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‘Save Ganga’ crusader Agarwal dead

first_imgG.D. Agarwal, 86, who was on a fast to save the Ganga, died following a heart attack on Thursday. Formerly a professor in the civil engineering department at IIT-Kanpur who had adopted the name Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, the environmentalist was vocal on disallowing hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand along the Ganga.In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, he declared his intention to go on a fast as several of his demands had not been met.Agarwal’s key demands included a special law to deal with pollution and encroachment on the Ganga, and maintaining the environmental flow of the river to prevent pollution. He was subsisting on a diet of honey, lemon and water and, according to a senior official in the Water Ministry who was abreast of his activities, had given up water in the last week.“He was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, and succumbed to a heart attack,” the official told The Hindu.last_img read more

3 civilians injured in Kulgam blast

first_imgMilitants triggered a grenade blast in south Kashmir’s Kulgam on Wednesday morning, leaving three civilians injured.The police said militants made an abortive bid to throw a grenade towards the Police Station Dhamhal Hanjpora in Kulgam. “It missed the target and exploded on the roadside. Three civilians were injured,” said the police.The police said the injured, who suffered splinter wounds, were shifted to a hospital. The injured were identified as Ayaz Ahmad Bhat, Sabzar Ahmad Hajam and Bilal Ahmad Khatana.Meanwhile, the area was cordoned off after the attack. However, no militant was nabbed till last reports came in.last_img read more

Camel finds home in Assam after long legal battle

first_imgA camel rescued from smugglers on the Bangladesh border has found a home in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar after a six-month legal battle for ownership between the State police and the authorities of the Assam State Zoo. The camel, an adult male, left the zoo in Guwahati in a truck on Monday morning for an “animal home” in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district about 350 km away. His companion was Samiran Hatimuria, who runs the home called Aranyam.“The camel is a welcome addition to my family, whose members include emus, turkeys, guinea pigs, horses, 12 types of peafowls, five varieties of pigeons, and other animals. I hope the camel adapts to our 12-bigha home,” Mr. Hatimuria, 32, told The Hindu after reaching his village Talugaon, about 3 km from Sivasagar town.The police in western Assam’s Goalpara district had in mid-2018 rescued the camel while the animal was allegedly being transported for smuggling into Bangladesh.Like two more camels rescued from the same district in January that year, this camel, too, was shifted to the zoo.The first two camels were diagnosed as carriers of diseases that veterinarians said could put the caged animals in the zoo at risk. Zoo officials approached the Sessions Court in Goalpara after the two died six months ago.“We told the court that the zoo is not authorised to keep domestic animals and that the police should take back the third camel, which appeared healthy,” Tejas Marisamy, the zoo’s Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), said.In course of time, the local court asked the police to take the camel back. But the inability of the police to accommodate the animal left it in the zoo.In December, the zoo got in touch with Mr. Hatimuria, who had, since opening Aranyam in 2008, earned a reputation for letting his facility out to be used by the Sivasagar district wildlife officials to shelter rescued wild animals temporarily for treatment or rehabilitation in the wild.“The zoo paid for the camel’s transportation. Sustenance for the animal would be appreciated, but I can take care of him, like the others at Aranyam. My parents earn a decent living, I run a small business and we have some farm income, too,” he said.“The police should ideally provide for the camel’s fodder and care since they are legally its custodian. But we will try to work a way out,” Mr. Marisamy said.last_img read more

Anwar disapproves of Sidhu’s Muslim pitch

first_imgSenior Congress leader Tariq Anwar on Wednesday disapproved of Navjot Singh Sidhus appeal to Muslims to defeat BJP and said he would have stopped the Punjab Minister from doing so had he been present at the rally held in his Lok Sabha constituency of Katihar. “I have always held the view that votes must never be sought in the name of religion and caste. This has also been the policy of the Congress party. I do not approve of what Sidhu has uttered. I would request the party leadership to take note for suitable action,” Mr. Anwar said in a statement.Mr. Sidhu, against whom an FIR has been lodged at Katihar in Bihar for violating the model code of conduct, made the controversial statement at a rally in Barsoi police station area of the district on Monday. The matter came to light when a video footage of his utterances were beamed on TV news channels on Tuesday wherein he could be heard asking Muslims, who have a sizeable presence in Katihar, to be wary of Asaduddin Owaisis AIMIM alleging that it was being propped up by the BJP. He also urged the Muslim voters to unite in favor of the Congress candidate Tariq Anwar and drawing an analogy from cricket, remarked Modi will go for a six if you do so. “I was not present at the Barsoi rally. Had I been there, I would have immediately stood up and expressed my disapproval of the way he was canvassing for me,” Mr. Anwar clarified in his statement. The episode in Bihar came close on the heels of the Election Commission taking punitive action Yogi Adityanath and Mayawati for violating the poll code of conduct.last_img read more

