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- Vowing to combat rising levels of obesity—Kerala has the second highest levels of obesity in the country—the state government is imposing a 14.5 percent “fat tax” on fast goods sold by branded restaurants such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut
- Strongly supporting the Kerala initiative, the doctor says, “We used to see diabetes 20 years back, diabetes in 50 or 40 years of age. Now we are seeing diabetes at 15 years of age, 18 years of age”
- Global brands such as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s have been ramping up their presence as the Indian fast food market grows exponentially while others such as Johnny Rockets, Burger King, Wendy’s and Barcelos have begun making forays
Customers in India’s southern state of Kerala will have to dig deeper into their pockets each time they want to order a juicy burger, a cheese-laced pizza or other fast food such as doughnuts and tacos.
Vowing to combat rising levels of obesity—Kerala has the second highest levels of obesity in the country—the state government is imposing a 14.5 percent “fat tax” on fast goods sold by branded restaurants such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut.
India’s first ‘fat tax’
Thomas Isaac, Kerala’s finance minister, says he took the cue from a handful of countries that have experimented with similar taxes.
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India’s first such tax in the scenic, coastal state will only affect a small section of the country’s increasingly affluent middle class, whose appetite for Western-style fast food has grown over the last decade-and-a-half. The measure has attracted national attention as India confronts growing levels of obesity.
Critics question if it will actually deter people from getting their fix of junk food, and skeptics suspect it is probably meant to garner more revenue. Doctors and nutritionists, however, say it is a long overdue first step in that the country urgently needs to address its expanding waistlines.
With half of Indians under 25, worries center on young people in particular.
Anoop Misra, who heads the Center for Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol at Fortis Hospital in New Delhi, has watched with rising alarm as more and more people in their 20’s and 30’s walk into his clinic.
Strongly supporting the Kerala initiative, the doctor says, “We used to see diabetes 20 years back, diabetes in 50 or 40 years of age. Now we are seeing diabetes at 15 years of age, 18 years of age.” Misra says he hopes the rest of the country will take the cue from the state’s fat tax.
Global brands such as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s have been ramping up their presence as the Indian fast food market grows exponentially while others such as Johnny Rockets, Burger King, Wendy’s and Barcelos have begun making forays. Fast food chains have not commented on the tax so far.
Money making initiative
The Kerala government has rejected suggestions that the tax aims to shore up its revenue, saying collections from such a tax will be small. Fast food outlets have a relatively small presence in the southern state compared to the north and the west.
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Minister Isaac, who proposed the tax, says he simply sees it as a signal to move back to traditional healthy eating, a practice he says is “going out of fashion.”
While acknowledging the need to target unhealthy food, many in Kerala point to local, deep-fried, highly popular local snacks and foods that are often sold at wayside stalls and restaurants. The owner of a café in Kerala’s Kochi city, Isaac Alexander, says the format does not seem fair as it excludes such food.
“One food that is eaten widely in Kerala is the “paratha.” It is high in fat, high in refined flour; it is cheap,” he said. “It can’t be taxed because it is highly unorganized,” he said.
Raising awareness, not taxing
Doctors and nutritionists agree that the tax needs to target a range of Indian snacks rich in trans fats that are sold throughout the country often on wayside stalls, as well as sugary drinks.
“Is it enough? I don’t think so. We need to go much beyond the burgers and the doughnuts and the French fries,” says Sheela Krishnaswamy, a nutritionist who heads the Indian Dietetic Association in Bangalore. “It needs to be done more scientifically. It needs to be done at what percentage of fat in a food can the fat tax begin.”
A customer in New Delhi who is enjoying burgers with his family does not agree. Vijay Deoli says governments should focus on more urgent priorities like pollution.
“First you have to clear up the air, the water; many things are there,” he said. “This is a small thing.”
Others say the government should focus more on raising awareness about fast food instead of using taxes to influence people’s choices.
“If you go by even developed countries, nowadays teachers or classrooms — they are training people, what should be eaten, and what should not be eaten,” says IT engineer Gaurav Singh.
Denmark, for example, scrapped a fat tax when it found that customers were picking up their quota of high fat goods from other countries.
Health experts agree that raising awareness is critical; but, Dr. Misra feels that education alone is not doing the trick.
“As I see every day, people, they are well aware of what is good and what is bad, they will [still] most of the time veer towards bad eating,” he said.
He compares the fat tax to a seatbelt law imposed some years back to force people to use seatbelts. “Everybody has a seatbelt. Previously nobody was wearing that, because there is a fine. So a certain amount of regulation has to be brought in to change the habits of the people.”
A hilarious rhyme that children often chant cheerily while jumping around, Jack and Jill is another example of the dark history covered up in light-hearted rhyme. Instead of England though, this is a rhyme that sheds light on the history of France.
Unlike other rhymes, the rhyme is part fiction and part history, since only the first two lines can be taken as an allusion to the past.
"Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after."
