect their data from being lost or stolen.

Among enterprises adopting data loss prevention technologies, over 80 percent of them opted for patch or silo based implementation, while 45 percent of non-users felt no need for such technology under the assumption that security solutions were enough to protect their data.

“High-risk sectors like BFSI have implemented technologies to prevent data loss, while 30 percent of enterprises in IT/ITeS, 18 percent in telecom and 12 percent in manufacturing have invested in protecting their sensitive data,” Dhupar noted.

Even as data loss from desktops or personal computers remains a serious threat, increasing usage of laptops and smart phones by their mobile workforce poses a greater risk to enterprises.

According to a Gartner Consumer survey, sale of laptops is projected to grow by 37 percent in 2009 to 3.69 million units, constituting one-third of the total PC (personal computer) market, which is set to grow only by 13.7 percent to 1.1 million units.

“The increasing trend of mobile workforce poses a greater challenge to enterprises in protecting data stored in laptops or smart phones if they are lost, misplaced or stolen. Even unsuspecting employees can steal a company’s data stored in laptops for gain or ulterior motive, resulting in loss of confidential, sensitive or proprietary information,” Dhupar pointed out.

A study by the US-based Ponemon Institute, about 60 percent of employees who are either sacked or resign steal company data to leverage a new job.

About 60 percent of employees who recently changed jobs reported taking confidential data from their previous employer. This included customer lists, employee records, non-financial information. The top three ways data is lost are through CDs,DVDs and USB drives.

Too much diet soda can damage your kidney

-HLTH

The research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake are associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function

 

Too much diet soda can lead to decline in kidney function among women, say researchers.

The team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that individuals consuming a diet high in sodium or artificially sweetened drinks might be damaging their kidney.

“There are currently limited data on the role of diet in kidney disease,” said Dr Julie Lin, MPH, FASN of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake are associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function.” Lin added.

In the study involving more than 3,000 women found that “in women with well-preserved kidney function, higher dietary sodium intake was associated with greater kidney function decline, which is consistent with experimental animal data that high sodium intake promotes progressive kidney decline.” Another study also conducted by Dr. Lin and Dr. Gary Curhan examined the influence of sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages on kidney function decline, in the same group of Nurses’ Health Study participants.

This investigation reported “a significant two-fold increased odds, between two or more servings per day of artificially sweetened soda and faster kidney function decline; no relation between sugar-sweetened beverages and kidney function decline was noted” said Dr. Lin. The findings were presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting in San Diego, California.

Typhoon Mirinae kills 99 in Vietnam

At least 99 people were killed as typhoon Mirinae slammed Vietnam, according to a report of the government’s website on Thursday. The people’s committee of central province Phu Yen, the hardest-hit province by typhoon Mirinae, said floods and strong winds have claimed at least 69 lives in this single province. The provincial people’s committee of Binh Dinh said that there have been so far 13 deaths and three other missing in the typhoon, making the province the second worst-hit.

The third hardest-hit central province by the typhoon is Khanh Hoa with 12 deaths and one missing, said the provincial people’s committee.

Central highland Gia Lai reported four deaths and central Ninh Thuan province reported one death.

According to the National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting, heavy rain keeps battering central provinces of Vietnam. The forecasting agency also warns of a high risk of landslides and flash flooding as water level in rivers keep rising.

Exercise during pregnancy

 deep_breathing

While morning sickness, weight gain and fatigue may make you feel like skipping your exercise session, a mild to moderate exercise programme can strengthen your body, de-stress the mind and help you feel better. As pregnancy progresses the heart is less able to adapt to the increased demands of high intensity exercise, also with the release of the hormone relaxing, joints become looser; increasing the risk of injury during exercise. Here are some dos and don’ts to make exercise safe during this period. Remember exercise goals during pregnancy should be discussed with a physician.

Some guidelines

How often?

Exercise may be performed three to five times a week for duration of 30 to 40 minutes, at low to moderate intensity. Your exercise intensity can range between 45 to 70 per cent of your target heart rate depending on your age, fitness level and medical history.

