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60% of fish species may vanish by 2100!

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A new study published in the journal Science says climate change and growing sea water temperature can make aquatic habitats unliveable for 60 per cent of fish species by 2100, if temperatures keep rising at unprecedented rates. 

Both saltwater and freshwater fish are the most sensitive to rising temperatures as spawning adults, and as embryos. At these life stages, fish use more energy and oxygen to survive, which unfortunately is already depleting fast in rapidly heating water bodies. 

Scientists studied almost 700 species of fish — all either economically or ecologically essential to sustaining an aquatic ecosystem that feeds billions of people around the world — and found them to be most vulnerable when in reproductive or embryonic stages of their life cycle.

Organisms have to breathe in order for their bodies to produce energy; this is equally true for human beings and for fish. In addition, we know that the energy needs of humans and animals alike depend on the temperature: When it’s warmer, the need for energy rises exponentially, and with it, the need for oxygen.

On this basis, it follows that organisms can only adapt to rising temperatures in their immediate vicinity by providing their bodies with more oxygen. But there are certain species-specific limits on this ability; if those limits are exceeded, it can lead to cardiovascular collapse.

Since pre-industrial times, the planet’s temperature has slowly risen by just over 1 degree Celsius. In order to stop this rise, governments all over the world have been committing to halting this global rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius, in order to stay the devastation caused by global warming. If successful, this could limit the damage to aquatic life, to affect only 10 per cent of fish species, researchers found.

But a recent United Nations report shows this 1.5-degree Celsius limit is unlikely to hold; the world is on track to record a 3-degree Celsius spike by 2030. If we keep moving at this rate, scientists fear a worst-case scenario playing out for marine wildlife, which can increase the rate of their endangerment six-fold. 

Substance abuse: A growing social menace

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New Delhi: With the rise of technology and developments in all spheres of life, our life is getting busier with each passing day. In the chaos that life has become today, one hardly has time for another individual. With the rise in population and advancements in every field, the level of competition is rising by leaps and bounds. All these aspects combined have resulted in drug addiction among youngsters in an attempt to escape the stress that life offers at an extremely young age.

Rise of drug addiction amongst youngsters is an alarm bell for society. Addiction of narcotic substances amongst youngsters is not only ruining their future but is also acting like a termite for the future of the nation. While some use drugs to combat stress and anxiety, others find it fashionable, thereby succumbing to addiction. Increase in the number of addicts poses a major challenge for law and order situation as the youngsters who belong to middle class or poor families indulge in criminal activities in order to sustain their addiction.

In a recent instance, cops apprehended a group of five youngsters aged between 15-20 years, burgling houses at night to procure money to be able to buy drugs. They had recently been released from a juvenile home. Similarly, now and then GRP detains children from railway station. Most of them are addicted to sniffing adhesives or consuming narcotic substances. These children were found to be beggars in trains, while some of them were minor thieves.

It is tough for parents and authorities to prevent substance abuse as youngsters cannot be stopped from meeting their friends at school, college, coaching classes, clubs and restaurants and these friends are a big influence on these youngsters as far as their addiction is concerned.

Parents are needed to keep a strict watch on their adolescent kids from early on  to prevent them from getting into bad and anti-social habits, warning them of the adverse effects of substance abuse.

Some common signs which indicate that an individual is addicted to narcotics or other such substances are:

* Neglecting responsibilities at workplace, school, college or at home like skipping tuition classes, low performance academically and staying away or alone for most of the time.

* Indifferences in relationships of an individual such as fights with family members or partner, losing a good old friend, etc.

* Losing temper easily and getting into nasty fights for petty issues.

* Frequently getting into fights, accidents and illegal activities.

* Lack of motivation, feeling lethargic.

* Anxiety and irritation.

* A sudden loss of appetite and weight.

* Disturbance in sleep patterns.

A Practising Politician First President of U.P Bhartiya Jana Sangh – Late Rao Krishna Pal Singh Ji Awagarh

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A Practising Politician First President of U.P Bhartiya Jana Sangh – Late Rao Krishna Pal Singh Ji Awagarh

The Bhartiya Jana Sangh was the most robust of the Frist generation of Hindu nationalist parties in modern Indian politics. On September 2 ,1951 in Lucknow, the UP Unit was formed. Lala Bal Raj Bhalla Ji ( President Punjab Unit ) delivered the inaugural address in which he stressed the Bhartiya aspect of the party’s program and did so in such a manner that any non-Hindu would certainly have been frightened away.The party adopted a resolution calling for an All-India meeting. Rao Sahib Krishna Pal Singh Awagarh , a former Army Major and member of UP Legislative Council and one-time President of the Provincial Hindu Sabha was elected the first President and Pandit Din Dayal Upadhyay, the reputed writer,orator, and social worker of Uttar Pradesh was appointed as first General Secretary.

