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Tejas Express makes its debut on Mumbai-Goa route

Tejas Express, India’s state-of-the-art high-speed train recently began its maiden journey from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, for Karmali, North Goa. Flagged off by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, the train is going to cover a distance of 579km in 8.5 hours with halts at Dadar, Thane, Panvel, Ratnagiri and Kudal.

The 15-coach train will have two classes—chair car and executive chair car—and is equipped with facilities like CCTV, automatic doors, LCD screens, Wi-Fi, tea-coffee vending machines, bio-toilets etc.

The ultra modern train is capable of running at the speed of 200 kmph. It is expected to run for five days a week during non-monsoon period and three days a week during monsoon period.

The train, which has been specially designed by the India Railways to enhance the experience of the passengers, is also likely to be introduced on the Delhi-Chandigarh and Delhi-Lucknow routes.

The high-speed train will be available at 10-20 percent higher fare as compared to Shatabdi. The executive class fare in Tejas has been fixed at Rs2,740 with food and Rs2,585 without food, while for chair car the fare is Rs1,310 with catering and Rs1,185 without catering.

The train fares for monsoon and non-monsoon seasons will be different.

Railways Minister inspects upgraded Humsafar coaches

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu inspected the new rake of Humsafar Express with additional features recently at Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station. In his Budget Speech of 2016-17, he had announced the introduction of Humsafar Express equipped with facilities like GPS-based passenger information system, and fire and smoke detectors.

The coaches will also have mobile charging points and reading lights for each passenger along with easy upper berth climbing arrangement. It also has Display Monitor Screen for the CCTV installed in the coach.

A total of 11 Humsafar trains have been announced by the Ministry of Railways in the new time table. Of these, 6 trains are operational. The first Humsafar train was launched on December 16 last year between Gorakhpur and Anand Vihar.

These trains are running with a composition of 16 AC 3 Tier coaches and 2 Power cars.

Prabhu who is visiting Vijayawada, will be flagging off 2 trains of Humsafar Express namely train no.22705/22706 Tirupati – Jammutawi & train no 20889/20890 Howrah- Vijaywada Humsafar train.

SpiceJet inks deal with Boeing for 40 737 max 10 planes

Jun 20, 2017: SpiceJet has agreed on a deal with Boeing for 40 737 Max 10 planes. The announcement was made at the ongoing Paris Air Show.

The airline said that the agreement, valued at approximately $4.74 billion at current list prices, is split evenly between 20 new orders for the 737 MAX 10 and conversions of 20 of the low-cost carrier’s 737 MAX 8 airplanes of its current order to 737 MAX 10s.

In January, at the time of signing a deal for 205 Boeing aircraft, SpiceJet had retained the flexibility of converting some of the aircraft ordered to different versions which it exercised this time as it decided to purchase 20 Boeing 737 MAX 10 instead of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 was launched at the Paris air show.

“With the introduction of our 737 MAXs next year, we will be able to further expand our network, while keeping our costs low for our customers,” said Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, Spicejet.

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 is the largest member of the 737 MAX family. It can fly 370.4 kilometre further than today’s Next Generation Boeing 737. It can carry 188 passengers in business and economy class seating and up to 230 passengers in a single class configuration.

US bans imports of drug from three Ipca Lab facilities; shares fall

The US drug regulator Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned all drug imports from the Mumbai based mid-cap drug company Ipca Laboratories due to non-compliance in manufacturing standards.
The company informed the stock exchanges today that it has received “a communication from the USFDA stating that all the drugs manufactured from the Company’s active ingredient (API) manufacturing facility at Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh), SEZ Indore (Pithampur) and Piparia (Silvassa) will be henceforth refused admission into the United States, as these facilities failed to comply with cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practces)”.
The company had revenues Rs 3178.87 crores in 2016-17, of which Rs 1561.74 crores were from exports. About one-fifth of the companies revenues come from the US and South American market. Following the announcement, IPCA’s shares fell to its one year low on today’s trading to close at Rs 471.7 per share, losing over 8 per cent.
After the ban on Ranbaxy’s (which merged with Sun Pharma) three manufacturing facilities at different stages a few years ago, this is the first time the US drug regulator has resorted to banning imports of all drugs manufactured by an Indian company. Company’s like Sun Pharma and Aurobindo are also facing compliance issues with the US FDA.
In February 2016, USFDA had issued a warning letter to all three manufacturing units situated at Ratlam, SEZ Indore and Piparia. In April, last year, the Switzerland-based Global Fund, which financially supports various disease eradication programmes, had decided not to source malaria drug from the company after the FDA warning letter.


