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One sip of this
Will bathe the drooping spirits in delight,
Beyond the bliss of dreams.
- John Milton.
This ancient wisdom has been confirmed with a recent study, reported by news agencies, claiming that drinking alcohol leads to the release of endorphins in areas of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure and reward. a new study has claimed.
The findings of the study led by researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco marks the first time that endorphin release in the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex in response to alcohol consumption has been directly observed in humans. Endorphins are small proteins with opiate-like effects that are produced naturally in the brain.
“This is something that we’ve speculated about for 30 years, based on animal studies, but haven’t observed in humans until now,” Jennifer Mitchell, the lead author, said. “It provides the first direct evidence of how alcohol makes people feel good,” she said. According to Howard L. Fields, senior author of the study, the discovery of the precise locations in the brain where endorphins are released provides a possible target for the development of more effective drugs for the treatment of alcohol abuse.
To the dauntless temper of his mind
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
To act in safety.
- William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564- 1616) in Macbeth.
Safety has been a concern from time immemorial. The warriors had their shields and helmets to protect them from arrows and swords. Two wheeler riders are decreed to wear helmets and four-wheel drivers are prescribed seat belts. In this mobile age, there are rules that prohibit talking on mobiles while driving. Yet, so many flout the rules and expose themselves to danger. Today’s topic is selected to warn our readers on the subject.
When someone is talking to you, your brain is listening, processing and thinking about what’s being said - even if you’re in the driver’s seat trying to concentrate on traffic.
That’s why drivers get distracted during mobile phone conversations, even when using hands-free phones, researchers say. It’s also part of the reason why the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently made a recommendation it knows a lot of drivers won’t like - that US states ban hands-free, as well as hand-held, mobile phone use while driving.
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law; your exposition
Hath been most sound.
- William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564-16160) im Merchant of Vanice.
The appointment of lokayukta in Gujarat by the Governor, without the consent of the Chief Minister and its upholding by a third judge of Guarat High Court and the appeal against it by the State government in the Supreme Court have been covered in detail in The Hindu (20-1-12) by Manasa Dasgupta from Ahmedabad and J Venkatesan from Delhi – as reflected in the excerpts below. Pending the outcome from Delhi, the developments so far make for interesting discussion.
While dismissing the Gujarat government’s petition challenging the Governor’s authority to appoint Justice R. A. Mehta the Lokayukta, the Gujarat High Court passed strong strictures on Chief Minister Narendra Modi, terming his efforts to stonewall the appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman “spiteful” and demonstrative of his “false sense of invincibility.” Justice V.M. Sahai said on January 18, 2012: “The clear refusal of the Chief Minister to accept the primacy of opinion of the Chief Justice [of the High Court] had the velocity which had shattered the faith in rule of law which is the essence of democracy and integrity institution of Lokayukta.” The judge said that looking at the “brazen conduct and irrationality of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister,” he was of the “considered opinion” that the Governor (Kamla Beniwal) “rightly exercised her discretionary powers under Article 163 of the Constitution and appointed Justice (retired) Mehta as Lokayukta.”
Some people seem compelled by unkind fate to parental servitude for life. There is no form of penal servitude worse than this. – Lord Byron.
There is a reverse situation as well. Parenting has become a big issue in modern family life, as reflected in a recent case of international dimension involving taking into state care two small children of an Indian couple residing in that country. India mounted diplomatic pressure on Norway to ensure return of two children to their Oslo-based Indian parents, whom they were seperated from by the Nordic country’s childcare services in May 2011. On January 25, 2012, the government has agreed to release the children for repatriation to India. The case has thrown light on the different standard of parenting in India and Norway. But first the facts as reported by Carina Heinesen in a Norwagian weekly magaqazine Ny Tid (New Time3s) and reproduced in The Hindu (25-1-12).
Among the reasons listed by Norwegian child welfare authorities for taking away the three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter of an expatriate Indian couple were unsuitable toys and clothes, insufficient room for the children to play in the house and the son not having his own bed.
Parents used to strike the children to discipline them. Now it is usually in self-defence. – Anonymous epigram.
