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Drug Problem: 274 narcotic-related cases registered and 320 people arrested in three months in India

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Image used for representational purpose. Image source: wikimedia Commons
  • Substance abuse has increased highly in the North East of India
  • Himachal Pradesh, like neighbouring Punjab, is facing a deadly menace- drugs and narcotics
  • In three months, 274 narcotic-related cases were registered and 320 people were arrested, police records show

Shimla September 11, 2016: Himachal Pradesh, like neighbouring Punjab, is facing a deadly menace- drugs and narcotics. In just three months, 274 narcotic-related cases were registered and 320 people were arrested, police records show. The amount of intake has alarming proportions and has turned into a matter of concern not just for the state government but for the courts too.

The state high court is not only pulling up government functionaries on each and every day for apparent lapses in dealing with this growing threat but virtually rapped them on their knuckles about the steps they have to initiate to counter it.

Quoting a study by the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, a recent judgment by a bench headed by Justice Rajiv Sharma observed 40 per cent youth in the state are involved in drug abuse.

Agreeing, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said the government has adopted zero tolerance towards narcotics. “Our neighbouring state (Punjab) is badly affected by drugs and in our state too its menace is a serious challenge,” he told IANS.

“Whether it’s Malana (in Kullu Valley) or any remote area that is known for growing opium or cannabis, the government is currently destroying their cultivation,” he added.

Police officials told IANS that the inaccessible valleys and lofty mountains in the western Himalayas are areas for cultivation of cannabis and opium. They are the country’s biggest drug-producing areas with a considerable quantity finding its way to Europe.

An official said the lure of drugs and quick bucks also attracts foreigners to the largely unexplored areas of Himachal Pradesh where they have become part of unorganised drug cultivation. Some of them never return home — they simply disappear mysteriously. They eventually become wanderers and are a threat to children. Their impulsive and vulnerable behaviour cannot be tolerated.

Police records show that there are 50,000 acres in Kullu Valley alone where cannabis is cultivated.

Chief Secretary V.C. Pharka, who was monitoring the fortnight-long statewide campaign that ended on September 5, said cannabis crops on 19,157 bighas of government land and 6,040 bighas of private land and 76,093 poppy plants were destroyed. (One bigha is 0.4 hectare.)

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Countering this, BJP legislator and former minister Ravinder Ravi told IANS that areas in the state bordering Punjab and Haryana have become drug hubs. The drug menace has assumed alarming proportions in pilgrim centres and tourist destinations too. These tourist places have become a prey to such kind of acts and it leads to the decrease in the standard of that state.

In the just-concluded assembly session, he said, a stationery shop in the vicinity of a senior secondary school in Thural, some 90 km from Dharamsala town, sold ink eraser fluid worth Rs 3 lakh in just one year.

“Thural is a small sub-tehsil. There are one or two small government offices. The sale of fluid bottles worth Rs 3 lakh in a year is a matter of concern,” he said.

The volume of this clandestine trade can be gauged from a government reply in the assembly that 133 kg of “charas” or cannabis, 10 kg opium, 223 grams heroin, 6.03 kg ganja and 0.004 gm of smack was seized in the state in three months from April 1.

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Officials say over 60 per cent of the poppy and cannabis produce in Himachal Pradesh is smuggled out to countries like Israel, Italy, Holland and some other European countries. The remaining finds its way to Nepal or Indian states like Goa, Punjab and Delhi.

Over 70 foreigners, mainly Britons, Israelis, Dutch, Germans, Japanese and Italians, have been arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, in the past five years.

The Magic Valley in the upper reaches of Malana, some 50 km from Kullu town, is known for cultivating “Malana Cream”, the prized hashish, a purified resinous extract of cannabis.

Easy availability of Narcotics in McLeodganj and its surrounding areas in Kangra district and Karsol in Kullu district have turned the areas into an addicts’ haven, say the police.

Image used for representational purpose. Image source: wikimedia Commons
Image used for representational purpose. Image source: wikimedia Commons

The crime rate under the NDPS Act is 7.7 per cent in Himachal Pradesh, compared to 2.8 per cent in the country.

O.P. Sharma, a former superintendent of the NarcoticsControl Bureau, said “alternative farming is the only way of controlling poppy and cannabis cultivation”

Citing field surveys, he estimates over 2,500 villages dotted across inaccessible valleys and lofty mountains in Kullu, Chamba, Mandi, Shimla and Sirmaur districts are known for growing cannabis and poppy cultivation.

Referring to Malana, known for the prized hashish, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said the government would provide high-quality imported rootstock of apples to the locals so that they can opt for alternative and remunerative cultivation.