On the 9th September 1951 ,the Presidents, Secretaries and some other prominent workers of the Provincial Jan Sangh ‘s of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi,West Bengal,UP, and Madhya Bharat met in Delhi and decided to convene an All India Convention at N Delhi on 21st October 1951,and appointed Prof .Balraj Madhok as it’s general secretary-cum-convener on the 11th October 1951,on the unanimous request of all the top-ranking leaders of the regional Jan Sangh’s, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee agree to accept the post of the Founder President of the party .
In a historic gathering of 400 delegates of the Sangh from different parts of the country,the All India Bhartiya Jan Sangh was launched on 21st October 1951 ,at N Delhi ,Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was unanimously elected President of Bhartiya Jan Sangh ,a provisional working committee was chosen The immediate origin of the Jan Sangh 29 members of the provisional working committee were selected in which Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was as president ,Bhai . Mahavir Ji and Mauli Chandra Sharma (both from Delhi) And in other 16 . Members Rao Krishna Pal Singh Ji of Awagarh and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Ji both from U P Unit.DeenDayal Upadhyay Ji was ,as shall be seen to rise to the highest level of the Jan Sangh ,Rao Krishna Pal Singh Awagarh left the party in 1953 and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1962 on the Swantarta Party ticket from Jalesar Lok Sabha Parliamentary Constituency in UP. Swatantra Party was born on August 1,1959 listening men led by C.Rajagopalachari.In the 1962 general election ,the first after its formation (1962-67) 18seats were occupied .Some ex-Zamindars and Talukedars have occupied important positions in both Jan Sangh and Swatantra parties.The Raja of Jaunpur was for a while after the 1962 election the leader of the Jan Sangh in the assembly and was elected President of U P JanSangh in 1963.The first leader of the Swatantra Party in the UP Assembly was the Raja of Manakpur a former Talukedar of Gonda district.In Swatantra Party in Rajasthan , Maharawal Laxman Singh of Dungarpur was among the first to join the party leading to four more princes joining ,the most prominent among them being Maharani Gayatri Devi Jaipur .

Rao Krishna Pal Singh of Awagarh was a practising politician. Rao Sahib was elected as a Member of Parliament from Jalesar Lok Sabha against Krishna Chandra of the Indian National Congress in 1962. He was Chairman District Board Etah . Associated with Civil And Military Administration between 1921 to 1950.Associated with Hindu Maha Sabha,Ram Rajya Parishad , Bhartiya Jan Sangh, and the Liberal Party of India was member of UP Legislative Council from 1926 to 1938.

C .Y .Chintamani was as his political Guru whose photo had a permanent place on his study table, he could not accept emotionally any of the current political labels. For some time he got identified with Congress when the Satyagrah movement was at its height, even to the point of being threatened with the possibility of being placed behind the bars, later on with the Swatantra and JanSangh parties. But with none of these, he was at peace.The Liberal in him was too strong to permit a compromise with any straight jacket ideology. The ambition to rise in life, which usually provides the urge for adjustment and compromises was conspicuous by its absence. It was not a part of his culture.He was very close to Pt.Madan Mohan Malviya, Pt.Moti Lal Nehru and Pt.Govind Ballabh Pant.

National Liberal Federation of India 10th session ,Dec 27,28 ,29 ,1927 Resolution.The Council of the Federation is authorised to take all necessary steps to give effect to the resolution supported by Rao Krishna Pal Singh Awagarh, C.Y Chintamani, M L C (UP), and Babu Bhagwati Saran Singh, Bihar.

Rao Sahib participated in 1930 in “Namak Satyagrah” in front of Kotwali at Agra. Later on, join the Indian Army and exhibited his entire talent, and served till being Major. He was popular amongst his senior officers for the reason of being very helpful and his simplicity.
Very few people know about Late Rao Krishna Pal Singh. That he was dedicated towards Hindi Language and served it with full spirit. He had been Chairperson from 1933 to 1936 in Nagri Pracharini Sabha Agra and served the organization with his true spirit physically, Mentally, and financially.

Rao Sahib was a close friend of Raja Mahendra Pratap, a famous freedom fighter of Aligarh district, and honored him with the degree of” Aryan Peshwa ” and rendered help to help to freedom fighters whenever needed.

Rao Sahib had been a member of Parliament from 1962 to 1967 from Swatantra Party and with the expenditure of 5000Rs was victorious unanimously. In case of his absence in Parliament, he refused to accept the daily allowance of Rs 21 and later on Rs 35 which was given to every Parliament leader. His secretary Mittal Sahib often argued on his issue but he said No Work No allowance, even he may be in Delhi but due to his absence from Parliament, his conscience doesn’t allow him to accept it. May it be the motivational force to present Politicians in this respect.
Rao Sahib had been Vice -President of Raja Balwant Singh College Management Committee throughout his life. He was a dedicated patriot and served his nation with full spirit. Raja Balwant Singh College is a great symbol of his glorious work. He was by far the greatest gentleman whose benevolence, generosity, and humanitarianism will keep inspiring future generations for all that is great and good in human life.

He was the younger son of Raja Balwant Singh Ji of Awagarh and the younger brother of Raja Suraj Pal Singh Ji.
Capt. Rao Krishanpal Singh of Awagarh married Kumari Darshan Kumari (Daughter of Thakur Durga Chand Ji) of Mahilog and had one daughter, Rajkumari Indira Kumari, married 27th November 1941. She married Maharajkumar Pradyuman Singh of Dungarpur.

Jai Hind. Jai Rajputana.

1-The Jan Sangh -A Biography of an Indian Political part Oxford University Press, London,1969, P 73.By Craig.Baxter.
2-Ideology, social Base, and strategies of electoral Mobilisation of the Jan Sangh:-A Background.The genesis of Jan Sangh in UP.
3-Full text of Jan Sangh.A Biography of an Indian Political Party.
4-Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics.Origin and Development of Bhartiya Jan Sangh.By Graham, BD.
5-Bharat Kesri Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee with Modern Implication by Das, S .C.Bhartiya JanSangh on the 21st of October 1951-1952.

The Cons-piracy Theory

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By Rupinder Brar

I have been found slapping myself and clapping in air while in conversation with friends and family on video calls. They really thought covid blues had made me bonkers. And then to my “good” luck the news item in the Delhi edition of a newspaper on 7th of April 2021 came to my rescue. It referred to a survey done by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation which found that this year there was an abnormally high density of mosquitoes in Delhi. My perception of being sane was restored and along with that my self-respect. 

The slapping, clapping and bloodbath continues. You all perhaps know the mundane explanations of the bad boys of municipal authorities not doing fogging, early onset of high temperatures, the cleaners being away because of COVID, the peri-domestic containers as being 38% of breeding sites and so on. But all that is every year. There has to be more to it than meets the eye ..oops the skin in this case.

