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EDITORIAL

Kashmir normalcy mantra

These days Kashmir leadership, particularly the ruling group, claims that normalcy has returned to Kashmir. They castigate those who still think that the valley is far from being normal. Everybody wants that normalcy should return to the valley as early as possible and life should flow smoothly without hassles. This is what the Chief Minster has said and this is what is repeated by the patron of NC. The contention can neither be confirmed nor rejected. The reason is that the word normalcy is interpreted subjectively. What may appear normal to one beholder may appear something very unusual to another person. No one group, no matter whatever line of thinking he tows, has the final word on normalcy in Kashmir. For example, the Army Commanders think that concentration of hundreds of youth along the LoC, armed by and trained at the terrorist camps in PoK........more

The Pasha Bhasha

After Pakistani foreign secretary's uncalled for invective, now it is the turn of its ISI Chief Pasha to launch anti-India tirade will the power in his guts. Because he has to stabilize his rickety position in the wake of Abbotabad episode, his diatribe against India was not unexpected. But the people of Pakistan and more particularly the hardliner rightists like TTP need not be educated that Pasha has been the main architect of Osama decimation plan which he scripted in close and secret consultations with CIA. Amusingly, a day after the decapitation of Osama by the SEAL, Pasha went underground giving rise to speculations that he feared a backlash from the extremists and had offered to resign and live in ignominy somewhere . ...more

Message from Charsadda

By M Rama Rao

The Al Kuwaiti brothers, Bin Laden's trusted couriers in Abbottabad are said to be from Charsadda, in the NWFP. So the two deadly bombings at Charsadda on Friday, which claimed 80 lives, are most likely a revenge attack carried out by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP, to avenge Operation Geronimo at the Abbottabad. On its part, the Taliban has set any lingering doubts at rest by quickly claiming responsibility for the twin blasts. Its target was the Frontier Constabulary soldiers, who were about to leave their training centre on a 10-day leave. . . .....more

No checks on killing of Girl child

By Orchie Bandyopadhyay

Meena (name changed), a resident of Kaithal in Haryana, had her third child last week and it is a girl. Contrary to what usually happens in Jatland when a girl is born, her family, including her in-laws, seemed very happy and even organized celebrations at home. “Lakshmi ko to aakhir aana hi thha,” beamed her mother-in-law, Shakuntala, (name changed) as she prayed for the long life of her newborn grand daughter.. .. . .. ...more

Unsafe drinking water in hospitals

By: Dr Masarat Iqbal Wani

Water is used in hospitals for many different uses. The purpose for which the water is to be used determines the criteria for water quality. The criteria for drinking water are usually not adequate for the medical uses of water. Drinking water should be safe for oral intake. .. ...more

EDITORIAL

Kashmir normalcy mantra

These days Kashmir leadership, particularly the ruling group, claims that normalcy has returned to Kashmir. They castigate those who still think that the valley is far from being normal. Everybody wants that normalcy should return to the valley as early as possible and life should flow smoothly without hassles. This is what the Chief Minster has said and this is what is repeated by the patron of NC. The contention can neither be confirmed nor rejected. The reason is that the word normalcy is interpreted subjectively. What may appear normal to one beholder may appear something very unusual to another person. No one group, no matter whatever line of thinking he tows, has the final word on normalcy in Kashmir. For example, the Army Commanders think that concentration of hundreds of youth along the LoC, armed by and trained at the terrorist camps in PoK for infiltration into Kashmir belies the contention that normalcy has returned to the valley. Intermittent firefights between the security forces and the armed militants at various places inside Kashmir do not endorse that normalcy has returned to the valley. Of course, there are some pockets in the city and other parts of the valley where militancy has come down considerably and no major attacks have been reported. But there are other parts still infested with militancy. The frequency with which the militant outfits used to strike has come down. There are many reasons for that. Fresh recruitment has dried up considerably mostly because the Kashmiri youth have now understood more than before that they are being misled by ISI and that Kashmiris do not fare that bad as is being profiled by the separatists.
Normalcy should not be judged by reduction either in the number of attacks by the militants or in their bids for infiltration. That is only one aspect. It has also to be adjudged by how far alienation of the valley population from the Indian state has come down. How far has the element of anti-India hatred been neutralized and through what means? If neutralization has taken place, will it be sustainable as permanent feature of relationship with India? We are not able to gauge the level of progress in this area. Return of normalcy means when the Indian tri-colour flag proudly flutters on all government buildings, public institution complexes, private houses and offices. Normalcy means when our MLAs and ministers --- the elected representatives of the people---are able to move among the crowds without Z security. That is not the case as yet. This type of mindset can be reconstructed only by the elected representatives of the people who are in regular touch with the masses especially those belonging to their respective constituencies. So far we have not heard of any leader, minister or party stalwart from the valley undertaking a massive assignment of mass contact for establishing understanding among people that Kashmir shall remain an integral part of the Indian Union. If the elected representatives of the people are unable to speak that much in public and on the platform, does it not disprove the claim that normalcy has returned to Kashmir. We do recognize that the government is making all out efforts to see that normalcy returns to Kashmir and no strikes and shut downs are announced by the separatist leaders because it is damaging to the economic health of the state. Such efforts do have some impact and more should be expected in days to come. But to claim that total normalcy has returned to the sate is still a far off cry. Yes, the markets in the valley remain open for longer time in the evening and people move about much more freely without encountering any harassment either by the security forces or the militants. These are healthy signs and surely indicate that conditions will further improve in due course of time and as such the Chief Minister deserves appreciation. But on the ground, there still remains lot to be done by the elected representatives of the people. The first thing for them to do would be to abandon the double speaks and be clear in mind about the accession of the state to the Indian Union. The second thing to do is to banish anti-India hatred from their minds and educate the youth also along these lines of new thinking. Kashmir separatist leadership need not dole out pieces of advice or guarantees of protecting the minority; more than that it needs to issue appeals to the militants to lay down the arms, return to the fold and take active part in building the future of the State and her people. These are the real signs of return of normalcy