Cannabis is globally the most commonly used psychoactive substance under international control. In 2013, an estimated 181.8 million people aged 15-64 years used cannabis for nonmedical purposes globally.In other cannabis growing areas, he said the government would promote cultivation of exotic vegetables and flowers. (IANS)

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Facebook Acquires the Anonymous Teenage Polling App ‘tbh’

An official statement from Facebook said: "tbh and Facebook share a common goal -- of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together"

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Facebook brings the developers of 'tbh' app to share and expand a common goal of making stronger communities. Pixabay

San Francisco, October 17, 2017 : Facebook has acquired ‘tbh’, an anonymous polling app for teenagers which has over 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the US.

The app lets teenagers anonymously answer kind-hearted, multiple-choice questions about friends, who then receive the poll results as compliments, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday.

“When we set out to build tbh, we wanted to create a community that made us feel happier and more confident about ourselves. We felt that people craved genuine and positive interactions in their online experiences,” ‘tbh’ said in a statement.

“Over the last few weeks, over 5 million people have downloaded tbh and sent over a billion messages. More importantly, we’ve been inspired by the countless stories where tbh helped people recover from depression and form better relationships with friends,” it read.

ALSO READ How Facebook is Helping Its Users Fight Identity Theft

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but according to TechCrunch, it is likely to be somewhere around less than $100 million and will not require regulatory approval.

“As part of the deal, tbh’s four co-creators — Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza and Nicolas Ducdodon — will join Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters while continuing to grow their app,” the report added.

“When we met with Facebook, we realised that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions. Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realise tbh’s vision and bring it to more people,” ‘tbh’ said.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said: “tbh and Facebook share a common goal — of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together”. (IANS)

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WHO Releases New Guidelines to Fight Global Childhood Obesity

India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot

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OBESITY
Obesity exposes an individual to multiple health problems. VOA

New Delhi, October 12, 2017:  In 2016, an Official data in had revealed that over 41 million children below the age of 5 were affected by obesity. Without due attention and efficient treatment, they are likely to remain obese throughout their lives, with an increased risk of developing a host of diseases and physical and psychological consequences like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even premature death.

In view of an escalating number of people constantly coming under the ambush of obesity, and with childhood obesity becoming a cause of worry globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines on October 4, emphasizing the growing importance of healthcare experts and professionals, underlining their positive role in helping kids and teenagers fight the global menace.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as ‘excess adipose tissue’. In other words, it is a body-weight disorder involving excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems.  In case a person’s body-weight is nearly 20 per cent higher than it should be, he is considered obese.

obesity
Excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems. Pixabay

There are different ways to calculate excess adipose tissue, the most common one being the Body Mass Index.

Index :

Overweight – BMI greater than or equal to 25

Obesity – BMI greater than or equal to 30

Global Data

According to data obtained by WHO, one half of all overweight children or obese children lived in Asia, and one-quarter of the total obese children lived in Africa.

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in June, India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot.

The global menace continues to rise rapidly in low and middle-income countries.

Also Read: Obesity leads to 13 types of Cancer, including that of Pancreas and Esophagus: Study

WHO Guidelines

The new report released by WHO on October 4 is titled ‘Assessing and Managing Children at Primary Healthcare Facilities to Prevent Overweight and Obesity in the Context of the Double Burden of Malnutrition’.

The report provides guidelines and updates for the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI). The guidelines attempt to confine the spread of childhood obesity from expanding further, and prescribe undertaking proper assessment of dietary habits along with weight and height measurements. It also recommends dieting and proper counseling by healthcare experts.

Recommendations by WHO

  • WHO has recommended that primary healthcare facilities should be made available to all children below the age of 5 years and infants. These should include measurement of both weight and height of the children to determine their weight-for height and nutritional status as previously defined by WHO child growth standards.
  • For children and infants identified as overweight, healthcare experts should provide counseling to parents and caregivers on nutrition and physical activity, which includes creating awareness about healthy practices like exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and continuing the practice until 2 years or more.
  • WHO also prescribes that an appropriate management plan should be devised to counter the menace in obese children. This can be developed by a trained health worker at primary healthcare facilities, or local hospitals.

Healthy Eating Tips to Fight Obesity

Here are a few healthy eating tips that will not only help you maintain a healthy weight but will also prove be be beneficial for your metabolism, physical strength and general well-being,

  • Refrain from unnecessary indulgences or random snacking and encourage healthy snacking choices like popcorns, yogurt, fruits, etc.
  • Reduce your sugar intake to less than 10 per cent of the total calories for an individual with normal weight.

obesity
Obese and binge eating junk food? Red Flag! Pixabay

  • Consume a gracious serving of seasonal vegetables and fruits everyday that are rich in soluble and insoluble fibres, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Make healthy food selections- include whole grain products, avoid excessive use of oil and salt and refrain from processed or packaged food.
  • A balanced diet must be complimented with regular exercise to counter unnecessary weight gain

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

 

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)