Discussions galore. Mrs S called and said “ Do you know that bat sales have increased exponentially.” Now for the uninitiated the “bat” here is not the Tendulkar willow to loft Waqar Yunus with, but the very plasticky badminton racquet looking, cheap aluminium wire bat which uses minor voltage to stun the little rascals. “Yes. Indeed they have. I have five at home.” I replied. “Bat companies have made sure the mosquito colonies breed.” Finding me silent, she thought I am concurring and went on. “People are saying there is corporate conspiracy.” Now this got me interested. “How Mrs S?” 

She went on in a hush tone “You know what the bat is made of. Low density polyethylene, which in turn can of course be obtained from renewable sources but it is mainly obtained from petroleum or natural gas.” I could sense the voice modulation as she moved from a hush hush conjecture, to a hypothesis and then onto a theory. The best was yet to come. 

“You can see for sure how profits are eventually being made by whom. Mosquitoes are just a medium. Who thinks of our blood. The bat sales are all that matter.” 

I excused myself with some muttering that the onions in the pan were burning more than the caramel brown and put the phone down. The bats were staring at me, laughing at how I had been fooled in to corporate plunder. Suddenly the little mozzie appeared a tool and not the perpetrator of crime. And so I thought I am not going to kill them. Poor fellas were just pawns themselves. 

I had to find a more benign way to guard myself. And so arrived the very diluted prallethrin and picaridin based liquid repellents, coils, natural ingredient based agarbatti giving the lemony aroma of citronella and gels and creams we all have used in childhood while sleeping on terraces. Finally one could sit for dinner with friends without the “ thrrriickk” sound of a mozzie felled by the bat and peace prevailed. Short-lived alas. 

Mr M said he was armed with data that suggested that “the enemy” had made sure that we all take in the fumes of the coils. “The coils have an artificial aroma of citronella so do not think natural and organic.” He went on knowledgeably. “Do you see how the mosquitoes have been drugged and they are clinging lifelessly to the ceiling and the walls. It is top secret and so I cannot divulge more. But believe me I know what I am saying. We know the history and learnings from opium wars. Its just become more subtle. Its a conspiracy to dull our whole generation. Cabbagi-sation. ” He said with a smug look and happily went on to gorge on the kebabs and whisky. And poor cabbage, I thought, with all its Vitamin C junky-ed. 

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter if it is alcohol, morphine or idealism” – Carl Jung

Goodbye for now, I’m back to slapping and clapping. Pataaakkkk goes the mozzie. 

(The blog has been inspired by Mosquito Gambit. Article in an Indian Newspaper on May 30, 2021. Nepomniachtchi, the Russian chess player lost his round …to the mosquitoes) 

Mozzie is the Australian and New Zealand slang for mosquito. (   The author is  Additional Director General at Ministry of Tourism , Govt of India. 
 Rupinder Brar is 1990 batch Income Tax officer of Indian Revenue Service)

Why Mahatma Gandhi matters?

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Dissecting how our priorities have all gone wrong in face of the Covid tsunami

It is in the midst of a monstrous Covid tsunami we are all here in India. People are dying, a very large number of them even without proper medical care; there are shortage of oxygen supply; hospital beds; other emergency medical facilities; medicines etc. It is a humongous task before every Indian to come together and fight this monster which is eating away precious lives. While rural India is affected, it is the highly urbanized metropolis which are badly affected. Scenes of relatives and kith and kin running around in desperation either for an elusive bed in a hospital or oxygen cylinder or even struggling to get their loved ones cremated have shaken every citizen of our nation. Also, unfortunately we see even at this hour of devastation, vultures roaming at large trying to entrap desperate relatives either in hospitals, medical stores or those selling oxygen. There is a huge premium attached to all these and suddenly we realize if we have lost the human in us in this grim hour. Of course, the silver lining is the enormous contribution and the spirit of volunteering amongst a large number of citizens who are trying to reach out and help those who are totally unknown to them.

While almost all countries of the world are usurped by the pandemic, it is the second wave of the Covid tsunami which is devastating India. Have we gone wrong in our priorities? It is a question that is now haunting most of us. Have our understanding of development which focusses on unabashed urbanization and materialism, have our current lifestyle architecture which is not in sync with nature, have our gloated food habits- all fallen flat in front of the monstrous Covid surge. It is time for serious introspection and course correction for all of us.

Notwithstanding the spirit of volunteerism and compassion shown by large number of citizens to help their fellow citizens in the hour of dismay, there are vultures too who are rejoicing at this situation. Like Shylock they want to make money at the death of people. This is human values at its nadir. The greed and hunger for money is so astounding as these vultures have killed the human within them; they remain unaffected at the cry and desperation of relatives trying to save their loved ones. It is undoubtedly a danger sign, a pointer to the crisis in our civilizational ethos. Each one of us including the vultures out to make hay while people die at some stage need to self-introspect whether any iota of human values are left. Let us do a self-talk, let us indulge in an inner dialogue and try to seek answers whether the humongous money that one is amassing from a desperate relative is really worth! Doesn’t it shake us? Do we have the courage to answer our inner self?

Chris Moore-Backman’s in his book, The Gandhian Iceberg: A Nonviolence Manifesto for the Age of the Great Turning uses the metaphor of iceberg to explain three core features of Gandhian theory and practice. In an interview with Miki Kashtan, Moore-Backman argues, “The biggest, weightiest part of the iceberg — the enormous mass under water — is what Gandhi called self-purification, which I refer to as self-transformation. This is the foundational expression of nonviolence, where we align our individual practice with our deepest principles. This alignment is the cardinal Gandhian commitment.” (https://truthout.org/articles/is-there-a-nonviolent-path-to-a-livable-future-a-conversation-with-chris-moore-backman/)

If we have to overcome the crisis in our civilizational ethos- the death of human values, each one of us have to go through a process of self-purification and self-transformation. Through our inner-dialogues and self-talk we have to dissect whether the act we are indulging in even when our fellow beings are going through unsurmountable crisis is appropriate.

