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Horrors of heroin plague Punjab villages
Report dated 10/03/2012 @ 9:01 PM
India's prosperous state of Punjab has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country, an abundant water supply and decent infrastructure. Sadly however Punjab's problem is drug addiction.
Heroin can be easily bought anywhere. In just one village some 25 families trade in the drug, selling five grams for around $20.
Some state officials estimate that over 50 percent of 18 - 35 year-olds are using illegal drugs including anything from heroin to prescription drugs. The situation is explosive with young people dying, as one addict dies every 8 minutes in Punjab. Even with 63 drug rehab centers in the state they can't seem to reverse the trend.
The United Nations 2011 drug and crime report says India is the largest consumer of heroin in South Asia. The report has negated a perception that India is only a transit point for drugs coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Dispute over Kerala temple's US$ 21 bn riches continues
Report dated 10/03/2012 @ 9:00 PM
For centuries devotees worshipped at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Now the few visitors to the inner sanctum are subjected to more meticulous searches than those at any airport.
The reason - the disputed fortune resting in treasure vaults that is estimated at $21 billion. Some Hindus say the bounty belongs to the god Vishnu and any distribution of the wealth would betray the wishes of donors and wind up in the pockets of corrupt officials.
Specifically, the present dispute involves an advisor to the last King, Balarama Varma, who reigned from 1931 to 1949 when Kerala was incorporated into independent India and royals were stripped of their status. After Varma died in 1991, the advisor T P Sunda Rajaram was unhappy this his counsel was not appreciated by the king's brother Marthanda Varma, when he assumed control of the temple trust. In 2009 Sunda Rajaram joined a lawsuit alleging that Varma was mismanaging affairs and embezzling treasure.
The Kerala government sealed the vaults and called for an inventory. The palace bridled at the state intruding and appealed to the Indian Supreme Court. It lost the appeal and the inventory continued.
Fight against fake medicines intensified with portable detection kits
Report dated 09/03/2012 @ 11:54 PM
A rapid screening project that was adopted in collaboration with the United States Department of Health and Human Services is to be introduced by the Gujarat Food and Drugs Control Administration (GFDCA) that is readying high-tech portable kits for the instant detection of fake medicines, that will in the process identify greedy manufacturers and save the lives of many by banning the sale of duplicitous drugs.
Three American scientists attended a seminar in Ahmedabad and visited the GFDCA labs to explain the uses and advantages of the kits that facilitate rapid analysis of pharma products, dietary supplements and traditional medicines.
An official estimate puts the prevalence of spurious drugs up to 30 percent in the Rs.340 billion drug market in India.
The Central government has also set up a task force with representatives from the Health, Commerce, Law and Consumer Affairs ministries.
Thieves mingle with wedding guests to steal bridal jewellery
Report dated 09/03/2012 @ 11:52 PM
A Madhya Pradesh based gang of wedding thieves whose modus operandi is to mingle with wedding guests and steal gold ornaments and jewellery, uses children as their perpetrators. Recently a 13 year-old who was part of the gang was arrested and Rs.20 lakhs in gold ornaments recovered.
The gang operates in various wedding venues, according to police who are now monitoring CCTV recordings and getting closer to identifying the minor girls and boys who are used to steal, and their bosses who accompany them.
Mukesh Ambani is world's richest Indian
Report dated 09/03/2012 @ 11:51 PM
Forbes magazine's annual list of the world's richest people has again rated Mukesh Ambani as the world's richest Indian despite a loss of $4.7 billion in the past year.
Ambani 54, Chairman of Reliance Industries has a net worth of $22.3 billion and is ranked 19 on the global rich list.
Other Indians listed in the top ten richest billionaires include Savitri Jindal & family, Sunil Mittal & family, Kumar Birla, Anil Ambani, Azim Premji, Dilip Shanghvi, Shashi and Ravi Ruia and Kushal Pal Singh.
Together India's 48 billionaires have a total net worth of $194.6 billion
Also on the list is Irish NRI Pallonji Mistry, whose son Cyrus will succeed Tata group chief Ratan Tata in December.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index has also listed Mukesh Ambani as Asia's richest person.