Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Future wars-Not for land but for water and food!

Water is one of the two essential prerequisites for life, besides air, to sustain in this planet and no wonder that our space exploration efforts are to find habitable planets like ours where these two are available. it is another matter that more than 100 years of space exploration has not yielded any positive result so far keeping in abeyance our dreams of colonizing outer space in the foreseeable future. Down to the earth, what is happening to these two natural resources? Water is drying up every where and air is being polluted beyond our tolerance limits. While water supply and harnessing are going on for millions of years in the human history, air is some thing which is inexhaustible like solar rays and the only damage man can inflict on it is to pollute it! According to weather experts, global warming, due to uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions consequent to many human nativities including industrialization and fossil fuel burning, is changing the water dynamics causing drought and nonseasonal rains and floods across the world. It is least realized that sweet water is a definitive commodity like fossil fuels and over exploitation can.lead to scarcity and shortage at every level in this planet. There are many places which have been called "choke points" as far as water is concerned and future wars are going to be fought for access to pure water. Here is a commentary on this critical issue. 

"There's no pretending that providing secure stores of fresh water, and producing adequate supplies of energy and food is confounding the nations of Earth. In the era of climate change most of the world's prominent energy and food producing regions are either getting dryer or more hydrologically unstable. The consequence is a growing list of global choke points —the economically and ecologically disruptive confrontations over water, energy and agricultural resourcesthat Circle of Blue and the Wilson Center, our project partner, are describing all over the world. For five years the two organizations have documented the world's urgent resource choke points with uncommon depth, skill, and on-the-ground expertise. From Mongolia to China,India to Qatar, Palestine to Peru, and all across the United States and Canada, our Global Choke Point project is helping the world understand the urgency of the contest for water, energy, and food. Just as importantly, our work is identifying opportunities to build international momentum for political and pragmatic solutions"

Look at India where there are a number of water related disputes between various states and within some states between regions.The Kaveri water dispute between Karnataka and Tamilnadu is one of the oldest ones defying solution and consensus. Similarly the Idukki dam in Kerala is a flash point for two states, Kerala and Tamilnadu which also is mired in controversy. To further the water misery in the country, over exploitation of ground water has led to a situation where drilling depths are continuously increasing to get even small supply of ground water in almost all parts of the country. Then there is the pull between the industry and agriculture for accessing available water, The infamous "war for water" between the people of Plachimeda village in Kerala and a giant beverage bottling company a few years ago is still fresh in our memory. The on-going "water war" between another bottling giant and people for Narmada water is the latest reminder about such conflicts which are bound to vitiate the situation in India in the coming years. Is it not time that world wakes up to this reality and evolve a consensus regarding the best ways to utilize the existing water resources without looking for importing this precious life sustaining fluid from other planets after investing billions of dollars to just detect presence of water in any of them?

Is milk unhealthy? Americans seem to think so!

Is it not a blasphemy to say that milk is unhealthy? That seems to be the views of millions of American citizens who are shunning milk as reflected by the declining consumption of this precious life saver. Why this distorted thinking? Who is responsible for developing such a thinking among American people? Why is that Americans with such high computer literacy and Internet access are not able to discern the truth that milk whether from mother or cow or any edible source is the most nutritious balanced food man has come across in his long history? Well the blame lies squarely with the health authorities in the US who have been continuously dinning into their ears of people that fat present in milk is dangerous causing a host of diseases including CVD, blood pressure, diabetes and others and how can one expect a child born 40 years ago under such an environment to shake off such a belief to day so easily! The diary industry is terribly worried that declining milk consumption is going to ruin the industry unless the milk is restored to its pedestal which it richly deserves. This is not to hold a brief for the industry which always set its sight on more and more profits, often ignoring the well being of its consumers,But truth still remains that milk's place in healthy life cannot be underestimated or belittled. Here is a take on this situation in the North America..

"As Americans continue turning away from milk, an industry group is pushing back at its critics with a social media campaign trumpeting the benefits of milk. The association says it needs to act because attitudes about milk are deteriorating more rapidly, with vegan groups, non-dairy competitors and other perceived enemies getting louder online. Julia Kadison, CEO of Milk Processor Education Program, which represents milk companies, says the breaking point came last year when the British Medical Journal published a study suggesting drinking lots of milk could lead to earlier deaths and higher incidents of fractures. Even though the study urged a cautious interpretation of its findings, it prompted posts online about the dangers of drinking milk. "I said, 'That's enough.' We can't have these headlines that 'Milk Can Kill You' and not stand up for the truth," Kadison said in a phone interview. She said MilkPEP's consumer surveys have indicated a noticeable deterioration in attitudes about milk over the past year or so, although they declined to give specific survey results. On Tuesday, the "Get Real" social media campaign will be announced at a dairy industry gathering in Boca Raton, Florida in conjunction with the National Dairy Council and Dairy Management Inc., which represent dairy farmers. The campaign is intended to drown out milk's detractors with positive posts about milk on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Milk brands, their employees and others in the industry will post the messages and direct people to a website where they can get more information.
Online ads will also tout the superiority of dairy milk over almond milk, which is surging in popularity. The campaign comes as milk's dominance in American homes continues to wane as beverage options proliferate. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people drank an average of 14.5 gallons of milk a year in 2012. That's down 33 percent from the 21.8 gallons a year in 1970. Total milk sales volume has declined 12 percent since 2009, according to market researcher Euromonitor International. One factor chipping away at milk's dominance is the growth of non-dairy alternatives. While soy milk's popularity has faded, retail sales for almond milk are estimated to be up 39 percent last year, according to Virginia Lee, a packaged food analyst with Euromonitor. Meanwhile, the USDA recommends adults get three cups of dairy a day, including options like fat-free, low-fat milk or calcium-fortified soy milk. And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which represents nutrition professionals, is supporting the Get Real campaign and its push to underscore "the decades of research reinforcing low-fat milk as one of the most nutrient-rich beverages available." But milk's wholesome image is nevertheless being muddied by diet trends and divergent attitudes about nutrition. Many who follow the popular Paleo diet, for instance, shun dairy because people didn't drink it during the Stone Age. Animal welfare groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are also a thorn in the milk industry's side. On its website, PETA notes that "no species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species" and details the cruel conditions dairy cows are often subject to."

