Sunday, December 30, 2012

A letter from Namita Bhandare

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM
We have a long fight ahead. But we will win
Photo courtesy Facebook
Dear Rector,
Yesterday was a sad day as we woke up to the heartbreaking news of the death of the 23-year-old medical student who was subject to a brutal gang rape, beaten and then dumped on the road on the night of December 16. 
Today, we share the same feelings of sorrow, hopelessness, anger and frustration. Yet, I believe that while this is a time for grief, this is also a time for action. This is a time to say: enough. 
Our petition has gathered over 88,000 signatures. It is important to make every voice count and to send a strong message that we will not continue to tolerate sexual violence against women. 
Tomorrow, at 10 am, I am going to the office of Justice J.S. Verma who is the head of a three-person committee that will submit its findings and recommendations on issues of safety of women. I will be submitting our petition with all the signatures (yes, all 2,700+ pages!). 

It is important to keep this campaign going. I am writing to you once again to request you to sign this petition and forward this email to your friends and family.

The Justice Verma Commission is accepting submissions until January 5. We don't have a lot of time. If you would like to make additional suggestions, please leave a comment as 'reasons for signing this petition'. I will be collecting all the comments and submitting them to the committee.

We have a long fight ahead. But we will win. 

With warm regards,

Namita Bhandare via
A letter from Namita Bhandare 
PS:  Help us reach out to more people by forwarding this email to your friends or share it on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

An open debate on violence against women at Ldh

Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 11:26 AM
A bill must be passed in parliament at earliest
such crimes are generally committed by the well connected people
LUDHIANA, 21 December 2012:A comprehensive strategy has to be evolved through administrative, socio political and judicial measures to combat the inhuman menace of violence against women. This was the consensus arrived at after open debate on violence against women organized by the All India Working Women Forum (AITUC), Punjab Istri Sabha and Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha Ludhiana today at Shaheed Karnail Singh Isru Bhawan Ludhiana. Dr Narjit Kaur –Convener of the forum said that it was heartbreaking and sobering to read the morning papers and realise how low we have fallen as a society and as human beings. A group of drunk middle aged men raped a young physiotherapist and brutally assaulted her and her boyfriend. Even if the girl survives her physical injuries, the mental scars she bears may not be erased for a lifetime. What sort of wicked and depraved men they must be to so casually and easily rob the joy and health of a harmless young girl at the threshold of womanhood and life and reduce her and her family to utter despair?

Mrs.Gurcharan Kochar – President Punjab Istri Sabha Ludhiana cautioned that it brings us to the urgent question of what needs to be done to prevent more of our daughters being deprived of their happiness, esteem, health and often, their lives. To act strongly and firmly. The female foeticide, honour killings and discrimination against the girl child are a reflection of  gender bias prevailing in the society. This needs to be condemned  and corrected.

Dr Arun Mitra – General Secretary Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha said that such crimes are generally committed by the well connected people who feel that they will go scot free after committing the crime. The economic gaps which have increased in the last about two decades have further marginalized the already deprived section of the society who have become more vulnerable to violence.

The meeting proposed following measures to meet the situation.

1.      All concerned men and women holding any position of authority and whose voice can be heard  by many, should publicly express their outrage and concern.

2.      A bill must be passed in parliament at the earliest wherein the outcome of rape cases must be decided within 45 days by a fast track court. Strong punishment must be meted out to the rapist and he must be publicly humiliated.

3.      Police reforms must be undertaken immediately. Political intervention in the police must stop.  If any police station refuses to register a complaint of rape, there must be a strong and well -defined punishment for the concerned officer.

4.      Laws in relation to sexual harassment at workplace should be enacted in consultation with women orgnaisations.

There should be one page devoted in the daily newspapers to women’s safety. This page should exclusively list crimes against women. Detailed identities and addresses of culprits involved, photographs and daily progress on brutal cases (ie who has been apprehended as yet, what punishment has been given etc)

5.      All employers should make their own  workplaces  as safe as possible for women.

6.      There should be several options for safe travel for women including exclusive buses and taxis, train compartments and plenty of well-lit public toilets. These should have female staff manning them as well.

7.      All parents, when rearing  their children, should place a very strong emphasis on not letting them use violence. Gentleness must be inculcated from the start in boys especially.

8.      All schools should make self- defence, especially for girls , a mandatory part of the curriculum.

Others who spoke at the meeting include Maj. Sher Singh Aulukh – President BJVJ, M.S.Bhatia – Organising Secretary BJVJ, Jit Kumar – General Secretary Punjab Istri Sabha Ludhiana, D.P.Maur – General Secretary Joint Council of Trade Unions Ludhiana.  