The Pasha Bhasha

After Pakistani foreign secretary's uncalled for invective, now it is the turn of its ISI Chief Pasha to launch anti-India tirade will the power in his guts. Because he has to stabilize his rickety position in the wake of Abbotabad episode, his diatribe against India was not unexpected. But the people of Pakistan and more particularly the hardliner rightists like TTP need not be educated that Pasha has been the main architect of Osama decimation plan which he scripted in close and secret consultations with CIA. Amusingly, a day after the decapitation of Osama by the SEAL, Pasha went underground giving rise to speculations that he feared a backlash from the extremists and had offered to resign and live in ignominy somewhere outside Pakistan. Pakistan Army came under pressure to declare that he had not resigned and the rumours of his going into hiding were not true. Now that Pakistan rulers think they have been able to control the fallout of Abbotabad episode, Pasha has come out of hiding and has delivered his first anti-India bhasha(n) adding that his organization had already conducted the test exercise of attacking identified Indian targets. He has confirmed what India has been saying about Pakistan- run state terror against her. While Pasha found it easy and rewarding to unleash venom against India, he did not say anything to the bomb attack that killed 80 and injured more than 100 in the TTP retaliatory action of taking revenge for the killing of Osama. Again, Pasha has nothing to say about President Obama declaring with all his confidence that the Americans are planning Osama-like blitzkrieg against Mulla Omar if he is hiding anywhere in Pakistan. Where does the ISI chief and the Army chief stand in view of these warning of the US? Will anti-India diatribe convince the people of Pakistan that their government and the Army are the right persons to lead the country? What Pasha has said about India are the words that usually come out of the mouths of leaders who are close to the exit door of power.

