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Suicides Rise Across India

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:08 am

“India has become the suicide capital of the world,” says Daya Sandhu, a counselling psychology professor at the University of Louisville in the U.S.


As a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Scholar at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, India, Sandhu spent five months in India last year researching suicide trends in the country.







“While I was in India from January to June 2010, I was troubled to read headline news almost on a daily basis about students, farmers, and housewives hanging themselves, jumping before trains, taking poison, and committing self-immolation,” says Sandhu.


Beyond the walls of an abandoned factory here, Arun Bag now contends with the tragic memories of his father who killed himself after their farmland was seized to build a plant for the ‘world’s cheapest car’.


“Since his childhood he had only known the field, the plough and the harvest. When the land was acquired forcibly by the government for the Tata Motors car plant he became jobless,” says Arun Bag, remembering his father Haradhan Bag of Singur, an hour’s drive from Kolkata, the capital of eastern state West Bengal.


“He had slipped into depression. One day he took his life consuming insecticides,” Arun said.


Haradhan Bag, who committed suicide at the age of 76 in March 2007, is one of the thousands of Indian farmers who have taken their lives, unable to cope with economic plight, failed crops, farm debts and displacement.


In India, one farmer committed suicide every 32 minutes between 1997 and 2005, according to P. Sainath, a writer on Indian poverty who calculated the statistic from National Crime Records Bureau figures.


Farmers and students are most at risk.


According to the latest statistics of India’s National Crime Records Bureau, 127,151 people in India committed suicide in 2009. This indicates an increase of 1.7 percent over the previous year’s figures.


Suicide is a great social leveller in India, Asia’s third largest and one the world’s fastest growing economies with a projected GDP growth of 8.6 percent from 2010-11.


Displaced farmers like Haradhan Bag of Singur are battling the problem along with debt-ridden farmers of the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra. But middle- class urban families and students at India’s prestigious academic institutions are battling the problem as well.


In the bustling metropolis of Kolkata, barely 40 kilometres away from Haradhan Bag’s village, the media focus is now on the suicide of a 13-year- old student in one of the city’s elite schools.

Rouvanjit Rawla, an eighth standard student of La Martiniere for Boys, hanged himself at home in February last year after he was caned by a teacher at the school.

“I am now fighting for justice and to see that corporal punishment is done away with,” says Ajay Rawla, the father of the boy who is waging a legal battle against the school authorities.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has recently ruled that Rouvanjit was driven to suicide by the school which practises corporal punishment.

Sandhu says that though the media highlights the issue, the Indian government turns a blind eye to the problem at all levels – local, state, and national.

“There is no awareness about depression in India,” says Sandhu.

Interviewing a large number of students in India, Sandhu found academic pressure, parental expectations, marriage tension and relationships to be the primary causes of suicide among young people.

“I was stunned that all the students I interviewed mentioned that at least 70 percent of them have a prem rog (love sickness) and they live loveless lives,” Sandhu said. “They do not feel anchored anywhere. There seems to be no genuine parental love, but only conditional love. They are also strictly prohibited to engage in romantic love, as there is no dating system.”

There are very few counselling centres in India, given the number of suicide cases, according to Sandhu.

Lifeline Foundation in Kolkata is the only counselling centre of its kind in a city of 15 million people. It is also the only one in the West Bengal state of 80 million people.

“The parental pressure to excel in academics or jobs is a driver of suicide while it can combine with factors like substance abuse and relationship and family problems,” says Jayashree Shome, deputy director of Lifeline Foundation.

The centre offers a hotline and face-to-face support for people who are distressed or suicidal, but not many are aware of its existence.

“People who feel suicidal don’t want answers or solutions. They want a safe place to express their fears and anxieties, to be themselves,” she says. “We need to understand things from their perspective, not ours.”

According to Sandhu, the India Mental Health Act of 1987 is limited only to the treatment and care of mentally ill persons who suffer specifically from diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

“The India Mental Health Act of 1987 is clearly good only at laying down guidelines for establishment and maintenance of psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes… It is limited in scope and services that precludes persons who suffer from numerous other mental health problems such as suicide ideations, alcoholism and substance abuse problems, family, and community violence, anxiety and stress disorders,” he says.

Sandhu says there is an urgent need to ramp up mental health counselling in India.

“Most likely with economical help from the government, I would hope that the farmers’ suicide problems can be taken care of very soon,” he says.

Source: SGGP

Dengue fever continues to spread across Vietnam

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm

So far this year dengue fever outbreaks nationwide have sickened 55,430 and claimed 42 lives, officials said. Therefore, the country needs to strengthen measures to limit the outbreak of the disease.