 An open debate on violence against women at Ldh

Friday, December 21, 2012

Daughter Delight

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 10:31 PM//12/20/2012 10:55 AM CST
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard Winstead hugs his daughter during a homecoming celebration on Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan, Nov. 17, 2012. Winstead is assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 141, which completed a deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.
(USA Dod) Daughter Delight

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The colors during the Operation Linebacker II

The honor guard team presents the colors during the Operation Linebacker II remembrance ceremony at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2012. The ceremony commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Linebacker II campaign that led to the end of the Vietnam War. (DoD photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Wiseman, U.S. Air Force/Released) 12/14/2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CMC Heart Surgery Team finds

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 3:38 PM
Heart diseases equally affects people in rural areas
DR Bedi examining patienst at camp opd 
Heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in India.  People across all regions, both urban and rural are equally prone to heart problems. Earlier this disease was majorly seen among people in urban areas due to their sedentary lifestyles, changed food habits, lack of physical exercise and increased level of stress. But today, even in the rural areas people tend to imitate the lifestyle and culture of urban cities and follow the same pattern. So, this causes people to suffer from various lifestyle diseases leading to heart diseases often. Recently the Cardiac Surgery Dept of the Christian Medical College &Hospital , Ludhiana organized  free health checkup camps  at Village Isru in Khanna and in Samrala.  Under this camp, 500  people from different age groups were examined , in which 215 were found to be having heart problems. Among those  24 were children below 15 years of age and 38 were adults below  40 plus years of age.

All patients were examined by super specialists , investigated , counseled and given free therapy . DrHarinder Singh Bedi – Head of Cardio Vascular & Thoracic Suregry of CMC & H - stressed that it was a holistic approach to therapy as they laid a great stress on prevention. Trained dietitians and a full time Yoga Acahrya were part of the team which had 6 doctors, 14 nurses and 12 paramedical staff from CMC.

Dr. Bedi says, “The statistics shows a rise in the number of heart patients in rural areas, which is very alarming. It is a matter of concern as this is the highest rise we have observed in a rural area. Change in the lifestyle patterns of people in rural areas have been observed in the recent years, which ultimately leads to increase in various diseases like diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and heart problems. At the CMC &H  I see more of patients with heart diseases needing surgery from rural areas today. The numbers have consequently increased. In order to bring this under control, it is the need of the hour to take preventive measures and educate people by creating awareness.”

Dr Abraham G Thomas – Director of CMC & H- said that the CMC was committed to a positive health of the people of this region and outreach camps were an integral part of the ethos of CMC.         
--(Shalu Arora and Rector Kathuria
 CMC Heart Surgery Team finds

*Dr.H S Bedi may be contacted at: 9814060480

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CMC doctor gets award

 Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 1:08 PM
Received M. L. Gupta Prize in Medical Education
Ludhiana, 18th December, 2012 (Shalu Arora and Rector Kathuria):Dr. Dinesh Badyal, Professor & Head, Department of Pharmacology, Christian Medical College, Ludhiana  received M. L. Gupta Prize in Medical Education and Technology for recognition of substantial contribution to Medical Education and Technology with special reference to Physiology/ Pharmacology or Allied Sciences in India by Association of Physiologists and Pharmacologists of India (APPI) for the year 2012. Mr. Shahid Manzoor, Honorable Minister of State, Government of UP presented him the award and certificate in inaugural session of the Annual Conference of Physiologists & Pharmacologists of India (APPICON 2012) held in Subharti Medical College, Meerut on 18 December, 2012. He delivered his oration on “Medical education in India: Effectiveness and relevance of faulty development programs in India”

He told that medical teachers used to teach as they were taught by their seniors and there have not been formal training programs for medical teachers. Even in other arts science teachers get formal training for teaching skills. So, there is need to train doctors to be teachers, one of their basic responsibilities in medical colleges. Dr. Badyal has been very actively working the area of medical education for more than 12 years. He is program co-director of CMCL-FAIMER regional institute, Ludhiana. This is one the 6 regional institutes of FAIMER (Foundation for Advancement in Medical Education and Research), Philadelphia, is a non-profit organization of ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates), USA. This centre provides fellowships in medical education. He is co-convener of Medical Council of India (MCI) Regional centre for Faculty Development, CMC, Ludhiana. MCI has created 15 regional institutes to train doctors working in medical colleges in teaching skill and technologies. Their centre has trained medical teachers form 20 affiliated medical colleges. These training programs for doctors in medical colleges have become very important as the new curriculum for MBBS needs the teachers to be trained in relevant areas. In CMC and other institutes they have trained a number of medical teachers. 

In his oration Dr. Badyal explained the evolution of training programs for medical teaches in India. He added that more and more doctors are being opting to get trained in faculty development as the awareness has increased and regulatory agency is making it criteria for teaching appointments. With accreditation becoming a norm, soon the trained faculty and faculty development program will be much sought after. The whole consortium of trained faculty and feedback from students and faculty is contributing to evolution of medical education in our country. 

Dr. Badyal also received Best Paper award last year in an International conference for his work in medical education. He also trained doctors in use of alternatives and simulations to replace animals in medical education. He is faculty in National and International programs in medical education.                                           
CMC doctor gets award 
Dr.Dinesh Badyal may be contacted at: 9815333776

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chrismas Fire-2012 Ludhiana

Another colorful presentation by CMC artists
Ludhiana,16th December, 2012 (Shalu Arora and Rector KathuriaThe CMC family celebrated Christmas with good cheer and religious fervor. The high point of all the Institutional Christmas Programs was the “CHRISTMAS CAMP-FIRE” held in CMC Children’s Park on the evening of Sunday the 16th of December 2012 witnessing a gathering of about 1400 people including staff and their families joined by friends and well wishers of CMCH.

