IIT-KGP to help eastern India students learn more about free online courses

Kolkata The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur will approach institutes of higher education in eastern India to familiarise students and teachers with free online courses offered by National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

NPTEL, a joint initiative of the IITs and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, offers 160 courses in various categories like agriculture, computer science, management studies, mathematics and basic science, engineering and humanities.

While over five5 lakh students had enrolled for NPTEL courses this year, only about 7% of them were from Eastern India.

“The biggest problem for NPTEL courses is that not only the students from eastern India, but also the colleges and universities in the region are not aware of it,” Anupam Basu, coordinator of NPTEL at IIT-KGP, said.

Students from eastern India will be familiarised with free online courses offered by the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

“We are sure if people get to know about the facility and that it is encouraged by AICTE and UGC, there will be many takers,” said Basu, also professor of computer science and engineering.

Too boost enrolments from the region, IIT-KGP is talking to various institutes of West Bengal, Odisha and northeastern states to offer credit transfers to the students, an IIT-KGP spokesperson said.

For West Bengal, IIG-KGP would approach the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (formerly West Bengal University of Technology), while talks are on with general degree colleges like Vidyasagar College and Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College of Kolkata.

Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Jadavpur University and and Presidency University would also be approached, the spokesperson said.

IIT-KGP has also approached most of the private engineering colleges in Bengal.

A workshop with over 100 teachers from various private engineering colleges was held at IIT-KGP recently. PTI SUS NN SBN

Consume more Vitamin C to prevent infections during monsoon: Doctors

With the national capital witnessing humid weather making people vulnerable to infectious diseases, doctors have urged children to increase intake of Vitamin C rich food, thus helping in killing infected cells in the body.

Though doctors call Vitamic C as one of the best boosters for the immune system, a recent study by Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science has also found the molecular mechanism by which Vitamin C impedes and even kills Mycobacterium smegmatis, a non-pathogenic bacterium.

Humid weather during monsoon leads to various types of fungal infections of legs, skin and nails. Hospitals in Delhi have seen a surge in the flow of patients with such cases.

“It is advisable to consume at least 500 mg of Vitamin C on a daily basis as it helps in improving immunity, reducing the severity and duration of common cold, flu and infections. But remember to restrict the intake to not cross more than 1,000 mg as excess in anything can lead to side-effects,” said S.K. Mundhra, head of internal medicine at city-based Saroj Super Speciality Hospital.

Stating that since the beginning of monsoon he has received over 200-250 cases of patients with infections, Mundra said if one continues to take Vitamin C rich edible items then their immune system cells function well to detect, track and kill the infectious cells.

Saroj Super Specialty Hospital, which caters medical services to the patients of north Delhi, has seen 10-15 per cent surge in patients of infections, skin problems, diarrhoea. According to authorities at All India Institute of Medical Science, every monsoon the general medicine OPD witnesses 20-30 per cent surge in inflow of patients with infections. On an average, city-based Sir Ganga Ram Hospital receives 20-30 patients with skin related infections during monsoon.

“Though rare, brucellosis is another type of infection which is more common among animals and can affect humans too. Usually a human is infected when he consumes animal milk in unpasteurized form but during rainy seasons, the animal excreta mixes with the rainy water and when inhaled or injected into the human body (though involuntarily) infections can happen to affect the liver,” said Reema Khanna, a senior resident with the medicine department at Safdarjung hospital.

Stating that Vitamin C prevents infections to a great extent, Khanna said: “Human body does not synthesize Vitamin C and hence it is gained from external sources only. Being water-soluble, it is excreted from the body and hence daily doses are necessary for the protection of the body from infections especially during monsoons.”

Love pasta? Here’s why you should eat it more often

People who regularly eat pasta — the fundamental component of Italian Mediterranean cuisine — may have better diet quality, greater intake of vitamin and minerals and can better manage blood sugar levels, compared to those who do not eat pasta, new research shows.

Pasta is a low-sodium and cholesterol-free food with a low glycemic index — foods that keep blood sugar levels in control.

pasta-main

“The study shows that pasta eaters have better quality diets than those who don’t eat pasta,” said Diane Welland, dietitian and Nutrition Communications Manager for the National Pasta Association — a US based organisation.

