Health budget cuts and bureaucratic delays threaten AIDS control program

Doctor, we are not getting the  anti AIDS drugs from government hospital. Can you somehow help?

I was asked this question in my clinic the other day.

Though I was surprised by that question, I was expecting such a situation ever since the Indian government announced big cuts in budgetary allocations for health in December 2014. Situation is becoming bad not only for AIDS program but many other public health programs.

Volunteers of National Service Scheme (NSS) pose with HIV/AIDS awareness messages on their faces during a face painting competition ahead of the World AIDS Day in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh November 29, 2014. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year. REUTERS/Ajay Verma (INDIA - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)

Volunteers of National Service Scheme (NSS) pose with HIV/AIDS awareness messages on their faces during a face painting competition ahead of the World AIDS Day in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh November 29, 2014. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

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Neanderthals much smarter than we ever thought

Neanderthals has always been considered as not so smart hominid destined to be replaced through natural selection by us, smart Homo sapiens.

But the new discovery from a cave in France should make us think again about lack of smartness of our distant cousins.

Deep in a dark cave in southwestern France lie half a dozen mysterious structures that scientists believe were built by Neanderthals 176,000 years ago — about 140,000 years before the first modern humans arrived in Europe.

The structures, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, are located in what is known as the Bruniquel Cave. They are made of roughly 400 pieces of stalagmites, all roughly, almost eerily, the same size.

Archaeologists say these mineral formations were probably broken off the cave floor by ancient hands and then deliberately arranged into two large rings and a series of four round piles up to 15 inches high.

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Communist Left takes charge in Kerala

My state of Kerala in India has yet another Left front government. In 1957 , in the first election after the formation of the state, Kerala had created history by democratically electing a Communist party government. Since then the Communist led Left front has been voted to power 7 times, ruling more or less alternatingly, with Congress led United front.

The Left front consist mainly of two communist parties, the smaller Communist Party of India and the bigger Communist Party of India ( Marxist). Indian Communists, in theory, still aim for Communism through establishing a dictatorship state of proletariat. Before reaching that stage they believe that there need to be a people’s democratic revolution and for that their participation in parliamentary democratic politics is essential.

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She drove in with a 30 tonne cargo

People in my conservative town seldom see women drivers , except may be on two wheelers. If they see one, there is always a tendency by men on the road to bully them and pass bad comments on their driving.

The other day they had a huge surprise. They had their eyes jutting out of their sockets in astonishment as a lady drove into our town on a 14 wheel truck with a cargo weighing 30 tonnes ( around 66000 pounds).

She was Yogita Raghuvanshi, the first woman truck driver of India.

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Islamists again kill a nonconformer in Bangladesh

Attackers wielding machetes have killed a village doctor and wounded his friend, a university tutor, in western Bangladesh, police say.
Mir Sanwar Rahman, known for offering villagers free homeopathic medicines, was hacked to death early on Friday in Kushtia district.
No group has said they carried out the attack.
There has been a spate of murders of religious minorities, secular activists and academics in Bangladesh recently.
Mr Rahman and tutor Mohammad Saifuzzaman were ambushed as they travelled on a motorbike in their village.

More than 20 people have been killed in attacks by suspected Islamists in the last three years.
An elderly Buddhist monk was hacked to death on Saturday while a Hindu priest, two prominent gay activists, a law student and a university professor were also murdered in recent months.
The killings have been blamed on various hardline groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS) and Ansar al-Islam, a Bangladeshi militant group affiliated to al-Qaeda.
The government has denied that IS is present in the country. Instead, it has blamed opposition parties and local Islamist groups, such as Ansarullah Bangla Team and Harkatul Jihad.
The opposition have denied any involvement and say the government’s accusations against them have hampered a credible investigation.

All those killed were nonconformers. They were not strict followers of Sunni Islam. The latest victim, Mir Sanwar Rahman was a follower of Lalon’s philosophy.

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Attempts to saffronise California history curricula fails

As posted by me earlier, there was a raging battle between a coalition of interfaith groups the South Asian History for All and Hindutva groups on the revision of  California  school history curriculum. It was a high stake battle as many other American states follow Californian curricula. 

The “saffronising” of textbooks isn’t limited to Gujarat or Karnataka, or even just India. The American Hindu groups in the California battle include the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), whose founding members have links to the Sangh Parivar; the Hindu Education Foundation, a project of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and the religious research group Uberoi Foundation. They want to rename the Indus Valley Civilization “Sindh-Saraswati”, delete any mention of Guru Nanak’s challenging of caste, and further what SAHFA calls the “oppressor Muslims vs persecuted Hindus’ narrative of Hindu nationalism”. In one of their most controversial moves, they’ve tried to get the term ‘Dalit’ deleted from the South Asian history taught in school curriculum. One of the Uberoi Foundation’s comments among the edits says, “Dalit is not a term from Sanskrit, nor from Hindu social history but a contemporary political construct to gain leverage mostly in elections and for economic concessions.”

Now the officials in California has come to, it seems, a just and rational decision.

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South Asian Humanist Conference in Dallas


Babu Gogineni , the former executive director of International Humanist and Ethical Union, and a renowned Indian freethinker is addressing the South Asian Humanist Conference in Dallas. He is also speaking in several cities in USA on a lecture tour.  Here are the details of his tour and of the South Asian Humanist conference in Dallas. Catch him if he is coming near your place -:)

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Battle to re-write California history text books

What should history text books in California call the area of Asia, which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka ? Should they call it India or South Asia ?  How should those text books portray caste system? Should they mention family of birth is the most important factor deciding caste or should it say professional excellence also play a big role in it ?

There is a raging battle going on in California on these questions.

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