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FILE - Indians reach for a cold drink being freely distributed on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017. Most parts of northern India are experiencing intense heat wave conditions with the temperature crossing 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit). VOA

In summer, life becomes intolerable for rickshaw puller Mohammad Khan.

“I keep running into the shade to save myself from the sun,” he said as he waited for mid-afternoon customers in a busy New Delhi market.

Like millions of others, Khan is experiencing on the ground what a recent study has highlighted: Heat waves in India have become deadlier and further global warming could take a “relatively drastic” human toll in the coming years.

Amir Aghakouchak, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine who co-authored the study, said they found that even small variations in temperature are causing the change.

“While mean temperatures from 1960 to 2009 increased by around 0.5 C degrees, both heat waves and mortality have increased substantially,” he said.

FILE – A girl cools off herself in the waters of the river Ganges during a hot summer morning in Allahabad, India, May 31, 2015. Temperature in Allahabad on Sunday is expected to reach 46 degree Celsius (114.8 degree Fahrenheit). VOA

Grim warning

The India-specific study is the latest grim warning of how new deadly summer highs are affecting India, where millions cope with perennial shortages of water and power.

Spring became summer when temperatures crossed 40 degrees Celsius in March in several parts of the country this year. Last year was declared the warmest year on record since 1901, and in May 2016, the northern town of Phalodi shattered the national heat record when the mercury touched 51 degrees Celsius. In 2015, the world’s fifth deadliest heat wave seared large swathes of India, claiming about 2,500 victims.

The director of the Indian Institute of Public Health in Gandhinagar, Dileep Mavalankar, said, “heat waves are the single most important reason of disaster-related deaths in India in the last few years although only the tip of the iceberg is getting reported.”

Focus on poor people

As record-breaking heat becomes a fact of life, the focus is turned on millions of poor people who are impacted the most by more intense summers, particularly in urban areas.

According to Aghakouchak, “adverse effects are pummeling the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

They are wage workers, such as construction laborers, rickshaw pullers, hawkers and vendors who toil outdoors in the day and live in sweltering slums. And in sprawling cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, where the population tops 20 million, the only shelter people on the street often find is in metro stations or under road bridges.

The deputy director at New Delhi’s Center for Science and Environment, Chandra Bhushan, said what is called an “urban heat island” effect is taking a huge toll on the health, productivity and livelihoods of poor people in cities.

“It’s a concrete jungle where heat gets trapped and many studies indicate that the temperature in city centers is 5 degrees, even 7 degrees higher than the ambient temperature,” he said.

Shorter work days

A report by the U.N. Environment Program last year said workers such as farmers or construction laborers will have to shorten their work days within four decades, simply because it will be too hot outdoors. That could result in significant economic loss for poor people in countries such as India.

Researchers in New Delhi say that is already happening. Studies have demonstrated that street hawkers and others lose three to four hours of work a day because even acclimatized populations are unable to cope with the spiking temperatures.

On a hot summer morning, 17-year-old Anil Kumar, is downcast. He usually hangs around Delhi’s popular landmark India Gate, hoping to make some money taking photos of visitors, but the crowds are much thinner than usual.

“I have come since the morning, but have not got a single customer. It is so sunny, people don’t come,” he said.

FILE – An Indian auto rickshaw driver, right, drinks sweetened water being freely distributed by the wayside on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017. VOA

Heat Action Plan

As studies highlight that the high temperatures are here to stay, there have been growing calls for the government to draw up contingency plans to cope with heat events in the same manner as natural disasters like earthquakes and cyclones.

A handful of cities are now launching a Heat Action Plan begun five years ago in the western Ahmedabad city that has helped bring down heat-related deaths.

Mavalankar said it involves public awareness campaigns, setting up cooling spaces in public buildings, training doctors and alerting supervisors on how to protect laborers.

But the efforts are sporadic and more programs need to be implemented nationwide, experts say.