29 years later, Kashmir Pandit returns to jubilant welcome

first_imgA Kashmiri Pandit’s homecoming to Srinagar, 29 years after he left the State, on Thursday was met with a rousing reception from locals, infusing hope for the peaceful return of the Hindu community that had to leave the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s in the face of raging militancy.Roshan Lal Mawa, in his 70s, on Thursday threw open a shop selling dates in the volatile old city’s Zanai Kadal area, from where he hails originally. That Mr. Mawa will sell a variety of dates is also symbolic since the Muslim holy month of Ramzan is a few days away.Jubilant localsTo his surprise, decision to reopen the shop, closed for 29 years, attracted jubilant locals and fellow shopkeepers. Mr. Mawa was welcomed with the tying of a white turban around his head, a Kashmiri tradition, and many hugs were exchanged. “I have set up a thriving dry fruit business outside [Kashmir]. I lived a happy life in Delhi. But I decided to return [to Kashmir] because I missed the affection I have here, the brotherhood, the hugs and the Kashmiriyat (cultural values of the Kashmiri people). You can’t find these values anywhere in the world,” said Mr. Mawa.He was among the hundreds of members of the Kashmiri Pandit community that was forced to migrate outside the Valley as militancy spread in the 1990s. Mr. Mawa’s decision to return was not easy, given the circumstances in which he had to leave.“It was October 13, 1990. A youth entered my shop and asked for dry fruit samples. In the meantime, he pulled out a pistol and shot me four times in my abdomen. I survived. I, along with my wife, moved outside the State,” he recalled.‘Yearning to return’He said his return to his roots “reflects the general yearning of my community to return home”. But, Mr. Mawa added, “I oppose the idea of having separate colonies for Pandits. It will make us soft targets. I want my [Muslim] neighbours to take care of my children.” Leaders of regional parties joined in welcoming Mr. Mawa. “Eventually, it will be this leap of faith taken by Roshan Lal and the warmth shown by his Muslim brethren that will strengthen ties and also encourage them [Kashmiri Pandits] to return home, where they truly belong,” said Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.last_img read more

Last phase of simultaneous polls in Odisha passes off peacefully

first_imgPolling passed off peacefully, barring a few hiccups in the initial hours, in six Lok Sabha and 41 Assembly constituencies in the fourth and the last phase of the simultaneous elections in Odisha on Monday.An average of 66% of voting was recorded in the Parliamentary seats of Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur till 5 p.m., according to Odisha Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar.While Mayurbhanj recorded a voter turnout of 67% till 5 p.m., Balasore and Jagatsinghpur recorded 64% each, Bhadrak 68%, and Jajpur and Kendrapara 65% each. The percentage may increase since voting was still in progress.3 officials suspendedThree polling officials were suspended for dereliction of duty, Mr. Kumar told journalists. Adequate transport and security arrangements had been put in place to ensure safe return of polling parties to their respective headquarters, he added.Allegations of capturing of several booths by a particular party were also reported from Bari Assembly segment under Jajpur, while people boycotted voting at a few booths under Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituencies.EVMs’ safetyApart from ensuring security of electronic voting machines, steps were also taken for the safety of the voting machines in view of the impending Cyclone Fani, said Mr. Kumar.The CEO thanked the people of Odisha for the conduct of polling in four phases in the State without any major incident of violence.However, polling remains to be held in Patkura, one of the seven Assembly segments under Kendrapara, on May 19. Polling was adjourned following death of the BJD candidate.last_img read more

Wedding bells finally ring in newly-electrified Rajasthan village

first_imgWedding bells rang for 19-year-old Urmila in the nondescript Rajghat village of Rajasthan’s Dholpur district earlier this month, on the day the villagers cast their votes for Lok Sabha election, shortly after electricity reached the village. The small village with a population of 350 had been living in darkness since Independence.The village, which shares its name with Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat in Delhi, falls in the Chambal river basin region on the Rajashan-Madhya Pradesh border, which is a forest area. Because of the technical glitch of its location within the Municipal Council’s jurisdiction, the rural settlement was deprived of the benefits of schemes designed for panchayats.Electricity has arrived in Rajghat through a transformer installed by the State government after sustained efforts of a medical student and his friends, who have launched a campaign for improving the living conditions of villagers for the last four years with the help of donors and crowdfunding. The group also undertook a social media drive with hashtag #SaveRajghat.Urmila’s wedding took place after sunset on May 6 and a feast was given to the villagers and the baraat (marriage party), belonging to Agra district, for the first time in the midst of lights all around them. The poor villagers rejoiced at the ceremony, as the power discom officials promised to lay the lines to connect all the 39 households in the village with electricity supply.Crusader’s effortsSituated on the banks of Chambal river, barely five km away from Dholpur town, the small and dusty Rajghat village has no roads, water pipelines or basic medical facilities. The lone government primary school has only a few students. Ashwani Parashar, an MBBS student in Sawai Man Singh Government Medical College in Jaipur and a native of Dholpur, took up the task in 2015 along with his fellow students to provide basic amenities to the villagers.During the last four years, a kuchcha access road and community toilets were constructed, solar lamps supplied and reverse osmosis water filters installed with the help of donors. The power connection is the latest achievement of the group of students, who have also distributed utility items and clothes among the poor in the village.The villagers living in the vicinity of the river still have no access to clean drinking water. Urmila’s father Deendayal Nishad told The Hindu on Monday that the villagers bring polluted water directly from Chambal, where animal carcasses can be seen floating, and clean it with the help of filters. Though girls from Rajghat are married off to other places, the boys face difficulty in getting married, as no parents are willing to marry their daughters in the village because of its pathetic state. In May last year, when Pawan Kumar, 23, got married in Rajghat, the villagers were witnessing such a wedding after a gap of 22 years.last_img read more