Do low impact exercises

Do not begin a vigorous exercise programme during pregnancy. Stop exercising when fatigued and do not exercise to exhaustion. Low impact exercises such as swimming or cycling or walking are safe; high impact exercises such as skipping and jumping must be avoided.

Progress gradually

Too much, too fast, too soon are the main causes of injury. Your objective should be to exercise without over-training or over-straining.

Avoid exercising while lying on your back

Avoid exercise while lying on your back. Such a position is associated with decreased cardiac output in pregnant women.

Avoid abdominal exercises

Abdominal exercises must be avoided during this period. Any kind of exercise involving the potential of even mild abdominal trauma should be avoided.

Be careful while stretching

Avoid overstretching – women are more flexible during this period.

Use light weights

Weight training with light weights is safe; avoid lifting heavy weights during this period.

Warm-up

A warm-up prepares the body for the activity to follow. Muscles perform better and are less prone to injury when they are warm. A warm-up can mean simply walking or marching for 10 minutes to raise the body’s core temperature.

Cool-down

A cool-down lowers the body’s temperature, gradually. This prevents dizziness and extreme fatigue post-workouts. Suddenly stopping without cooling down can result in a rapid drop in blood pressure and light-headedness. The last 10 minutes of the workout should be cool-down time. This allows the blood to return from the working muscles to the heart and for the body to return to its resting state.

Do focus on form and technique

Right form and technique protect the joints and safeguard the body from exercise trauma; whereas wrong technique or jerky movements can cause injury. It is essential to focus on posture and keeping your body properly aligned while exercising.

Include deep breathing exercises

Include deep breathing exercises to de-stress and relax the mind.

Drink water

Water loss due to perspiration and sweating needs to be replaced. Drink plenty of water before, after and during an exercise routine to prevent dehydration.

Rest

Rest plays an important role in formulating effective training sessions. It helps the muscles recuperate from the stresses of exercises and helps the body get rid of fatigue and muscular exhaustion. Especially while weight training, the muscles need at least 48 hours of rest in between workouts sessions to recover and recuperate.

The writer is a Certified Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

Boat capsize: 8 students drown

Eight students, including a girl, drowned when a country boat ferrying them across the Chaliyar river at Moorkanad, Areekode in Malappuram district, capsized on Wednesday. The accident occurred at 4.45 p.m. when the students were returning home from school. The victims were Plus One and Plus Two students in the 16-18 age group.

The police identified the deceased as Suhail, Shihab, Siraj, Shahidali, Shameem, Thaufiq, Mohammed Mufti and the girl Taiba.

Eyewitness accounts said the boat was carrying around 40 students of Sub-us-Salam Higher Secondary School, Moorkanad. Sand-mining workers and the local people rescued the rest of the students who fell into the river. Many students swam to safety. The bodies are kept at the Areekode taluk hospital.

2 in serious condition

The condition of two children is reported to be serious. One of them was shifted to the Kozhikode Medical College. Reports from the scene of the accident suggested that four children were missing but confusion persists on this count. The Fire and Rescue Services personnel and police officers are conducting search operations. Poor visibility at night is hampering the rescue efforts though lights hoisted on inflatable dinghies are being used at the accident site.

A 15-member naval team has started from Kochi to help in the rescue efforts.

The country craft is the usual mode of transport for villagers to commute between Moorkanad and Areekode. The tragedy has plunged the village into shock and sorrow.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has directed the Malappuram District Collector to submit an emergency report on the cause of the accident. Ponnani MP E.T. Mohammed Basheer visited the accident site.

Bend over…backwards!

 

fittness

Backward bends are exhilarating movements

In our everyday lives, we often bend forward and not backwards. This is the reason we are more comfortable with the forward bends and uncomfortable with the backward bends. The back of the body becomes the unknown part and that is why backward bending asanas are difficult. Many experience stiffness and pain, resistance and fear. But with the right attitude, guidance of a competent teacher and the use of props such as wall, table, chair, blocks and cushions we can overcome the resistance. Repetitive practice will create deeper awareness, better inner adjustments and more stability and comfort. There will be no rigidity or fear.