“You don’t allow people to work in the afternoon, you have availability of water and shelter, you have emergency medical response and office timings are changed,” Bhushan said. “In long term in urban areas, there is a lot of talk of having more greenery in the city to reduce the impact of heat island effect.”

A small start has been made. Last year, the Indian meteorological department began putting out temperature advisories from April to June for 100 Indian cities to encourage people to stay indoors on very hot days. However that is unlikely to help rickshaw puller Khan or photographer Kumar, who have no option but to earn their livelihood under a blazing sun. (VOA)


Photo by Pixabay

Upcoming medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages

The new medical colleges being opened in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages.

The state government has issued an order naming four district hospitals that are being converted into medical colleges.

These district hospitals are in Bijnor, Fatehpur, Chandauli, and Siddharth Nagar.

The Bijnor medical college has been named after Mahatma Vidur, a philosopher during the Mahabharata era and uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas.

The Chandauli medical college has been named after Baba Keenaram, said to be the founder of the Aghori sect.

The Siddharth Nagar district hospital will be called Madhav Prasad Tripathi Medical College after the BJP politician from the region. Tripathi, popularly known as Madhav Babu, was also the first Uttar Pradesh BJP chief. He was elected MP from Domariyaganj in 1977, besides being two times Jan Sangh MLA and also a member of the UP legislative council.

The Fatehpur hospital has been named Amar Shaheed Jodha Singh Ataiya Thakur Dariyawn Singh Medical College, after the freedom fighter of 1857.

It is said that he was among the first to use Guerrilla warfare against the British, as taught by freedom fighter Tatya Tope.

Meanwhile, according to official sources, the medical college in Deoria will be named after Maharishi Devraha Baba and the medical college of Ghazipur in the name of Maharishi Vishwamitra.

The medical college of Mirzapur will be in the name of Maa Vindhyavasini, the medical college of Pratapgarh in the name of Dr. Sonelal Patel and the medical college of Etah will be named after Veerangana Avantibai Lodhi. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Medical Colleges, Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, India, Politics

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Indian cricket team on the ground

Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has picked India as the favourite to win the ongoing ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Oman and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Inzamam feels that the Virat Kohli-led India have a greater chance of winning the trophy as the conditions in the Gulf nations are similar to the subcontinent, which makes India the most dangerous side in the event, according to Inzamam.

"In any tournament, it cannot be said for certain that a particular team will win' It's all about how much chance do they have of winning it. In my opinion, India have a greater chance than any other team of winning this tournament, especially in conditions like these. They have experienced T20 players as well," said Inzamam on his YouTube channel.

He said more than the Indian batters, the bowlers have a lot of experience of playing in the conditions. The Indian Premier League (IPL) was played recently in UAE and most of the Indian bowlers did well in that leg.

Inzy heaped praises on the Men in Blue for the confident manner in which they chased the target against Australia on a challenging track without needing Kohli's batting prowess.

"India played their warm-up fixture against Australia rather comfortably. On subcontinent pitches like these, India are the most dangerous T20 side in the world. Even today, if we see the 155 runs they chased down, they did not even need Virat Kohli to do so," he added.

Though he did not pick any favourite, Inzamam termed the India-Pakistan clash in the Super 12 on October 24 as the 'final before the final' and said the team winning it will go into the remaining matches high on morale,

"The match between India and Pakistan in the Super 12s is the final before the final. No match will be hyped as much as this one. Even in the 2017 Champions Trophy, India and Pakistan started and finished the tournament by facing each other, and both the matches felt like finals. The team winning that match will have their morale boosted and will also have 50 percent of pressure released from them," Inzamam added. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Pakistan, Sports, ICC T20 World Cup, UAE.

Photo by Diana Akhmetianova on Unsplash

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man in white crew neck t-shirt Moisturising the body in the morning sets your skin up to face countless irritants and environmental factors during the day. | Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

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