RNAi Treatment Steps Up

first_imgRNA interference (RNAi), a technique for silencing genes that shows potential for treating diseases, has been like a hot baseball prospect who hasn’t proven he can play in the big leagues. But now RNAi has turned in a performance that is winning researchers’ praise. A new study shows that the approach can dramatically and safely cut levels of a protein that causes a rare liver disease.Our cells rely on RNAi—deploying diminutive RNA molecules such as microRNAs and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs)—to turn down activity of specific genes. Researchers only discovered this process in the late 1990s, but they’ve already begun dozens of clinical trials to gauge whether infusing patients with these small RNAs works against a range of diseases, from lung infections to liver cancer to age-related macular degeneration, a sight-stealing condition that mainly affects people over the age of 50. Although some results are promising, what remains unclear is whether an effective dose of RNAi will also be safe, says nucleic acid biologist Mark Kay of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.In the new work, neurologist Teresa Coelho of the Hospital de Santo Antonio in Portugal and colleagues tested RNAi in patients who had transthyretin amyloidosis, a fatal genetic disease in which liver cells pump out excess amounts of a protein called transthyretin. Normally, transthyretin ferries hormones through the blood, but the extra protein builds up in the nerves, the heart, and elsewhere in the body. Although liver transplants can lengthen the lives of some patients, the disease remains incurable.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The team infused 24 transthyretin amyloidosis patients with an siRNA that curbs cells’ production of the protein. Because RNA-destroying enzymes prowl the spaces between our cells, the siRNAs were tucked inside tiny lipid droplets, known as lipid nanoparticles. Control patients received an infusion of saline. Using a group of healthy subjects, the researchers also tested a slightly different lipid nanoparticle that carried the same siRNA.In the transthyretin amyloidosis patients, siRNA treatment cut transthyretin levels by 38% after 7 days, the researchers report online today in The New England Journal of Medicine. The healthy patients who received the alternative lipid nanoparticles showed an even bigger decrease, averaging as much as 87%. Those results reveal that liver cells absorbed the lipid nanoparticles and the siRNAs inside turned down transthyretin output. Coelho calls this an “important reduction” in the protein, though the researchers didn’t determine whether siRNA slowed the progress of the disease. They will be measuring that in a 15-month follow-up study that will take place in the United States, Europe, and South America.Some patients developed allergylike reactions, with symptoms such as flushing and chest tightness. But these problems usually went away if the delivery of the nanoparticles was stopped and then resumed at a slower pace, Coelho says.The study “unambiguously shows that you can achieve a robust [protein decrease] in humans using RNAi therapeutics,” Kay sats. “This opens the door to medicinal RNAi,” adds molecular biologist David Corey of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.siRNAi therapy could also work against other liver diseases, says molecular geneticist John Rossi of City of Hope in Duarte, California. But he cautions that “since the lipid carriers primarily target the liver, it is not apparent to me if nonliver based diseases can be treated in a similar fashion.”Controlling diseases such as transthyretin amyloidosis would presumably require multiple treatments over several years, so researchers also need to find out if the siRNA and lipid nanoparticle combination is safe over the long term, Kay says.last_img read more

Sumatra Tsunami Threat Remains

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—A great offshore earthquake, like the one that killed hundreds of thousands when it struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra coast in December 2004, would seem to offer a small measure of solace to survivors: The offshore tectonic fault that caused the temblor should require many centuries to recharge. Now, it appears such optimism is unwarranted. Three speakers here at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union earlier this month warned that the Indian Ocean coast of northern Sumatra could suffer another tsunami disaster in as few as 60 years.That sobering news came in three talks by paleoseismologists—researchers who literally dig up records of past earthquakes and tsunamis—associated with Nanyang Technological University’s Earth Observatory of Singapore. Charles Rubin, Kerry Sieh, Jessica Pilarczyk, and their colleagues had been reading the millennia-long histories of past tsunamis in three kinds of geologic records and determining the age of each tsunami recorded there using radioactive carbon-14 dating.The most novel record was found in a cave located 200 meters from the present-day coastline. Only the far-reaching inland surge of a tsunami can carry sand into this cave, where it can then be deposited layer by layer, tsunami by tsunami. Conveniently enough for the researchers, tsunami deposits in this cave are demarcated by dark layers of guano deposited between tsunamis by the cave’s resident bats. Other records were retrieved from tsunami deposits in coastal wetlands and exposed in eroding sea cliffs.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Taken together, the new records paint a disconcerting picture of highly erratic tsunami recurrence. Two tsunamis struck the northern Sumatra coast in quick succession about 600 years before the 2004 tsunami. Previous, more precise dating of coral uplifted by offshore quakes at about that time show the interval between the two tsunamis to have been just 60 years or so. Yet the cave record lacks tsunamis in a 1900-year interval between about 5400 years ago—when a thick tsunami deposit was laid down—and about 3300 years ago. Then, about five lesser tsunamis, to judge by the thickness of their deposits, sloshed into the cave in the next 500 years. “The basic conclusion, then, appears to be that big tsunamis vary in recurrence [time], from only 60 years to about 2000 years,” Sieh writes in an e-mail.“It seems Mother Nature has this capricious behavior,” says seismologist Emile Okal of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who was not involved in the work. “We could be in for something in the next 50 to 100 years. That’s both intriguing and somewhat frightening.” Figuring out how a single offshore fault can rupture—perhaps in a sequence of different segments—to produce such a varied history of tsunamis will take many more records like the one in the guano-laced cave.last_img read more