The items included singing of Christmas Carols by choirs, and choreography by small children. The neighboring churches i.e. the Orthodox Chruch, Marthoma Chruch and CNI Chruch also participated in the programs. Christmas message was delivered by Rev. Darbara Singh of CNI Kalvari Chruch, Ludhiana.

The dignitaries present included Director, Dr.Abraham G Thomas, Associate Director, Dr.Kim Mammen, Medical Superintendent Dr.Kanwal Masih, General Superintendent Mr.Ashley Isaiah.

The Director in his address greeted the gathering and wished everyone A Merry Chrismas and a blessed new year. 

CMC Chrismas Fire-2012 Ludhiana

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Govt.of India Wall Calendar for 2013 Released

Calendar a Vital Tool to Reach the “Aam Aadmi”- Manish Tewari
The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Manish Tewari addressing at the release of the official calendar 2013, brought out by the DAVP, in New Delhi on December 14, 2012. (PIB Photo)
The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Manish Tewari addressing at the release of the official calendar 2013, brought out by the DAVP, in New Delhi on December 14, 2012. (PIB Photo)

The Government of India’s Wall Calendar for 2013 was released today in the presence of Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Manish Tewari along with Minister for Telecommunications and IT, Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions and PMO, Shri V. Narayanasamy. Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman PCI and Secretary (I&B), Shri Uday Kumar Varma were also present on the occasion.  The theme of the calendar is based on “Bharat Nirman and other flagship schemes of the Government”.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Manish Tewari said that the calendar as a tool of communication played an important role in disseminating information regarding the policies of the Government. This was despite the fact that media platforms were enhancing their reach through digital means of communication. The calendar ensured that the benefits of the flagship schemes reached the doorstep of the “Aam Aadmi” especially as the objective was to showcase images of rights, “Haq for the common man”.  This initiative of the Government was a step to make the people aware of policies that aimed to achieve inclusive growth in the governance process.  Shri Tewari further added that the people residing in rural areas always have the passion for wall calendars hence the calendar brought out by the Government can serve as an important source of information for them.

Earlier, Shri Kapil Sibal and Shri V. Narayanasamy highlighted the initiatives taken by the Government to promote the rights and entitlements of the common people through the various flagship schemes.

 Over the years DAVP had been successful in developing a composite broadbased social advertising brand the “Bharat Nirman” which caters to disseminating information of various flagship and other welfare programmes and the achievements of Government of India. The visual portrayal in the 2013 Calendar too is based on this composite branding.

The Calendar designed and printed by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting depicts the various flagship programmes of the Government of India. The theme of the calendar is: ‘Bharat Nirman- Sabka hit, Sabka Haq’.

This year’s calendar portrays in colourful images the regime of Rights (Haq) for the common man (aam aadmi) by encouraging the intended beneficiaries to claim the benefits under the Bharat Nirman and other flagship schemes of the Government of India.
January month displays the ‘AADHAR’ based Direct Cash Transfer Scheme being implemented in 51 districts from January 2013.The scheme ensures the intended beneficiaries to receive full benefit of the central government programmes.
February month shows the PM’s New 15-point Programme for welfare of Minorities. This programme provides various facilities to minorities to seek equitable share in economic activities, including education.
March month represents the ‘Sarva Shikha Abhiyan’, a prominent program which provides primary and upper primary education for children with new intervention as uniform, transport facility.
April month is dedicated to a unique scheme, Mid Day Meal Scheme nurturing crore of children with hot cooked meals in schools.11.85 lakh schools have been provided with kitchen devices.
May month exhibits one of the most popular scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which has benefited more than five crore families in the year 2011-12.
Universal Immunization program is the key depiction of June month. About 2.5 crore children got the benefit of free vaccination. 
Literacy and education are the key to human resource development. July month is dedicated to ‘Saakshar Bharat Abhiyan’ launched in 372 districts. This mission will empower the seven crore illiterates is 1.6 lakh village panchayats to impart functional literacy.
Healthy mothers and children build the brighter present and future of the nation. The month of august presents ‘Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram’ benefiting one crore pregnant women with all free medical services.
September month page is dedicated to empowerment of schedule castes through Schedule Castes Empowerment Program which provides benefits to 48 lakh students, including new scholarship schemes.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is the theme of October month. Through this scheme over 46 thousand habitations have been connected through all- weather roads.
Power is the basis of development. November month throws light on Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana. This scheme completed electrification of one lakh villages till October 2012.
The well renowned scheme Indira Awas Yojana covers the December page of the calendar.
(PIB)    14-December-2012 18:08 IST

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chrismas Drop

12/12/2012 05:22 PM CST
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Timothy Oberman, left, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nick Alarcon, right, watch out the back of a C-130H aircraft after dropping the first pallet of humanitarian goods to the island of Ulal, Dec. 11, 2012. Oberman and Alarcon, loadmasters, are assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan. Operation Christmas Drop is a nonprofit organization powered by volunteers from Andersen Air Force Base and the local Guam community.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Celebration, 2012 by CMC

The whole gathering was then enlightened
Ludhiana, 10th December, 2012: Advent is the time to share love, joy and peace with others. College of Nursing, CMC, Ludhiana celebrated Christmas. The programme began with a welcome speech by Principal Prof.(Mrs.) Ponnamma R. Singh, after which all the dignitaries, guests, teachers and students joined the college choir to sing the congregational hymn.
The opening prayer and the Christmas message was given by Rev. Rogers. The whole gathering was then enlightened with the message from the Director Dr. Abraham G. Thomas. He remembered the old staff and their dedicated services towards the institution as many of the alumni graced the occasion. The soulful and pleasant carols by students mesmerized all and filled the whole air.