Ideas of child rearing not only change over time, as implied in the above epigram, but also across national bounderies – as the latest incidence in Oslo, Norway indicates.While the problem of two children of Indian parents snatched away by a state agency in Norway has been sorted out, the action has provoked widespread resentment in India, as reflected in the following editorial comment in The Hindu (26-1-12)
Notwithstanding the agreement reached on Wednesday between India and Norway which puts a temporary lid on the matter, the case of Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya — whose young children were placed in foster care by the Child Welfare Services in the Norwegian city of Stavanger — raises disturbing questions. Last year, the couple’s children, a boy of three and a girl aged one, were removed to an emergency shelter and then to a foster family, apparently on the grounds that their mother was not in a fit state to bring them up. In fact, the family court annulled the child services’ decision to remove the children, but was itself overruled on appeal. Under the current order, the family will not be reunited until the children turn 18 — in 2026 and 2028 respectively. Parental access will consist of three hours’ contact a year, in three separate visits. A sense of shock in India is fully understandable over this use of state power in family life. Indian anxieties are also unlikely to be assuaged by Norwegian official statements that such drastic interventions are rare, that the relevant service had visited the family weekly for several months, and that all the required procedures were followed; there is particular scepticism about the Stavanger Child Welfare Services’ insistence that cultural prejudice played no role in the process.
The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency. – Eugene McCarthy.
This statement of an American is relevant when we analyse a report by Praveen Swamy entitled “Figures bust myth India’s bureaucracy is ‘bloated’” in The Hindu (30-1-12). But first the report.
India has only a fifth as many public servants as United States, relative to population. The highest ratios of public servants to population among the Indian States are in the conflict-torn or border regions
Long reviled for being bloated, India’s Central and State governments in fact have just a fifth as many public servants as the United States, relative to population. The figures raise doubts, ahead of a Union budget that is likely to slash social-sector spending, on whether the country has the personnel it needs to improve governance and ensure universal access to services like education and health.
Data compiled from multiple sources, including a 2008 official survey, Right to Information applications, media reports and the 2011 census show, India has 1,622.8 government servants for every 100,000 residents. In stark contrast, the U.S. has 7,681. The Central government, with 3.1 million employees, thus has 257 serving every 100,000 population, against the U.S. federal government’s 840.
Few parents nowadays pay any regard to what their children say to them; the old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out. – Oscar Wilde, Irish writer (1856-1900).
The drama of two children of Indian parents being snached away from their parents and put under foster care for several months has ended with the state agency involved in this agreeing to release the children to their uncle in India – subject to conditions. It provoked widespread resentment in India. Now, one of Norwagian citizens, Marienne Haslev Skanland, Professor Emaritus, Bergen, Norway, exposes the agency involved, writing in The Hindu (30-1-12) saying that almost all families attacked by Norway’s ‘child protection services’ are good and loving. Some need help but most of them need nothing other than to be left in peace. Given below are some excerpts from her article entitled “The iron hand that rocks the cradle”.
I firmly believe that if the whole Materia Medica (the Bible of Homeopathy), as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for fishes. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, US author, wit and poet (1809-1894).
There is lot of discussion with regard to alternative medicine which has now come into focus following the death of Steve Jobs, the founder and top gun at Apple Inc. Dr James Abraham, a leading oncologist practicing in USA wrote on the subject in an article titled “The lure of the alternative” in The Week Health (29-1-12) – and excerpted below.
On Saturday, July 31, 2004, Steve Jobs, one of the greatest innovators of our time, was given general anaesthesia for a Whipple procedure at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California. Whipple surgery, a complicated procedure for pancreatic cancer, involves removing the pancreas, stomach and part of the small intestine. When the surgeons opened his abdomen, to their dismay, they found that the cancer had already spread beyond the pancreas. They had to close his abdomen after doing modified Whipple, a less radical surgery.
Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2003. A shadow was noticed in his pancreas during a routine CAT scan that he underwent as a follow-up to a kidney stone. His doctor recommended further work-up for the abnormal finding in the pancreas. Though hesitant, Jobs eventually relented to an endoscopic biopsy during which a tube is passed through the mouth into the stomach to get a piece from the pancreas. The Stanford surgeons were jubilant with the result of the biopsy. Jobs had a rare islet cell or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour, a less aggressive and slow-growing u that could potentially be cured with a surgical resection.
