Taking the mike

Taking the mike

A few days ago, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar got tempted to temporarily take on a different role. Renowned anthropologist Ralph Nicholas, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, was in town and Sircar thought it would be worthwhile for DD to interview him. And, for the job, he selected no one but himself. Having obtained one of his two Masters degrees in Social Anthropology, Sircar was on familiar territory. Donning the role of the interviewer wasn't tough either. Before joining the IAS in 1975, Sircar worked with All India Radio in Kolkata for four years and hosted a programme on Yuvavani. In the early part of his administrative career, he continued to act as a compere or anchor on radio or at functions whenever he got time. No wonder, the interview went off well and slightly altered versions of it were broadcast on DD National and DD News. Sircar intends to do similar work in future as well, and is learnt to have told other senior officials like DD director general Tripurari Sharan to chip in once in a while.

Health Minister misses a link

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has obviously not been updated about diseases caused by air pollution. Contrary to findings of several studies, Azad asserted in Parliament on Friday that there was "no conclusive information...regarding high prevalence of respiratory and other diseases due to air pollution." He could obviously have been informed better. An AIIMS study in 2002 had linked increase in prevalence of asthma and acute coronary events to high levels of air pollution. Delhi Government's Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Chest Diseases published another study correlating ambient air pollution with chronic respiratory morbidity in Delhi. The Central Pollution Control Board had stated in a 2008 study that children's health is "most acutely" affected by air pollution exposures. The ministry officials, who prepared the answer, could have at least looked at a study done by their own National Institute of Health and Family Welfare in 2007 that had concluded that "air pollution has a deleterious effect on various systems of the body". If the officials had to rely on international studies, they only had to take note of a WHO paper of 2011 that had noted that "countries which are experiencing maximum growth and industrialisation, particularly China and India, are experiencing maximum health problems due to polluted air".

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