Citizens' Issues
Western Indian coastline is tsunami prone: Scientist
City planners need to incorporate the potential of the western Indian coastline as a tsunami-prone area, when they plan urban habitats in the region, an expert has said.
 
Speaking to IANS, outgoing Director of the National Institute of Oceanography S.W.A. Naqvi also said that tsunamis were not new to the western Indian coastline, the latest being in 1945, which hit the coast of Gujarat and whose effects were felt in Mumbai as well as Goa.
 
"I think we need to be careful, that if this is a tsunami-prone area and we have a very recent evidence that it happened around 70 years ago, planners must take that into account," Naqvi said.
 
The tsunami phenomenon is normally associated with the country's eastern coastline and the extreme southern reaches of Kerala.
 
Naqvi, however, said that two major tsunamis were recorded along he western coast as well. While one such wave measuring as high as 10 metres rocked the Gujarat coast in November 1945, the other such tsunami was recorded around five centuries ago, even affecting a Portuguese fleet, sailing near the coastline.
 
"I think it also happened in 1520s, shortly after the Portuguese came here. Their fleet was also affected," he said. 
 
The tsunamis, he said, occur due to seismic activity in the Makran region off Gujarat, which is a boundary between two plates and is tectonically active area.
 
"There was a major earthquake of 8.1 Richter scale (in 1945). That tsunami hit Mumbai and our feeling is it may have come to Goa too," he said. 
 
The third and possibly one of the earliest recorded tsunamis, Naqvi said, could have occurred 3,500 years ago at Dholavira, once a port and the biggest Harappan site in India.
 
"At Dholavira 5,000 years back, they had a fair idea that this was a tsunami prone area, but because economically it was a very strategic area, they built the city and port. But they also built an 18-metre (thick) wall to protect them from the tsunami," Naqvi said. The port town flourished for around 1,500 years before a tsunami destroyed it, the scientist said.
 
"Our hypothesis is that it was built as a protective measure against marine disasters, tsunamis and storm surges because it was a major port at that time," he added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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IISc Bangalore remains India's top university, global ranking drops
Even as the Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore remains the country's top university, its global ranking has dropped two notches to 152 in the latest QS World University Rankings 2016-17 released on Tuesday.
 
Founded in 1909 as a result of the joint efforts of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the Government of India and the Maharaja of Mysore, IISc's global ranking last year was 147 -- also just within the top 150 universities in then world.
 
All the other Indian universities that make the cut within the top 400 on the list are the coveted Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) -- Delhi (185), Bombay (219), Madras (249), Kanpur (302), Kharagpur (313) and Roorkee (399).
 
"This year's rankings imply that levels of investment are determining who progresses and who regresses," said Ben Sowter, head of research at QS.
 
"Institutions in countries that provide high levels of targeted funding, whether from endowments or from the public purse, are rising. On the other hand, some Western European nations making or proposing cuts to public research spending are losing ground to their US and Asian counterparts." 
 
The global rankings are:
 
- 01: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 
- 02: Stanford University
 
- 03: Harvard University
 
- 04: University of Cambridge
 
- 05: California Institute of Technology
 
- 06: University of Oxford
 
- 07: University College of London
 
- 08: ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
 
- 09: Imperial College, London
 
- 10: University of Chicago.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Governance deficit makes access to healthcare elusive
Access to healthcare is important in developing countries like India. This is because apart from treatment of ailments and diseases and the well-being of citizens, a productive population is the basis of economic growth.
 
Part IV of the Indian Constitution talks about the directive principles of state policy. Article 47 lists the "Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health". Despite this, successive governments have not been able to cater to the nutrition and standards of living of a large section of citizens. There are four principal reasons for this.
 
First, the overall system seems inadequate to cater to India's vast population. For example, the total number of hospitals, public health centres (PHCs) and the private healthcare sector together seems inadequate to cater to the demand in spite of being big in absolute numbers. This is also true about healthcare professionals -- be they doctors or nurses or other professionals in the sector.
 
Together, the system is simply inadequate to cater to demand. The private healthcare sector has developed as the public healthcare system was overburdened and thus inefficient. Also, experts and policymakers have been contemplating solutions to look at healthcare from the "reduction in demand" perspective. This includes improving hygiene as well as the environment to prevent ailments and diseases. But despite efforts, the present system is inadequate for the demand that India has for healthcare services.
 
Second, the shortfall in healthcare infrastructure and healthcare demand arose due to funding constraints. Funding in the healthcare system is another issue, which results in low healthcare access. The healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP by the government is one of the lowest in the world. Here, another issue is the way funds are disbursed to the states and spent. Often the funds are delayed and this results in non-utilisation in critical schemes and programmes of the union and state governments. As a result, a majority of the people bear healthcare costs with high out-of-pocket spending, as insurance penetration is low.
 
Allied to the problem of government funding is the problem of up-skilling professionals and human resources in the sector, especially rural areas, as a major portion of funds are not utilised because there is a lack of skilled healthcare professionals.
 
Third, there seems to be the issue of governance deficit and regulatory capture. A lot of the problems arose because of too many laws and regulations impeding the normal development of the sector. For instance, for each segment of producers/institutions and care providers like doctors, equipment manufacturers, drugs and medicine producers and hospitals there are a host of laws and regulations which have traditionally inhibited access.
 
Thus, a large number of healthcare providers are today not formally recognised by the states. It is important to see what can be done to help them provide access which is both greater in number and more effective. The governance deficit arises with inefficiency and corruption being rife in both the public and the private sector.
 
Fourth is the issue of awareness and monitoring in the context of diseases as well as in terms of what needs to be done to eradicate them. A classic case in point in this regard is polio, which has been eradicated from the country. This was a result of awareness campaigns as well as active participation from people and all other stakeholders. Monitoring was also a regular feature of the effort to eradicate polio. But despite this, a large number of diseases still exist and are proliferating in India.
 
The problem is acute in India as it is one of the very few countries where both communicable and lifestyle diseases exist in such large numbers. The changing disease patterns also contribute to the challenge of healthcare access. The focus from the industry should be on innovating to find drugs that are able to cure most diseases prevalent in India.
 
Over the next few decades, all the stakeholders should work in a collaborative spirit to enable healthcare access to all people. Such an effort would lead to outcomes that would be in line with Article 47 of the directive principles of state policy.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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