Continuing with the Christmas merriment College of Nursing students presented the Christmas play “This is Christmas” which showed God’s love for mankind by sending His only begotten Son for our salvation and this love has to be reflected in all of us.

And then came the most awaited moment i.e. “Arrival of Santa” who had a merry time with the gathering and distributed gifts among students. At the end all enjoyed the fellowship & relished the banquet together as a family in beautifully decorated and illuminated College of Nursing.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Obama Intends to Nominate Austin as Centcom Chief

12/06/2012 03:00 PM CST
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 - President Barack Obama intends to nominate Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, currently the vice chief of staff of the Army, to succeed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced today.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
President Barack Obama intends to nominate Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III [pictured], who's currently serving as the vice chief of staff of the Army, to succeed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command. U.S. Army photo
Austin is "one of the military's most seasoned combat leaders," the secretary said, and will "bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department."
Austin was the final commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, holding that position from Sept. 1, 2010, until the command was disestablished Dec. 18, 2011.
"During his final deployment to Iraq, Gen. Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves," Panetta said.
Austin's previous commands include the 3rd Infantry Division, with whom he earned a Silver Star for valor for actions in the early months of the war in Iraq. He also served as commander of the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, and as commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq from February 2008 through April 2009.
Mattis has commanded Centcom since Aug. 11, 2010, having previously served as commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.
"[Mattis] will go down as one of the most celebrated battlefield leaders and strategic military thinkers of our time," Panetta said.
Austin's nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.
Leon E. Panetta
Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III
Related Sites:
U.S. Central Command
DOD News Release

Sunday, December 02, 2012

PM consoling Shri Naresh Gujral

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Smt. Gursharan Kaur consoling Shri Naresh Gujral son of the former Prime Minister, late Shri Inder Kumar Gujral, in New Delhi on December 01, 2012.  (PIB)          01-December-2012 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Shri Dnyanesh Moghe (Director) film “Digant”, Ms Sunanda Bhat (Director) film “Ningal Aranaye Kando” and Dr. Biju, (Director) film “Akashathinte Niram”, at a press conference, during the 43rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2012), in Panaji, Goa on November 26, 2012. (PIB)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To Cure Young bravehearts of major heart disease

Rotary Int. and Army join hands with CMC Heart team

Mr Som Nath Sharma and Mrs Sharda Devi from Akhnoor (J&K), Mr Mohd

Shabir & Mrs Shamim Akhtar from Rajouri (J&K)   are extremely happy
parents today. Their children – Janu Sharma (7y) and Irfan (8y)
respectively had major heart defects with large holes in their hearts
along with defective valves. Both were not growing according to their
age and would get recurrent infections and were blue in colour . They
would land up in the emergency time and again. They are both from a
financially challenged background. They were investigated in Jammu
where the doctors advised an early major open heart surgery at an
advanced centre. Both could not afford to even travel outside J & K.

Their case was ‘adopted’ by the Army under project Sadbhawana – a
brain child of the Chief Of Army Staff – Gen Bikram Singh – and the
International Rotary India Humanity Foundation (based in Kolkata with
Mr Shekhar Mehta as the Director) which runs the Saving Little Hearts
programme. Mrs Sushmita Dasgupta with Ms Urmi Basu (sponsor) of the
Rotary took a personal interest and brought these children with their
parents to the prestigious Christian Medical College & Hospital in
Ludhiana to Dr Harinder Singh Bedi – Head of Cardiac Surgery. On
investigation it was realized that only a major open heart surgery
could save both as medicines had no role and if untreated it could
even lead to death. The bright youngsters suffered from a congenital
heart defect called Tatralogy of Fallot - what is called a ‘Blue Baby’
disease. This is a defect from birth and basically leads to impure
blood mixing with pure blood due to a large hole in the heart combined
with small arteries to the lung.

Dr Bedi who has had advanced training in the treatment of such cases
at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Australia and is one
of the senior most practicing cardiac surgeons of India - told that
both children underwent a major  open heart surgery (total correction)
and are doing well. Dr Bedi said that their hearts are now normal and
both can now lead a normal healthy life.  In fact Janu now wants to be
a doctor while Irfan is aiming to be a fighter pilot. The children
were operated upon under the ‘CMC Gift of Life’ project where highly
subsidized International level cardiac surgical care is given to all

Dr Abraham G Thomas – Director of CMC said that the Institute is fully
geared to take care of such children with heart defects. Dr Bedi told
that it was only because of the strong backup of Dr Jugesh Chattawl –
Prof of Paediatrics – and her team that most of the heart defects
could be safely treated in CMC. The other members of the Heart team
during the marathon surgeries were Dr A Joseph, Dr S Garg , Dr Melchi,
Dr Anish, Dr Vishal, Dr Gurleen, Dr Elizabeth, Dr Ashwin and Dr
Cynthia . The Officers of the Army took a personal interest and gave
invaluable logistic and moral help.