The dengue virus is spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti.


The worst affected region was the Central region,  Central Highlands and Mekong Delta.


According to centers for Preventive Health in locals, this year’s massive outbreak was fuelled by poor mosquito eradication efforts.


To combat and control the disease, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung September 18 asked provinces and cities to implement preventative measures such as conducting environment sanitation and mosquito extermination.


Health authorities should work together with local people to raise their awareness of dengue problems and advise them to eradicate mosquitoes around their homes, officials said.


In addition, people should follow the health sector’s recommendations, such as sleeping in anti-mosquito nets, using traditional methods to exterminate mosquitoes and sending affected persons to hospitals as soon as infection occurs.


Hospitals need to prepare enough medicines and sickbeds to treat inpatients.

Source: SGGP

Acute diarrhoea spreads across southern provinces

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm




Acute diarrhoea spreads across southern provinces


QĐND – Saturday, July 24, 2010, 21:38 (GMT+7)

The acute diarrhoea epidemic is spreading from far and wide in southern provinces, including Cau Mau, An Giang, Ben Tre and Can Tho City, according to the Department of Preventive Health and the Environment.


Nguyen Van Binh, vice director of the department, says that about 70 percent of the contracted cases show minor symptoms or none of any symptoms of the disease.


He said it is difficult to control the number of newly infected cases, as most of them are not hospitalised for clinical examinations.


Binh also warns that vibrio cholarae bacterium can be much detected in ice water, canals and even dog meat.


Acute diarrhoea has shown signs of waning in the northern region with no new cases reported over the past weeks.


Source: VOV


Source: QDND

Curfew extended across 23 Thai provinces

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

BANGKOK, May 19, 2010 (AFP) – A curfew was extended to cover 23 Thai provinces as well as Bangkok on Wednesday night after a deadly army crackdown on an anti-government rally sparked rioting and arson in the capital.

Red Shirt anti-government protesters carry a shot and wounded comrade on Ratchadamri road inside the protesters’s camp in downtown Bangkok on May 19, 2010. AFP photo

Thailand’s Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) said in a statement it had “imposed the curfew in 23 more provinces from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am”.


Anyone violating the curfew would be jailed for two years maximum or fined 40,000 baht (1,200 dollars) or both, but a government spokesman earlier said those who needed to travel should carry passports or ID and tickets.


Earlier, General Prawit Wongsuwon told AFP that the curfew would be imposed in Bangkok and checkpoints would be set up across the city.


“We are waiting until the people go back home, then we will deal with rogue protesters,” he said.

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Source: SGGP

Clashes as workers across the world march on May Day

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:36 am

Hundreds of thousands of people joined May Day marches across the world, as police and protestors clashed in debt-riven Greece and a bomb killed a World War II veteran in Russia.


In Athens several dozen youths, some armed with sticks, charged a line of anti-riot forces, prompting police to respond with tear gas as thousands of protestors swarmed the city to protest budget cuts forced by the debt crisis.


Police said about 15,000 people joined the Athens marches to vent anger at deep budget cuts which will hit public sector workers particularly hard.


“It’s the biggest attack on workers for centuries. They want to return us to the nineteenth century,” said one protestor, printer Ericos Finalis.

Demonstrators clash with police during a massive demonstration to protest against austerity measures and marking May Day in Athens.

In the northern city of Thessaloniki, police also fired tear gas at youths who attacked banks and businesses using iron bars during a protest that police said drew about 5,000 people.


In the United States tens of thousands of protesters marched through Los Angeles in a peaceful May Day rally against a tough new immigration law in Arizona that has triggered a nationwide outcry.


An estimated 60,000 marchers turned downtown Los Angeles into a sea of red, white and blue, waving Stars and Stripes flags and demanding the repeal of the Arizona legislation and calling for federal immigration reform.


Pop star Gloria Estefan and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were among speakers who addressed marchers. “We need to write laws that appeal to our better angels,” Villaraigosa told the crowd.


Other marchers waved banners with slogans such as “Shame On Arizona,” and “All Men Are Created Equal.”


The protest was one of more than 70 held across the United States as Hispanic organizations mobilized against Arizona’s law.


There were also clashes at a May Day march in the Chinese gambling mecca of Macau which injured 41 people, including two journalists and 32 policemen, the gambling hub’s government said Sunday.


Riot police in Macau used water cannon and pepper spray in Saturday’s clashes with hundreds of protesters who fought with stones and bottles.


