Saturday 6 June 2009

India is not a safe country, warns US




India is not a safe country, warns US

Jalandhar, Punjab: As India and some other countries have started building up diplomatic pressure on Australia to protect their students from attacks, experts have told the Australian government to respond to the crisis with more alacrity to avoid collapse of $15 billion overseas student market.
Quoting Professor Chris Nyland, researching on international student security with the University of Melbourne’s Simon Maginson, The Australian, a leading daily newspaper, has reported foreign governments were actively intervening to protect their students and Australia faced “potentially crippling sanctions from the Chinese and India governments over students’ safety”.
Professor Nyland has said the overseas student industry had grown so large the police needed more resources for patrols and an independent ombudsman for students. He said “even though the furore over the attacks appeared to have sprung up overnight, Australian authorities had already received strong warnings from Chineses, Indian and Indonesian embassies about attacks on their student nationals.”
Professor Nyland has told The Australian “New Zealanders got seriously whacked by China in 2003 when they were warned they had to act on students given racism concerns, violence and inadequate facilities. But the NZ government did not respond with anything except spin, so the Chinese Ministry of Education put a notice on their website saying not to go to New Zealand and the Chinese part of their industry collapsed”. The Newspaper has reported in the Highly leverage and concentrated $15 billion Australian overseas student market, about 42 per cent of country’s 414,446 overseas students as of March were from China and India.
The newspaper has also quoted Daryl Le Grew, Universities Australia’s spokesman on international affairs, saying, “We need to do much more to support and care for students and we cannot do it (that market) will dissolve”.
Source: Sarbjit Dhaliwal
AIDS scare: Victims seem to be everywhere in Punjab
Posted: 04 Jun 2009 04:40 PM PDT
Anandpur Sahib, Punjab: A FAIR is not the place where people go to get themselves checked for the HIV virus. Those who walked into the AIDS examination centre at Anandpur Sahib during the Hola Mohalla festivities apparently did so for a lark. Imagine the shock of the personnel belonging to the Punjab State AIDS Control Society manning the camp when they found that out of about 100 persons who visited them, as many as five were HIV positive. The sense of surprise they felt must have been overshadowed only by that of the victims themselves. Among them was a young couple. The husband was a truck driver who probably introduced the infection to his wife, the mother of a child. If so many HIV-positive people can be found at just one fair in one day, just imagine the number of people roaming all over Punjab, blissfully unaware that they have contracted the dreaded virus! They are not only putting their own life on the block but also that of many others, including their family members.
Despite tall claims, the fight against the dreaded disease is not quite as efficient as it ought to be. Most people are still not aware of the gravity of the situation. Due to the stigma attached to it, even those who should get themselves tested refuse to do so. They carry it along the length and breadth of the state 0151 nay, the country. India is fast becoming the AIDS capital of Asia.
The most vulnerable are truck drivers and drug addicts. Yet, the services of sex workers along the highways are very much available and the drugs are still injected through shared needles. Equally worrisome is the increased incidence of HIV-AIDS in adolescents. The ostrich-like approach has already played havoc. It is necessary to open more and more channels where all sections can discuss sexuality-related topics freely. Equally vital is adequate funding, access to treatment, peer education and support system.
Maximum HIV+ drug addicts in Amritsar
Posted: 04 Jun 2009 04:32 PM PDT
Chandigarh, Punjab: Amritsar district now has the highest number of HIV positive intravenous drug users (IDUs) in the country. According to the latest figures released by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Amritsar has overshot Churchandpur district of Manipur in this regard.
IDUs are among the high-risk groups contracting HIV. According to Sentinel Surveillance and Estimation Report 2007, released recently by NACO, the national average of HIV prevalence among IDUs is about 7.23 per cent, while in Amritsar this has been found to be as high as 30.4 per cent. In Churchandpur it is about 28 per cent followed by Chennai (27.2 per cent) and Mumbai suburban (24.4 per cent).
The revelation has rung alarm bells in the state, and officials of the Punjab State AIDS Control Society are learnt to have briefed Minister of Health Laxmi Kanta Chawla about the situation. Chawla is an MLA from Amritsar.
The incidence of IDUs in Amritsar is high mainly because of the easy availability of injectable drugs in the border districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur.
Amritsar also has the highest incidence of HIV positive persons in the state. Over 5,400 persons here have tested HIV positive. At Patiala, over 2,000 persons are HIV positive and in Jalandhar the number is over 1,700. Ludhiana has almost a 1,000 persons who are HIV positive followed by Gurdaspur, where over 600 persons have been found to be HIV positive.
According to the state AIDS Control Society, Punjab has over 15,000 HIV positive persons (till April 2009). In all India perspective, this is over 11 per cent of the total HIV positive population in the country.
“The figures, which we provide NACO for the compilation of data, do not include the number of HIV patients in the high-risk groups. That figure will be added to the final count from next year. The number of HIV positive persons is likely to be double than what the figures say right now,” said Dr NM Sharma, additional project director of the state AIDS Control Society.
According to the NACO report, the state-wise HIV prevalence among IDUs is highest in Maharashtra at 24.4 per cent followed by Manipur (17.9 per cent), Tamil Nadu (16.8 per cent), Punjab (13.8 per cent), Delhi (10.1 per cent) and Chandigarh (8.6 per cent). Chandigarh the city has almost 450 registered HIV positive persons.
Haryana is suspected to have over 42000 HIV positive persons with the disease most prevalent among truckers, followed by commercial sex workers and intravenous drug users.
Source: TNS
India is not a safe country, warns US
Posted: 04 Jun 2009 04:24 PM PDT
New Delhi, India: Claiming that India faces “high threat” from terrorism, the United States has asked its citizens to be vigilant, inviting a strong reaction from New Delhi which asserted that the country is completely safe and such an advisory is not justified.
Home minister P Chidambaram said India is “safer than many other countries in the world” and New Delhi will try to persuade Washington to withdraw such an advisory.
“I don’t thing there is any justification for the advisory… India is a safe place,” he said.
Chidambaram was reacting to an ‘Urgent Warden Message’ posted on American Embassy website which cautioned American citizens in India.
“The United States Mission in India wishes to urgently remind all US citizens resident in or travelling to India that there is a high threat from terrorism throughout India,” the message said.
“As terror attacks are a serious and growing threat, US citizens are urged to always practice good security, including maintaining a heightened situational awareness and a low profile.
“Americans in India should be vigilant at all times and monitor local news reports and vary their routes and times in carrying out daily activities,” the message said.
The US advisory asked its nationals to consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues.
Commenting on the advisory, Chidambaram said the Ministry of External Affairs will be asked to speak to the United States to persuade them to withdraw the advisory.
“India is a completely safe country… India is a safe place, it is safer than many other countries in the world. Thousands of tourists come to India and we look forward to welcoming them,” he said.
Asked whether the US was trying to hyphenate India and Pakistan, Chidambaram said, “Why should we jump to conclusions? We will try to find out why this advisory was issued, if at all it was issued.”

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