Pic: Master Janu and Master Irfan with Dr Harinder Singh Bedi , Dr
Jugesh Chattwal and the Heart team of CMC

For Further Details Please Contact Dr.H.S.Bedi: 9814060480

Friday, November 23, 2012

Face of Defense:

Marines Enjoy Thanksgiving Feast, Camaraderie
By Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
Regional Command Southwest
FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Afghanistan, Nov. 23, 2012 - Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7 were in the holiday spirit this Thanksgiving.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7 enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal featuring turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and pumpkin pie in the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
Thousands of miles from their loved ones, the Marines traded gathering with their friends and families for spending time with their brothers and sisters in arms."It's hard for Marines to be away from home this time of year," said Sgt. Corey Branner, logistics and supply chief with the battalion.
For Thanksgiving, the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Geronimo served a special menu for the Marines. They ate turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and pumpkin pie. All their holiday favorites were available. It was a welcome boost of morale at a time when many Marines miss their families the most.
"It's nice having a Thanksgiving Day meal rather than a [Meal, Ready-to-Eat]," said Branner, who hails from Chicago. "It helps the mindset of being away from home. A lot of these guys make groups of close friends in the Marine Corps, and today we are able to talk about more than Afghanistan, FOB Geronimo and work."
Marines often refer to one another as brothers and sisters, and for deployed Marines during the holidays, that saying holds true.
"They realize we are also their family," said Cpl. Justin Burns, warehouse noncommissioned officer with the battalion. "They turn to their brother to the left and right of them and say, 'You are my family, let's go eat dinner.'"
With the familiar Thanksgiving Day smells of turkey and gravy wafting through the air, the Marines joked and shared stories. With the television playing sports in the background, it gave some Marines a familiar aura while deployed to another country.
"I believe being away from their family for the holidays gives the Marines something to bond over," said Cpl. James Smoak, warehouse chief with the battalion. "No one wants to be away from their family, but I look forward to the camaraderie and spending time with my fellow Marines."
This is Smoak's fourth deployment and each deployment was during the holiday season. He is accustomed to not being home for Thanksgiving and said his family supports him.
"My family understands this is my job," said Smoak, from Icard, N.C. "This is what I do, and this is the profession that I chose."
Unlike Smoak, many of the Marines are on their first deployment to Afghanistan, and first away from their families and friends.
"We have a young battalion and some good senior leadership," Branner said. "I think the first time being away from home will be a humbling experience for them."
The new Marines had a welcome surprise when they arrived at the mess hall. The decorations and Thanksgiving Day menu helped boost morale.
"I don't think a lot of guys expected the mess hall to be decorated," said Burns, who hails from Fort Worth, Texas. "They had banners, cutouts and Happy Thanksgiving signs everywhere. It was really set up nice. They did a really great job for us."
The meal meant more to the new Marines than a different menu. In a country where holidays are still workdays, the pumpkin pie, turkey and camaraderie helped bring the Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, closer together as a family.
Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Panetta Details Steps Needed to End Al-Qaeda Threat