King Louis XIV ruled over France in the late 18th century and was called out for treason. He had failed to uphold the economy of France. His spouse Marie Antoinette was an equally powerful influence in the monarchy but could not do anything when her husband was convicted.
King Louis XIV of France Image source: wikimedia commons
The French are famous for the guillotine, and Louis XIV was beheaded on this device. This act of executing a monarch is why the rhyme has the line "Jack fell down and broke his crown". The guillotine, at this point in history, was kept outside the city, and the journey to it was long and tedious. It was ideally located on a hill, so that the entire city of Paris could witness the execution of the accused.
Louise XIV is believed to have been dressed and taken on the long journey up to the guillotine, where his hair was cut off and he had to renounce his authority. He bid farewell to his friends and was followed up the hill by a crowd holding pikes and bayonets, to prevent his escape. He was then executed as the last monarch of France.
Death by guillotine was the most terrifying way to execute a criminal Image source: wikimedia commons
A few months later, when the hue and cry of Louis XIV's death has died down a little, but the political situation of France was no better, his wife, Marie Antoinette was also executed at the guillotine for her role in the fall of France. And this event alludes to the line, "Jill came tumbling after".
The rest of the rhyme is a fictional account of a moralistic idea for children, as a way to tell them to be careful of where they engage in play. Since a large part of the rhyme seems like a story of two children who have had an accident in play, that is how the rhyme has survived and the history behind it, has been forgotten.
Keywords: Marie Antoinette, Louise XIV, Guillotine, France, Nursery Rhymes, Monarchy
Tired of waking up to the usual alarm? How about starting your mornings with the sounds of birds chirping instead, with the added bonus of lush, green afternoons, and nights spent under brightly lit skies? What about picnics by waterfalls and long, rambling walks to discover unexplored lakes? That's just the thing about mountains. You won't know the wonders you can come across, or the experiences you can have. All of this makes the mountains the perfect escape from the city.
Here are some suggestions from Airbnb with stays and experiences that can set the backdrop for the perfect mountainous holiday.
Seclude Ramgarh -- Grishma- Nainital
Forget finding shapes in clouds, learn what it's like to live in them instead. At 4900 feet above the ground, your head will indeed be in the clouds at this secluded stay in Ramgarh. The hill station boasts of a cool climate throughout the year, and with plenty of outdoor areas, balconies, and large windows, you can make the most of the idyllic weather. Seclude Ramgarh is also home to a large common fire pit to warm up your evenings and make it a truly immersive experience.
At 4900 feet above the ground, your head will indeed be in the clouds at this secluded stay in Ramgarh. | Photo by Anubhav Rana on Unsplash
Windflower -- Manali
Manali has always been the go-to place for the avid traveller but the Windflower will make you fall in love with the mountain town even more. This four-bedroom Airbnb home is the perfect place to settle down for any kind of personality -- whether you're the outdoorsy type who is looking for an adventure or the laidback kind who prefers to curl up and take it easy. Either way, Windflower's rustic wooden finish, earthy palette, open-air sit-outs, sauna and fireplace will charm you to no end. After all, there's nothing like sitting by the crackling fire on a cold night after a long day of exploring the mountains.
Manali has always been the go-to place for the avid traveller but the Windflower will make you fall in love with the mountain town even more. | Photo by Surya teja on Unsplash
Cozy Dome & Attic -- Himachal Pradesh
If you are tired of seeing high-rises, why not wake up to high Deodar trees instead? Ditch the regular getaways and try something completely new at Airbnb's Cozy Dome, which offers all the luxury of a regular stay but elevates it a notch higher with a unique hilltop experience. With no city hustle and bustle assured, you can choose to stay snuggled in or take an invigorating hike, explore the valley, meet the locals, and enjoy their culture along with their delicacies.
Ditch the regular getaways and try something completely new at Airbnb's Cozy Dome. | Photo by Naman Pandey on Unsplash
Meena Bagh -- Shimla
If you've ever wondered what it's like to live in a calm Himachali home then Meena Bagh will be perfect. It combines the inspiring charm of the breath-taking locations with comfortable interiors. Made with wood, brick, and mud, its eco-friendly designs add a unique character and style to the already appealing look as if epitomizing everything that Shimla stands for.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to live in a calm Himachali home then Meena Bagh will be perfect. | Photo by Rahul Ranjan on Unsplash
Private Villa -- Mussoorie
When planning a trip to the mountains, Mussoorie can't be far off the traveller's radar. Its beauty can be best enjoyed from this gorgeous Airbnb stay, which also happens to be just five minutes from Mall Road. It's the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the mountains, while spending adequate time indoors. Charming and nicely furnished, it has a comfortable, relaxed feel and with three spacious rooms, would be perfect for large families or groups of friends looking to unwind and enjoy each other's company.