Ahead of Modi visit, US lawmakers ask govt to rethink price cap on stents

A group of US lawmakers has backed medical device makers by urging India to reconsider its decision to cap prices of heart stents, raising the issue ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States later this week.
In a letter sent to the Indian ambassador to Washington last month, and seen by Reuters, 18 members of Congress said they were “troubled” by the price cap, warning that it could deter firms from launching new medical products in India.
Modi’s government has in recent years capped prices of hundreds of life-saving drugs to make them more affordable. And in February, it imposed a 75 percent price cut for certain heart stents – wire mesh tubes used to treat blocked arteries.
The government justified its action by citing “huge unethical markups”. But global medical device makers have protested the new cap, with some saying it would force them to sell below cost.
The US lawmakers warned that people would be denied access to the latest medical advances if companies backed away from India’s $5 billion medical-technology market.
“The sudden and unprecedented nature of the decision threatens citizens’ access to the newest and most innovative medical technologies and raises strong concerns about the business environment in India,” they said in the May 22 letter, which has not previously been made public.
The Indian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
The US Department of Commerce is likely to raise the issue with Modi during his visit on June 25-26, according to an industry source aware of the plans. “It’s one of the biggest pain points,” the source said.


An aide to Modi said companies were being asked to bring down prices of medical devices “or be prepared to quit” the country, and a bureaucrat who works closely with the prime minister’s office said raising the matter to diplomatic levels would not influence India’s position.
US-based companies such as Boston Scientific Corp and Abbott Laboratories sell heart stents in India, while Johnson & Johnson sells other devices.
Following the February decision, Abbott moved to withdraw one of its stents from India, but its plea was rejected by Modi’s government.
Boston Scientific – which also has a research base near New Delhi – sought a higher price for one of its stents but a government panel declined the request.
Such decisions, the group of US Congress members wrote, had forced companies to sell “leading edge technology in India at a loss”.
Signatories to the letter included Indiana Republican Jackie Walorski, and Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat. Both are members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Before the pricing order, for example, Boston Scientific was selling its high-end Synergy stent for about $3,000 in India, well above its $750 cost, according to a company document seen by Reuters.
The new cap reduces the price to $450, and the company says it would result in losses of at least $7 million this year.
Indian health activists have lauded the government decision to cap heart stent prices, saying it is in the public interest.
“It was found that huge unethical mark-ups are charged at each stage in the supply chain of coronary stents resulting in irrational, restrictive and exorbitant prices in a failed market system,” the Indian government said in February.
A month later, NPPA privately asked the health ministry to add at least four more medical devices to a list of essential medicines, opening the way for them to be made subject to price controls.
In their letter, the US lawmakers echoed concerns raised by the medical device industry, saying India’s interventionist policy on pricing would hamper innovation and jeopardise investment.
“We are especially worried that comments by government officials signal the intention to double down on this dangerous policy and expand price cuts to other medical devices,” they wrote in their letter.

Educate for Life Impact Report

Bakhel village is located toward the periphery of Kotra block (a sub-division of
Udaipur district), an administrative region with the poorest health, education,
livelihood and welfare indicators in the district, and one of the poorest in India.
The population of Kotra block live in rural settings spread across scattered villages,
and the vast majority of the population belong to the Adivasi community – an
indigenous community, classified as ‘Scheduled Tribe’ or ‘Tribal’ by the Government
of India and considered among the most deprived ethnic minority groups in India.The
region is situated in the Aravali hills and surrounded by Gujarat state and the districts
of Pali and Sirohi.1
The indigenous communities generally live in mud and stone huts sparsely scattered
across the hills, with their main sources of income coming from seasonal agriculture
and migrant labouring in Gujarat. The hilly terrain, distance from any major city,
scattered houses, discrimination against indigenous communities and paucity of
roads, educational facilities and livelihood opportunities all contribute to the
developmental challenges faced in Kotra block.1
The block has a poor literacy rate and female literacy in Kotra Block is far lower than
the national average, and showslittle improved over the last 15 years.
Concerning educational indices are compounded by poor health and limited effective
government services. A village-wide assessment of access to pregnancy and
delivery services found severe issues.
The poor health and educational outcomes have become entrenched in the area,
due to a paucity of functioning services in the area. Bakhel and the surrounding
communities are being left behind while rapid development and change is being
enjoyed in other parts of India.
Through Hunar Ghar, Educate for Life aim to alleviate some of these issues and
provide the residents of Bakhel with the protection and opportunity every citizen of
India deserves.

