Pulse Beat

Medical developments from around the world

Popularity of Treadmill Work Stations
For some years now, studies have revealed that sitting for a long time is bad for health and leads to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Health conscious companies, in the United States, now provide their workers standing facilities to work; they are building workstations with treadmills so that people can keep working while walking on the treadmill. This has cut down their health insurance spending. Interestingly, sitting jobs damage health, even if the person has been exercising regularly otherwise.

Female Sex Hormone Is Important for Males Also
Nature works wonders and scientists have not understood the whole thing even now. A study published in the 12th September issue of New England Journal of Medicine shows how reduction in oestrogen levels, and not testosterone, results in diminished sex drive and middle level spread of fat in men. Drug companies should take note that selling testosterone alone might not be of much use in male menopause.

Dying with Dignity
In 1968, a letter titled “Not Allowed To Die” was sent to the British Medical Journal describing the ordeal of a retired 68-year-old doctor, who had metastatic stomach cancer. Reporting on it, the New York Times stated: “After much of his stomach was surgically removed and a blood clot cleared from his lung, he asked that ‘no further steps be taken to prolong his life, for the pain of his cancer was now more than he would needlessly continue to endure.’ Two weeks later, the unfortunate doctor had a heart attack in the hospital. His heart was shocked and restarted five times in a single night; morning found him in a persistent vegetative state. His body remained alive for another three weeks. That hellish situation, rare in the rest of the world, is all too common in the USA, and now in India, a copy cat of US medicine. That has only become worse over the years from 1968. Although most of us claim a desire to die with dignity, as Katy Butler reminds us in the book Knocking on Heaven’s Door, a fifth of American deaths now take place in intensive care, where 10 days of futile flailing can cost as much as $323,000, as it did for one California man.”

I am told that 90% of the profits of American hospitals come from keeping dying people in intensive care units for the last 10 days! A very good business indeed!

What Has Food Colour Got To Do With Health?
Darker colours of fruits and vegetables contain a higher level of anti-oxidants. It is a good habit to include many coloured foods in your diet for good health. According to Naturalnews.com, a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed the protective anti-tumour activity of tomatoes. The website said, “When mice were given either isolated lycopene or tomato paste for three days, the researchers found the tomato paste had much stronger antimutagenic activity compared to corresponding doses of pure lycopene.” The research paper said, "Results indicate that lycopene has antimutagenic effects, although the effects are lower than that of tomato puree, which contains a complex mixture of bioactive phytochemicals. The antimutagenic effect is connected with the chemo protective role of lycopene, tomatoes, and tomato products in the prevention of carcinogenesis.”


Sensex, Nifty moves up on RBI move to infuse liquidity: Tuesday closing report
If Nifty closes above 5,813, a short term rally may be in the offing
The market on Tuesday opened in the positive, but sharply plunged immediately thereafter. However, buyers appeared instantly and the indices traded for the entire remaining session in the positive. The Sensex and Nifty opened at 19,452 and 5,756 respectively. After plunging to the low of 19,265 and 5,701, respectively, both the indices recovered and by the end of the session hit a high of 19,533 and 5,786, respectively. Both the indices closed almost near the day’s high. The Sensex closed at 19,517 (up 137 points or 0.71%) while the Nifty closed at 5,780 (up 45 points or 0.78%). The National Stock Exchange (NSE) recorded a volume of 50.75 crore shares.
Among the other indices on the NSE, the top five gainers were Realty (2.91%); Bank Nifty (2.76%); Finance (2.60%); PSU Bank (1.80%) and Service (1.44%). The top five losers were Energy (0.92%); Commodities (0.73%); PSE (0.67%); MNC (0.49%) and Metal (0.17%).
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 28 ended in the green. The top five gainers were DLF (6.99%); Ranbaxy (5.90%); Indus Ind Bank (4.66%); Axis Bank (3.98%) and I C I C I Bank (3.45%). The top five losers were Tata Power (3.88%); Sesa Goa (3.18%); N T P C (2.61%); O N G C (2.18%) and Hindustan Unilever (1.82%).
Yesterday after market hours, the data released by the Indian government showed the combined output of the eight core infrastructure sectors rise 3.7% in August 2013, supported by strong growth in coal and cement production and electricity generation. It was the highest growth in core sector output in seven months. On the other hand, the data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed India's current account deficit (CAD) had widened to $21.8 billion or 4.9% of GDP in Q1 June 2013 from $16.9 billion or 4% of GDP in Q1 June 2012. The CAD was $18.1 billion in Q4 March 2013. 
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA-ML) today lowered its CAD target for India for the current financial year to 3.2% of the GDP from 4% earlier.
The RBI will infuse Rs10,000 crore into the system through open-market operations next week to ease liquidity constraints, based on the current assessment of prevailing and evolving market conditions, said the central bank in a press release on Monday.
Factory activity in India shrank for a second month in September although not as sharply as in August, on the dearth of new orders which pushed firms to cut staff, a survey showed today. The HSBC Manufacturing PMI, compiled by Markit, rose to 49.6 in September from 48.5 in August, but remaining below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. The new orders sub-index rose to 49.6 last month from 47.5 in August.
US indices closed in the negative on Monday. The US government began a partial shutdown on Tuesday for the first time in 17 years after lawmakers could not break a political stalemate that sparked new questions about the ability of a deeply divided Congress to perform its most basic functions. Some US government offices and national parks will be shuttered, but spending for essential functions related to national security and public safety will continue, including pay for US military troops. 
There are also fears that the conflict could spill over into the more crucial dispute over raising the federal government's borrowing authority. A failure to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling would force the country to default on its obligations, dealing a potentially painful blow to the economy and sending shockwaves around global markets.
All the other Asian indices ended in the green. Jakarta Composite emerged as a top gainer, moving up 0.69%.  
A Chinese factory gauge rose less than economists forecast in September, signaling limits on the nation's rebound from a two-quarter economic slowdown. The Purchasing Managers' Index was at 51.1, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said today. That compares with 51 in August. 
The Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan index for big manufacturers rose to 12 in September, the highest since 2007, from 4 in June. 
European indices were trading mostly in the green, US Futures were trading in the positive.
Eurozone manufacturing activity grew for the third month running in September, despite a slight slowdown that reflected a still uncertain recovery, a survey showed on Tuesday. The Purchasing Managers' Index compiled by Markit Economics for the manufacturing sector dipped to a final 51.1 points in September from 51.4 in July, but still above the 50-points boom-or-bust line.
Markit warned however that unemployment in the area remained the biggest obstacle to growth in manufacturing. Also on Tuesday, official data showed that eurozone unemployment dropped for the first time in more than two years to 12.0 percent in July against 12.1 percent the previous month, and then remained stable in August.