When planning a trip to the mountains, Mussoorie can't be far off the traveller's radar. | Photo by Satyam HCR on Unsplash
Guided Historical tour -- Shimla
If you do take a trip to Shimla, the guided historical tour is a great way to learn about the city. It's the best way to absorb the beauty of its historical architecture, which has been preserved in its original state and is something that has intrigued travellers for ages. Along with learning about its design and 'Tudorbethan' architecture, you can be assured plenty of stories from the past.
What all will be covered? The Mall and the Ridge, and most of the heritage buildings in the city, including the former Viceregal Lodge,. You will also see the Gaiety theatre, General Post Office, Imperial Bank, Railway Board Building, Gorton Castle, Knockdrin, Kennedy Cottage, Cecil Hotel, and Viceregal Lodge.
Guided historical tour is a great way to learn about the city. | Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash
Bird Watching -- Sattal
Speaking of waking up to the call of birds, visit the Garur lake area in Sattal for an experience of a lifetime. If birds have ever distracted you while you've been typing away, then this could be your true calling. In about two and a half hours you can learn the calls of Thrushes, Blackbirds, and Parakeets to name a few. Through the walk, you will go from Garur Lake to Hanuman Lake and enjoy everything in between.
Speaking of waking up to the call of birds, visit the Garur lake area in Sattal for an experience of a lifetime. | Photo by Ibrahim Shabil on Unsplash
Hilloferry -- A guided Bike Ride -- Dharamshala
Escape the city traffic and go back to feeling like a child biking through the mountains of Dharamshala. Through this guided bike ride, you will ride far away from the roads and into the wild by lanes of the forests. Who knows, you may even discover a new trail or two. Butone thing's for sure, the beautiful landscape of the Dhauladhar ranges and its tea gardens will leave you awestruck.
Escape the city traffic and go back to feeling like a child biking through the mountains of Dharamshala. | Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash
Hiking -- Manali
With laptops and work from home, our minds have been exercised all day with little attention being paid to physical exercise. Hitting the gym for a couple of hours each week doesn't quite feel as invigorating. Nothing comes close to walking in nature. And that's why perhaps, hiking issoon becoming another reason to hit the mountains. If you happen to be in Manali, then even better. Sign up for this Airbnb experience and you won't regret it no matter where you are in your hiking journey. The hike covers Lamadugh, Patalsu and Jogni.
With laptops and work from home, our minds have been exercised all day with little attention being paid to physical exercise. | Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash
Food & Culture Tour -- Himachal Pradesh
If you're in Bir, Himachal Pradesh sign up for this culture tour that takes you through a journey of peace. Take a walk through the village with a special stop at the small-scale handloom factory where you will witness how a handloom works. You can also visit a local home and try out their traditional Kangri Dham or the Himachali Thali. This means, indulging in local conversations, getting to know their traditions up close, and getting a better understanding of their way of living, which summarises life in the mountains like no other.
If you're in Bir, Himachal Pradesh sign up for this culture tour that takes you through a journey of peace. | Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Mounains, Shimla,Himacha Pradesh, India, Manali, Dharamshala, Sattal, Mussoorie, Nainital
Physical activity or exercise may help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and lower your chances of acquiring many illnesses. Regular physical exercise may significantly enhance your quality of life. So, start your day off right with these workouts that incorporate strength and flexibility.
Begin by stretching your muscles | Photo by Chalo Garcia on Unsplash
Start extending your arms and feel your whole body stretch from the soles of your feet to the tip of your fingers. Take three to four long, deep breaths to calm yourself. Keep stretching for about 2-3 minutes
Planking helps to maintain balance and coordination. | Photo by Sergio Pedemonte on Unsplash
Take a pushup posture, with the weight of the body resting on the forearms, elbows, and toes. It is important to have the arms exactly below your shoulders, with your whole body in a straight line and your back straight. Hold the same posture for 30 seconds and repead thrice in total.
Pushups help in building upper body strength. | Photo by Fortune Vieyra on Unsplash
Place your hands approximately 36 inches apart on the floor while keeping your body at arms' length. Lower your chest nearly to the floor when you take a breath in and exhale. Taking a deep breath out, push your upper body back up to the beginning position while tightening your chest muscles. Do 3 sets with atleast 8 pushups in each set.
The mountain climber really is a full-body exercise. | Flickr
Take a top press-up position, weight on hands and toes, arms straight, legs extended. Bring one knee to your chest, then return it to the starting position. Rep with your opposite leg, then alternate legs throughout. Do 3 sets with 12 repititions in each set.
Jumping Jacks are a basic, easy-to-do exercise that can be done anywhere and at any time. | Photo by Rodrigo dos Reis on Unsplash
Stand with your legs together, your knees slightly bent, and your hands resting on your thighs. Open the arms and legs out to the sides, keeping the knees bent. Arms extend beyond the shoulders, and legs broader than the shoulders. Return to your starting position by bringing your arms and legs back to your sides. You can do jumping jacks as fast as you can and for as many minutes you wish.
Keywords: exercise, home, workout, plank, pushup, jumping jack, mountaim climber, stretching