Early Childhood Development assessment tool

  • Child’s Developmental Status
    o First go through the questions with the caregiver
    o Once you have completed the questions, introduce the child to the toys and engage the child in a
    play session for approximately 20 minutes – it’s OK for other children and/or caregivers to join in
    during this session
    o The caregiver’s response should always be accepted. If you have any doubts about the
    caregiver’s answer, or if the answer is ‘doesn’t know’, then use the observation time to try and
    resolve this. If after the observation session you have doubts about the validity of an answer, then
    probe the question further with the caregiver, but ultimately, the caregiver’s answer should be the
    one recorded.
    o For all of the developmental status questions, you can demonstrate the action to the child first
    o Allow the child up to 3 attempts to complete something, such as building a block tower, before
    deciding whether the answer is yes or no
    o The shaded developmental indicators are key indicators – if a child is missing any one of the
    shaded indicators, this constitutes delay. If a child is missing 50% or more of non-shaded
    indicators (where 50% equals more than one) then this also constitutes delay.
    Caring Practices & Capacity to care
     Go through the questions with the caregiver
     Where there are probe questions, or opportunities to cross-check what the caregiver is reporting,
    take these opportunities (e.g. using vaccination card to verify reported vaccinations)

Developing Early Childhood Development Tool

Early childhood development influences an individual’s
future intelligence, educational attainment, income, and
adult health, and is therefore key to breaking cycles of
inter-generational poverty in low and middle income
settings. However there is currently a paucity of tools
which can be used by community-based workers, which
holistically assess the status of early childhood
development, early childhood caring practices and
guardians’ capacity to care in a community. The authors
of this paper have designed and piloted a tool building on
existing work using validated and widely recognised
indicators that are relevant for the assessment of early
childhood development. The tool provides a
comprehensive measurement of a child’s developmental
status from the ages 12-60 months, is easy to use and is
universally relevant to different cultural and socioeconomic
backgrounds. The tool measures the status of
a child’s development using age-appropriate indicators,
as well as assessing caregiving practices and the
caregivers’ capacity to care. The authors believe that this
tool has the potential to be of value to organisations
looking to further their understanding of early childhood
development and caregiving practices in local

Explore the World of Beauty

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Over 8 lakh chemist shops go on nationwide strike over online pharmacies plan

Close to 8.5 lakh privately owned chemist shops will remain shut on Tuesday after the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) have called for a nationwide protest against the Centre’s plans to start e-portals for sale of drugs.

Drug retailers are expected to hold a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in Delhi in a bid to draw attention on the issues of selling drugs online and government’s e-portal plan.

AIOCD president Jagannath Shinde said, “The association believes that the proposal of e-portal will lead to scarcity of medicines in the country,” reported The Indian Express.

The association submitted notices to the Health Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, among others, highlighting their biggest worry – dip in profit margins and cut-throat competition from the e-portals.

Already, a wave of e-pharmacy websites has sprung up online which allows individuals to upload their prescription to be verified by a certified pharmacist. Once cleared, the medicines get delivered to the person’s doorstep.

However, traditional chemist shop owners argue that verification of drug quality online is dubious and they have even raised a flag over the possible increase in psychotropic drugs.

Further, chemists are even concerned over the sale of counterfeit drugs.

Countering the above, the Indian Internet Pharmacy Association (IIPA) – a central body representing the e-portal websites – assured a transparent functioning in the distribution of medicines and also promised to be accountable for the same.

The IIPA also said that procedures will be tracked and monitored.

“As an online healthcare company, we can work with the government on data and patient reforms,” said Prashant Tandon, president IIPA, and founder, PharmEasy website, reported IE.