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Anti-vaccine misinformation, some of it from social media posts in the West, is spreading in India on WhatsApp, undermining efforts to root out measles and rubella in a country where tens of thousands of people are struck by the diseases each year.
Dozens of schools in Mumbai have refused to allow health officials to carry out vaccinations in recent months, largely because of rumors shared on Facebook Inc.’s popular messaging app about the supposed dangers.
Several thousand children have missed out on treatment so far, according to officials at the United Nations Children’s Fund. In New Delhi, a campaign to vaccinate students at schools has been halted by scared parents.
“It’s rumors on WhatsApp” that are the chief culprit, said Sonia Sarkar, a Unicef official in New Delhi. “They’ve traveled faster than the vaccines.”
A WhatsApp spokesman declined to comment about messages containing antivaccine information, but noted the company has undertaken educational campaigns in India and made technical tweaks to the app to try to dissuade users from forwarding false news. WhatsApp has an estimated 300 million users in India, where a boom in internet usage in the past three years has brought hundreds of millions of people online for the first time.
The spread of misinformation about vaccination shows the challenge WhatsApp faces handling controversial content on the encrypted service, as Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg pivots globally to private messaging platforms.
More than 100,000 people die every year globally because of measles, most of them children, according to the World Health Organization. About a third of those deaths are in India, Unicef says. Rubella causes tens of thousands of birth defects in India every year.
In the U.S., measles used to be rare but has spread to 15 states this year as people have avoided inoculation because of religious views and misinformation about vaccine safety.
Many of the same reports that have misled Americans have been spread in India, typically through WhatsApp, analysts and health officials say. The materials being forwarded among parents in India are often taken from groups in the U.S. that post antivaccine videos on YouTube and Facebook.
“Don’t use vaccinations. Save the lives of your children,” says one forwarded WhatsApp message in two Indian languages that was provided by health officials and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The message claims vaccines are linked to autism and other disorders. “It is a moral duty to all of us” to spread the message, it reads. The message provides links to U.S.-based YouTube channels with names like The Truth About Vaccines and iHealthTube.com.
Appended to the end of the message is the name and phone number of the sender, Kaleem Yusuf Abdullah, an environmentalist in the Indian city of Malegaon, about 170 miles from Mumbai.
“I have seen many videos on YouTube,” he said in an interview. “After watching these videos I was in doubt” about the safety of vaccines. “I’m not convinced by doctors” who proclaim vaccines are safe, he said.
The messaging service has made it harder to forward messages to large groups of people and this month launched a project that enables users to forward dubious messages for debunking. The Wall Street Journal has in recent days submitted to the service 10 messages—including some containing antivaccine misinformation that were shared by local health officials—but hasn’t received responses about the messages’ veracity. The service says it tries to provide classifications within 24 hours and cannot respond to every submission.
India is vulnerable to potential damage from incorrect information about vaccines. The vaccination rate among children in the U.S. is still above 92%, a level considered adequate for preventing widespread outbreaks. But in India, only about 88% of 1-year-olds had been vaccinated, meaning there is greater risk.
Worries about vaccines have existed for decades, but antivaccine messages have blossomed in the internet age, and fear-inducing material can spread quickly on social media.
In India, people who are new to the internet have, in effect, not yet been inoculated against false reports, said Praful Bharadwaj, who coordinates vaccination efforts for Unicef in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
“You don’t have any control over WhatsApp,” he said. (IANS)
Designer Payal Singhal launched her first ever shop in New Delhi at Aza, Ambawatta One, Mehrauli. At this new location, she also unveiled "Suroor" her Winter Festive' 2021 collection for Women that stays true to the brand's DNA of deconstructing and reimagining traditional Indian silhouettes for the modern aesthete.
The collection is replete with hybrid lehenga with cut-outs, sharara sets, kaftan kurtas and anarkalis; all enhanced with intricate mukaish, zardozi, gota, nakshi, pitta and mirror work. Statement yokes, the latest take on the House's signature back-tie choli, and a new burst of #PSPrints are also an integral part of the collection. For the first time, Payal has worked with bandhanis developed in Jaipur, but with her inimitable twist - using the technique on tussar instead of silks. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Winter, Suroor, New Delhi, Designer, Payal Singhal, shop
Today marks the 114th birth anniversary of Harivansh Rai Bachchan, a renowned Indian poet. He is popularly known for his poem ‘Madhushala’.
Early life of Harivansh Rai Bachchan
Harivansh Rai Bachchan was born on the same date in 1907 in the village of Bahupatti, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in British India. From the year 1941 to 1957, he taught English at the Allahabad University, and after that, Bachchan spent the next two years at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, completing his PhD W.B. Yeats. Interestingly, when Harivansh Rai started writing, instead of using his real surname, Shrivastava, he started using Bachchan.
Career of Harivansh Rai Bachchan
It must be noted that Harivansh Rai Bachchan was well fluent in many languages including Hindustani and Awadhi. Though, Bachchan did not know how to read Persian script, still he was very much influenced by Persian and Urdu poetry. Omar Khayyam was one such personality who influenced Bachchan big time. Some of the most celebrated works of this stalwart are Madhushala (1935-36), Agneepath, Khadi Ke Phool (1948), Dhaar Ke Idhar Udhar (1957), Jal Sameta (1973), etc. Bachchan was awarded with the esteemed Padma Bhushan in the year 1976.
So, on the occasion of 114th birth anniversary of one of the greatest poets of India, we must pay a heartfelt tribute to the legendary Harivansh Rai Bachchan for leaving behind his golden words!
Keywords: India, Artists, Poets, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Literature.
The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is setting up industrial corridors along both sides of Lucknow-Faizabad-Gorakhpur four-lane national highway within the 65 km periphery of the Ayodhya Development Authority's (ADA) jurisdiction.
The industry hub, spread over 100 acres, will form part of Ayodhya Master Plan-2031 that is being prepared by the ADA.
According to ADA Vice Chairman Vishal Singh, the master plan is expected to be finalised next month and will be sent for state government's approval.
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Unlike other development projects, the ADA will not acquire land from farmers.
"Industrialists will directly buy plots from land owners and ADA will provide infrastructure. The industrial hub will cover an area of 100 acres," he said.
The new master plan extends from the Ring Road with proposed industrial corridors along both sides. Around 114 development projects approved by the state government have been incorporated in the master plan.
Amid construction of the Ram temple, Ayodhya is undergoing a makeover with modern infrastructure and facilities. The town soon will have grand gates called 'Ram Dwaars' at all entry points along with gardens with invoking the ambience of 'Treta Yug'.
another proposal to include villages of Basti and Gonda districts under the ADA.Unsplash
Also read: Ram Mandir to be built in Ayodhya by 2022
Principal secretary, housing and urban development Deepak Kumar said that project deadlines will be met on a war footing.
There is another proposal to include villages of Basti and Gonda districts under the ADA. (IANS/PR)
Keywords: Ayodhya, Industrial area, Development projects