Message from Charsadda

By M Rama Rao

The Al Kuwaiti brothers, Bin Laden's trusted couriers in Abbottabad are said to be from Charsadda, in the NWFP. So the two deadly bombings at Charsadda on Friday, which claimed 80 lives, are most likely a revenge attack carried out by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP, to avenge Operation Geronimo at the Abbottabad. On its part, the Taliban has set any lingering doubts at rest by quickly claiming responsibility for the twin blasts. Its target was the Frontier Constabulary soldiers, who were about to leave their training centre on a 10-day leave. They were in civilian clothes and were about to board buses. The FC training centre is located in the Shabqadar Tehsil of Charsadda. Between 8-10kg of explosives were reportedly used in the attacks and upto 12 vehicles were destroyed in the explosions.
Not surprisingly, a Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan telephoned a news agency, AFP, and held out the prospect of more attacks. "This was the first revenge for Osama's martyrdom. Wait for bigger attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan", he reportedly stated from an undisclosed location.
In this age and day, more so after the way Osama scent was picked up, it should not be a problem for the agencies in Peshawar to trace the call and pin point its location. Yes, the call could have come from a public telephone booth. Even that nugget would help in spreading the net properly to catch the Islamist brigands.
Charsadda blasts signal that the Taliban and its several factions will be the new al-Qaeda for the Af-Pak region, while the 'real' al-Qaeda will shift its focus to West Asia particularly Yemen and possibly Iraq. Yemen-based al Qaeda franchise, AQAP is active in the Arabian Peninsula. It has reportedly eclipsed the al-Qaeda when Osama bin Laden was alive both ideologically and operational strategies -wise. Nasir al-Wahayshi, who is also known as Abu Basir, is its leader. An ethnic Yemeni, he worked closely with Osama bin Laden on the Afghan theatre, and according to some analysts, he was for a while bin Laden's personal secretary,
This focus shift by Al Qaeda and Taliban will be felt in Kabul, and Kandahar besides Delhi and Washington. For a variety of reasons. Firstly because Pakistan has been engaged in giving respectability to the TTP and make the US to enter into dialogue with them. Washington, on its part, appears to go along with the 'talks' process, in the absence of any other viable alternative proposal on the table as of now. Secondly because Pakistan army will be more than happy to outsource to TTP its enterprise in the troubled Waziristan and shift its gaze towards the border with India. Such a focus shift on the part of the army will serve an immediate requirement of dousing the Abbottabad flames, and reenergising the Zia drill of bleeding India with a thousand cuts. If nothing works, fallback upon the India bogey has been the time tested practice for the Pakistan army and the Pakistani right wing politicians.
What trajectory Pakistan-United States relations will take in the days ahead remains unclear. On the one hand, the Kayani army is threatening to limit its support for the U.S. activities against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It has cancelled the visit to Washington of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Khalid Shameem Wynne. He was scheduled to meet his U.S. counterpart, Adm. Mike Mullen, during his five day stay from May 22. Officially the reason given for the cancellation was 'prevailing environment', which in essence means the public display of mistrust by Americans in the wake of Osama operation. .
On the other hand, Washington appears to let bygones be bygones and bring back the cordiality, if not the warmth, that has characterised the US-Pak military and intelligence cooperation. While President Obama downward, who ever matters in the US hierarchy, have rolled back their harsh indictment of Pakistan and have begun to give a benefit of doubt to the Kayani - Pasha combine for the Osama rendezvous in Abbottabad apparently as the price for the help on the Afghan theatre. Coalition Support Fund (CSF) has just announced a $300 million dollar package for Pakistan and the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, led by Democrat John Kerry, wants to give Pakistan a larger role in Afghanistan as a result of its relations with the Taliban. \
All this raises the question: When will Washington learn to look beyond the immediate? The argument advanced by some western analysts that the US is stretched to the limit doing what it is doing in Afghanistan and that opening a new front in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, is well beyond the capabilities of either forces in Afghanistan or forces in the U.S. reserves, is frankly no argument at all. The US must make its choice. Accepting half-hearted support and duplicity neither serves American interests nor does crying 'foul' enhance its global stature. (Syndicate Features)

No checks on killing of Girl child

By Orchie Bandyopadhyay

Meena (name changed), a resident of Kaithal in Haryana, had her third child last week and it is a girl. Contrary to what usually happens in Jatland when a girl is born, her family, including her in-laws, seemed very happy and even organized celebrations at home. “Lakshmi ko to aakhir aana hi thha,” beamed her mother-in-law, Shakuntala, (name changed) as she prayed for the long life of her newborn grand daughter.
Radiant with joy, Meena had a ready explanation as to why everyone in her family was celebrating the birth of a girl child. “My two other children are boys. So it did not really matter this time to the family.”
However, she articulates, there was a huge difference in her family’s attitude when she was expecting her first child nine years ago. “My family almost dragged me to a sex determination clinic, but somehow we could not get it done as there was something wrong with the machine and after that my husband met with an accident. But through out my first two pregnancies, I was haunted by this constant fear ‘what if it is a girl?” Meena was scared because she knew what happened to newborn girls in her village. “Their survival is never certain.” The second time around too she was asked to get a pre natal sex determination done, but again there was a major family crisis and it was put in the back burner.
But now Meena, who belongs to a community that has a strong preference for the male child, said that her daughter is fortunate that she was born after her two brothers.
While Meena and her family are happy about the third child in the family, there are others in nearby villages such as Karora where the bias against the girl child is rather ugly. According to the latest Census figures, Karora village has a shocking sex ratio of a mere 590 females per 1,000 males. But that does not rattle anybody, as the villagers continue to take great pride in the fact that most households have no girl child. “Sex determination techniques are available in cities and female foeticide is rampant,” said a Karora resident, who did not want to be identified.
The 2011 Census figures substantiates the fact that technology has made sex determination easy and guilt-free. The child sex ratio i. e the number of girls per thousand boys in the 0-6 age group in the country has touched its lowest levels since Independence. In 2001 it was 927 females per 1000 males born; in 2011 it declined to 914 females per 1000 males.
But is it that easy to eliminate the unborn girl child. Apparently, yes. “All one needs to do is to find an unscrupulous physician, get an ultrasound done, understand the unsaid message and decide,” said a health activist. Ranjana Kumari, Centre for Social Research, an institution for women, added, “One does not even have to look hard for such physicians as there are mobile clinics equipped with ultrasound machines, which do pre natal sex determination. Such mobile clinics are run by medicos who travel to villages on their motorcycles carrying the ultra sound machine behind them.”
The National Commission for Women too said there were several “gaps” in the law for curbing pre-natal sex determination and the government should take steps to check them.
Former NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said, “The conviction rate under the PC& PNDT Act ((Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994) is very low.” She added there should be a provision for complaint by a third party to achieve convictions in cases of sex determination.
Also, the poor records of machines sold, poor compliance of the PC&PNDT Act requirements by the clinics, and dismal performance of authorities in regulating these machines have added to the growing problem of discrimination against the girl child.
Women activists agree that the government should focus on cracking the business of illegal sex determination clinics and lodge legal cases against all clinics flouting the PCPNDT act. “The government needs a mechanism in place to track such offenders,” say health activists.
Though a month has passed since the data was released, activists say the Government has yet to take any concrete action. Ranjana Kumari, who runs awareness campaigns against female feoticide in Kurukshetra, Ambala and Delhi, points out that the last government supported meeting of the PC& PNDT committee (of which she is a member) took place two years ago.
Some health activists even point out that it is a shame that there are some medicos who continue to trivialise sex determination by calling it a social evil. “It is a social evil but doctors are responsible to a large extent and should share the blame,” said another health activist.
An earlier study in the Lancet by researchers from the University of Toronto and the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education, Chandigarh, estimated that about 10 million female fetuses had been aborted in India over the past 20 years.
“It is time that all those who value the rights of the women come forward and lodge their protest,” said Ranjana Kumari. [NPA]