The fighting erupted after protesters tried to force their way through police barricades to march along a main road where Macau’s main casinos and tourist attractions are located.


About 1,000 people joined the demonstration to demand job protection and action against illegal workers, Hong Kong’s RTHK radio said.


Tens of thousands filled a central square in Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul for the first May Day celebrations at the site after dozens were killed there 33 years ago.


Waving colourful flags, the crowds marched into Taksim square, the hub of the sprawling city, and chanted: “Shoulder to shoulder against fascists.”


The square had been declared off-limits since the bloodshed during a May Day rally there in 1977 when gunmen, believed to be far-right militants aided by members of the intelligence services, fired on a crowd, triggering mass panic.


In Russia, diehard Communists hoisted red flags and portraits of wartime leader Joseph Stalin in a throw-back to Soviet-era parades and joining unionists to bemoan the economic crisis and call for a return to communism.

An event in the country’s restive North Caucasus region of Kabardino Balkaria was marred by a bomb blast that killed a 94-year-old veteran of World War II and injured nearly two dozen other people, according to news agencies.

May Day rallies also drew hundreds of thousands of people in several French cities although the turnout disappointed unions who had called for a massive show of force against pension reform.

In Ukraine, thousands chanted slogans such as “Socialism is our future”, and in Serbia activists warned about the “worsening situation for workers” while in Romania opposition supporters in red shirts and caps targeted the government.

German police rounded up about 50 leftists overnight for various incidents in the lead up to May Day.

In Portugal, another heavily indebted euro area country, union leaders warned the government that “a tough budgetary policy imposed blindly could lead to disaster,” said Manuel Carvalho da Silva, head of the country’s main CGTP union and close to the Communist Party, who said 90,000 people marched on May Day.

In Cuba, President Raul Castro presided over a May Day march staged as a show of unity in the face of what his government charges is a US and European-backed campaign to destroy the Cuban revolution.

The United States was meanwhile braced for demonstrations in more than 70 cities with the largest rally expected in Los Angeles to protest at a tough new immigration law in Arizona that has triggered an outcry from rights groups.

Organizer Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association, said the Arizona law “only gives working people, immigrants, youth, women, trade unionists and their sympathizers more reason to march.”

In Hong Kong, several thousand protestors marched through the streets to demand a minimum wage of 33 dollars (4.20 US) per hour and better job protection.

Thousands marched through the Indonesian capital Jakarta demanding better social security and shouting “Today we unite” and “Stop oppression now.” Some 15,000 security personnel stood guard, using water canon to suppress a scuffle near the palace.

The Indonesian social security system only covered about 25 percent of workers, Indonesian Workers Association head Saepul Tavip told AFP.

Source: SGGP

Multiple forest fires break out across Vietnam

In Politics-Society on March 8, 2010 at 2:37 am




Multiple forest fires break out across Vietnam


QĐND – Friday, March 05, 2010, 21:14 (GMT+7)

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests nationwide are subject to the highest fire alert during this prolonged period of dry weather, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported on March 4.


According to satellite pictures, there were approximately 176 ongoing fires and forest fires on the afternoon of March 4. The highest alert level is now applied in 19 provinces and cities, including Ca Mau, An Giang, Dong Nai, Kien Giang, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lam Dong, Binh Phuoc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Nghe An, Quang Ngai, Hoa Binh, Cao Bang, Lang Son and Yen Bai, reported Ha Cong Tuan, head of the ministry’s Forest Management Department.


The fire in Ta Xua nature reserve, Son La Province, has not been stamped out and may spread to neighboring forests in Yen Bai province.


U Minh Ha National Park demonstrates the seriousness of these fire risks. More than 36,000 ha of forests in the park were at their highest fire alerts after two small fires took place in recent days due to slash and burn farming, claimed Le Van Hai, deputy head of the Ca Mau Forest Management Department.


The ministry urged preventive measures to combat forest fires by entrusting more people to patrol the forests regularly, providing more modern fire prevention equipment and planning to combat fires when they break out.


The Vietnam Environment and Hydrometeorology Science Institute said that the El Nino weather was forecast to last through May, so high temperatures and droughts will continue.


Source: VNN


Source: QDND

Big freeze kills at least 80 across Europe

In World on December 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm

The death toll from winter storms across Europe rose to at least 80 on Monday as transport chaos spread amid mounting anger over the three-day failure of Eurostar high-speed trains.








Airplanes standing on the snow-covered tarmac at the airport in Duesseldorf, western Germany. (AFP Photo)

With tens of thousands stranded by the cancellation of London-to-Paris trains and hundreds of flights across the continent, new accidents and mass power cuts added to the big freeze tumult.