The next danger sign of our civilizational ethos comes from the unabashed material development which we have started to think as the key to our happiness and well-being. Our idea of development starts with it and ends with it. Mahatma Gandhi in his seminal book, The Hind Swaraj critiques the modern civilization as one which equates the human body with machine consisting of interconnected limbs, tissues and cells. He explains how the modern civilization gives more credence to body welfare or material development than spiritual and moral progress. He says, “This civilization takes note neither of morality nor of religion. He then points out how the ‘civilization seeks to increase bodily comforts, and it fails miserably even in doing so’. Others like Albert Schweitzer also echoes Gandhi’s concern on the debasement in modern civilization and remarks that ‘the disastrous feature of our civilization is that it is far more developed materially than spiritually. Its balance is disturbed. We value too highly its material achievements and no longer keep in mind as vividly as necessary the importance of the spiritual element in life.’ As we are witnessing in the Covid tsunami, the world has definitely moved further into the abyss of civilizational decay since the times of Gandhi and Schweitzer. In fact, since Gandhi shared his concerns on the ill-effects of modern civilization, there have been tectonic shifts in the race towards crass materialism with humankind finding itself in a quagmire of deep environmental, moral and social degradation.

Bhikhu Parekh in his seminal book, Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction aptly encapsulates Gandhi’s perspectives of modern civilization. He explains, “Based on the beliefs, that unless one was constantly on the move one was not alive, and that the faster the tempo of life the more alive one was, modern civilization was inherently restless and lacked stability, it aimed to conquer time and space and developed increasingly speedier modes of transport and communication… Thanks to its restlessness and mindless activism, mistakenly equated with dynamism and energy, modern civilization undermined man’s unity with his environment and fellow men, and destroyed stable and long-established communities.”   

These thoughts of the Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh actually encompasses the civilizational crisis that we are currently witnessing, “We are seeking happiness, but there is suffering inside of us. We are getting sick. We don’t feel at peace with ourselves. There is a big vacuum inside of us, so we look for things outside us to fill up the vacuum. We think that new and exciting things will work, but they do not seem to have an effect. We are consuming more and more, but we do not feel fulfilment. We need love, we need peace, but we do not know how to create love and peace. We know there must be a lifestyle that will create love and joy, but unless we know how to create that kind of life, we will continue to buy things.”

While a large number of volunteers continue to serve those who are suffering, we dissect another danger sign- the perils of an over individualistic society. For very large number of us we are just an individualistic society interested in our own well-being rather than for the society at large, we unfortunately have stopped thinking of our collective well-being. In fact, although there may be arguments and counter arguments on what is wrong and what is right and in many cases the lines of right and wrong may be blurred, overall traits like hatred, jealously, hurting others for one’s own aggrandizement can never by any stretch can qualify as right moral values. We cannot by any means sacrifice moral and ethical values at the altar of strange explanations. 

Here it would be pertinent to look at Bhikhu Parekh’s description of the Gandhian understanding of the decline of moral values in the context of modern civilization. He says, “Morality was reduced to reciprocal egoism or enlightened self-interest. Since self-interest was not a moral principle, Gandhi argued that enlightened self-interest was not one either. In modern civilization, morality was a form of prudence, a more effective way of pursuing self-interest, and was virtually exorcised out of existence.”

Parekh explains on how in Gandhi’s views modern civilization ignored the quality of soul. According to Gandhi, jealousy, hatred meanness, ill-will, perverse pleasures at another’s misfortunes were some of the moral impurities. Exploitation of another human being was an inbuilt immoral value in the very structure of modern civilization. So, when a hospital or medical store or a vulture start exploiting a person who is fighting for life, it reflects the immoral value in the very structure of our civilization.

Another important danger sign which the Covid tsunami portends is our increasing disconnect with nature and other living beings. Eminent primatologist Jane Goodall has blamed human behavior for the current coronavirus pandemic arguing that it as ‘our disregard for nature’.Expressing concern at rapid deforestation which forces wild species come closer to human inhabitants and the human habit of hunting wild animals for food, Goodall pointed out, “ Because as we destroy, let’s say the forest, the different species of animals in the forest are forced into a proximity and therefore diseases are being passed from one animal to another, and that second animal is then most likely to infect humans as it is forced into closer contact with humans.” (https://thehill.com/homenews/coronavirus-report/492357-jane-goodall-blames-disregard-for-nature-for-coronavirus-pandemic?fbclid=IwAR3ZGCyHdPkJHB3IH6Vh0HivGVMhDFwRSSV6i9lp0y0jtVa8xZw-HMt4jgI)

This disconnect and dysfunctional relationship with nature and other living beings is bringing untold misery to humankind. We need to dissect our relationship with nature before it is too late. The spirit of our relationship with nature and other living beings should be interconnectedness.The spirit of interconnectedness is deeply embedded in the reality of our existence that social and universal responsibility becomes enlightened self-interest.

Bhikhu Parekh in his book, Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction talks about the Gandhian approach to interconnectedness, “Human beings were an integral part of the cosmos, and were tied to it by the deepest bonds. In Gandhi’s favorite metaphor, the cosmos was not a pyramid of which the material world was the base and the human beings the apex, but a series of ever-widening circles encompassing humankind, the sentient world, the material world, and the all-including cosmos.” The Gandhian perspective reminds us that we are all interdependent and definitely human beings are not the most superior race.

The Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has beautifully explained the concept of interconnectedness or inter-being. In Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth, Thich Nhat Hanh points out, “Your happiness and the happiness of other species inter-are. If you are healthy, if you are happy, then other forms of life can profit from you. If you are sick, if you suffer, then other species will have to suffer with you.”

He further notes, “We have been talking about the environment as something different from us, but we are the environment. The non-human elements are our environments and we are the environment of non-human elements. So, we are one with the environment, we are the environment, we are the Earth. The Earth has the capacity to restore balance.

In the context of the danger signs dissected here and amidst the deep abyss we find ourselves in this Covid tsunami, it has become imperative that all of start sincerely self-introspecting and analyze our actions. Only when we start understanding and act in the context of our interconnectedness, we can cultivate true love. We will then slowly learn on how to generate the immense energy of loving kindness, compassion, joy, empathy and our inclusive nature.  This will probably dissuade us from being vultures and practice self-aggrandisement at the expense of others. It is only when we make sincere efforts to realize the goals of our interconnectedness, we can encourage empathetic and compassionate connections. It will help us tread the path of self-purification and self-transformation. It will also help us rekindle the human values that seems to have become dormant due to our race towards crass materialism.

Vedabhyas Kundu,

Programme Officer,

Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, New Delhi

10 Cancer Awareness Facts and Celebrating National Cancer Awareness Day, 2020 by ” Dr Dodul Mondal “

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Cancer Specialist

Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi

(Previously Asst. Professor at National Cancer Institute of AIIMS Delhi and Fellow, Proton Beam Therapy and Precision Radiation Oncology at Cancer Institute of New Jersey, USA)

Contact:- +91-8860-102-093
Email: dodulmondal@gmail.com
www.drdodulmondal.com

Yesterday it was National Cancer Awareness Day, 2020. 7th November is celebrated as National Cancer Awareness Day in India since 2014. Every year many activities happen surrounding this day, but this year is bit different due to COVID-19 pandemic. I do not believe in any particular “day” for increasing cancer awareness as I believe that awareness has to be increased every day, every moment. Of course, importance of one day should also not be ignored. So, the first question which comes to mind is, why 7th November? Let me start from awareness about “7th November” and its importance in cancer care.

In 1867, Marie Sklodowska Curie, popularly known as Marie Curie, was born in Poland on 7th November. She invented radioactivity in 1898. Within few years she discovered Radium and Polonium, two radioactive elements and won Nobel prize twice for her revolutionary work. These inventions changed cancer care landscape throughout the world within few years only. Needless to say, modern Radiation Oncology, which cures millions throughout the world, would not have seen the daylight of this world without her. Can any other date be better than this to celebrate National Cancer Awareness Day? How many of us are aware about this!

Whenever I talk about cancer awareness, I see people discussing screening, vaccine and healthy lifestyle only as if awareness should be limited to these three things and nothing else! There are many more things about cancer to be aware about. Let me show this from a different perspective. I believe, awareness means a holistic awareness about cancer starting from how does it happen to remaining aware about ways to reduce its treatment related complications!

Cancer Awareness Fact 1:

Why Cancer happens? No one knows the answer completely! Only few reasons are known so far. Few factors have significant association with cancer like smoking is related to lung cancer, tobacco is related to oral cancer, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is related to cervical cancer and few oropharynx cancers, hepatitis virus is associated with some liver cancers, few chemical agents and heavy metals are associated with skin cancer, bladder cancers etc. Some gene mutations are associated with some types of hereditary and familial cancers

Cancer Awareness Fact 2:

How can it be prevented? There is no single answer to this question. I have mentioned about few possible causes of cancer in the above paragraph. There is no magic wand which can prevent all causes by one simple solution. It’s a myth! However, it is always advisable to follow a good, healthy and fit lifestyle, avoiding chemicals in food, cessation of smoking, alcohol, tobacco use etc. Many countries have adopted vaccination against cervical cancer, and it is postulated that it can reduce cervical cancer to a great extent when the vaccine is given to a girl early in the life before sexual exposure. Vaccination after sexual exposure reduces its effectiveness.  Similarly, vaccination against hepatitis B virus is also helpful in preventing some liver cancers. There are many more things which can prevent occurrence of cancers, but beyond scope of discussion here.

Cancer Awareness Fact 3:

How can it be detected early? By increasing awareness. Mostly people talk about Mammography or sonomammography (combination of ultrasonography and mammography) for early detection of breast cancer. But there are many more cancers which can’t be detected by mammography! And breast cancer is not the only cancer which can be detected and cured at an early stage. A simple test can detect cervical cancer at a very early stage (sometimes even before formation of a full-fledged cancer); cervical cancer is one of the leading killer cancers in developing and underdeveloped countries. A simple visual examination of mouth can detect oral cancer on many occasions by an experienced cancer specialist. Again, in a suitable population, very low dose chest CT scan can detect lung cancer at very early stage, colonoscopy can detect cancer of rectum, colon, some blood tests can detect prostate cancer at early stage etc.  It is important to remain aware about your body, remain aware about any unusual symptoms and remain cautious to visit a cancer specialist whenever a cancer is suspected. Discuss with your doctor if those symptoms can be due to cancer or not!

Cancer Awareness Fact 4:

What are the new diagnostic tools and how costly they are? Whereas newer diagnostic tools are mostly costly, it is not always necessary to undergo costly tests to detect a cancer inside body. Most of the screening tests for early detection of cancers are usually cheaper and many times done almost at a negligible cost in government hospitals. Mammography, sonography, PAP smear (for cervical cancer), few blood tests, oral examination etc. are not hugely expensive and in fact the cost is actually cheaper than few packets of cigarettes! Once cancer is detected, it becomes necessary to know its exact nature and stage. It can require endoscopy or endoscopic ultrasound, CT scan, PET scan,  PET-CT Scan (Combination of PET scan and CT scan), MRI, PET-MRI (Combination of PET scan and MRI), biopsy, Immunohistochemistry, mutation analysis etc. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to advise costly tests or investigations to properly understand and treat the cancer. In our country, on multiple occasions, adequate investigations are not done considering financial implication on the patients. Become aware that, sometimes costly investigations are required. I forgot to mention, X-ray is not obsolete, but mostly are not used nowadays in cancer care in good well equipped centers.