Platelets by the Plateful?

first_imgPlatelets are the sand bags of the circulatory system, piling up in wounds to create clots and curb bleeding. Now, researchers in Japan have shown that they can grow large quantities of human platelets by starting with stem cells. Scaled up, the technique could provide a dependable source of replacement platelets for patients.Platelets aren’t cells; they are shards of bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes. Cancer patients and people suffering from conditions such as aplastic anemia often don’t produce enough of these blood-clotters, so they can require supplementary infusions, sometimes more than once a week. Platelets gleaned from donated blood are the source for these transfusions, but they have several drawbacks that have spurred researchers to look for an alternative. Because the cell fragments can’t be refrigerated—low temperatures damage them—their shelf life is only a few days, versus weeks for red blood cells, and platelets are more likely to be tainted with dangerous bacteria. Vascular biologist Denisa Wagner of Harvard Medical School in Boston points out another motivation to identify new platelet sources: the aging of the world’s population. Older folks are more likely to require transfusions because they naturally produce fewer platelets, she notes.In recent years, two teams reported that they had reared human megakaryocytes and platelets from embryonic stem cells and so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, adult cells that have reverted to stem cells. However, neither technique furnished enough platelets for a transfusion. To increase efficiency, Koji Eto of Kyoto University in Japan, who led one of the teams, and colleagues refined their recipe. By prodding human iPS cells and embryonic stem cells with drugs, they cranked up the activity of three genes that prompt the cells to divide and prevent them from committing suicide. This step yielded megakaryocyte precursors, cells that can give rise to megakaryocytes. The team found that the megakaryocyte precursors could survive and continue dividing in culture for more than 5 months, even after being frozen and thawed.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)When the researchers switched off the three genes by withdrawing the drugs, the cells matured into megakaryocytes and began pumping out platelets. Online today in Cell Stem Cell, Eto and colleagues estimated that within 5 days the method could produce enough platelets for a transfusion. To test the platelets’ clotting capabilities, the researchers injected them into mice that had blood vessel injuries. The lab-made platelets formed clots in the animals, the researchers showed.To use this strategy medically, Eto envisions that the megakaryocyte precursors would be kept frozen. When needed, they could be thawed and coaxed to specialize into platelet-makers. Although the megakaryocytes induced by the team weren’t as productive as those in the bone marrow, growing the cells on a large scale could make up for this inefficiency and allow generation of ample amounts of platelets, he adds. Eto says he expects to begin clinical trials of lab-produced platelets in 2 or 3 years.Other researchers agree that this study brings the field nearer the goal of deriving usable platelets from stem cells. “I was very impressed,” says stem cell biologist Nicolas Pineault of Canadian Blood Services in Ottawa. “I think it’s very close” to being practical for humans, Wagner says.The quality of the lab-made platelets could be a sticking point, though. For example, they aren’t as clingy as platelets born in the bone marrow, which might limit their clotting ability. “They are good platelets, but they are not excellent platelets,” Pineault says. The researchers still have a lot of work to do before the lab-grown platelets can substitute for donor-derived ones, adds hematologist Mortimer Poncz of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. “Are we there yet? No.”Molecular geneticist Benjamin Kile of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia acknowledges that many questions remain about the lab-made platelets, including their clotting capacity and life span in humans. But he says that Eto and colleagues deserve credit for showing that it’s possible to produce copious amounts of the cell fragments. “You can’t do clinical trials until you’ve managed to grow enough platelets,” he says.last_img read more