But Steve Jobs refused surgery. He did not want to open up his body. The man who could feel the pulse of a generation failed to sense the rattling of his own body.
One of the first calls that Jobs made after his cancer diagnosis was to Dr Larry Brilliant, an American epidemiologist, author and philanthropist whom he had met in 1974 at the Himalayan Ashram of the spiritual leader Neem Karoli Baba.
One of the ambarrassments of being a gentleman is that you arnot permitted to be violent in asserting your rights. – Nicholas Murray Butler.
It also applies to affluence as reflected in the following Supreme court case reported by J Venkatesan in The Hindu (12-1-12) wherin the court ruled that Affluence is no bar to landlord getting back his rented property, if his requirements are bona fide.
Giving relief to landlords from tenants, the Supreme Court has asked lower courts not to deny them possession of their property, just because they are affluent, if the requirement is bona fide and genuine.
The comparative hardship is a relevant factor in determining whether the landlord’s requirement of the property is bona fide or not, said a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai.
But “the court would not determine the question only on the basis of sympathy or sentiment. The length of the period of tenancy is only one of the factors to be taken into account in context with other facts and circumstances of the case, and cannot be a sole criterion or deciding factor to order the eviction [of the tenant] or not,” Justice Desai said writing the judgment.
The Bench said: “It is well settled that the landlord’s requirement need not be a dire necessity. The court cannot direct the landlord to do a particular business or imagine that he could profitably do a particular business rather than the business he proposes to start.”
I think while zealots fast and frown,
And fight for two or seven,
That there are fifty roads to town
And rather more to heaven.
The onslaught on secularism in India and the aascendency of theocracy are highligted in the edit-page article by Praveen Swami titled “Salman Rusdie & India’s new theocracy” in The Hindu (21-1-12) – and excerpted here.
Salman Rushdie’s censoring-out from the ongoing literary festival in Jaipur will be remembered as a milestone that marked the slow motion disintegration of India’s secular state. Islamist clerics first pressured the state to stop Mr. Rushdie from entering India; on realising he could not stop, he was scared off with a dubious assassination threat. The betrayal of secular India in Jaipur, though, is just part of a far wider treason: one that doesn’t have to do with Muslim clerics alone, but a state that has turned god into a public-sector undertaking.
Few Indians understand the extent to which the state underwrites the practice of their faith. The case of the Maha Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years at Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik, is a case in point. The 2001 Mela in Allahabad, activist John Dayal has noted in a stinging essay, involved state spending of over Rs.1.2 billion — 12,000 taps that supplied 50.4 million litres of drinking water; 450 kilometres of electric lines and 15,000 streetlights; 70,000 toilets; 7,100 sanitation workers, 11 post offices and 3,000 phone lines; 4,000 buses and trains.
That isn’t counting the rent that ought to have been paid on the 15,000 hectares of land used for the festival — nor the salaries of the hundreds of government servants administering the Kumbh.
Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold. – William Shakespeare. English dramatic author (1564-1616) in As You Like It.
When such beauty is provocatively exposed, there is hell to pay as reflected in the verbal diarrhea on the subject of rape and on the way women dress and invite rapists. But, first the facts.
According to a report in The Times of India (3-1-12), KK Seethamma, former head of the department of women studies, Bangalore University (BU), when asked for her views on the recent statement of Karnataka women and child welfare minister CC Patil on women’s ’explosive’ attire, she said, "I’m against women wearing obscene clothes. With such clothes, they tempt men and that’s why they get raped. Even when one wears saris, long-sleeve blouses must be worn. I tell my students they must wear long kurtas when they wear jeans," she said.
"I advocate a dress code for women for their own good. What’s the use of wearing short tops and showing off their tummy? Women look pretty when they are well covered. Many women lecturers in BU wear salwars and jeans. What respect can they expect from boys? Only a sari with long-sleeve blouses invokes respect for women teachers, nothing else. I have been persistently telling successive vice-chancellors to implement a dress code in BU for women students and staff, but they don’t bother about it. All we need to do as women is to protect ourselves by wearing good clothes," Seethamma said.