Cancer Awareness Fact 5:

How can it be treated? Broadly, treatments are divided into surgery or operation, radiation or radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy etc. Rarely, only one type of treatment modality is required but most of the times, multiple treatment types are combined together to maximize the response and control the tumor. While most people understand what is operation (as it is obvious), people do not understand much about radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy. If required, it is always better to visit a cancer specialist to discuss these things.

Cancer Awareness Fact 6:

What are the new things about radiation treatment? Few days back I was writing an article on Radiation Oncology and how important is it in curing cancer. In last two decades, extraordinary developments have taken place in radiation machines. With currently available cutting edge machines, it is possible to pinpoint radiation to the tumor and make sure it is being delivered at the right place. Some machines have a precision of targeting the tumor with variation of less than 1 millimeter! Again, there are machines of proton beam therapy which can literally reduce radiation dose to zero around the tumor or target. Another newer machine, known as Tomotherapy can treat the tumor in a slice by slice manner! Radiation machines (most of them are linear accelerators which use very high energy X-ray) are now equipped with integrated scanning facility (either with CT scan or MRI) to accurately position and treat the patients. Although less known and discussed, few machines are now based on robotic principles as well making them extremely sophisticated. All these have made it sure that radiation is delivered at the desired area and the dose to normal organs is reduced to a large extent. It increases the chance of cure and reduce toxicity. When seeking treatment, patients and care givers should remain aware about these technologies and discuss with their radiation oncologists to understand what can be the best cost-effective treatment for their patents.

Cancer Awareness Facts 7:

What is “Brachytherapy”? I am sure not many people are aware about this treatment technique. It is the oldest form of radiation technology which is a gift of invention of Marie Curie as I told at the beginning.  Brachytherapy is considered as an extremely precise form of radiation in experienced hand which is available only in selected centers and can be performed safely by highly skilled and experienced specialists only. Indeed, brachytherapy requires lot of background training and skill. In this technique, the radiation source is placed almost in direct contact of the tumor inside the body. Sometimes, the radiation source is actually placed inside tumor making it possible to burn the tumor with very high dose and giving negligible dose of radiation to surrounding normal organs.

Cancer Awareness Facts 8:

What is chemotherapy/targeted therapy/immunotherapy? Popularly they are known as anti-cancer medicines. These are available in different forms, commonest being in the form of injection which is diluted in saline mostly and then introduced in the body via veins. Some newer medicines are available in tablet or capsule form also and they are known as oral anticancer drugs. However, it is necessary to understand that chemotherapy is not equivalent to targeted therapy or Immunotherapy. Chemotherapy most of the time has its effect on the entire body while targeted therapy or immunotherapy most of the time attacks the tumor cells selectively. That is why side effects from targeted therapy or immunotherapy are less compared to chemotherapy but this may not be true all the times.

Cancer Awareness Facts 9:

How to reduce side effects of treatment? Reducing side effects of radiation require a concerted effort by the treating physician, nurse, technologists, supporting care givers, social support and of course, the patients. A positive attitude towards accepting the disease (once cancer is detected, it has to be accepted) and treatment helps the patient tolerating the side effects in a much better way. Using newer technologies and medicines wherever appropriate, using anticancer agents with lesser side effects and equal or better efficacy and some newer treatments to reduce long term side effects can help the patient reduce the burden of side effects of cancer treatment.

Cancer Awareness Facts 10:

Is it safe to treat cancer patients during COVID pandemic? Most of the time yes, but essentially needs lot of understanding by the treating physician or the team of doctors. Balance between benefits of treating cancer and risk of acquiring COVID infection versus potential harm due to lack of timely anticancer treatment (radiation, surgery, chemotherapy) is most crucial. Some patients during their cancer treatment can also develop COVID infection and it is a common confusion what is right at that time-to treat or not to treat and wait till the patient becomes COVID negative! The confidence of the doctor, his understanding about the entire complex scenario, experience and preparedness of the treating team, the hospital and the understanding of the patient- all are important to decide this. Not all hospitals are able to treat in such situation due to multiple complex factors. It is important on the part of the patient and caregivers to understand and discuss these issues with the treating physician before starting the treatment. COVID needs special attention.

So, at the end, keeping cancer awareness in mind, I would rather say that the idea of cancer awareness does not end only with the knowledge of cancer prevention or saying “eat healthy, live healthy, do exercise” etc. At present everyone has to be more aware about what is happening around cancer. A holistic awareness about how to prevent cancer, how to detect and diagnose cancer, how to treat cancer and how to minimize treatment related complications of cancer will make it a success.

(Views are personal and information provided are true to the best possible knowledge of the author. Any error is unintentional. It is important to see a qualified cancer specialist to discuss and decide whenever required. Author is not responsible for any error in treatment or whatsoever arising out of this community knowledge sharing).

Ajanta Caves: An intellectual delight

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Aurangabad, the Central Maharashtra city said to be established by Mughal emperor Aurangazeb some four hundred years back, is known for many historical relics that bear testimony to the glorious Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim traditions of harmony and unity through the arts.

The Ajanata caves, lying hardly kilometers away from the city, are some such beauties of human creation that enrich our cultural heritage and continue to be the source of great interest and inspiration worldwide. The place is flocked by all sorts of tourists from all parts of the globe for the varied interests it holds for varied tastes.

