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Bihar elections: Future of 12 Nitish ministers at stake in final phase

In Bihar, elections are being held in three phases for 243 assembly seats. Polling for the first phase was held on 71 seats on October 28 and 94 seats on November 3. Counting of votes will be held on November 10.

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Nitish Kumar Sad

The political future of 12 ministers of the Nitish Kumar government is at stake in the third and final phase of the Bihar assembly elections taking place on Saturday. In the third phase, elections for 78 seats will be held.

In this phase, voters will also decide the political future of several veteran leaders of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).

In this phase, more than 235 crore voters will exercise their franchise in 78 assembly constituencies in 15 districts for which 33,782 polling booths have been set up.

In this phase, apart from Assembly speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, the future of several RJD leaders including 12 members of Nitish cabinet will be finalised. The assembly constituencies going to the polls include West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Supaul, Araria, Kishanganj, Katihar, Madhepura, Saharsa, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali and Samastipur.

In the final phase besides Bihar Assembly speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, state ministers Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Narendra Narayan Yadav, Maheshwar Hazari, Ramesh Rishidev, Firoz Ahmed, Lakshmeshwar Roy, Bima Bharti Pramod Kumar, Suresh Sharma, Binod Narayan Jha, Madan Sahni and Krishnakumar Rishi are in the fray.

In addition, Suhasini Yadav is in the fray from Madhepura’s Bihariganj for the first time to save the political legacy of her father and veteran socialist leader and former union minister Sharad Yadav.

According to the election commission, the fate of 1,204 candidates is to be decided in this phase, out of which 1094 are men and 110 women. As many as 31 candidates are in the fray from Gaighat, the highest, while nine candidates, the least, are contesting from Dhaka, Triveniganj, Jokihat and Bahadarganj each.

The constituencies of this phase are located in the Kosi and Seemanchal regions. The main contest in this phase is being considered between the NDA and the Grand Alliance, but former MP Pappu Yadav’s party, the Jan Adhikar party, the Lok Janshakti Party and the AIMIM have also fielded candidates, which has increased the worries of both the major alliances.

The BJP has fielded several of its senior leaders for campaigning for the assembly elections, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, party president Jagat Prakash Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. JD (U) chief and Chief minister Nitish Kumar also addressed several rallies and sought votes for the NDA.

In Bihar, elections are being held in three phases for 243 assembly seats. Polling for the first phase was held on 71 seats on October 28 and 94 seats on November 3. Counting of votes will be held on November 10.

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Governments can come and go but cultural nationalism is here to stay

The issue did not receive much traction because of Nehru’s leadership but all this changed in next 50 years especially after Balasaheb Deoras became the RSS chief.

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Ram Nath Kovind

On Friday, when President Ramnath Kovind donated Rs 5 lakh in personal capacity for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya to the trust, life came a full circle for the Indian Republic. In 1951, when deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel wanted the Somnath temple to be renovated by the Congress, it was opposed tooth and nail by Pandit Nehru, who wanted the new state to be at arm’s length from the renovation of the Somnath temple in Gujarat.

It led to a terse exchange of letters between Sardar Patel and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The context was Somnath temple but the fight was over the idea of India and how the state will deal with religion in future. Nehru wanted distance but many in the Congress felt that Hinduism cannot be dealt with the European model of separating the state and the church.

Today the national consensus based on French secularism has been replaced by cultural nationalism promoted by the RSS. The latter has moved to the political fringe and former has become mainstream.

Nehru did not participate in the renovation of the temple. After Sardar Patel passed away, the matter was carried forward by another Cabinet Minister KM Munshi. Nehru was also opposed to President Rajendra Prasad attending the lingam installation ceremony which he eventually attended in 1951. Though money was raised from non-state actors by K M Munshi but it was enough to raise temperatures within the Nehru government which had become very sensitive to the issue of religion. Despite Nehru’s objection Munshi and Rajendra Prasad ensured that they remained attached to the renovation project.

In fact the first Lok Sabha elections were fought by the Congress on the issue of communalism and inter-religious harmony. The construction of Ram Temple has become synonymous with national pride. Instead of remaining a legal issue about ownership of a piece of land, it became a matter of faith in the 1980s.

Though the meeting between the President and the Trust was personal in nature, it is a reflection of how mainstream acceptance of nationalism has changed in India. It marks a move from Constitutional Nationalism to Cultural Nationalism where the state does not feel uncomfortable with religious ceremonies. In the 1950s, for the Hindu Right group Somnath was symbol of a wounded Hindu pride as the temple was desecrated thrice over a period of 500 years.

The issue did not receive much traction because of Nehru’s leadership but all this changed in next 50 years especially after Balasaheb Deoras became the RSS chief. He pushed the VHP to make the Ram Temple a political agenda and the BJP ultimately had to adopt it as their political agenda during the Palampur Session in Himachal Pradesh. It is for this reason that LK Advani started his Rath Yatra from Somnath temple for the construction of Ram Temple in 1990s.

