Friday, September 21, 2012

News of the day

Expected DA from July 2012 : Cabinet meeting to consider hike in DA postponed

Cabinet meeting to consider hike in DA postponed

The meeting of the Union Cabinet, which was scheduled to consider a 7 per cent hike in dearness allowance to 80 lakh central government employees and pensioners, has been put off to next week.

“The Cabinet, CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs) and CCI (Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure) meetings scheduled for Friday, have been postponed,” an official announcement said.

Cabinet meetings usually take place on Thursdays, but they have been postponed apparently in view of the rapid political developments in the aftermath of the government’s decision to hike diesel prices and operationalise its earlier move to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.

Increasing DA from 65 per cent to 72 per cent to provide relief to 50 lakh central government employees and 30 lakh pensioners was on the agenda of the meeting. It is now likely to be taken up next week.

Once approved, the hike in dearness allowance will be effective from July 1, 2012, and the employees would be entitled to arrears from that date.

The additional burden on exchequer on account of increase in DA would be around Rs 5,000 crore for the eight-month period between July, 2012 and February, 2013. It will be Rs 7,400 crore for the full financial year.

The government had last increased DA in March this year from 58 per cent to 65 per cent, which was effective from January 1, 2012.

The government periodically hikes the DA, which is linked to consumer price index for industrial workers. The consumer price index (CPI) based on movement in retail prices, soared to 10.03 per cent in August, from 9.86 per cent in July.

India to become home to 2nd largest number of senior citizens

Sanjay Sethi, Press TV, New Delhi
India will soon become home to the second largest number of senior citizens in the world. The Indian government does have special schemes, but much more has to be done to take care of the elderly. Sanjay Sethi reports.
About 100 million Indians are above the age of 60 and their numbers is expected to double in next fifteen years. However, after dedicating their prime years to the nation and the society they are feeling neglected and insecure, financially, spiritually and emotionally.

Growing urbanisation and smaller flats has forced them to change their lifestyle. More importantly, the nuclear families have broken family bonds that required parental care to be the responsibility of the children. Some of the elderly prefer to live in old age homes. 

According to a HelpAge India survey 80 per cent of the elderly felt they don’t have a community-based support system and 72 per cent of people above 80 years of age are financially dependent on others.Self-help organisations also complain that in the Indian society there is a general lack of sympathy towards the elders and with real estate prices going through the roof, grabbing a part of their share is becoming common in many families. 

Lack of proper healthcare is one of the biggest problems affecting the elders and according to the governments own data about 10% of them are bedridden and others suffer from various ailments. One quarter of them are depressed, one third suffer from arthritis and 20% have hearing problems. 

Security is another concern as the violent robberies are increasing in the houses where old people are living alone.There is also an old age pension schemes for poor people. However due to corruption and bureaucratic hurdles very few are able to access its benefits. No wonder most of them try to find solace in religious and devotional activities. 

Indian government does have special schemes and tries to provide them with extra benefits though apprised of the problems some state governments are now being hauled up for not having done enough to address this issue. 

Experts say that since 90 percent of senior citizens have no health or social security they will need greater support from the government and private institutions and unless that is done urgently India is going to face serious problems in the years ahead.

International conference on geriology in Bangalore

BANGALORE: An international conference ongeriology, geriatrics medicine and rehabilitation titled "Healthy ageing in the changing world-2012" will be held on September 29, 2012 at JN Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science. H R Bharadwaj, governor, Karnataka, unveiled the brochure for it. 

The current and projected growth of older people over the coming decades is an issue that will have significant health, economic and policy implications at a global level. The conference will deliberate on these issues and a broad range of clinical topics including the latest information on diagnosis, management and treatment for common problems in the ageing population.

The conference would help provide advice and knowledge on making ageing process as harmless as possible. It would also help to distinguish between changes directly connected with normal ageing and changes induced by diseases, including their untypical manifestation.

Speaking about the conference, Dr VP Rao, convener, BioGenesis Health Cluster said: "The conference would also discuss about the contribution of biotechnology to gerontology. Biotechnology is revolutionizing the ageing experience by offering earlier diagnoses, new treatments such as regenerative and genetic interventions and ultimately disease prevention. In the years to come, it may even be possible to address the fundamental causes of the ageing process and prevent or delay the onset of its most important diseases."

The conference is organised by BioGenesis Health Cluster, The Euro-Indian Health Cluster and Federation of Asian Biotech Association (FABA).