Benefits: Backward bends, refurbish and energise the body and mind. On the physical level, they correct a double chin, a hunched back, drooping shoulders, sagging breasts, back pain and respiratory problems. On the mental level, they eliminate fear, anxiety and depression, and improve alertness and confidence. The spine is properly aligned and strengthened, the lungs and heart are expanded and energised, abdomen and pelvis are stretched and nourished and the brain and endocrine glands are stimulated and refreshed.

Beginners can start their practice with standing backward bends and gradually move to the reclining and sitting backward bends.

www.geetayoga.com

Eating quickly can make you overeat

 Washington: Gorging on your favourite meal can make you overeat, say researchers.

The research team from Laiko General Hospital in Athens Greece have found that eating quickly, as compared to slowly, curtails the release of hormones in the gut that induce feelings of being full.

The decreased release of these hormones can often lead to overeating.

“Most of us have heard that eating fast can lead to food overconsumption and obesity, and in fact some observational studies have supported this notion,” said Dr Alexander Kokkinos, lead author of the study.

“Our study provides a possible explanation for the relationship between speed eating and overeating by showing that the rate at which someone eats may impact the release of gut hormones that signal the brain to stop eating,” Kokkinos added.

Previous studies on that gut hormones, such as peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), has shown that their release after a meal acts on the brain and induces satiety and meal termination.

Until now, concentrations of appetite-regulating hormones have not been examined in the context of different rates of eating.

During the study, subjects consumed the same test meal, 300ml of ice-cream, at different rates. Researchers took blood samples for the measurement of glucose, insulin, plasma lipids and gut hormones before the meal and at 30 minute intervals after the beginning of eating, until the end of the session, 210 minutes later.

They found that subjects who took the full 30 minutes to finish the ice cream had higher concentrations of PYY and GLP-1 and also tended to have a higher fullness rating.

“Our findings give some insight into an aspect of modern-day food overconsumption, namely the fact that many people, pressed by demanding working and living conditions, eat faster and in greater amounts than in the past,” said Kokkinos.

“The warning we were given as children that “wolfing down your food will make you fat,” may in fact have a physiological explanation,” the expert added.

The study appears in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). — ANI

TV bombards kids with unhealthy food ads

Washington: Wondering how TV exposure leads to obesity in children? Well, then pay closer attention to the commercials, suggests a new study.

In the study, researchers at the University of California-Davis examined the types of food advertisements seen by children watching English- and Spanish-language American television programs on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons, which are high viewing times for children.

Recordings were made of programs on twelve networks including highly rated children’s cable channels Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Kids’ WB, networks that appeal to older youths (MTV, BET), mainstream English-language channels ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and UPN, and Univision and Telemundo, the two highest rated Spanish language channels.

Out of 5,724 commercials recorded, 1,162 were food-related, with 91.2 percent of food promotions in English, and 8.7 percent in Spanish. Only 1 commercial was bilingual.

Overall, nearly 1 in 5 advertisement was for a food or nutrition-related product, with 5.2 food advertisements presented every hour.

Fast-food restaurants, sugary food, chips/crackers, and sugar-added beverages collectively accounted for more than 70 percent of food commercials; 34 percent were for “food on the run,” fast-food restaurants and convenience food.

The researchers found that children’s networks had the highest percentage of food-related commercials. Food advertisements were predominately for sugary cereals and sweets, high fat food, convenience or fast-food restaurant food, and chips/crackers.

When compared to television for a general audience, children’s networks in this study exposed young viewers to 76 percent more food commercials per hour than did the other networks, with the Saturday morning 7-10 am time slot being more saturated with food commercials.

Approximately 7.7 food commercials per hour appeared in programming on the children’s networks, which is approximately 1 food commercial every 8 minutes

The study has been published in the November/December issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.

Don’t ignore bed wetting

While working as a urologist, in England, a nurse casually asked me if bed wetting could be a serious problem. I said “Yes, it can be, but depends on the duration and age of the person.” She told me her father, an otherwise fit man, had recently started wetting the bed at night. But he was too embarrassed to see his family doctor. I asked her to bring him to me as soon as possible, since I knew from her description that he was probably dealing with a problem that might have affected the kidney.