TRAI cracks the whip on banks against pesky calls, SMS

TRAI is taking pesky calls and SMS from banks very seriously. It has warned six banks that it would cut all their telecom resources across the country if they fail to follow regulatory directions. To show that it means business, it has reportedly cut off all of Citibank’s lines for three hours on a working day last week

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which issued a warning on 23rd September to six banks against using unregistered telemarketers, has actually cracked the whip. According to informed sources, the regulator cut telephone lines of Citibank for three hours on a week day. However, this could not be confirmed at the time of writing. We sent an email, however, Citibank representative declined to comment on the issue.


Last week, TRAI warned six banks, Axis Bank, Citibank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) and State Bank of India (SBI) against using services from unregistered telemarketers for promoting their business. These telemarketers were found using calls and SMS to promote their business.


Customers have been complaining for years about irritating calls from lenders but many companies including banks still call those who have already registered their names in the Do Not Disturb registry. TRAI had pointed out that "Notwithstanding the action taken by TRAI, a large number of complaints continued to be received from consumers regarding calls/SMSs originated by unregistered telemarketers on behalf of banks, insurance companies and builders for promoting their business in utter disregard to the Regulations issued by the Authority," the regulator said.

TRAI said, these organisations are marketing their products through retailers, distributors and franchisees and are therefore, responsible for the acts of their agents. The regulator issued  the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2013, which provide  that  “in case  complaints continue to come in, then  on receipt of the third complaint, all  the telecom resources of the entity or organisation on whose behalf the business is being solicited, shall be disconnected."


Taking a serious note, the telecom regulator said, "Keeping the larger public interest in view and to prevent public inconvenience, the Authority has decided to exercise temporary regulatory forbearance and has directed the banks to look into the specific cases of breach, initiate corrective action and report back to the Authority within a period of seven days, failing which the banks are liable to have all their telecom resources disconnected throughout the country."


Incidentally, on 1st October, many banks, including Citibank and SBI published ads warning telemarketers from using their name for offering financial products and services, including credit cards and personal loans. This was after all lines of Citibank were shut down. Other banks have taken note of this serious action by TRAI.

Earlier in July, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also advised banks and financial institutions to use services of only those telemarketers registered with TRAI for all their promotional and telemarketing activities.


In May 2013, Delhi's Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum asked HSBC and its three direct selling agents (DSAs) to pay Rs50,000 as compensation for causing harassment to one Ashutosh Sinha and also pay Rs5,000 towards litigation cost.


In its order, the Consumer Forum, said, “We are of the opinion that some unsolicited calls have been given to the Complainant by which the right of privacy of the Complainant was violated and the Complainant suffered inconvenience, harassment and mental agony due to unsolicited calls. We are of the opinion that Complainant is entitled to be reasonably compensated for that.”



Ramesh Iyer

4 years ago

TRAI has double-standards as its policies reflect this. If one goes through their policy on Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC), the mobile telephony subscriber can choose not to receive UCC totally, or selectively (categories mentioned in TRAI guidelines). The subscriber can opt for one of the choices by sending an SMS / calling their telecom operator, which will be effected within 7 working days. However, the subscriber is not allowed to change their preference for 90 days. Why so ? If it takes 7 days to activate a preference, why not 7 days to deactivate / choose another preference ? By forcing a 90-day gestation period, the TRAI has effectively allowed telemarketing agencies a free-run on such subscribers. I share my personal experience in this regard. An year back, I wanted to opt for Mobile Banking from my Bank, for which the Bank said I need to choose the DND / NDNC preference to allow "Banking and Financial" communication, to enable their Mobile App to be "activated". Now, when I did that from my "Fully Blocked" status, I managed to get the Mobile Banking working on my phone, but consequently ended up received a barrage of UCC from all and sundry offering me personal loans, car loans, credit cards, and even real estate offers (though there is separate DND option to receive it). That's when I got to know that I will be stuck with my DND preference for 90 days giving UCC guys a free run on me for the period.
Moreover, though TRAI has instructed all telecom operators to log complaints on UCC from unregistered telemarketers, there is no follow-up information or communication on action-taken by the telecom operator. It is well known that telecom operators and Banks themselves "sell" or share their customers' database to telemarketing agencies. Hence, TRAI must bring in more transparency in its policies and Grievance Redressal Centers in major cities to let subscribers lodge complaints with it.

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