NIH Report Warns of Looming Shortage of Physician-Scientists

first_imgMany observers believe that the United States is churning out too many new Ph.D. biomedical researchers, creating a hypercompetitive, unhealthy environment. But a new report from an advisory panel to the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) paints a different picture for physician-scientists: There may not be enough of them to replace those preparing to retire.A 2012 study on the U.S. biomedical workforce, requested by NIH and led by Princeton University molecular biologist Shirley Tilghman, found that the output of biomedical Ph.D.s exceeded the supply of academic jobs. However, her committee ran out of time to look at physician-scientists, who make up about 32% of all NIH principal investigators, a total of roughly 9000 individuals. The task was assigned to a new working group of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), which delivered its report on 6 June.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)After digging into data on M.D.-Ph.D.s, M.D.s, nurses, and other researchers with clinical training, the working group found new evidence for long-standing concerns about the supply of physician-scientists. The number of physicians conducting research has declined 5.5% since 2003 to about 13,700 in 2012, according to a survey by the American Medical Association (AMA). And AMA and NIH data show that the demographics of physician-scientists have shifted dramatically over the past decade, with the proportion of NIH-funded principal investigators in their 60s and 70s soaring and the share under 60 declining (see graph above and slide 14 here). “We’re being sustained by this aging group,” said working group co-chair David Ginsburg of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at the ACD meeting at NIH headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.Although NIH has been worrying for years about the aging of the biomedical workforce, the need for younger physician-scientists is even more pressing, the working group found. As those at the elderly end of the spectrum retire or die, “we’re worried that they’re [physician-scientists are] going to dry up and this is going to be a serious problem,” Ginsburg said in a call with reporters.The working group recommends bolstering training programs and giving greater weight to proposals from young researchers, two ideas that the Tilghman panel also endorsed. It also recommends creating a category for physician-scientists within the so-called kangaroo, or K99/R00, awards—two-stage awards that include a training grant and research support.However, working group members acknowledge that the dearth of young physician-scientists is also influenced by forces beyond NIH. For example, the costs of the Affordable Care Act are putting pressure on academic medical centers to ask clinical faculty to devote more time to patient care and less to research, they noted. “All the NIH can do is call attention to these problems and how important this group of individuals is to the future of biomedical research,” Ginsburg said.last_img read more

Video: How roaches see in pitch-black

first_imgEver wonder how cockroaches scurry around in the dark while you fumble to switch on the kitchen light? Scientists know the insect navigates with its senses of touch and smell, but now they have found a new piece to the puzzle: A roach can also see its environment in pitch darkness, by pooling visual signals from thousands of light-sensitive cells in each of its compound eyes, known as photoreceptors. To test the sensitivity of roach vision, researchers created a virtual reality system for the bugs, knowing that when the environment around a roach rotates, the insect spins in the same direction to stabilize its vision. First, they placed the roach on a trackball, where it couldn’t navigate with its mouthpart or antennae. Then the scientists spun black and white gratings around the insect, illuminated by light at intensities ranging from a brightly lit room to a moonless night. The roach responded to its rotating environment in light as dim as 0.005 lux, when each of its photoreceptors was picking up only one photon every 10 seconds, the researchers report online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology. They suggest that the cockroach must rely on unknown neural processing in the deep ganglia, an area in the base of the brain involved in coordinating movements, to process such complex visual information. Understanding this mechanism could help scientists design better imaging systems for night vision.last_img read more

Indian American Suraj Patel Announces Candidacy for US Congress

first_imgIndian American Suraj Patel has announced his candidacy for US Congress in New York’s 12th Congressional district.“I didn’t plan to enter the political arena myself until after this last Presidential Election when many of us realized we can’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” said Patel.‘My family moved here from India searching for opportunity, and they seized it when they got here. They worked their way up from security guards and store clerks to building a business and raising four unruly boys to adulthood. Their story and our stories need to be told so that we all remember how wonderful this country already is and what truly makes it great. So much about this country is inspiring except for its politics right now, and we have an obligation to change that.”Read it at Indian Panorama Related Itemslast_img read more

Indian troops return after peacekeeping mission in South Sudan

first_imgAround 200 soldiers from the Army’s 62 Indian Horizontal Military Engineering Company (HMEC) have returned to India after successfully completing their peacekeeping mission in war-torn South Sudan. “These soldiers were deployed in South Sudan, which gained independence from neighbouring Sudan in 2011, but slid into a brutal civil conflict and a broken economy,” an Army officer, who was part of the peacekeeping missionRead it at Times of india Related Itemslast_img

UAE Nationals And Indians Top Investor Charts in Dubai Realty

first_imgProperty and plot transactions in Dubai totalled Dh162 billion (from 39,802 deals) in the first nine months, compared to Dh204 billion a year ago.Investments by UAE nationals and Indians are at near parity so far this year — the former had 4,112 investments worth Dh9.4 billion, while Indian buyers backed 4,676 investments worth Dh8.6 billion.Read it at Gulf News Related Itemslast_img

Indian Students In US Fear Another Crackdown

first_imgIn the wake of 145 Indians enrolled with a fake university in the United States being detained, other Indian students live in fear of falling foul with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities for joining “pay to stay” universities and committing immigration fraud.Read it at New Indian Express Related Itemslast_img