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2012 - For the United States and its allies, ending the al-Qaida threat calls for a modified military footprint, close work with partners, and continued U.S. involvement in regions of the world where violent extremism has flourished, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said tonight.
Addressing a large audience here at the Center for a New American Security, the secretary discussed significant national security challenges and opportunities ahead.
He also outlined priorities that characterize the approaching end of the longest period of sustained armed conflict in the nation's history.
The priorities, Panetta said, are fighting the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, ending the war in Afghanistan, implementing the new defense strategy, meeting fiscal responsibilities, countering nuclear proliferation, improving cybersecurity, achieving greater energy security, implementing the Asia-Pacific rebalance, and taking care of service members, veterans and military families.
"But tonight I wanted to focus on the goal that still remains at the top of the priority list, as it must. That goal that the president made very clear -- that we have a responsibility to disrupt, degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat those who attacked America on 9/11 -- al-Qaida," the secretary said.
" ... To protect Americans at home and overseas," he added, "we need to continue to pursue al-Qaida wherever they go, whatever form they take, wherever they seek to hide. We must be constantly vigilant, we must be constantly determined to pursue this enemy."
What will it take, he asked, to achieve the end of al-Qaida?
The essential first step is to finish the job that the United States and its coalition partners began in Afghanistan, he said, "and we are on track to do that."
As the United States and its NATO partners agreed at the 2010 summit in Lisbon, Panetta said, Afghans must be responsible for their own security by the end of 2014.
This transition will require continued commitment by the international community and the United States to help Afghan forces achieve this goal, he added.
"We have come too far. We have invested too much blood and treasure not to finish the job," the secretary said. "There are no shortcuts, nor can we afford to turn away from this effort when we are so close to achieving success and preventing al-Qaida from ever returning to this historic epicenter for violent extremism."
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, prolonged military and intelligence operations have significantly weakened al-Qaida, Panetta said.
The terrorist group's most effective leaders are gone, its command and control has been degraded and its safe haven is shrinking, he added, but al-Qaida remains.
"We have slowed the primary cancer but we know that the cancer has also metastasized to other parts of the global body," the secretary said. Two examples of that spreading al-Qaida presence are Yemen and Somalia.
In Yemen, for example, the capabilities of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, are growing. This group has targeted the United States for attack and sowed violence and chaos in Yemen itself, Panetta said.
"We have struck back in an effort to disrupt and dismantle this group through a very close partnership with the government of Yemen ... and the Yemenese themselves," he added.
In Somalia, against the militant group al-Shaabab, progress also has been made, the secretary said, "in large part because of an effective partnership between the United States and the African Union Mission in Somalia."
But the challenge is far from over, Panetta said.
"President [Barack] Obama has made clear, we will fight not just through military means but by harnessing every element of American power -- military, intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement, financial, economic and above all the power of our values as Americans," the secretary said.
The second step in achieving the end of al-Qaida, Panetta said, involves maintaining pressure on al-Qaida in Pakistan, on AQAP in Yemen, and on al-Qaida-associated forces in Somalia.
That means degrading the terrorists' senior leadership, dismantling their organizational capabilities, remaining vigilant to ensure the threat does not reconstitute, and working to build the capacity of U.S. partners, including Pakistan, to confront these shared threats, he added.
"Despite challenges in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan," the secretary said, "one area in which our national interests continue to align is defeating the terrorists on Pakistan soil that threaten both of us. We remain committed to pursuing defense cooperation based on these shared interests."
A third step is to prevent the emergence of new safe havens for al-Qaida elsewhere in the world that the group could use to attack the United States or its interests, he said.
"The last decade of war has shown that coordinated efforts to share intelligence, to conduct operations with partners, are critical to making sure that al-Qaida has no place to hide," Panetta told the audience.
"We will expand these efforts, including through support and partnership with governments in transition in the Middle East and North Africa," he added.
"This campaign against al-Qaida will largely take place outside declared combat zones, using a small-footprint approach that includes precision operations, partnered activities with foreign special operations forces, and capacity building so that partner countries can be more effective in combating terrorism on their own," the secretary said.
DOD will work whenever possible with local partners, he added, supporting them with intelligence and resources they need to deter common threats.
In Mali for example, Panetta said, "we are working with our partners in Western Africa who are committed to countering the emerging threat to regional stability posed by AQIM."
A fourth step needed to bring an end to al-Qaida involves investing in the future, he added, in new military and intelligence capabilities and security partnerships.
"Our new defense strategy makes clear -- the military must retain and even build new counterterrorism capabilities for the future," Panetta said.
As the size of the military shrinks, for example, special operations will continue to ramp up, growing from 37,000 members on 9/11 to 64,000 today and 72,000 by 2017, the secretary noted.
"We are expanding our fleet of Predator and Reaper [unmanned aerial vehicles] over what we have today. These enhanced capabilities will enable us to be more flexible and agile against a threat that has grown more diffuse," Panetta said.
"We are also continuing to invest in building partner capacity, including through Section 1206 authority to train and equip foreign military forces. Our new Global Security Contingency Fund has been very helpful in placing new emphasis on cultivating regional expertise in the ranks," the secretary added.
A final point that too often takes a backseat to operations against al-Qaida, Panetta said, is how to prevent extremist ideologies from attracting new recruits.
"Over the past decade we have successfully directed our military and intelligence capabilities at fighting terrorism," he added. "And yet we are still struggling to develop an effective approach to address the factors that attract young men and women to extreme ideologies, and to ensure that governments and societies have the capacity and the will to counter and reject violent extremism."
To truly end the threat from al-Qaida, the secretary said, "military force aimed at killing our enemy alone will never be enough. The United States must stay involved and invested through diplomacy, through development, through education, through trade in those regions of the world where violent extremism has flourished."
This means continued engagement in Pakistan, he added, and following through on U.S. commitments to Afghanistan's long-term stability.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has outlined a comprehensive strategy for North and West Africa that combines security assistance and economic development, strengthens democratic institutions and advances political reforms, Panetta said.
" ... We will be vigilant and we will posture our military and intelligence forces to prevent and if necessary respond to threats of violence against our interests throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including threats against our embassies and consulates, and our diplomats themselves," the secretary said.
"But to truly protect America, we must sustain and in some areas deepen our engagement in the world –- our military, intelligence, diplomatic and development efforts are key to doing that," he added.
Pursuing an isolationist path, the secretary said, "would make all of us less safe in the long-term."
"This is not a time for retrenchment. This is not a time for isolation. It is a time for renewed engagement and partnership in the world," Panetta said.
Leon E. Panetta

Monday, October 29, 2012

World Stroke Day 2012:

Stroke Walk and Road Show by CMC Stroke Unit 
Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Ludhiana, 29th October, 2012 (Shalu Arora and Rector kathuria) CMC Stroke Unit has been carrying out several public awareness activities in the city for the past 6 days. This is to commemorate the Stroke Week and World Stroke Day. The World Stroke Day is celebrated throughout the world on 29th October every year. Dr Jeyaraj D Pandian, Chair of the World Stroke Campaign of World Stroke Organization said that this year’s theme is “1 in 6” people will experience a stroke in their life time. 