The findings showed that pasta eaters had a greater intake of nutrients and minerals that most people lack in their diets such as folate — that helps the body form red blood cells and reduces the risk of defects during foetal growth —; iron — used to carry oxygen in the blood and aids in reducing anemia — ;magnesium — a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles — and dietary fiber — which helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, eating pasta also led to less intake of saturated fat — which can help lower the level of cholesterol in your blood to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke — and less added sugar — like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup that contain a whole bunch of calories with no essential nutrients.

“Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and legumes,” Welland added.

For the study, presented at The Obesity Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans, the team conducted a survey to examine the associations between pasta consumption, shortfall nutrient intakes as defined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines (2015 DG) and diet quality in comparison to non-pasta consumption in the US adults.

More women join IIM Lucknow this year, 3.4% up from 2016

Lucknow: The new postgraduate programme batch at Lucknow’s Indian Institute of Management (2017-19) has more women than previous years. Some 30.4% students (156) out of the batch of 451 this year, are women as compared to 27% last year.

The batch of 2013-2015 had 38% female candidates, an official said.

IIM believes this will ensure diversity without compromising on merit. “This is a good sign. More participation of women students brings diversity and adds different perspective as well,” said IIM Lucknow director Ajit Prasad while talking to HT.

IIM-L said that the institute was looking at having a class with a broad base in terms of diversity – gender wise, background wise and also in terms of prior work experience. An official said they were happy that to some extent the institute had been successful in this objective, but there were still many steps to be taken to create an ideal diverse environment.

Induction programme at IIM Lucknow.

The average work experience of the newly induced batch has also risen from 11.3 months to 16.6 months, with 74% of the new batch having some work experience.

IIM-Lucknow recently concluded the induction programme for its incoming batch of postgraduate students in management and agri- business management.

Over the last two days, the eager crowd of over 450 students was addressed by the guest of honour, Niraj Seth, executive vice- president, naukri.com (formerly chief marketing officer Intuit and Cleartrip); and noted IIM Lucknow alumnus Lakshmi Narayan, chief endowment officer, Azim Premji Foundation.

Why more and more Indians can't have kids

Mumbai resident Janhavi climbed several rungs of the corporate ladder before deciding to have a baby three years back. Months however turned into years as Janhavi, now 38, spent lakhs of rupees at various infertility clinics to get pregnant. “I have tried as many gharelu nuskas (home remedies) as tests looking for genetic abnormalities and ovarian antibodies, but without success,” she says.

Janhavi isn’t the only one. Infertility experts say a growing number of career women come to them in their late thirties and forties wanting a baby . “Women now get married at a later age. They are well qualified and have economic as well as career compulsions that lead them to delay childbearing,” says infertility specialist Dr Aniruddha Malpani. And, while it is not uncommon to hear about women having their first baby at 35, a percentage of them have problems conceiving. “With increasing age, the quality of eggs decreases and so do the chances of pregnancy,” says specialist Dr Hrishikesh Pai. The typical corporate lifestyle -with both wife and husband busy with work-related tours – affects quality time that a couple spends with each other. Couples don’t get an opportunity to try at the most fertile period of the month, say doctors.

It is estimated that infertility affects 10 to 14% of the Indian population. “The figure has more or less been steady, with the main addition being the group of career women who try for a baby later than women in previous generations did,” says Dr Duru Shah, president of ISAR (Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction). ISAR secretary-general Dr Ameet Patki fears the numbers could be higher in India’s urban addresses: one in every five to six couples could have some fertility – related problem.

Medical science has advanced so much that men with poor sperm count can now father a baby, but experts blame unhealthy lifestyle choices -smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs – among Indians for the queues at infertility clinics. Age is just one of the culprits, as Dr Shah puts it. “Smoking is one of the worst as it reduces the quality of eggs,” he says, adding that surveys have shown that more women smoke than before.

Why more and more indians can't have kids

Incidentally, the reason female infertility is more talked about is because it is more common, say doctors. Male infertility is responsible for 40% of the infertility cases. And, like with women, male fertility too is affected by lifestyle and environmental factors. “Men take supplements for body building which is known to reduce the sperm count,” says Dr Patki. Thanks to environmental pollution caused by plastics, there are also chemicals that can interfere with the endocrine (or hormonal) system; many studies have linked these endocrine disruptors to male children suffering from undescended testes or hypospadia (a congenital condition in males in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis).