Meltdown Hits Tinsel Town

first_imgBollywood is Big with a capital B! The whole world (including Hollywood, the revered entertainment capital) recognizes and acknowledges its clout. Over time it has developed, evolved and perfected a unique format, idiom and language — song, dance, passion, romance, melodrama, glamour — that has resonated across countries and continents in one mesmerizing swoop! Ghajini, starring Aamir Khna, turned out to be a blockbuster hit at the end of last year.SRK, Big B, Aamir, Salman, Akshay or Hrithik, Rani, Priyanka, Ash, Preity, Bipasha or Kareena spell collective insanity for howling mobs — anywhere! Their concerts and shows abroad are mega-hits. Fans, advertisers, production houses, TV channels, big Bollywood producers and the media dote on them, making them demi-gods and their bank accounts Fort Knox! The whole world revolves around their halo, aura, star-draw and magnetic pull … and their every wish is perceived by their producers, as their command!So will this recession clip their sexy wings, cast a shadow on their glowing halo, rain on their glitzy parade? Will the meltdown create a new climate and environment where (at long last!) the men will be separated from the boys, the real from the fake, the challenger from the pretender? Will this sensational tail-spin work as a much-needed detox for an industry that — financially speaking — went berserk? Will a new, sane focus replace the chaos of the free wheeling decade, with funds allocated in a more responsible and accountable manner? Or is this just a little intermission before the glitz returns to show business, Bollywood-style?For once, its seems, we are not just crying wolf — the wolf has actually arrived, dangerously salivating with sharp teeth and sharper claws, ready to strike. And B-town is nervous. When was the last time you heard the bubbling announcements on mega releases powered by super-stars? Or about obscene star fees … or about gigantic alliances, mergers or acquisitions? From Chandini Chowk to China, set off a diappointing first quarter for the Indian box office.No, people, all is not well in the perfumed paradise of Bollywood. Several biggies, including Salman Khan and Vipul Shah’s whopping Rs.100 crore plus starrers, as well as Pooja Bhatt, Himesh Reshamiya and Nagesh Kukunoor’s projects have taken a hit. If rumors are to be believed, even the much trumpeted partnership between Anil Ambani’s ADA Group and golden boy Spielberg has hit rough waters.So what’s going on?In the last few months, impossible budgets and star-fees blitzed all conceivable media avenues, with Vipul Shah’s Rs. 100 crore ($20 million) project heading the list. Insiders say that this financial craze became contagious when corporates came on board. Seduced by the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, convinced that they could turn it into a fast moving consumer product and genuinely convinced of the huge marketing opportunity, if only the “systems” were in place, the big boys hit overdrive, sending costs spiraling to unrealistic heights.Now that the economy is souring, they have slammed the brakes. Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt (who has always believed through action, not just words that the subject, theme, treatment and passion makes a film, not overpaid and underachieving stars, is not surprised at this sudden panic. “While their intent may be honorable, they are first-timers in this new game and recession can really throw the biggest and best off balance … at least for a while”. Prominent distributor Rakesh Sippy is convinced that “the bubble was waiting to burst. It was getting to be of an impossibly and unrealistically gigantic size. It burst.” The fallouts are there for all to see. Nagesh Kukunoor (Iqbal, Dor) has no takers for his long completed John Abraham starrer Aashayein. Two projects of superstar Salman Khan have been shoved into the deep freeze. Himesh Reshammiya’s new project Gujju Bhai has been shelved while Vipul Shah’s Rs. 120 crore ($24 million) London Dream is hitting choppy waters. Producer Bhushan Kumar has reportedly instructed director Pooja Bhat to slash the budget of their new project, Kajrare. Even the much hyped deal between Anil Ambani’s Big Entertainment and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG is facing greater scrutiny as Dreamworks struggles in the new economic environment to close its financing. Big, marquee name producers and banners suddenly find their projects under the microscope.Shakeouts in supporting sectors are coloring the space as well. Theatre and satellite revenues have taken a huge dive. The Mumbai terror attacks have dampened theater attendance. One big Delhi distributor says the occupancy in some areas has dropped by as much as 50%. In turn, that has triggered the sale of pirated DVDs and hit the Multiplex viewing experience, big time.Satellite revenues are taken an equally hard hit. Only a few months ago, the latest Aamir Khan-starrer — scheduled for a January 2009 release — went for a cool Rs.22 crores ($4.4 million) to Studio 18. Earlier even films like Welcome and Singh is Kingg went for Rs. 12 crores ($2.2) and 16 crores ($3.2 million), respectively. However today, according to a reliable industry source, the market is