As expected, on examining the patient I found that a enlarged bladder was the reason behind the bed wetting. A subsequent ultrasound scan revealed swollen kidneys and further blood tests showed that he was in the early stages of kidney failure (accumulation of waste products in the body) which fortunately reversed once his bladder was emptied with a catheter. One of the fallouts of this was that his prostate had enlarged preventing his bladder from emptying. As a result the patient had to undergo laser prostate surgery to solve his problem.

How does bed wetting and a failure to empty the bladder result in kidney failure? The kidneys situated on either side of the upper lumbar spine filter the blood. They help retain essential salts and proteins as the blood gushes through them at great speed and lets go of nearly two liters of water together with waste products. The blood is brought into the kidney at great pressure to allow the filtration process. Once the filtration process is completed urine is produced and falls into the collecting system called calyces and pelvis, which are like funnels. The ureters are tubes, which then ease the urine into the bladder by a gentle wave like action called the peristalsis. For the filtration process to take place effectively the pressure has to be low in the collecting system and even lower in the ureters.

Any disease in the bladder or in the outflow tract which creates a high pressure in the bladder to force open the gates can disrupt the filtering process resulting in kidney failure.

This can happen in children due to faulty gates (vesico-ureteric reflux), blockage while passing urine called Posterior Urethral Valves and Congenital Urethral Stricture, a problem common among boys. It can also occur in adults due to interference in the nerve supply, due to neurological disease or spine injuries.

Failure to empty bladder, transmission of high pressure to the kidneys can result in bladder irritability, which are the first signs of a serious kidney disease. Some children don’t grow out of bed wetting. This is usually of no consequence as they settle with time, but the problem still needs investigating to rule out bladder or kidney problem.

The writer is the CEO of Dr Ramayya’s Urology, Nephrology Institute and Hospitals

Indians are half literate, says study

Indians-are-half-literate-

If there is no change in the present system of post-graduate education, India is certain to face a ‘talent gap’ — lack of the right skills for the job required. According to a study by Nasscom, most educated Indians are only half-literate, meaning that they lack employable skills. The findings reveal that tech companies reject up to 90 per cent of graduates and 75 per cent engineers because they are considered “not worth training”.

Agreeing that there is a need to build bridges between industry, education and skill providers, Ashok Srinivasan, VP, operations support, Expertus, points out that there is an urgent requirement to build skills, as they need to keep up with the global culture. These include up-to-date technical ability, problem-solving and analysis, self management, and knowledge about one’s field.

He says, “Most of the college graduates are not good enough because of a lack of job-oriented training. In fact, that’s why a majority of engineering colleges today are investing in C2C (Campus to Company) programmes so that the students become more employable.”

R. Jagdeep Kumar, a student feels that more field training will help them gain an edge during recruitments. “It’s not that we are not trained by our educational institutes. It’s just that colleges need to provide us with more field-based projects and internships which will help us understand our industry better,” he says.

However, Vijay Kumar Jayaram, CEO, Simer Corporation, feels that it’s the educational system which needs a revamp. “We need to distill skills for employability and put them on top of the agenda for inclusion in the curriculum. It’s the mentors who need to play an active role in bridging the gap between book knowledge and practical education.”

Rising demand for project management professionals

  HYDERABAD: To drive home the necessity of skilled project management professionals in successful execution of projects in business, government and community sectors, the Project Management Institute is hosting India’s first ever national conference here from November 13.

 Mr. Raj Kalady, managing director, PMI (India) addressing media persons here on Wednesday said that a cost overrun of about Rs.45,000 crore was estimated due to delay in 500 projects of below Rs.100 crore projects. According to an estimate $ 45 trillion worth projects would be executed in the next five years world-wide requiring at least 20 million project management professionals.

 Of this, a conservative estimate of 5,00,000 project management professionals would be required in India itself. These professionals would play an important role in executing a project without time and cost overruns by anticipating and mitigating risk factors and through proper planning. “A professional research body, Indicus, was entrusted with the task of identifying the exact number of project management professionals required in India. Its report would be released by the month-end,” said Mr. Kalady.

 V. Srinivasa Rao, chairman, PM conference India, said the PMI would serve as a catalyst to meet the requirement of project management professionals.

 The conference would offer opportunities for project management practitioners, students and executives in corporate, government and NGOs.