“Many couples we counselled confessed that they were into recreational drugs and didn’t realise that taking these would affect their fertility,'” says Dr Patki. The urban phenomenon of processed food, too, contributes to infertility as it lacks folic acid.

“Obesity and polycystic ovarian (PCOD) also lead to infertility,” says Dr Pai who has clinics in both Mumbai and Delhi. Studies have shown that PCOD is more common in north India than in the south. “In some north Indian cities, where I have clinics, I found that every second patient has PCOD,” says Dr Pai. “Some overweight women undergo bariatric surgery in order to get pregnant,'” he adds. While urban India has lifestyle to blame for infertility, infection is still the big causative factor in rural India. “In rural areas, women undergo abortion or even delivery at unhygienic centres that could cause infection in the fallopian tubes, leading to infertility,” says Dr Shah. Tuberculosis is another major reason for fallopian tube-related complications.

Dr Malpani, however, offers a different view. “Victim blaming is a big issue across India. People tell women that they are unable to conceive because they don’t eat healthy or work too much. It is unfortunate that women feel stressed and inadequate due to the inability to have babies,” he says. “I have had women crying and asking if they are too fat or if the anti-acne medicine they used previously is responsible for infertility.”

More medical colleges: Port hospitals to be teaching institutes, says Gadkari

New Delhi The government plans to convert existing hospitals at India’s major ports into medical colleges and super speciality centres on PPP basis, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday.

“We will convert the existing hospitals at our ports into medical colleges and super speciality centres on a PPP basis,” shipping, road transport and highways minister Gadkari told PTI.

He said that a committee appointed by the government, headed by Medical Council of India (MCI) member Ved Prakash Mishra had submitted its report in this regard.

The seats in such medical colleges would depend on capacity, he added.

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the government will convert existing hospitals at Indian ports into medical colleges and super speciality centres on a PPP basis.

Citing an example, he said that the port hospital at Mumbai Port Trust would be converted into a 1,000-bed medical college while at some places it would be of 600 or 700 seats capacity, depending on the institute.

Gadkari said that a part of the funding would be met through the government while the rest will come from private players.

India has 12 major ports, namely Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia), which handle approximately 61 % of the country’s total cargo traffic.

Earlier, addressing an event at Assocham, he said the government had increased the length of National Highways from 96,000 km to 1.75 lakh km, upping its capacity to handle about 85%of the country’s total traffic.

He said the government was also focused on promoting alternative fuel to cut down on huge Rs 7 lakh crore import bills.

“We are going to bring in a policy to promote use of alternative fuel which is indigenous and pollution-free as it will help in saving lot of time, bring down logistics cost by 4 to 6%, which is currently about 14 to18% unlike in China where it is 10 to12% and in European countries where it is 12 to 14%,” he said.

 

More medical colleges: Port hospitals to be teaching institutes, says Gadkari

New Delhi The government plans to convert existing hospitals at India’s major ports into medical colleges and super speciality centres on PPP basis, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday.

“We will convert the existing hospitals at our ports into medical colleges and super speciality centres on a PPP basis,” shipping, road transport and highways minister Gadkari told PTI.

He said that a committee appointed by the government, headed by Medical Council of India (MCI) member Ved Prakash Mishra had submitted its report in this regard.

The seats in such medical colleges would depend on capacity, he added.

Citing an example, he said that the port hospital at Mumbai Port Trust would be converted into a 1,000-bed medical college while at some places it would be of 600 or 700 seats capacity, depending on the institute.

Gadkari said that a part of the funding would be met through the government while the rest will come from private players.

India has 12 major ports, namely Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia), which handle approximately 61 % of the country’s total cargo traffic.

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the government will convert existing hospitals at Indian ports into medical colleges and super speciality centres on a PPP basis.

Earlier, addressing an event at Assocham, he said the government had increased the length of National Highways from 96,000 km to 1.75 lakh km, upping its capacity to handle about 85%of the country’s total traffic.

He said the government was also focused on promoting alternative fuel to cut down on huge Rs 7 lakh crore import bills.

“We are going to bring in a policy to promote use of alternative fuel which is indigenous and pollution-free as it will help in saving lot of time, bring down logistics cost by 4 to 6%, which is currently about 14 to18% unlike in China where it is 10 to12% and in European countries where it is 12 to 14%,” he said.

 

Another reason to eat more fruit and vegetables. They keep heart diseases at bay

A new Swedish study has found that lutein, a nutrient in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, can reduce inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease.

