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

Want Rs 2,500 tickets under UDAN? Please book in advance on popular routes

Shimla-Delhi flights are sold out but others are available much below the capped limit of Rs 2,000

Five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik”, or UDAN, scheme from Shimla airport, Tushar Patel tried to book tickets from Delhi to the hill station. To his surprise, he couldn’t find the subsidised Rs 2,500 fare. Instead, the cheapest fare in May was Rs 8,049 and on some days, it was as high as Rs 15,090.

Travellers lapped up the cheaper tickets soon after the scheme was launched. “On Delhi-Shimla route, all tickets reserved under UDAN scheme are sold out until June end. What’s available now are few seats that have market-linked rates,” says CS Subbiah, chief executive officer of Alliance Air, an Air India subsidiary.

This is quite a contrast to the other three routes that are operational at present. If you were to take a round trip between Mumbai and Nanded, the fares are Rs 4,000 – below the cap of Rs 2,500 one way. But if you are flying between Hyderabad and Kadapa or Nanded and Hyderabad, you can get a return ticket even for around Rs 2,000.

Shimla stands out among all other operational routes because of the holiday season. “The city is one of the most popular holiday destinations in India, hitherto inaccessible to many tourists due to lack of convenient air connectivity. It is also a state capital. There is a huge unmet demand,” says Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG.

The number of seats available on the route are much lower, too, because the airport is at a high altitude. “From Delhi to Shimla, the 42-seater aircraft can only carry 35 passengers. Read more