A car veered off an icy road and knocked concrete onto rails, derailing a Paris commuter train and injuring 36 people, police said. Three hundred people had to be evacuated from the train.


Another train in the Croatian capital Zagreb hit a buffer injuring 52 people.


Croatian investigators blamed the minus 17 degrees Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) temperatures for a brake failure, national television reported. European temperatures as low as minus 33.6 degrees Celsius (minus 28.5 Fahrenheit) have been recorded in Bavaria.


In Poland, authorities said 42 people, many of them homeless, had died of cold over three days after temperatures plunged to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four Fahrenheit).


Ukraine reported 27 deaths while six people were killed in accidents in Germany and three in Austria.


France has reported at least two deaths of homeless people, and the national power company briefly cut electricity to two million people on Monday saying it was necessary to avoid an even bigger blackout amid surging demand.


More flights were cancelled in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain and main highways were blocked across Europe where some regions had more than 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow.


The breakdown of the Eurostar service under the Channel, linking London with Paris and Brussels, has symbolised Europe’s suffering.


After the nightmare of more than 2,000 people stuck in the tunnel when five trains broke down Friday, tens of thousands more people have missed trains cancelled since then, with Eurostar announcing a “restricted” service for Tuesday.


But those trains will only run for passengers originally due to travel Saturday or Sunday, with the remainder of the backlog to be cleared over the next few days. Normal service is not expected to resume before Christmas Day.


The French transport ministry has ordered an investigation into the breakdown, which Eurostar said has been caused by trains unable to handle the change from freezing temperatures outside to warm temperatures in the tunnel.


Eurostar said it had launched its own independent review.


The winter storms caused other disruption across Europe.


Air traffic was again badly hit as temperatures remained glacial: minus 20 degrees Celsius in Sibiu in Romania, where more than 50 centimetres of snow fell, and minus seven Celsius in Venice, Italy.


Seven hundred people spent the night on camp beds at Amsterdam-Schipol airport and more flights were cancelled after dozens were grounded Sunday.


The Dutch rail network was also badly hit with the railway company advising commuters to stay at home.


Heavy snowfall led to more delays and cancellations at Frankfurt and Duesseldorf airports in Germany, where more than 500 flights were cancelled or redirected on Sunday.


Twenty percent of flights out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle were cancelled Monday. The main RER commuter train line running east to west across the Paris region has been out of action for 12 days because of a strike.


Spanish civil aviation authorities said 174 flights from Madrid-Barajas airport were called off. Flights from Lisbon to Madrid were among those hit while main roads in northern Portugal were cut by snow.


Brussels airport also reported cancellations and delays.


After more snow falls on Moscow, authorities sent out 13,000 dump trucks to clear the streets as chronic traffic jams built up.


In Britain, more airport delays hit passengers while snow forced the postponement of Wigan’s English Premier League football match against Bolton Wanderers.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Indoor air pollution a serious health threat across Viet Nam

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm

HA NOI — “Most people can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a smoky hut,” said Eva Rehfuess, of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Partnership for Clean Indoor Air, “it’s ten times worse than the most polluted cities.”


Rehfuess said that even the WHO was surprised by the magnitude of the problem. First addressed in the 2002 World Health Report, indoor air pollution was ranked, after water and sanitation, as one of the biggest environmental health risks in the developing world.


According to the WHO, health problems caused by indoor air pollution kill 2 million children each year.


At home









Solutions suggested


– Do not smoke or burn coal inside the house
– Ensure sufficient air circulation (this will help reduce humidity and reduce the effects of harmful household chemicals)
– Avoid excessive humidity, not more than 50 per cent RH (relative humidity) in summer and 30 per cent in winter
– Repair and dry out water damage caused by leaks and flooding and immediately clean mould
– Use water-based paint instead of oil-based paint
– Clean air filters frequently
– Keep plants inside the house to reduce pollution and provide oxygen
– Restrict the use of carpets, which collect dust and allergens.


The most harmful and widespread contaminant of indoor air is tobacco smoke, followed by coal smoke. Many Vietnamese families save energy and money by burning different kinds of household coal, which is extremely harmful to lungs. Other sources of indoor air pollution include improperly maintained or vented combustion devices, such as gas or propane cooking stoves, furnaces, water heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces.


Mold, dust mites and fumes from domestic chemicals can also cause a number of health problems.


“Mold growing in your home can release mold spores, toxins and bad odours,” says Do Hoang Oanh of the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment, “harmful chemicals can be released from synthetic fabrics, furnishings and household products.”


