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Over 1,000 Tobacco Growers and Retailers Stage Protest in Delhi outside WHO Office

The protestors comprised tobacco growers and retailers from states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, among others

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New Delhi, October 27, 2016: Over a thousand tobacco growers and retailers on Thursday staged a protest outside the Health Ministry and South Asian Office of the World Health Organisation here.

The farmers were upset as they have been denied participation in the upcoming (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of Parties (FCTC COP7), scheduled to be hosted by India this year in Noida from November 7-12.

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The protestors comprised tobacco growers and retailers from states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, among others.

They have urged the government to boycott the WHO conference as it is likely to adversely affect the tobacco farming sector that contributes over Rs 10,000 crore to the government’s revenue annually.

According to them, if they are not allowed to participate, core issues such as increasing counterfeit bidi trade in the country after the implementation of 85 per cent pictorial warning will go ignored.

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Also, they won’t get a chance to discuss with the government for the alternate crop, as the stricter government norms against tobacco have dealt a heavy economic loss to them.

“We call upon the government, in its capacity as hosts to the upcoming FCTC conference, to uphold Indian Tobacco Farmers respect and the country’s democracy and boycott the conference,” B.V. Javare Gowda, President, Federation of All India Farmers Association (FAIFA), told IANS.

As a representative of the tobacco farmers in India, FAIFA has applied to the WHO FCTC secretariat seeking observer status in the FCTC COP7.

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When contacted on the issue, WHO told IANS that FCTC is an independent body and the decision to let anyone participate in the conference is up to them.

Also, according to the FCTC and its guidelines, no country should have delegation members linked to the tobacco industry.

The nation’s main cigarette industry body, the Tobacco Institute of India (TII), and farmer groups wrote to the Agriculture Ministry demanding that their views should be presented in the WHO conference. (IANS)

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  • Vinny Gracchus

    The FCTC is an antidemocratic, totalitarian sham. It suppresses dissent and eschews transparency and takes funding from pharmaceutical interests that compromise their objectivity. The FCTC should be dismantled to correct their covert racketeering.

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Twitter India steps in to bridge blood donation gap

Twitter said it will also amplify the real-time communication efforts of the handle with verification, promotion on Twitter, and use Twitter Lite to connect the helpline with people across the entire country

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  • Twitter starts a new initiative #BloodMatters
  • This initiative is to create more awareness blood donation and its need in India
  • The step is being applauded and supported by the government as well

Aiming to create more awareness and bridge the demand-supply gap for blood units in India, Twitter India on Tuesday launched a new social initiative called #BloodMatters.

According to a report by the World Health Organisation, only nine million blood units are available annually in India, against a demand of 12 million units. Blood Donors India (@BloodDonorsIN), a voluntary blood donation helpline on Twitter, is the first partner for the Twitter initiative. Through this initiative, Twitter said it seeks to work with more blood donation helplines like @BloodDonorsIN, blood banks, and health institutions across the country to connect and reach a larger audience.

Twitter has launched three types of APIs to facilitate this.
This step will help bridge the blood donation gap in India.

“The platform aims to scale up the volume of blood donation conversation in India, the number of donors, and work with partners that can ensure safe, screened blood can reach those in need in time across India,” Twitter India said in a statement.

With this initiative, people can request for blood donation simply with a tweet to @BloodDonorsIN with their location hashtag, blood type, mobile contact and Twitter handle. People interested to help can follow @BloodDonorsIN and respond or retweet requests for help.

Responding to the initiative in a tweet, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda said: “I am happy to see Twitter take up this cause to strengthen the overall health and well-being of the country with the #BloodMatters initiative. This will play a powerful role in mobilising resources and strengthening the blood donation drive in India.”

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This will benefit several people and is also supported by the government. Pixabay

With the new initiative, launched ahead of its 12th birth anniversary on Wednesday, Twitter is expanding the reach of the @BloodDonorsIN helpline through Twitter Lite, which provides more data-friendly access to real-time information exchange on blood donations across India.

Twitter will be supporting the implementation of an automated response solution to scale the operations of @BloodDonorsIN, currently run by a group of volunteers.

Twitter said it will also amplify the real-time communication efforts of the handle with verification, promotion on Twitter, and use Twitter Lite to connect the helpline with people across the entire country, from the metros to rural India.

There is a lot of gap between blood demand and supply in India. Pixabay

“Giving back has been a priority for Twitter since its inception and we believe the open exchange of information can be a compelling force for good in the world. #BloodMatters is a step in that direction,” Mahima Kaul, Head Public Policy, Twitter India, said in a statement.

“We are humbled to kickstart the initiative with @BloodDonorsIN, a handle that symbolises our mission of positively impacting the world by harnessing the real-time power of Twitter and hope to make a larger impact by extending its reach through Twitter Lite,” Kaul added. IANS