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Back to roots for healthcare boost

Twenty-six years after leaving India, US-based lung specialist Hemant Patel is engaged in a process that he hopes will improve medical education and health care in India. Patel, president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, was part of a delegation in the capital recently to share the best practices in six areas of medicine with local doctors.

The US-based association’s triangular partnership with the Medical Council of India and the Indian Medical Association will focus on diabetes, heart diseases, mental health, asthma and allergy, HIV and emergency medical services.

Their two-day meeting is widely expected to pave the way for a series of disease-specific recommendations covering prevention, diagnosis and treatment for dissemination across India.

“This is a two-way exchange of ideas. India has a wealth of knowledge that we can learn from too,” Patel said. Inputs that emerge from this partnership could help us add material to the curriculum of medical colleges and medical education programmes, said Vedprakash Mishra, who is a member of the medical council.

Free gas plan simmers

Over a year after the promise, the scramble is on to fulfil it.

The Tamil Nadu government has sought the help of oil companies to offer the free gas connections the DMK had pledged as part of its pro-poor initiatives before last year's polls.

State food minister E.V. Velu recently held talks with senior officials of Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, urging them to do their best to meet the targets set for such connections in 2007-08. The officials were also requested to provide adequate number of gas cylinders and regulators to the beneficiaries.

However, in an effort to ensure that the largesse didn’t put a squeeze on current supplies, the companies were told to ensure that the existing consumers, those with regular paid connections, were not affected in any way.

Beach storm over statues

Chennai’s Marina Beach was swept up in a controversy after a statue put up on the sands almost 40 years ago turned up in a nearby swimming pool complex.

The idol of missionary Robert Caldwell was installed by the first DMK regime during the 1968 World Tamil Conference.

Statue spats aren’t rare in the state. In one such instance, the idol of Kannagi, the heroine of the Sangam-era epic Silappadikaramm, the Tamil icon of chastity, disappeared from the beach one night during the ADMK regime — only to be taken to the Chennai Museum. It was kept there for four years until the present DMK government put it back where it belonged.

Later, a row engulfed a Sivaji Ganesan idol, installed by thespian’s friend M. Karunanidhi, since it apparently blocked Mahatma Gandhi’s statue behind it.

The chief minister claimed that it was the nearby Spencer’s Clock, put up during Jayalalithaa’s regime, that was the culprit. A tug-of-war could erupt over Caldwell, too.

Off the block

The building blocks to give Mumbai’s ageing buildings a new lease of life appear to be falling into place.

The Maharashtra government is planning to sign a pact under which Larsen & Toubro will rebuild these structures, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said last week.

Most of the buildings are in the south of the city, close to the central business district.

The engineering and construction giant might work on a cost-plus basis, Deshmukh said, suggesting the project had a heritage element.

Delhi: Three years ago on this date, South Asia suffered its biggest natural calamity in recent memory. Spare an af- ternoon and visit an exhibition by Hungarian photo artist Paulius Normantas dedicated to the victims of 2004 Tsunami. At the Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre 1A, Janpath. 4-6pm.

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