Heartbreak, anger in US’ Richardson after Indian girl’s death

The Richardson community in the US was mourning the death of Sherin Mathews, the three-year-old Indian girl whose foster father has claimed that she choked while drinking milk, with many people asking why he did not wake his nurse wife when the child was struggling to breathe.

Sherin, who had developmental issues and limited verbal communication skills, was confirmed dead by US police yesterday after over two weeks of investigation. She was missing since October 7.

Wesley Mathews, 37, the father of Sherin, told the police that his daughter choked while drinking milk and he removed her body from the house as he “believed she had died”.

He was re-arrested and charged with first-degree felony injury to a child due to a conflicting statement to police.

The arrest came a day after the body of a small child was found in a culvert near their home in suburban Dallas.

While the cause of her death was still being probed, the community and neighbourhoods all across Texas are shocked, heartbroken, angry and mourning her death.

Wesley’s wife Sini Mathews, who is a registered nurse and could have helped her, was reportedly sleeping in her room.

“All these lies, first punishing the girl and putting her under tree, later choking her in a garage at 3 AM for not drinking milk, does not add up. It is heartbreaking and shocking,” said a teary-eyed resident Diana.

“It will be another story soon, when police will find the actual cause of the death,” she said.

Another neighbour Barabaa Diamond Johnson asked why did not Wesley Mathews wake his nurse wife as Sherin Mathews choked to death, especially when she is a registered nurse at Children’s hospital Dallas. (more)

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Loneliness may be a greater public health hazard than obesity: Study

Loneliness and isolation may actually lead to early death, researches say

Loneliness may be a greater public health hazard than obesity, according to a study which found that social isolation may put people at an increased risk of early death.

“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need – crucial to both well-being and survival,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor at Brigham Young University in the US.

“Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment,” said Holt-Lunstad.

“Yet an increasing portion of the USPopulation now experiences isolation regularly,” she said.

To illustrate the influence of social isolation and loneliness on the risk for premature mortality, Holt-Lunstad presented data from two research reviews.

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The first involved 148 studies, representing more than 300,000 participants, and found that greater social connection is associated with a 50 per cent reduced risk of early death.

The second study, involving 70 studies representing more than 3.4 million individuals from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, examined the role that social isolation, loneliness or living alone might have on mortality.

Researchers found that all three had a significant and equal effect on the risk of premature death, one that was equal to or exceeded the effect of other well-accepted risk factors such as obesity.

“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” said Holt-Lunstad.

‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams’: Informative, inspirational (IANS Review, Rating: ***)

Film: “Sachin: A Billion Dreams”; Director: James Erskine; Cast: Sachin Tendulkar, Anjali Tendulkar, Ajit Tendulkar, Sara Tendulkar, Mayuresh Pem, Mayur More; Rating: ***

“Sachin: A Billion Dreams” is a biopic that gives a holistic view of Sachin Tendulkar’s life, who is revered as “the God” of cricket by his fans.

Structurally, the film is designed as a documentary. While the film encapsulates the life of the master blaster right from his birth till date, it also gives an insight into the socio-economic situation of the country, making it feel like heavy-duty stuff.

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This may not be the first documentary on Tendulkar, but probably it is the only one endorsed by him. So, you have him as the narrator sharing his personal moments along with his views and fears in a sincere and heartfelt manner.

While the film tells us of his growth as a cricketer which is common knowledge, it also reveals his personal life bringing to the fore his close-knit family and friends. How he got the name Sachin, how he met his wife, got married and how he spends his free moments, are a few of the interesting nuggets shared. So apart from Sachin you actually get to see his family and friends. Read more

Job insecurity gives way to India’s 1st IT workers union in Tamil Nadu

Previous attempts to organise 2.8 million employees of the country’s IT sector have failed

In 2008, as Tamil Nadu erupted in angry protests against the killings of Sri Lankan Tamils during that country’s civil war, a group of young software professionals in Chennai’s Tidel Park banded together to form a human chain. “Stop the War, Save Tamils” was their demand – a slogan that featured on posters, T-shirts and Orkut posts.