 Basically, the Ajanta caves are Buddhist cave monuments, roughly30 in number, built through a period of time starting as far back as 2nd century BC and continuing till about 500 AD. The caves contain many exquisite paintings and rock-cut sculptures that bring forth some of the finest specimens of Indian art, especially as expressed in the layers of emotions depicted in the pose and gesture of the creations.

According to UNESCO, which designates it as a World Heritage Site, these are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that influenced the Indian art that followed. Caves 16, 17, 1 and 2 of Ajanta form the largest corpus of surviving ancient Indian wall-painting. These caves were covered by jungle until accidentally “discovered” and brought to Western attention in 1819 by a British officer Capt. John Smith on a tiger-hunting party. The caves are in the rocky northern wall of the U-shaped gorge of river Waghur. There are a number of waterfalls around the caves, which are audible during the monsoons, lending a romantic and mysterious touch to the atmosphere. The caves mainly served as a resting place for Buddhist monks, merchants and travelers in ancient India.

The caves were built during a time when both the Buddha and the Hindu gods were simultaneously worshipped and revered in India. According to many scholars, the royal Vakataka sponsors of the Ajanta Caves probably worshipped both Hindu and Buddhist gods. This is evidenced by inscriptions in which these rulers, who are otherwise known as Hindu devotees, made Buddhist dedications to the caves.

A terracotta plaque of Mahishasurmardini, also known as Durga, was also found in a burnt-brick vihara monastery facing the caves on the right bank of the Waghora river. This suggests that the deity was possibly under worship by the artisans. 

The Ajanta caves are predominantly shrouded in darkness, as natural caves mostly are and should be. In fact, this lack of light or the play of light and shadow is crucial to the experience at Ajanta; it only intensifies the sense of the mysterious and heightens the enigmatic bearings of the paintings and sculptures. There may have been dim artificial lighting created by oil lamps in the past. But, even today, the majority of the caves remain almost completely dark. Luckily, without the help of artificial lighting, the caves remain in their original state and evoke the past in a more relatable way.

Though the caves can be visited all round the year, the summers are musty and sticky, which may not give the most pleasurable experience. However, every season lends its own colour and flavour to add to the beauty of the caves and winters and monsoons can be chosen for the richest of experience. Aurangaabd can be chosen as the base for the visit. The city has rail and air connectivity with Mumbai and several other cities and also has a range of hotels of all budgets to ensure a comfortable stay.

Indian techies up for Modi’s app challenge

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In the backdrop of the Indian government’s decision to ban Chinese apps in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a new Digital Indian AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge aimed at improving the Indian app ecosystem. The project was launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in partnership with the Atal Innovation Mission and government think-tank Niti Aayog.

“Today there is immense enthusiasm among the tech & start-up community to create world class Made in India Apps. To facilitate their ideas and products @GoI_MeitY and @AIMtoInnovate are launching the Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in a tweet.

The project aims to promote existing Indian apps and also the development of new apps. The government says it will first identify the “best Indian apps” that citizens are using already and have the potential to scale and become world class apps in their respective categories, in Track 1 of the challenge. Track 2 of the challenge will identify companies and entrepreneurs who can build apps for the country. The second track will run longer than the first.

Further, the government’s focus seems to be to find replacement for the 59 Chinese apps that were recently banned in the country. The first track of the challenge is being launched in eight categories, which includes Office Productivity & Work from Home, Social Networking, E-Learning, Entertainment, Health & Wellness, Business including Agritech and Fintech, News and Games.

The innovation challenge can be accessed through the MyGov platform and will begin from July 4. Companies will have to submit their entries by July 18 through an online submission process. The government will appoint a jury for each of the tracks, which will include personnel from the private sector and academia to evaluate the entries.

Post evaluation, these apps will be given awards and features on “leaderboards for information of citizens”. The government has allocated ₹20 lakh, ₹15 lakh and ₹10 lakh for the first, second and third placed apps in each category. There may also be sub-categories, where winners will get ₹5 lakh, ₹3 lakh and₹2 lakh for first, second and third position, respectively.

The government says it will also adopt suitable apps and “guide them to maturity”, listing them on government marketplace (GeM). Ease of use, robustness, security and scalability are some of the key evaluation criteria.

While the government hasn’t explicitly said so, the initiative seems to be an extension of the earlier challenge announced to build India’s own video apps. It could also spell trouble for the 59 Chinese apps that were banned, many of which wall within the categories the government is looking at here.

Asia, America unite in cornering China

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Politics in the South China Sea is getting murkier with US coming in to stop China from raising claim over the contested waters. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan warships were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said in a statement on Friday.

The deployment of the nuke powered aircraft carriers is seen as a major US offensive against Chinese plans to expand its control over the Asian seas and can give rise to nasty diplomatic spats or even limited military action between the super powers.

The US deployment comes after Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted military drills in the region, drawing sharp reactions from neighbouring states and Washington.

“The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability,” Rear Admiral George M Wikoff commander of the strike group led by USS Ronald Reagan said.

China claims 90 per cent of the South China Sea through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year. Over the last decade, Beijing has gone ahead to build man-made islands and set up military installations including military-grade airfields in several areas.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of the South China Sea, that comprise the 21 disputes that Beijing is embroiled in.

China’s PLA Navy had started the five-day military drills on July 1, prompting Vietnam to file its formal protest to the Chinese foreign ministry. China’s drills are being held near the Paracel Islands claimed by Vietnam and Philippines.

In its strongest statement yet, the Philippines has said the exercises are being held in waters claimed by Vietnam.

“Should the exercises spill over to Philippine territory, then China is forewarned that it will be met with the severest response, diplomatic and whatever else is appropriate,” Philippines foreign ministry said in a statement, according to news agency AP. The Philippines has a defence cooperation pact with the US.

