News Wrap


In India, the infant mortality rate is exceptionally high. The mortality rate for children in India is shockingly high at 63 per 1000 live births, comparing unfavourably to six for Cuba, 18 for China, 17 for Sri Lanka, 23 for Vietnam, 48 for Bangladesh and 56 for Bhutan. The IMR and under five years age mortality rate for India, is much higher than the world average. At 200, the maternal mortality (deaths per 1,00,000 live births), rate for India remains very high, compared to 35 in Sri Lanka, 37 in China, 59 in Vietnam and 180 in Bhutan. The percentage of underweight children (moderate and severe) under the age of five is much higher in India at 42%, compared to China at 4%, Bhutan at 13%, Pakistan at 31%, Nepal at 39% and Bangladesh at 41%. The average for all ‘Least Developed Countries’ (LDCs) is 27%. Rural India has body mass index (BMI) of 35%, well below the 18.5 mark (any figure below the 18.5 mark indicates chronic energy deficit). 38% of scheduled castes have BMI lower than 18.5%, and 42% of scheduled tribes have BMI lower than 18.5. Alongwith deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, 55% men and 70% women in India suffer form anaemia. Widespread persistence of poverty causes poor health and malnutrition. 45% of India’s population are exposed to poverty, compared to 15% in Sri Lanka, 11% in China and 9% in Vietnam. Only 17% of health expenditure is borne by the government, while 83% is borne by people themselves. India’s economic growth has slowed to 5% (2012-13) from 6.2% (2010-11). High revenue collection and savings in expenditure has led to fiscal deficit at 4.89% of GDP (2012-13), better than budgetary estimates of 5.2%.

Security Forces’ Violence
Negating the arguments of collateral damage and cross-fire, the Central Reserve Police Force firing on suspected ‘‘Maoists’’ in Edasmeta (Chattisgarh), led to the death of ten tribals, who were celebrating the ancient ‘Beej Pondum’ festival, in the third week of May 2013. State police suspect a few of the deceased as members of the Jan Militia. On 25 May 2013, Naxals targeted a convoy of Congress leaders in Chattisgarh’s Jadgalpur district, killing the party’s senior leader Mahendra Karma, who was instrumental in raising the anti-Maoist Salwa Judum group, and injuring former union minister V C Shukla, who later succumbed to injuries. The bullet ridden bodies of abducted Chattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son and eight others were found in Bastar. The death toll is about 30 and 35 others are injured. About 250 Maoists are believed to have carried out the attack, in the period of Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign of the Maoists. While security personnel escorting the Congress ‘Parivartan Yatra’ were lightly armed the Maoist extremists carried sophisticated weapons and modern communication systems.

Toxic waste water
A triple meltdown two years ago at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster. Workers are again struggling to contain a flood of highly radioactive wastewater, as it overwhelms storage space. At a rate of almost 285 litres or 75 gallons a minute, ground-water is pouring into the plant’s ravaged reactor buildings. In the reactor building, the toxic wastewater becomes highly contaminated before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system. The radioactive wastewater is being diverted to storage tanks, spread over 17 hectares of parking lots and lawns. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, is chopping down a small forest on its southern edge, to make room for hundreds more tanks. In recent weeks, the underground pits built to handle the overflow, sprang leaks. The sheer volume of water has raised fears of future leaks at the seaside plant, that could reach the Pacific Ocean.

Arctic Battle

At the centre of a global geopolitical battle in the Arctic, stand China, Japan and India. These countries have joined the main body, i.e. the Arctic Council, involved in setting the rules for future development of the polar region. Five Nordic countries, the USA, Canada and Russia, have decided to let 14 countries and organizations to gain the status of ‘‘observer’’ to the Arctic Council. China’s candidacy has been supported by all the Nordic countries. The council already has six European countries as observers, as well as various intergovernmental and non government organizations. Launched in 1996, the Arctic Council serves as a body for international rule making on the Arctic. There is a twice yearly summit in Stockholm and Kiruna, northern Sweden. Viewed as an increasingly strategic area, the Arctic possesses many resources, such as oil, and offers the possibility of quicker shipping routes between Europe and Asia, as the ice in the polar region melts. The Arctic encompasses more than a fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves.


Vol. 45, No. 51, June 30 -Jul 6, 2013

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