Who born for the universe, narrowed his mind
And to party gave what was meant for mankind.
- Oliver Goldsmith.
Goldsmith was talking of a time when politics was considered a service and it was much before they said that politics was the last resort of scoundrels. Today politics is the first resort of scoundrels because there is much money to be made in politics. Research has shown that investment in politics gives the highest returns and politicians are crorepatis by their own admission in election returns – and much of the wealth goes undeclared in such returns. This is reflected in an agency report from Chandigadh and published in Deccan Herald (13-1-12).
Affidavits submitted by the top politicos in Punjab while filing their nominations to various seats for the state’s January 30, 2012 assembly polls have revealed that their riches are getting bigger and better. So if the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has declared assets of over Rs 76 crore, it has not surprised anyone. His wife and Bathinda MP, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, is worth Rs 15.38 crore. Sukhbir is contesting for the Jalalabad assembly seat from the border district of Ferozepur. While the net declared wealth of the Badal couple alone is over Rs 91.38 crore, they, ironically, do not even own a car. All that Sukhbir has in the name of a vehicle is a tractor.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 84, the father of Sukhbir Badal, with declared assets of nearly Rs 7 crore, is the poorest member of the clan. Badal Senior is contesting for the Lambi assembly seat against his younger brother Gurdas Badal of the Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) and first cousin Mahesinder Singh Badal of the Congress.
Why our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts.
- William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564-1616) in Taming the Shrew.
Most MPs are opposed to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 22, 2011, just as they were opposed to the Women’s Reservation Bill.
But the Lokpal Bill stands a better chance of being enacted (Though it did not pass through Rajya Sabha). Unlike the Women’s Reservation Bill, which had no support on the streets, the anti-corruption law has a powerful driver outside Parliament — the fear of Team Anna and its capacity to mobilise public opinion, especially among the middle classes, the covert political backing it is getting from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar — and finally, the 24X7 media coverage, especially by the television channels.
To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did; I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times. – Mark Twain.
Discussion on the evils of smoking centres round the freedom of choice of the smoker and his willingness to take the risk of cancer and other diseases and marginally the subject of paasive smokers. But there is a socital or larger aspect which is often ignored – and recently bought to the fore by Nobel LaureateAmartya Sen.
Asserting his faith in the freedom of personal liberties, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen on January 2, 2012 called for “a more forceful discouragement” of smoking by the government, pointing out that the State did bear the cost of the diseases that resulted from the habit.
To the argument of smokers that they should not be stopped from smoking because they had the freedom to decide, Professor Sen, a cancer-survivor, said he did believe in personal liberties, but smoking did cause harm to others.
The most effectual way of conferring a favour is condescending to accept one. – Sir Walter Scott.
In politics favours are conferred with the expectation of return in kind – most often in the form of vote, as reflected in the following.
The Union government’s recent decision to earmark 4.5% subquota for minorities in the 27% quota of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the central educational institutions as well as in civil posts and services has evoked mixed reaction from the minorities, particularly the Muslims, in the country came into effect on Januaury 1, 2012.
In Andhra Pradesh (AP), the sub-quota for minorities has been greeted with skepticism by a cross-section of Muslims who have had bitter experience of having to face legal hurdles in availing themselves of 4% quota for socially and educationally backward classes among them in educational institutions and public employment in the last seven years. While 30 states/union territories have their own list of OBCs, nine states have sub-categories in the state list of OBCs. These states include AP, Karnataka , Kerala, TN, Maharashtra, Bihar , West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir . Among AP’s neighbouring states, the backward sections of Muslims enjoy 12% reservations in Kerala, 5.21% in TN and 4% in Karnataka. However, it is only in AP that the reservations for Muslims have been struck down by the state high court three times since 2004 and the matter is now pending before the SC. The quota for the Muslims has been reduced from 5% in 2004 to 4% in 2007 and restricted to 15 socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) in BC "E" category.