The US naval exercises come a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed solidarity with China’s neighbours. “The PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) military exercise in disputed waters of the South China Sea is highly provocative. We oppose Beijing’s unlawful claims. Period,” Pompeo tweeted on Friday.

Pompeo has been outspoken in his criticism of China’s expansionist approach, describing Beijing as a “rogue actor” for escalating tensions with India and other countries. Last month, he had underlined the degree to which the US is deploying its considerable military might with an almost single-minded determination to contain China.

Japan, which has raised its deployment around its Senkaku Islands that China eyes, has also been upset with Beijing over its practice of sending its ships to the Senkaku Islands.

Ujjain: The abode of Shri Mahakal

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Ujjain, situated on the right bank of River Kshipra in Madhya Pradesh is one of the seven sacred and holy cities of Hindus. Its literary, mythological, historical and geographical importance is chronicled in religious and history books and famed pieces of literature. 

The illustrious kings of the Gupta dynasty whose reign is considered as the golden period of India belonged to Ujjain. Earlier known as Ujjayni and Avantika, it was the ruling kingdom of the father of emperor Asoka. It was during this time that the Hindu Geography’s first meridian of longitude was marked. It was the capital of the great king Vikramaditya in whose court the Sanskrit literary genius Kalidas was a member. The famous mathematicians Brahmagupta and Varahamihira were born here.

Ujjain is the place where Lord Krishna, along with his brother Balarama and friend Sudama, received his education from Maharshi Sandipani.

Ujjain is also one of the four sites that host the Kumbh Mela (also called the Simhastha), a mass pilgrimage that attracts millions of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world once in 12 years.

The majestic Mahakaleshwar, the all-powerful Mahadev temple, located in the heart of Ujjain in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls is very special in the sense that it is dakshinamurti (south facing), a unique feature upheld by tantric traditions and is one of the 12 celebrated Jyotirlinga shrines in India which is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself) deriving currents of power (shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams in India which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.

At Mahakal you must ensure that you attend the ‘Bhasm- Aarti’, the first ritual conducted every day at 4 am at the temple. Fresh Bhasm (Ash) is brought from Shamshan (cremation place) and poured on Shivling – a unique feature nowhere seen in the world.

There are two ways to gain entry to the temple to watch Bhasm-Aarti –- one is through the free entry line, where you don’t have to pay except for any offerings that you want to take in. The other is through a Pass issued a day before by an authorized office on application between 12 pm and 2 pm, which lets you go into a shorter line and helps you gain quicker entry to the sanctum. Apart, the temple is open for regular visitors all through the day.

Besides the most revered Mahakal temple, there is the Kal Bhairav temple where worship of Kal Bhairava is carried out with hundreds of devotees daily offering liquor to the deity. It is amazing as hundreds of litres of Indian and foreign liquor is offered but it is unknown where this huge amount of liquor goes. The temple is also noteworthy for its exquisite painting in the Malwa style, traces of which still remain.

Chintamani Ganesh is a temple of considerable antiquity and the idol here is believed to be self-formed. There is the Mangalnath temple which is regarded as the birthplace of Mars according to the Skanda Purana. Mangalanath commands a panoramic view of the Kshipra. Mahadev is worshipped at the temple.

There is also Harsiddhi Temple of Goddess Annapurna, Siddhavat temple, Gopal mandir, Pir Matsyendranath temple, Gadkalika, ISKCON temple and Navgraha ka Mandir (Triveni), which are some of the famous religious places that bless Ujjain.

The bad side of social media in times of distress

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The corona-incited lockdown that India went through in the last three months led to unprecedented psychological changes in people. There were reports of depression and frustration and productivity declined among many. While many people took to the Internet to creatively use their time, there were also many who misused this tool of empowerment in mischief mongering.

Lockdown and the resultant lack of movement and activity in people led to the excessive use of the Internet and social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and the likes of that were flooded by messages and posts, pictures, videos, tweets, comments, arguments and slanders like never before.

Many rumour mongers and divisive dimwits used this opportunity to their advantage and did what they could do best – i.e. spread social dissention and tension in society for no reason. On many occasions, old, doctored or irrelevant photos and videos were shared and circulated at appropriate times and positioned strategically to whip up emotions and cause widespread disruptions in normalcy.

We must not forget that in India emotions run high and there are millions of undiscerning, less literate and gullible users of media tools who can turn volatile by seemingly innocuous posts or messages which are culturally or communally sensitive. Therefore, utmost caution must be exercised by all while forwarding, sharing, circulating or generating posts without checking their veracity and their possible implication on society and social peace. It is unfortunate that several times the police had to chip in and issue warnings of stringent action against use and spread of such irresponsible messages that could potentially be a threat to communal harmony.

We must remember that a year back Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had to speak out dissuading people from using the social media tools for spreading hate. This is a negative side of social media and its use. India is a very diverse society where the balance in relations is precariously maintained. Any tilt in the balance caused by deliberate maligning of certain groups or individuals can unleash chaos.

In this era of fast information dissemination, news spreads like wild fire and thus any evocative or inciting or insinuating message originating in one part of the country can cause law and order problem in other part or several other locations. With easy accessibility of mobile and internet with commoners, it is difficult to locate the perpetrators behind the screen and thus individual responsibility and conscience matters a lot.

A police state is the last thing we need or want in our society where every post of ours is scanned and censored. For a mischief of a few rumor mongers and vested interest groups, the whole of civil society must not suffer. We must need to learn to harvest from the internet what is good, useful and intellectually or physically enriching and quash what is redundant, in bad taste or provocative, for in the end, human relations, peace and camaraderie are more important aspects of life and brings greater happiness to all of us than interacting spitefully on social media

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