Nine years later, their agitation has led to the formation of India’s first independent union for information technology employees. Amid reports of large-scale layoffs by several Indian software firms companies, the Forum for Information TechnologyEmployees, which evolved from the campaign to protect Tamils in Sri Lanka, is in the process of getting itself registered formally as a union for technology employees in India. It will be the first independent association of its kind in the country.

Previous attempts to organise the estimated 2.8 million employees of the country’s information technology sector have failed to make much headway. “Normally, the middle class has an aversion to political activity,” said J Jayaprakash, a member of the forum.

But in recent months, insecurity has been running high among India’s information technology employees. Approximately 4.5% of employees are expected to lose their jobs over the next few months, reported Mint, attribution the turbulence to the companies’ “under-preparedness in adapting to newer technologies and dealing with the fallout from US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies”. It added that at least 56,0000 employees of top software companies such as Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant are expected to lose their jobs over the next year.

This uncertainty has made employees realise the need for collective action. Said Jayaprakash: “Since we ourselves are IT employees who have started this, people trust us to take up their issues. It is a homegrown solution to their problems.” Read more

Army officer from Kashmir shot dead in his village; army vows revenge

23-year old Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz was killed off duty, while attending his cousin’s wedding

Insurgency-racked Kashmir’s fragile social compact, already under severe stress, could experience further strain after armed militants abducted and murdered a young, off-duty army officer, who was visiting his home in South Kashmir.

Army officials say 23-year old Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, the son of a Kashmiri apple farmer from Sursana village in Kulgam District, had taken leave from his unit near Akhnoor, in the Jammu region, to attend his cousin sister’s wedding on Tuesday, in her village near Shopian.

Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Police sources recount that, while the festivities were in full swing, at about 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, four men in civilian dress arrived and asked to talk to Fayaz. Since they were apparently unarmed, he quietly left with them.

When Fayaz did not return after an hour, the village began searching for him. Early on Wednesday morning, his body, bearing two gunshot wounds, was found near Harmen village.

Fayaz is the latest and most high profile casualty of an ongoing militant drive to dominate and control South Kashmir. So far, this has consisted of intimidation and violence directed at the homes of J&K Police personnel, who have been instrumental in controlling militancy over the years. Recently, the J&K Police chief warned policemen from South Kashmir against visiting their homes.

Yet, Lieutenant Fayaz, knowing well the precarious security situation in South Kashmir, regularly visited his family in the dangerous districts of Kulgam and Shopian. Similar is the case with thousands of Kashmiri soldiers and policemen who serve in the military and the central armed police forces (CAPFs). Read more

No-fly list: Govt proposes maximum 2-year ban on unruly flyers

Draft rules, a first of kind in the world, have three levels with progressively higher sanctions

Almost a month after the country was shocked by the visuals of a parliamentarian assaulting an airline crew member for not being able to provide a business class seat as it didn’t exist, the government took steps to empower airlines to ban unruly passengers.

The centre on Friday released draft rules for a ‘no-fly list’ — a first of its kind in the world — for unruly passengers. The rules allow airlines to bar a passenger from three months to maximum two years depending on the intensity of the offensive behaviour. The government has placed disruptions from flyers into three categories — level-1 will include disruptive behaviour such as physical gestures etc., level-2 will be physically abusive behaviour like pushing, kicking and sexual harassment, and level-3 is for life-threatening behaviour and damage to aircraft operating systems.

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Punishment for unruly behaviour will simultaneously depend on the category of the offence.

The corresponding time of grounding for offenders, would be three months for level-1 and six months for level-2, while level-3 will attract a ban of two years. The new rules will be open for public comments for a month, and will pass through stakeholders’ consultation before being finalised.

“There is no other country in the world with a no-fly list based on safety. There are no-fly lists based on security where people are seen as grave threats and they are not allowed to fly. India is blazing a new trail in this regard,” Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation said. Read more