The medical students, physiotherapy interns and students, doctors of CMC, Staff and Students of All Saints College of Physiotherapy had gathered near Hotel Park Plaza today for the “Stroke Walk”. The number of people who participated in the walk was 120. During the walk they displayed placards, educational leaflets to the public. They concluded the walk near canal road. Another team of doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and students in a separate vehicle did the road show. They passed through Sarabha Nagar, civil lines, model town and various Malls in the city. In the road show emphasis was placed on recognition of stroke symptoms and accessing to immediate treatment of stroke within 4 ½ hours. Dr Santosh Mathangi, Consultant, Physical Medicine Rehabilitation department who organized the stroke walk and road show stated that after the medical treatment patients should receive rehabilitation in the form of Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy and Speech therapy. 

Yesterday the team went to West End Mall and screened about 100 people for the risk factors of stroke. They also distributed stroke awareness pamphlets to the public.

The other key personnel involved in organizing the Stroke walk and Road show were Ms Lizzy Julia, Ms Rajni Arora,  College of Physiotherapy, Mr Navneet Singh, Mr Devan, Ms Deepika Sharma, Mr Dheeraj KV, Vice Principal, College of Physiotherapy, research staff of department of Neurology (Mr Amber Sharma, Dr Shweta Jain, Mrs Gagandeep Mehmi, Dr Deepti Arora, Mr Himanshu Koundal, Ms Raminder Kaur, Mrs Paramdeep Kaur) and students and interns of College of Physiotherapy CMC and All Saints College of Physiotherapy.

The stroke team at CMC is available 24/7 to rapidly evaluate stroke patients who come within the golden time of 4 ½ hours after the onset of symptoms. The stroke warning symptoms are sudden weakness, numbness in one side of the body, sudden trouble speaking or understanding, sudden loss of vision in one eye, sudden imbalance, sudden headache and loss of consciousness. If any of you experience the above symptoms please call the stroke hotline numbers 7508100222, 7508100111.

World Stroke Day 2012: 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Durga Puja an occasion for communal harmony

For Bengali Hindus, the annual Durga Puja festival is the equivalent of Eid and Christmas. The appeal, however, transcends religious boundaries.

By Sahana Ghosh for Khabar South Asia in Kolkata
October 27, 2012:
A priest performing the rituals before the Goddess 
Durga at a Kolkata pandal on October 22nd. Durga 
Puja has become an occasion for bringing people 
of different faiths together. [Sahana Ghosh/Khabar]
For five days and nights, residents and visitors forgot Kolkata's drudgeries, political tensions and widespread poverty. The Durga Puja festival, which concluded on Wednesday (October 24th) has evolved over time from a religious holiday to a cultural festival with appeal beyond the Hindu community.
People from all social, economic and religious backgrounds join in the revelry each year during the third week of October. The festival has a unique ability to bring together Hindus, Muslims and Christians in an atmosphere of camaraderie and communal harmony.

"I spent the whole time, moving from one pandal (ceremonial structure) to another and chilling out with my friends," Gulshanara Khatun, a 21-year-old Muslim student at Jadavpur University, told Khabar South Asia. "This is a great occasion for all of us to enjoy and have fun."

Community pujas (ritual) are a great way to unite people of different backgrounds, Hindu priest Samaresh Bhattacharya told Khabar. "You can’t distinguish between communities or religions among the thousands of visitors to the Puja, who come to watch the rituals or just to have a glimpse of the idols," he said.

"Durga symbolizes the victory of the good winning over the evil Asura [deities]. It also signifies family values as Durga – the mother– makes her annual visit to her parents’ house along with her four children. The rituals are something every Bengali can associate with, even when the mantras are chanted in Sanskrit," said Bhattacharya.

During the annual festival, men, women and children dressed in their best attire visit pandals -- makeshift tents that house the idols of the Goddess Durga and her four children, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartik -- eat delicacies and take part in cultural programmes.

From somber affair to economic windfall

Until a decade ago, Durga Puja used to be a somber affair. Then-organised by communities who broke down barriers between the rich and poor, Pujas focused mostly on the rituals.

Now, preparations for the festival begin months ahead. Pandals range from simple bamboo and tarpaulin material to art deco works using innovative medium like compact discs, terracotta sculptures, glass bangles and various other materials.

This year, many pandals were created with themes ranging from rural Bengal greenery to Rajasthan deserts to Kashmir mountain settings. Illuminations were creatively designed to depict social, cultural or political themes. Lights were used to create pictures of favorite personalities and events.

For craftsmen who build pandals, the festival is their main source of income through the year. The north Kolkata locality of Kumartuli, where idols are made with mud and bamboo, begins to bustle at least six months ahead.

The budgets of most Puja organisers have skyrocketed. Corporate sponsorships have become the norm. Rathin Sanyal, an organiser of a moderate-scale Puja in Kolkata's Salt Lake said, "Our budget has almost tripled over the last five years to about $30,000, which includes cultural programmes with invited artistes and community lunches for four days."

