Infant Mortality Rate or the number of death of infants (less than one year old) per 1000 live births is one of the crippling issues that the world faces especially the developing nations. The pathetic medical facilities, poor maternal health care, social mores, selective abortion etc. contribute to a bad health picture in the poor nations.

The following graphs try to decipher the Infant mortality trends in 5 nations namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India and South Africa. The common denominator between these nations is that all of them are developing nations.

The graphs are divided into 4 time periods i.e. 1985-90, 1990-95, 1995-2000 and 2000-05.
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The graphs point out few interesting things like in a patriarchal country like Afghanistan, the Infant mortality rate is higher among males. The trend remains somewhat same in a span of two decades i.e. from 1985 to 2005. The war ravaged area has scored very low on the health front. The inaccessibility of medical clinics, untrained midwives, lesser awareness about safe pregnancy are some of the reasons that have made Afghanistan’s infant mortality rate one of the highest in the world.

Emerging super powers like China and India have improved their infant mortality rates, among males and females but it is interesting to note that poor neighbor Bangladesh has shown the maximum development.

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India’s Call to Action

Ms. Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced a National Summit on child survival and development in the capital recently.

Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India representative and Mr. William Hammink, Mission Director, USAID India were the other guest speakers at the conference.


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Fashion Soiree

Delhi does not have a dearth of fashionable places. Be it the posh markets of Saket, Vasant Kunj and Lajpat Nagar or the more economical Janpath and Sarojini Nagar, the capital city of India is increasingly becoming a fashion hub.

Hauz Khas Village, located in South Delhi is a recent addition to the fashion kitty of the city. Numerous design stores, art galleries, restaurants and bars line the village. The Ministry of Tourism of Government of India is in the process of setting up India’s first night bazaar at Hauz Khas to be called the “Eco Night Bazaar”. Its objective is to provide organically grown food grains, seeds of rare plants, handmade products and a safe place to watch cultural festivals.

Among the many fashion stores that sell the latest trends from the most hep labels here, I came across few interesting names that stand apart in their wares and style. Have  a look.

Maati is like any other fashion store at Hauz Khas. But there is something that distinguishes it from the others. The store sells handicrafts made by local artisans of West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala and Uttarakhand. Anirudh-Swati, the owners of the store visit the remote villages of India and find the local artisans who are interested in painting. Anirudh who belongs to West Bengal says, “The T-Shirts you see here were made by rickshaw pullers, school teachers, wrestlers, auto rickshaw drivers etc. Our label finds such talented people from different walks of life and trains them to paint on fabrics.”

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Swati, graduated from National Institute of Fashion Technlogy (NIFT) looks after the fabrics and her husband Anirudh works for the marketing of Maati. The store sells bangles, boxes, precious stones, photo frames, earrings and other fashion accessories.

Aanya, a regular at the shop commented, ” I like the amazing range of dupatta, sarees and clutches here. They offer some exquisite designs.”

Twist is another designer shop at the village that sells a wide range of items. As its name suggests Twist offers variety and style with a twist. For instance the store has boxers that glow in the dark by Dirty Laundary, especially designed for the Valentine’s Day that is coming up. You can find sling bags, belts, candies, precious stones and garments here.

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According to Gunjan,Store Manager at Twist their products have been featured in high end magazines like Vogue, Marie Claire. She said, “We get in touch with our designers and clients through our Facebook page ‘Twist clothing’. Our store displays the work of established names as well as newcomers.”

Twist opened a cafe recently. The cafe serves lasagna, lemonade and tea. It has recently come up with fruit jams with liquor under the brand Gourmet’s, a special addition for Valentine’s Day.

The store recently completed its first successful year of business and is planning to bring in more varied items in the store. Says Naresh Chauhan, the Air India employee turned entrepreneur who owns the fashion label, “The selling point of the shop is the unique buying experience it  offers to its customers. You can come here, have a cup of tea and go through the varied collection here be it of clothes or accessories. We have something to offer to everyone, from kids to adults, college goers to professionals”.

So come and explore the fashionable lanes of Hauz Khas village.

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Clean water, fresh air, good roads are some of the essentials that every Indian citizen is entitled to. But there are many people in our country for whom these essentials are nothing less than luxury. The following video shows a small glimpse of the abysmal condition in which the less fortunate of Taimur Nagar slum area live.

According to the Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation, India houses 93.06 million  (2011 census) slum population. Their numbers are rising with no improvement in their living standard. Governments change, voices demanding more rights are raised, schemes are made, aid is given but their turmoil sees no end.

It is this irony that took us through the lanes of Taimur Nagar slum of Okhla in South Delhi. We saw how inhuman existence can be. Piles of garbage in front of houses, children playing around filth, open drainage, locked medical clinics welcomed us.

We asked few residents of the slum whether they had access to clean water, power, school and health facilities and this is what they told us.

Chief Minister Sheila Dixit’s promise that Delhi will be slum free by 2014 might bring relief to many but for the swelling numbers of slum dwellers it can be a big blow if the promised rehabilitation does not reach them. Outlook India reported about the government’s recent decision to ease housing norms for those who live in slums.

Taimur Nagar slum is one of the oldest slums in Okhla. It is located on a massive garbage   dump and is 35 years old.

With various government schemes like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission,  Rajiv Awas Yojna, Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana and numerous other slum rehabilitation missions in place, what makes the urban poor still suffer can be a difficult question to answer especially for the authorities.

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The Beauty of Double Standards

What happened to the people who proclaimed to make Republic day a no-show? Delhi Times carried an interesting piece today about all those people who were a part of the protests against the Delhi gang rape case. It said people were out for an extended weekend. Some of them vowed not to watch the celebrations on television. One of them said “Gussa to ab bhi hai, par apni security bhi to important hai na?”

It is a pity public memory is short lived. The rage and anguish subsides after sometime. What is more important is not just a street demonstration but a deeper introspection on why   the things are the way they are.

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Jaipur Beat

         Kannada writer U.R Ananthamurthy nominated as the finalist from India

January 24th 2013: The finalists for the fifth Man Booker International Prize 2013 were announced on the first day of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival. Ten finalists have been chosen by a team of five judges for the £ 60,000 award. Kannada writer U.R Ananthamurthy nominated as the finalist from India.  The ten finalists are U.R.Ananthamurthy (India), Aharon Appelfeld (Israel), Lydia Davis (USA), Intizar Husain (Pakistan), Yan Lianke (China), Marie NDiaye (France), JosipNovakovich (Canada), Marilynne Robinson (USA), Vladimir Sorokin (Russia) and Peter Stamm (Switzerland).


The judging panel consists of scholar and literary critic, Sir Christopher Ricks, author and essayist, Elif Batuman, writer and broadcaster, Aminatta Forna, novelist Yiyun Li, and author and academic, Tim Parks. The winner of the prize will be announced in London on 22nd May 2013. The Man Booker International…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love.

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