The Indian Constitution during the Emergency also saw the word secular added to its preamble but the matter remained contentious even then. The difference is that there exists public acceptance to the phrase ‘cultural-nationalism’ and change in mindset towards the relationship of the state with Hindu religion.

It also reflects the realignment of Hinduism with nationalism. Whether, India of the future resets the clock or not, for now cultural nationalism is here to stay. The relationship between state and Hinduism has s been further cemented through the process of through the process of judicial scrutiny and construction of the temple.

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Rise in Severe Acute Malnutrition in children a major worry: CMAM Association

According to the CMAM Association, reports released by different agencies have pointed to the need for strengthening community-based treatment of SAM.

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Malnutrition

New Delhi, Jan 14 : The results of the Phase 1 of the 5th National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently, show that there has been an increase in the percentage of severely wasted children under five years of age, in as many as 16 out of the 22 surveyed states and union territories in NFHS-5 in comparison to NFHS-4.

The CMAM Association of India has expressed its concern on the rising trend of severe wasting or Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children.

The states that have shown an increase in incidence of severely wasted children include economically powerful states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. Other regions being Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Lakshadweep.

To meet the challenge of rising incidence of SAM in children, the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) Association (comprising manufacturers of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods) said it has extended its all-out support to the government to develop new products so as to address SAM under the Poshan Abhiyan at the community level itself and prevent worsening of SAM problem in the country.

“While substantial improvement in child health indicators and vaccination coverage over NFHS-4 is a positive development, the rise in wasting levels does not bode well for a country which is poised to emerge as a major socio-economic power with youngest demography in the world. The Association is all set to align with various nutrition interventions of the government through development of therapeutic products and extending the PM’s vision of a self-reliant India,” said Akshat Khandelwal, President, CMAM Association.

Feeding protocols that use a combination of home-based food and high-quality energy dense nutrition supplement need to be urgently explored, it has stated.

According to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, children with SAM have nine times higher risk of dying than well-nourished children. The Association has pointed to the urgent need for collaboration between government, therapeutic food manufacturers and civil society to meet the intricate challenge of SAM in the country.

According to the Association, Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) has been successful in preventing deaths and helping children recover from SAM in India and across the world. RUTF comprises energy dense foods which are specifically tailored for children suffering from SAM and are not meant to be a substitute for breastfeeding or home cooked food as is often believed.

Since RUTF can ensure the recovery of a SAM child in 2-3 months at the community level in most of the cases and reduce the need for treatment at Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs), it reduces the chances of infections and the overall cost of treatment.

According to the CMAM Association, reports released by different agencies have pointed to the need for strengthening community-based treatment of SAM.

“The current interventions from the MoHFW, to ensure in-facility care for SAM children, are currently reaching around 20 per cent of those who are estimated to need such care. Even as these need expansion, what is imperative is stronger linkages with community-based programs to reach the large majority of wasted children before they require in-patient facility care,” stated a report titled ‘Accelerating Progress on Nutrition in India’.

If acute malnutrition is identified in the early stages, the treatment can be provided at the community level itself and medical complications in the children with SAM can be averted, argues a recent report titled “Community based programme for children below 5 years of age with severe acute malnutrition in India 2020 – Progress so far and lessons learned”.

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SARS-CoV-2 can infect neurons, damage brain tissue: Study

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incomes drop brain week

New York: Researchers have discovered that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect the central nervous system and have begun to unravel some of the virus’s effects on brain cells.

The study, that used both mouse and human brain tissue, indicates that SARS-CoV-2 can affect many other organs in the body, including, in some patients, the central nervous system, where infection is associated with a variety of symptoms ranging from headaches and loss of taste and smell to impaired consciousness, delirium, strokes and cerebral haemorrhage.

“Understanding the full extent of viral invasion is crucial to treating patients, as we begin to try to figure out the long-term consequences of Covid-19, many of which are predicted to involve the central nervous system,” said researcher Akiko Iwasaki, a professor at Yale University.

For the study, published on Wednesday in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), the team analysed the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to invade human brain organoids (miniature 3D organs grown in the lab from human stem cells).

The researchers found that the virus was able to infect neurons in these organoids and use the neuronal cell machinery to replicate. The virus appears to facilitate its replication by boosting the metabolism of infected cells, while neighbouring, uninfected neurons die as their oxygen supply is reduced.

SARS-CoV-2 enters lung cells by binding to a protein called ACE2, but whether this protein is present on the surface of brain cells is unclear.

The team determined that the ACE2 protein is, in fact, produced by neurons and that blocking this protein prevents the virus from human brain organoids.

SARS-CoV-2 was also able to infect the brains of mice genetically engineered to produce human ACE2, causing dramatic alterations in the brain’s blood vessels that could potentially disrupt the organ’s oxygen supply, the team said.

Central nervous system infection was much more lethal in mice than infections limited to the lungs, they added.

The researchers also analysed the brains of three patients who succumbed to Covid-19.

SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the cortical neurons of one of these patients, and the infected brain regions were associated with ischemic infarcts in which decreased blood supply causes localized tissue damage and cell death. Microinfarcts were detected in the brain autopsy of all three patients.

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