Budgets of over $200,000 for four-day community Pujas are common. "All companies operating in the eastern part of India earmark substantial portions of their advertising and sponsorship budgets for spending during the Pujas," public relations professional Ashoke Kumar Mukhopadhyay told Khabar. Telecom, media and consumer goods companies provide the sponsorships, he said.

Because this is the time of year most Bengalis shop for everything from clothes to accessories, consumer durables and books, Puja also brings a bonanza for retailers and a boon for publishers.

"I make one-third of my yearly sales in the months of September-November, the festive season that starts from Durga Puja and ends with Diwali," Gariahat retailer Saradindu Pal said.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Extremists caught off guard by outcry over Malala

With their reputation already tarnished, militant groups appear to have dealt themselves a self-inflicted wound by going after a schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' education.By Udayan Namboodiri and Zahir Shah for Khabar South Asia
October 26, 2012
Courtesy Photo:Students hold a placard during a rally to condemn
the attack on Malala Yousafzai in Peshawar October 11th. Militant
extremists like the Taliban were caught off guard by the global
condemnation of their assassination attempt of the 14-year-old
girl who spoke out in favour of women's education rights.
Girls worldwide have held candlelight vigils in support and
Muslim clerics and other religious leaders have
condemned the attack. [Fayaz Aziz/Reuters]
Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old from the Swat Valley who rankled the Taliban with her assertion of every girl's right to education and is recovering in a British hospital, has become a rallying symbol not only in her native Pakistan, but across South Asia.

In the Indian city of Lucknow, with its storied Muslim heritage, girl students from all religious backgrounds staged a candlelight vigil on October 17th for Malala, who was shot October 9th by a gunman who boarded her school bus. Two fellow classmates were also injured in the attack.

On October 25th, more than 3,000 girls and boys drawn from all communities took part in a procession in downtown Kochi, Kerala. "The little girl in Pakistan has won a huge fan following," said Ameena Kuttimeena, a state government education service official, in comments to Khabar South Asia.

At home, Malala's story has galvanised Pakistani public opinion. Prayer vigils were held across the country and thousands attended rallies of solidarity in capital Islamabad and Karachi.

Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, accused the attackers of cowardice and said they "have no respect even for the golden words of the prophet".

According to Pir Haider Ali Shah, an MP from the Awami National Party, Pakistanis from all walks of life have come together in condemnation of the shooting.

"Across-the-board condemnation of the attack on this teenage girl is unprecedented," he said. "The level of unity shown by the Pakistani nation over the incident is equal to the one observed when a massive earthquake hit northern regions of the country in 2005."

Taliban, al-Qaeda on the defensive

The reaction appears to have come as a surprise to extremist groups operating in South and Central Asia, putting them on the defensive.

The Taliban issued a seven-page statement insisting that the attempted murder of Malala was permissible under Islam, and threatening to kill journalists who it said were casting the terror group in a negative light. Al-Qaeda followed suit days later with a letter that said the girl had been targeted because she "made fun of jihad" and was too close to the West.

Uzbek militants operating in North Waziristan, meanwhile, have been issuing pamphlets asserting that Islam "allows punishment of women involved in crimes".

"Malala had committed the crime of using insulting language against the Mujahideen so the attack on her was very much justified," the militants said.

But the use of Islam to condone an assault on a minor-age schoolgirl has been hotly disputed by Islamic authorities, including religious scholar and former Pakistani Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi. Islam, he explained to Khabar, does not allow such attacks. "Killing an innocent girl cannot be justified in Islam," he said.

Maulana Tayyab Qureshi, caretaker of the historic Mohabbat Khan Mosque, also cast doubt on the militants' claims. "I don't feel the brutal attack on the minor girl Malala and her other schoolmates could be justified under Sharia," he said, adding that it is "highly uncalled for and unjustified".

"I don't know how the attackers, whosoever they are, can justify it but it would be just a personal justification and had nothing to do with Islam and its teachings," Qureshi remarked.

Activist: Malala close to people's hearts

Pakistanis reacted strongly to the shooting because they see Malala as a symbol of girls' right to education, according to Qamar Naseem, a business executive who also chairs the End Violence Against Women and Girls Alliance, a group of civil society organisations.

The people of Pakistan hold Malala close to their hearts and view her as a torchbearer for emancipation, he told Khabar.

Asked whether the attack would further damage the reputation of the Taliban, Qamar said: "To a very large extent! I would say the masses' reaction to the attack and the brutal attempt itself had badly tarnished the Taliban's image, which was already on the verge of decline due to their vicious acts of violence and barbarism."

"The seven-page explanation and their repeated clarifications with different justifications clearly shows the Taliban were panicked and were really in hot water over the Malala issue," Qamar added, describing it as a media and public relations disaster for the militants.

Indian analysts, meanwhile, say Malala's campaign on behalf of girls' education is drawing support from across the region.

"More education among women means greater insurance against radical thoughts creeping into young minds," said Shajid Aslam, a legislator from the eastern state of Bihar. "You find greater fundamentalism in feudal societies which deprive education to girls than in countries where girls have this right."

According to Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, Malala "can be a game-changer. The girls of all South Asia are praying for her."

"Through her brave struggle, Malala has injected new life into not only education, but all human values. Henceforth Taliban and all fundamentalists will be careful," Banerjee added.