Wednesday June 19, 2019
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World Population Day: Is it time to control population explosion in India?

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Image from blog.oureducation.in

By Dr Rajat Arora

To gauge the mammoth rise of the Indian population, the most ideal places to visit are Metro stations, airports, malls, railway stations and bus stands. As we prepare to observe the World Population Day, a road-map to expand healthcare access across the nation has become a critical priority for the policymakers.

As per the Indian census carried out in 2011, the population figure was 1,210,193,422 – well above the one-billion mark. India, the second most populous country in the world, is projected to surpass China by 2025.

The poignant fact is that the figures are rising by the day despite the population-control policies, family planning and welfare programs undertaken by the government.

The mortality rate is on a decline thanks to the advancement in the field of medicine, but there has been no significant success in terms of bringing down the birth rate.

Image from blog.oureducation.in
Image from blog.oureducation.in

Much of population increase is among the poorest socio-economic strata. Relatively, socio-economically advanced Indian states displayed a fertility rate of less than 2.1 in 2009, which is less than the level needed to maintain a stable population following the infant mortality standards in developed nations.

Though the one-child policy in China was criticised as against human dignity and rights, it has helped China to control its population by a possible 400 million people.

There is a distinct possibility of irreversible and unsustainable population growth and big question marks remain over how India will provide nearly 1.7 billion people with their basic minimum needs.

As of 2013 statistics, the number of private hospitals and private doctors had shown a multiple-fold increase at 7,500+ and 300,000, respectively. Similarly, the private sector has enabled an increased availability of medicines by setting up pharmacies/chemist shops. There are more than 105,000 chemists who are providing medicines in 120 cities in the country.

Nevertheless, a disproportionate increase in the population has raised fears of an alarming shortfall in terms of the doctor-patient ratio and the corresponding accessibility to quality healthcare.

Increasing the welfare and status of women and girls; imparting education; enhancing awareness for the use of contraceptives and family planning methods; sex education; encouraging male sterilisation and spacing births can be some of the ways to curtail the escalating population.

It would be ideal for a country like India to be more progressive in outlook and shed inhibitions when it comes to free distribution of contraceptives and condoms among the poor.

As the government seeks to expand its expenditure on healthcare, it must select a strategy that provides significant healthcare access benefit to the Indian population. Sustainable policy solutions to healthcare financing, infrastructure and human resource challenges are critically needed.

Overall, while there are pockets of improvements, significant healthcare access challenges continue to exist for the Indian population. The longer India delays acknowledging the severity of these problems and dealing with them head on, the graver the consequences are likely to be.

(IANS)

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India: Sugar Mills, Distilleries under The Scanner of Special Task Force of UP Police for Links with Hooch Syndicates

Industrial alcohol allegedly used in hooch is distilled ethanol

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India, Sugar Mills, Distilleries
A few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Pixabay

As more than a hundred people died in ‘poisonous hooch’ tragedies in Uttar Pradesh during the past one year, a few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Working round the clock to bust ‘killer syndicates’ supplying cheap industrial alcohol to bootleggers and gangs involved in manufacturing of illicit liquor, STF has seized more than 10,000 litres of rectified spirit in raids across the state in the past one month.

Industrial alcohol allegedly used in hooch is distilled ethanol and is usually used in manufacturing of paints, fragrance, printing ink and coating. As it is cheaper, the liquor syndicates get it smuggled from distilled ethanol manufacturing units. On June 16, STF seized 5,750 litres of rectified spirit (high concentration alcohol) from the possession of a big time crime syndicate active in Lucknow and Kanpur.

The STF rounded up the kingpin, Suraj Lal Yadav, along with six other members of the gang. During interrogation it was discovered that Yadav was well-connected with some distilleries in Haryana. Large quantities of industrial alcohol was smuggled out of Haryana and pushed into hooch manufacturing dens in UP.

Concerned about frequents deaths in UP due to consumption of poisonous hooch, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched a statewide crackdown on illicit liquor manufacturing gangs after 21 people died in a hooch tragedy in Barabanki two months ago. The STF, considered the state’s premiere crime busting agency, subsequently geared up to intercept scores of tankers and private vehicles being pushed into UP from Delhi and Haryana.

India, Sugar Mills, Distilleries
A few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Pixabay

“The syndicate involved in smuggling of rectified spirit has spread its tentacles in the state. Even murders have taken place in disputes relating to the smuggling. But our raiding parties are determined to bust the gangs. Innumerable cases have been registered by us in the past one-and-a-half years,” said Amitabh Yash, Inspector General(IG) of STF.

Even though the STF, after rounding up the accused handed over the investigation of the case to the district police, the agency is said to have the most precise data on organised crime in North India.

“We seldom investigate the cases as it involves prolonged court work, so our main aim is focused on cracking heinous crimes, particularly organised by crime syndicates. At the moment, gangs involved in illicit trade of hooch are our target,” said Amitabh Yash, known for his skills in dealing with underworld operations and syndicate crimes. When asked whether a few officials of the excise department and a couple of distilleries could be linked with smugglers of rectified spirit, the IG said a report was given in this connection to the government.

While high excise duty makes liquor expensive, hooch, on the other hand, is available for less than Rs 20 per bottle. At places the rates are less than even Rs 10 per liter. A report, in connection with the Saharanpur hooch tragedy in February 2019 which took the lives of over 50 people, reveals that the quantity of rectified spirit mixed in the drink was so high that it had the effect of poison.

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The report says that rectified spirit was smuggled by criminal gangs which were hand-in-glove with local authorities.

“The gangs have links in distilleries and chemical factories from where industrial alcohol is smuggled out at a very cheap price. It is later re-packed in drums and transported to hideouts of manufacturers (of illicit liquor),” said a source in the police.

With widespread sale of hooch across UP, CM Yogi Adityanath has instructed DGP O.P. Singh to take stringent measures against the culprits and ensure that police secures conviction of those accused who are put on trial in cases of hooch smuggling or hooch-related deaths. (IANS)