At the office


Nguyen Thanh Huong, an office worker, complained that she sometimes gets headaches, irritated eyes and has trouble concentrating at work. She would never attribute these symptoms to the electric lighting in the office, but according to the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment, strong light can make people tired and increase anxiety.


Air-conditioners, which run all day but are seldom cleaned, are also a significant source of air pollution.


“Air-conditioners should be cleaned often,” Oanh suggests. “Periodically, they should be turned off for cleaning and filtering dust and windows should be opened to let in fresh air.”


When people are exposed to pollutants over a long period of time they may begin to experience allergies, tiredness and serious diseases like lung cancer, asthma and dermatitis, Oanh warns. —

Standard Chartered to open 30 branches across VN

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2008 at 10:27 am

HA NOI — Standard Chartered Bank has signalled that it plans to open 30 branches in Viet Nam over the next four years, after gaining approval to be the first overseas bank to incorporate their local operations in the country.


Ashok Sud, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank in Viet Nam, yesterday told reporters in Ha Noi that local incorporation would enable it to be better positioned to help Vietnamese companies raise capital in international markets.


The UK bank expressed confidence in the long-term development of Viet Nam’s economy, saying that, “Given the turmoil in the global and local markets, all investments of the bank in Viet Nam have been thoroughly considered.”


It is expected that Viet Nam’s economy will need an injection of about US$50 billion. Foreign banks will need to supply some of that capital.


The liberalisation of the banking sector comes amid a worsening economic backdrop in Viet Nam, with annual growth revised down to 7 per cent and credit growth limited to control double-digit inflation.


But Viet Nam remains attractive, because it is one of the least penetrated markets in Asia, with just 1 in 10 of its 87 million population holding a bank account.


Sud added that the effective controls the Government put in place to curb inflation and stabilise the economy demonstrated a sure touch.


In terms of market share in Viet Nam, some 40 foreign banks account for less than 10 per cent of total lending in the country. Over the next 5-10 years, local banks are still expected to hold an 85 per cent market share.


However, the participation of foreign banks like Standard Chartered will help domestic enterprises access high quality banking services.


Standard Chartered Bank owns a 15 per cent stake in Asia Commercial Bank (ACB). The UK bank said it had no plans to increase its investment in ACB at this time. In contrast, HSBC has increased its stake in Techcombank from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.


Standard Chartered Bank opened its first branch in Viet Nam in 1904. The bank has two branches in the country, the maximum permissible. They focus on serving the wholesale banking needs of Asia-based companies in the country.


Standard Chartered Bank plans to sign a contract today to loan the Vinacomin group $58 million. —

Standard Chartered to open 30 branches across Vietnam

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2008 at 9:38 am

Hanoi (VNA) – Standard Chartered Bank has signalled that it plans to open 30 branches in Vietnam over the next four years, after gaining approval to be the first overseas bank to incorporate their local operations in the country.

Ashok Sud, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank in Vietnam, on September 15 told reporters in Hanoi that local incorporation would enable it to be better positioned to help Vietnamese companies raise capital in international markets.

The UK bank expressed confidence in the long-term development of Vietnam ’s economy, saying that, “Given the turmoil in the global and local markets, all investments of the bank in Vietnam have been thoroughly considered.”

It is expected that Vietnam’s economy will need an injection of about 50 billion USD. Foreign banks will need to supply some of that capital.

The liberalisation of the banking sector comes amid a worsening economic backdrop in Vietnam, with annual growth revised down to 7 percent and credit growth limited to control double-digit inflation.

But Vietnam remains attractive, because it is one of the least penetrated markets in Asia , with just 1 in 10 of its 87 million population holding a bank account.

Sud added that the effective controls the Government put in place to curb inflation and stabilise the economy demonstrated a sure touch.

In terms of market share in Vietnam , some 40 foreign banks account for less than 10 percent of total lending in the country. Over the next 5-10 years, local banks are still expected to hold an 85 percent market share.

However, the participation of foreign banks like Standard Chartered will help domestic enterprises access high quality banking services.

Standard Chartered Bank owns a 15 percent stake in Asia Commercial Bank (ACB). The UK bank said it had no plans to increase its investment in ACB at this time. In contrasts, HSBC has increased its stake in Techcombank from 15 percent to 20 percent.

Standard Chartered Bank opened its first branch in Vietnam in 1904. The bank has two branches in the country, the maximum permissible. They focus on serving the wholesale banking needs of Asia-based companies in the country.

Standard Chartered Bank plans to sign a contract to loan the Vinacomin group 58 million USD on September 16.-