weak that even a big Yash Raj film like Dostana, which would easily have commanded Rs. 15 crores ($3 million), is attracting only close to one-third that amount. For all of Slumdog Millionaire’s worldwide critical success, the box office performance of both the Hindi and English version in India was tepid.This source believes, however, that this is just a “temporary” correction process, reflected across the board — Real Estate, entertainment, Industry Sensex – forcing caution because of the liquidity crunch that is tightening all forms of conspicuous consumption. However, he is confident that within six months, things will return to normal and channels will be forced to pay big bucks to big films with big stars, “because the TRP’s (television ratings) come from them.”His optimism is not universally shared. We have to wait and see …Meanwhile, overseas rights, which have proven hugely lucrative during the last few years since Bollywood aggressively hit the global button, have also taken a solid sock in the plexus. Mega companies like Neptune, Venus and CA Corp have been pulling back and no new major sale has been recorded. Scary …But it has not driven everyone in the industry into a depression. Some even believe it’s the best thing to have happened to an industry that was freaking out in wanton, extravagant and bindaas fashion. Observes an avid Bollywood tracker, “It desperately needed to detox. Now, the fly-by-night, short-change artistes will disappear, thank god! The guys who came in for a fast-buck with proposals and deals. Script, story and substance will come center-stage, along with sane budgets. Producers will think many times over before pumping in money.” If rumors are to be believed, stars like Sanjay Dutt and John Abraham have voluntarily taken a fee-cut, agreeing to profit-sharing. Whether others will follow remain to be seen, but one thing is certain, many marginal stars who were taking home insanely disproportionate paychecks can now take a walk. Their honeymoon is over. They get paid on results!The other issue that will be addressed immediately, according to critics, is the absurdly, exaggerated numbers that the industry keep trumpeting and hyping. Pritish Nandu Communications honcho Pritish Nandy has repeatedly cautioned against hysterical numbers advertised across publications, because “most of the times any resemblance with the truth is a coincidence!” Remember the mind-bending headliner claiming Akshay Kumar receiving fees of Rs. 150 crores ($30 million) for a project? More restraint, sanity — and most importantly — responsibility is likely to emerge from the dream factory, leading to a stable environment. A firm rethinking of budgets and renegotiation with stars is the new industry imperative for survival.There are likely to be fewer movie releases due to the meltdown in 2009. This could be a blessing in disguise, throwing up better quality films and offering actors/stars fewer, but more interesting, projects. The jury is still divided on whether the big or small budget films will be most affected. One camp believes that the age and time for good scripts and stories has returned, giving a leg up for small films. Others argue Bollywood is really about glamorous, star-studded blockbusters — that the market is for SRK, Big B, Aamir, Salman, Akshay, Hrithik, Saif, Kareena, Bips, Ash, Katrina, Priyanka, Rani, Preity — and this focus can never change. Perhaps we may see two tiers of ticket prices a $10 million mega-budget starrer from the Aamir, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Welcome to Sajjanpur film with entirely different economics.At the end of last year, the new SRK-starrer Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (a Yash Chopra production), which was released simultaneously in UK, USA, Australia, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia broke all previous records and clocked a monster Rs. 60 crores ($12 million) worldwide during its opening weekend. Ghajini, starring Aamir Khan, also turned out to be a blockbuster hit.On the other hand, the first quarter of the year has proven disastrous. Warner Brothers Indian foray with From Chandni Chowk to China, proved disappointing. Indeed, according to Box Office India, “There have been around 30 outright Hindi film releases so far this year and one third of them have been box office disasters losing practically all their investment and just two success.”One thing this recession has taught Bollywood is — hasten slowly! Movie mogul Yash Chopra, says financial forces should never be allowed to compromise content. “At the end of the day, we should never forget why the audience see what they see…to escape from their dull, routine, humdrum everyday life full of stress and anxiety to spectacular world of hope, glamour, beauty and excitement! A three-hour excursion, to a collective, joyous, willful suspension of disbelief! This motive is common to both local and NRI audiences (today to global audiences as well), because tales of good, victory over evil and love conquering all are themes that defy physical or geographical boundaries, challenging caste, creed, color, language or nationality. They will always resonate with anyone who has eyes to see and heart to feel.”  Related Itemslast_img read more

