140 teenager suicides in Kerala in just 6 months: Human rights body seek report

News Network
September 15, 2020

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sept 15: At least 140 teenagers killed themselves in Kerala for trivial reasons in the last six months, a study said, prompting the state Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to direct the Social Justice Department to examine the effectiveness of its suicide prevention measures.

In his direction to the Director of the department on Monday, SHRC chairman Antony Dominic sought a report on the initiatives taken to prevent suicide among youngsters.

"As per a complaint received by the panel, a study conducted by DISHA, an NGO, shows that at least 140 youngsters in the age group of 13 to 18 had committed suicide during the period of January 2020 to June 2020," a commission release said.

The study said that family disputes, troubled love affairs, failure in examinations, issues over mobile phones, two-wheelers were among the major reasons for the suicides.

"Thiruvananthapuram district has the highest number of suicides with 22 youngsters having taken the extreme step, followed by Malappuram with 20 suicides," the SHRC said.

The complaint said that the ineffectiveness of "village child protection councils" has resulted in the rising number of suicides among youngsters.

The release said the SHRC asked the Social Justice Department to review the effectiveness of the suicide prevention measures being taken up by it and sought a report.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had in July said instances of suicidal tendencies were being witnessed among children and termed it as an "extremely serious social issue".

"Since March 25, when the national lockdown was imposed, 66 children, below 18 years of age, have ended their lives due to various reasons," Mr Vijayan had said.

To help the children facing issues relating to mental pressures, "Chiri", a tele-counselling initiative was initiated by the government under its Our Responsibility to Children Programme (ORC), a planned community intervention that connects with Children and Young people between the age of 12 -18 years.

The health department had launched "Ottakalla Oppamund" (You are not alone, we are with you) programme to help children facing any kind of mental distress and to stop the suicidal tendencies among them.

A committee headed by Fire and Rescue Services DGP R Sreelekha had also been constituted to conduct a study on suicides among children in the state.

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News Network
October 19,2020

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Houston, Oct 19: A 14-year-old Indian-American girl has won a USD 25,000 young scientist challenge for a discovery that could provide a potential treatment for Covid-19.

Anika Chebrolu, an eighth-grader from Frisco in Texas, won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, regarded as the US' premier middle school science competition, for her work using in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic, according to the 3M Challenge website.

3M is an American manufacturing company based in Minnesota.

Chebrolu decided to take part in the Young Scientist Challenge after she battled a severe influenza infection last year. She wanted to find a cure for influenza. However, that all changed after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the website said.

“I was drawn towards finding effective cures for influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year,” Chebrolu said.

“I would like to learn more from 3M scientists to pursue my drug development and with their help, would like to conduct in-vitro and in-vivo testing of my lead drug candidate,” she said.

Chebrolu was one of the 10 finalists in this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge. In addition to the prize money, she was also awarded an exclusive 3M Mentorship.

As a finalist, she worked with 3M Corporate Scientist Dr Mahfuza Ali, who mentored Chebrolu one-on-one throughout the summer. Together, they transformed her idea from concept to reality.

Dr Ali helped Chebrolu perfect her innovation through the scientific method, and she presented her project to a judging panel of scientists and leaders. Each finalist was evaluated on a series of challenges and the presentation of their completed innovation.

"I am extremely humbled at being selected America's Top Young Scientist as all of the finalists had amazing projects and were extremely well-rounded individuals," Chebrolu said.

"Science is the basis of life and the entire universe and we have a long way to go understand it fully," said Chebrolu, who wants to become a medical researcher and professor.

Talking to CNN, Chebrolu said, "The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon."

Chebrolu said she was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the US despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

"Chebrolu has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19," Dr Cindy Moss, a judge for the competition, told CNN.

"Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope," Moss said.

Chebrolu said that winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honour, but her work isn't done.

Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to "control the morbidity and mortality" of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus.

"My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts," she told CNN.

"How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts," she said.

Denise Rutherford, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at 3M in his congratulatory message said that amidst the challenges of a global pandemic, quality STEM education for all has become an even more urgent need.

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News Network
October 16,2020

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Bengaluru, Oct 16: Despite the Union government giving its nod to screen movies in theatres, only a handful of hall owners have come forward to open theatres from Friday.

Speaking to news agency, a theatre owner on condition of anonymity said that many theatre owners are sceptical to screen movies on the first day.

“Most of us are adopting the wait and watch policy in Karnataka, as we want to read the pulse of the viewers before opening the theatres,” he explained.

Karnataka Theatre Owners’ Association president K.V. Chandrashekhar said that there are 650 single screen theatres in the state and of this, 140 are located in Bengaluru alone, while 260 screens operate in various multiplexes across the state.

“Until now, the association has not got a clear assurance from its members as to who are going to open their theatres from Friday. A clear picture will only emerge on Friday,” he said.

He added that the biggest fear among the theatre owners is how the viewers will react. “It is not easy to predict now, as it will take at least five or six weeks to assess the correct picture about the theatre business,” he explained.

However, another source said that only about 15 to 20 theatre owners have explicitly shown interest to open on the first day.

“Covid has created panic among the people and we are no different. It is very clear that when the markets are in red, one cannot expect great returns. Film watching is always the last option for a common man, as his priorities like food and shelter should be fulfilled first. Then only he or she can think of coming for entertainment,” a theatre owner said.

However, most of the theatre owners in Bengaluru were busy cleaning and dusting the theatres, which are gearing up to screen movies.

The manager of a famous theatre in the Majestic area said on condition of anonymity that the viewers’ interest in watching movies in theatres is on a downward trend for the last two decades, ever since colour TVs coupled with cable network came into dominance.

The Majestic area once housed more than two dozen prominent theatres, but now half all of them have been converted into shopping complexes, he said.

According to him, in the 70s viewers used to come to Nartaki, a famous theatre, just for the sake of enjoying the ambience of the theatre. But now it is no more an attraction to the young crowd.

“Even multiplexes do not enthuse the viewers anymore. As people are getting accustomed to small screen viewing, viewers are deserting the theatres,” he said.

“It may not be easy for us to generate enough revenue to pay our staff’s salaries. We have to see how the viewers respond to the movies,” he added.

Speaking to news agency, noted script writer Satymurthy Ananduru said that it is not easy to attract viewers back to the theatres as most of the viewers have moved to the OTT platforms for their daily dose of entertainment.

“If the movie theatres are going to release old movies or movies which have already been streamed online, it would be difficult to attract viewers back to the theatres,” Ananduru said.

He observed that Bengaluru has always been cosmopolitan in nature even before the IT boom happened, unlike the neighbouring states which are full of avid movie buffs.

“Only one movie star enjoyed such craze — late thespian Dr Raajkumar. Such being the case, it is difficult to attract viewers back to the theatres in Bengaluru,” he said.

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Agencies
October 24,2020

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Mumbai, Oct 24: Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said he has tested coronavirus positive.

The BJP leader shared the information on his Twitter handle.

"I have been working every single day since the lockdown, but now it seems that God wants me to stop for a while and take a break! I have tested #COVID19 positive and in isolation. Taking all medication & treatment as per the advice of the doctors," he said.

"Those who have come in contact with me are advised to get COVID-19 tests done. Take care, everyone!," the former Maharashtra chief minister added in the tweet.

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