Unsafe drinking water in hospitals

By: Dr Masarat Iqbal Wani

Water is used in hospitals for many different uses. The purpose for which the water is to be used determines the criteria for water quality. The criteria for drinking water are usually not adequate for the medical uses of water. Drinking water should be safe for oral intake. The water supply system should ensure the provision of safe water. The overhead storage tanks should be cleaned regularly and the quality of water should be sampled periodically to check for fecal contamination. But unfortunately our hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir are not providing safe drinking water to patients and attendants. As per the survey report of IDSP unit Kupwara and Baramulla only 41% of hospitals have tap water. In Kupwara District there is no filter plant in whole district. When corers of rupees are being spent on safe drinking water every year till date the PHE department has not been able to provide safe drinking water. IDSP unit Kupwara has done water quality tests in district public health laboratory for 20 hospitals among them 12 were found unsafe for drinking. Also one of the main objectives of NRHM is to provide safe drinking water, but nothing has been done till today, even simple water filter has not been installed in the hospitals .Some micro-organisms in the hospital have caused infection of wounds, respiratory tract and other areas where equipment such as endoscopes were rinsed with tap water after disinfection. Infection control teams should have written valid policies for water quality to minimize risk of infections due to water in hospitals. Ensuring safe food is an important service in health care facilities - inappropriate food handling practices permit contamination, survival and growth of infecting bacteria. The threat of harmful contaminants in drinking water can no longer be reasonably ignored. The correlation between contaminated drinking water and many significant diseases and health problems is far too strong to discount. Of course, municipal water treatment facilities have lowered the presence of many of the more harmful contaminants, and the EPA has set maximum contaminant levels, below which it is assumed that contaminants may be safely ingested into the body. Municipal treatments facilities are not infallible, and EPA levels do not represent a safety level for every person. Children, the elderly, and those individuals who already have weakened immune systems, are particularly at risk to drinking water contaminants. Two of the most volatile drinking water contaminants, chlorine and fluoride, are actually treatment additives. Also, lead, another of the more harmful contaminants, enters drinking water after treatment and cannot be regulated by municipal water systems. Therefore, municipal water systems cannot and should not be trusted to provide healthy, clean drinking water.

Microbiologically contaminated drinking water is a cause of community-acquired infection, and guidelines for prevention of such infections have been established. Microbes in hospital water can also cause nosocomial infection, yet guidelines for preventing such infections do not exist. The purpose of this review is to assess the magnitude of the problem caused by waterborne infections and to plea for immediate action for their prevention. Therefore, infection control teams must work closely with hospital engineering and technical services departments and hospital management, as well as ensuring that physicians and others have a heightened awareness of hospital-acquired legionellosis. Where safe water is not available, water should be boiled for five minutes to render it safe. Alternatively, water purification units can also be used. The storage of water should be as hygienic as possible. Hands should not enter the storage container. Water should be dispensed from the storage container by an outlet fitted with a closure device or tap. Storage containers and water coolers should be cleaned regularly. The safe drinking water objective can be achieved by: inspecting public water supplies, monitoring sample results and following up on unsatisfactory results according to established protocols, offering advice and education to the public and to private water supply owners, issuing water advisories when necessary.

Because of the seriousness of these nosocomial waterborne infections and the availability, low cost, and proven effectiveness of sterile water, we recommend that hospitalized patients at high risk for infection avoid exposure to hospital water and use sterile water instead. More over Health department should come with a clear cut policy for safe drinking water in the hospitals in the State.

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