T20-DEBACLE After The Toast, The Roast

first_img“Hamara toh antim sanskar bhi ho gaya tha (our last rites too were completed) after the 2007 World Cup.”Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni recalling the public ire after the Indian cricket team’s earlier humiliation in the 50-over version of the game.What was the Indian skipper, speaking at a media conference to refute team coach Gary Kirsten’s observation that player fatigue was responsible for India;s dismal performance at the recent T-20 World Cup in England, really hinting at? That adverse reactions from fans after a defeat have become routine in Indian cricket? And that, because they are routine, they are best ignored?  Mahendra Singh Dhoni celebrates the wicket of England’sPaul Collingwood at the T20 in London.While the contribution of player fatigue to India’s pathetic and miserable title defence may be debatable, Dhoni and his teammates should thank their lucky stars for another kind of fatigue that has spared them the Indian public’s wrath: fan fatigue. If the team this time wasn’t deep-fried, as has been the case with some Indian teams in the past, the reason doubtlessly lies in the tedium of it all. How often can you be taken on a roller-coaster ride of ignominious defeats, followed by glorious victories, followed again by even more ignominious defeats, and still retain the fervor to respond with any modicum of passion? India’s failure to qualify even for the semi-finals of this year’s T-20 World Cup should have got the home fans riled up no end. Remember, our winning team was the toast of the previous (inaugural) edition of the Cup. It was hailed as the young new brigade led by Captain Cool who kept his nerve and emerged as an outstanding leader of talented but callow and potentially irascible lads, not to mention a youth icon for the advertising industry. And, as if to prove that the T-20 victory, coming as it did after India got pasted by lowly Bangladesh in the 2007 ODI World Cup in the West Indies, was no one-off fluke, Dhoni’s boys followed it up with consecutive series wins over the acknowledged supremo of modern-day international cricket — Australia — and the redoubtable Sri Lankans as well.So what cut the renaissance story short so abruptly and so cruelly?The Board of Control for Cricket in India got hot under the collar when Kirsten cited IPL-related fatigue for the team’s failure. Does it have anything to do with the fact that the BCCI took in a whopping $1.75-billion through the sale of Indian Premier League television rights, so blaming the IPL for a national defeat might dismay Indian fans?Kirsten has a valid point. Imagine playing a gruelling six-week tournament and beginning your defence of a world title just a few days later. Was there time enough to regroup, reorient, and redevelop strategies against the other teams, or even time enough to recover from the IPL razzle-dazzle and get match-fit? Obviously not.The argument that Indians were not the only ones who played the international league has validity. After all, nearly every other cricket-playing nation had representatives in the various IPL teams and several of them turned up for their national team in the T-20 World Cup as well — and significantly enough, gave some sterling on-field performances.But this argument fails to consider a very crucial difference. Indian cricketers, as a rule, are known for being less athletic to begin with, and then compounding this shortcoming with a lackadaisical and unprofessional approach to fitness training.The decade of the 1960s was abuzz with stories that the West Indian team believed in living it up during Test matches, which they rarely lost. The classic instance was of Gary Sobers guzzling an entire bottle of whisky through the night during the Bombay Test in December 1966, with a Bollywood starlet perched on his knee, and then playing superlative cricket the next morning to give India a thorough drubbing. By comparison, the Indian players who joined in the Sobers revelry looked — and played — like something the cat brought home. What’s galling though, is the ingenious wordplay to rationalize defeat. Dhoni, in a classic instance of double-speak, denied his team was fatigued, but admits: “When we selected the team, there were hardly a few guys who were 100% fit — shoulder problem, ankle problem, and so on.” Not only does his statement confirm the coach’s observation, it also raises serious questions about the honesty and transparency in the selection process. Did the Indian selectors knowingly include unfit players? Or did the players hide their injuries to make the team? Either way, some heads must roll.Virender Sehwag is a prime candidate. Clearly, there is more to his “injury” than meets the eye. Television clips indicate that Zaheer Khan, who took a fall much as Sehwag did, during the IPL season, appeared to have hurt himself more severely on his bowling shoulder than Sehwag who only bowls part-time. But Khan bowled his heart out in the T-20 matches, while Sehwag reportedly was unwilling even to play in the nets. Not only did the latter — the team’s vice-captain, no less — let his team down and ruin its chances, he also short-changed thousands of punters who had bet heavily on his run-tally being the tournament’s highest. The T-20 loss signals the end of the honeymoon for Dhoni and his much-touted youthful team. The captain himself has gone through a rather strange learning curve at the cost of his innocence. He is no longer the simple, straight-forward and straight-talking small-town bloke from Ranchi. The first signs of the metamorphosis was evident from his refusal to attend the Padma Shri ceremony, an act that could dent his popularity and earnings as a product-endorser.What we have on our hands are a complacent bunch of filthy-rich superstars who believe that the team’s combined star-power will somehow win matches, and who are apt to think that the other guy will carry the team through.The latest debacle has exposed some old and new shortcomings in our cricketers. England exploited our old weakness against short-pitched deliveries, and South Africa exploded the myth that Indians are adept players of spin. In India’s last match in the T-20 tourney, South African spinners Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe bowled 8 overs for a combined 4 for 29.The joke among the wags is that the T-20 loss has made a few Indians happy. The multiplex owners can now count on bigger turnouts in their halls during cricket matches. And media magnates can now recall their correspondents from England ahead of schedule and thus save costs.But the real joke may be on us, the Indian cricket fans. Sehwag not alone!The Indian team for the recently concluded T20 World Cup carried as many as five injured players, including Virender Sehwag, according to media sources. An Indian television channel reported that a pre-selection report submitted to the BCCI by team physician Nitin Patel said that five players were injured and effectively less-than-fit to play in the upcoming World Cup tournament.Citing their doubtful fitness levels, the report named all-rounder Yuvraj Singh (shoulder injury), wicketkeeper-captain M.S.Dhoni (bad back), fast bowlers R.P.Singh (ankle injury) and Zaheer Khan (shoulder injury), apart from Virender Sehwag whose shoulder was also in a dubious condition.BCCI spokesman Rajiv Shukla downplayed the physician’s warning, calling it a “routine” report for selector perusal. “Too much importance should not be attached to it. Sometimes there only minor injuries and you cannot rule out players for whole tours,” he said.  Related Itemslast_img read more

Tripura gets ₹358 crore from Centre for road projects

first_imgThe Centre has sanctioned an additional amount of ₹358 crore for construction of new roads in rural areas of Tripura, an official said on Friday. Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 15 and had demanded an additional fund of ₹358 crore for speedy completion of the works, a release issued by the Chief Minister’s Office on Thursday said.“This amount was demanded for completion of long-term projects which were left unfinished in the State. Even though the previous Left Front government did not have funds to spend, they started the projects. Later on, these projects were left hanging due to lack of funds,” the release said. The funds reached the State treasury on Tuesday, the release said, adding it would help the State government to complete the projects and infrastructure developmental works.last_img read more