The study, carried out by researchers at Linköping University, looked at the levels of six of the most common carotenoids in blood from 193 patients with coronary artery disease.

“A considerable number of patients who have experienced myocardial infarction still have low-level chronic inflammation in the body, even after receiving effective treatment with revascularisation, drugs and lifestyle changes. We know that chronic inflammation is associated with a poorer prognosis,” explained study leader Lena Jonasson.

Carotenoids are the mainly red, orange, and yellow pigments which give the bright colour to plants, vegetables, and fruits, such as ripe tomatoes, or dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach. Previous research has already suggested that carotenoids, such as the more well known beta-carotene and lycopene, could be linked with inflammation, which is a key factor in many types of coronary artery disease, such as myocardial infarction and angina.

Researchers now plan to explore further to see if increased consumption of foods rich in lutein has a positive effect on the immune system in patients with coronary artery disease.

To look at their potential anti-inflammatory effect, the team also measured the level of inflammation in the blood using the inflammatory marker interleukin-6, IL-6. They discovered that lutein was the only carotenoid whose level correlated with IL-6, finding that the higher the level of lutein in the blood, the lower the level of IL-6.

The researchers now plan to research further to see whether increased consumption of foods rich in lutein has a positive effect on the immune system in patients with coronary artery disease.

The findings can be found published online in the journal Atherosclerosis.

Forget essays, more ‘objective’ questions likely in UP exams to simplify evaluation work

A number of interesting decisions were taken at the vice-chancellors’ conference held today in Lucknow, including increasing teaching days from 180 to 220 and use of technology in classes. However, the decision to introduce a “mix of objective and descriptive type of questions,” in examinations from next year, to simplify the work evaluators, was somewhat surprising.

VCs conference

In a media briefing after the conference of VCs of universities from all over Uttar Pradesh, the deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma said that from next year the university will introduce objective type questions in examinations to ‘simplify’ evaluation work.

Sharma said evaluation of answers to descriptive type questions took time.Question papers would now have a mix of objective and descriptive type of questions.

Would the education system benefit from a system where answers in university and college-level examinations are required to be short just to make an evaluator’s work easy?

This is a question that demands a lengthy response.

Do You Watch TV for More Than 10 Hours a week? You Need to Stop!

Television or TV viewing is one of the most common pastimes for many. We consume any and every form of information from this so-called “idiot box” hours at end, without even realizing our limit. As soon as the television is turned on, our eyes are glued and we just can’t seem to get ourselves to turn the power button off.

Excessive television watching has already been linked to a variety of health problems as well as an increase in snacking tendencies. This holds especially true for the youth of today, whose incessant television viewing habits have caught the fancy of several studies. Last year, a research had suggested that kids with TV in their bedroom are at a higher risk of obesity. Placing TV sets in a child’s room could put them at significantly higher risk of being overweight in later life, according to the study. Another study proves how television viewing also hampers growth and kills creativity in children.

This new research, however, is the first study to look at a link between TV viewing habits and physical function in older adults. The study has successfully found how excessive television content consumption results in impaired physical activity, specifically among the older generation. This makes the study unique- as adults hardly consider their TV habits could be detrimental to their long-term health.

watching tv

The study has been led by UQ School of Public Health PhD candidate- Natasha Reid. For this latest research, Reid used data from 1,938 participants in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Participants were aged from 47 to 85 at the start of the study, and their habits were closely observed over a 12-year period.

Subjects were classified into six groups based on their TV watching habits, ranging from: consistently low at less than five hours a week (9.7% of participants), low-increasing (22.3%), moderate-decreasing (13.5%), moderate-increasing (30.3%), consistently-high (18.9%), and high-increasing at more than 30 hours of TV watching per week (5.2%).

Almost a third of participants fell into the moderate-increasing range, increasing their weekly TV watching from about 10 hours a week to about 20 hours. The study scientifically established that those who spent less time watching television had significantly better lower-body muscle strength 12 years later.

“On a knee extensor strength test, the consistently low TV watchers performed better than most other groups,” commented Reid, who said the research suggested that excessive TV watching needed to be addressed earlier rather than later in life, as it could make a difference to independent living as we age. Reid’s comments may hold more than true,

Reid further explained, “Future longitudinal studies that examine sitting time and its impact on physical function are also needed.”