Vikram Patel: Mental health for all by involving all

But beyond the impact of a health condition on life expectancy, we're also concerned about the quality of life lived. Now, in order for us to examine the overall impact of a health condition both on life expectancy as well as on the quality of life lived, we need to use a metric called the DALY, which stands for a Disability-Adjusted Life Year. Now when we do that, we discover some startling things about mental illness from a global perspective. We discover that, for example, mental illnesses are amongst the leading causes of disability around the world. Depression, for example, is the third-leading cause of disability, alongside conditions such as diarrhea and pneumonia in children. When you put all the mental illnesses together, they account for roughly 15 percent of the total global burden of disease.Indeed, mental illnesses are also very damaging to people's lives, but beyond just the burden of disease, let us consider the absolute numbers. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly four to five hundred million people living on our tiny planetwho are affected by a mental illness. Now some of you here look a bit astonished by that number, but consider for a moment the incredible diversity of mental illnesses, from autism and intellectual disability in childhood, through to depression and anxiety, substance misuse and psychosis in adulthood, all the way through to dementia in old age, and I'm pretty sure that each and every one us present here today can think of at least one person,at least one person, who's affected by mental illness in our most intimate social networks. I see some nodding heads there.
But beyond the staggering numbers, what's truly important from a global health point of view, what's truly worrying from a global health point of view, is that the vast majority of these affected individuals do not receive the care that we know can transform their lives, and remember, we do have robust evidence that a range of interventions, medicines, psychological interventions, and social interventions, can make a vast difference. And yet, even in the best-resourced countries, for example here in Europe, roughly 50 percent of affected people don't receive these interventions. In the sorts of countries I work in, that so-called treatment gap approaches an astonishing 90 percent. It isn't surprising, then, that if you should speak to anyone affected by a mental illness, the chances are that you will hear stories of hidden suffering, shame and discrimination in nearly every sector of their lives. But perhaps most heartbreaking of all are the stories of the abuse of even the most basic human rights, such as the young woman shown in this image here that are played out every day,sadly, even in the very institutions that were built to care for people with mental illnesses, the mental hospitals.
Well today, I'm very pleased to report to you that there have been many experiments in task shifting in mental health care across the developing world over the past decade, and I want to share with you the findings of three particular such experiments, all three of which focused on depression, the most common of all mental illnesses. In rural Uganda, Paul Bolton and his colleagues, using villagers, demonstrated that they could deliverinterpersonal psychotherapy for depression and, using a randomized control design, showed that 90 percent of the people receiving this intervention recovered as compared to roughly 40 percent in the comparison villages. Similarly, using a randomized control trial in rural Pakistan, Atif Rahman and his colleagues showed that lady health visitors, who are community maternal health workers in Pakistan's health care system, could deliver cognitive behavior therapy for mothers who were depressed, again showing dramatic differences in the recovery rates. Roughly 75 percent of mothers recovered as compared to about 45 percent in the comparison villages. And in my own trial in Goa, in India, we again showed that lay counselors drawn from local communities could be trained to deliver psychosocial interventions for depression, anxiety, leading to 70 percent recovery rates as compared to 50 percent in the comparison primary health centers.
Now, if I had to draw together all these different experiments in task shifting, and there have of course been many other examples, and try and identify what are the key lessons we can learn that makes for a successful task shifting operation, I have coined this particular acronym, SUNDAR. What SUNDAR stands for, in Hindi, is "attractive." It seems to me that there are five key lessons that I've shown on this slide that are critically important for effective task shifting. The first is that we need to simplify the message that we're using, stripping away all the jargon that medicine has invented around itself. We need to unpack complex health care interventions into smaller components that can be more easilytransferred to less-trained individuals. We need to deliver health care, not in large institutions, but close to people's homes, and we need to deliver health care using whoever is available and affordable in our local communities. And importantly, we need to reallocate the few specialists who are available to perform roles such as capacity-building and supervision.
Now for me, task shifting is an idea with truly global significance, because even though it has arisen out of the situation of the lack of resources that you find in developing countries, I think it has a lot of significance for better-resourced countries as well. Why is that? Well, in part, because health care in the developed world, the health care costs in the [developed] world, are rapidly spiraling out of control, and a huge chunk of those costs are human resource costs. But equally important is because health care has become so incredibly professionalized that it's become very remote and removed from local communities. For me, what's truly sundar about the idea of task shifting, though, isn't that it simply makes health care more accessible and affordable but that it is also fundamentally empowering. It empowers ordinary people to be more effective in caring for the health of others in their community, and in doing so, to become better guardians of their own health. Indeed, for me, task shifting is the ultimate example of the democratization of medical knowledge, and therefore, medical power.
Suo motu disclosure on official tours of Ministers and other officials
Posted: 20 Sep 2012 11:07 PM PDT

Government of India
Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions
Department of Personnel & Training

North Block, New Delhi, 
dated 11th September, 2012.


Subject: Suo motu disclosure on official tours of Ministers and other officials. 

Sub-Section (2) of Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005 requires every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to use the Act to obtain information. 

2.It has been brought to the notice of this Department that public authorities are receiving RTI applications frequently asking for details of the official tours undertaken by Ministers and other officials of the Ministries/Departments concerned. In compliance with the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005, it is advised that Public Authorities may proactively disclose the details of foreign and domestic official tours undertaken by Minister(s) and officials of the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India and above and Heads of Departments, since 1st January, 2012. The disclosures may be updated once every quarter starting from 1st July, 2012. 

3.Information to be disclosed proactively may contain nature of the official tour, places visited, the period, number of people included in the official delegation and total cost of such travel undertaken. Exemptions under Section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005 may be taken in view while disclosing the information. These advisory would not apply to security and intelligence organisations under the second schedule of the RTI Act, 2005 and CVOs of public authorities. 

4. Contents of this OM may be brought to the notice of all concerned. 

(Sandeep Jain) 
Deputy Secretary 

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