Probably over fed Americans do not need milk because of their easy access to cheap protein foods from animals and therefore the argument that "no species on earth drinks milk from another species" may be true in theory. Similarly east Asians do not have the habit of drinking milk. But for hundreds of years in countries like India where vegetarian population is very significant, milk is the only source of proteins with high PER values, responsible for the robust health of its population since time immemorial. One big difference between India and America is that the pattern of milk consumption is totally opposite. While Indians drink fluid milk in abundance, Americans consume milk based products like cheese and frozen desserts. All said and done, milk was, is and will be world's most versatile food from a food scientist's whether Americans like it or not!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Salute the leader-The long journey of "Parle G"

Glucose biscuit is a unique product in the Indian market and there cannot be a cheaper "ready to eat" product more affordable than this in any market any where in the world. Whether one analyzes the cost based on energy, protein or any other parameter, glucose biscuit still comes out with flying colors compared to other food products. Who is responsible for making glucose biscuit so enormously popular in this country? Universally the answer is Parle Biscuits of Mumbai! The illustrious Chauhan family of Mumbai will always be remembered by Indians affectionately and respectfully with nostalgia as some of the major products like glucose biscuits, fruiti drink, Thumsup cola, Bisleri water, were all the creation of members of this family which served the country for more than 8 and a half decades. If Indians should be proud of our feats in food sector, which were threatened with extinction by a spate of "muscly" multinational food companies, we have to thank families like Chauhans, Aggarwalls (Haldiram), Bhujiawalas, etc . No wonder that these foreign companies are trying either to buy them out or imitate them to push them out of the market! It speaks enormously of their resilience and survival abilities that even 3rd and 4th generation successors are giving the MNCs a run for their money. Here is a commentary on the evolution of Parle G the most important icon of Indian food industry and its dominance of bakery products sector.      

"There is a spot where the warm aroma of fresh baking catches hold of anyone travelling in a Mumbai local train enroute Andheri and further north. A result of the busy ovens at the first factory of Parle Products baking a batch of the world's largest biscuit brand, Parle G. The company makes 400 million of those a day. Parle Products was established in 1929 to manufacture confectionery such as boiled sweets, after the promoter family, the Chauhans, bought a decrepit factory. Parle G was born as Parle Gluco a decade later, even as the bugle for World War II was sounded. Parle had to manufacture military-grade biscuits for British soldiers right after, but ensured that it could manufacture the nutritional Parle G for the common masses. Parle G, as we know it today, has grown to be bigger than any other biscuit brand in the world by carrying forward the same positioning from the thirties, perfected over the years with a resourceful knack for scale and self-sufficiency. Launched as an affordable source of nourishment (it underlined the calories in a pack at one time) to counter expensive, imported biscuits in the British Raj such as Jacob's (cream cracker of United Biscuits) and those of erstwhile large biscuit maker, Huntly & Palmers. Britannia, then based out of Calcutta (Kolkata now), was strong in the east, while Glaxo glucose biscuit, also imported, ruled over the south. Kamal Kapadia, who worked at Parle for 32 years and left as CEO, Bengaluru project, in 2004, says, "There were many local manufacturers in the early years, mostly cottage industries. Biscuits then would first mean glucose biscuits." Kapadia recalls that in 1960, Britannia launched its first glucose biscuit brand, Glucose D, later endorsed by Amjad Khan's Sholay avatar, Gabbar Singh in the 1970s. It was then that Parle Gluco started feeling the heat, even smaller players would imitate the pack and carry the suffix of 'glucose' in their names. People, especially who were not literate would just ask for glucose biscuits.  Munawar Syed, who worked on the Parle account from the seventies till the nineties, at Everest (now director at Triton), says, "People were confused by similar brand names. Glucose became generic. We did advertise the differences but then, took a call to change the name and ride more on Parle." In 1982, Parle Gluco was repackaged as Parle G. The company had earlier tried to battle knock-offs by imprinting the plump little girl (an illustration by Everest) on its packs, in the mid-seventies. It clicked with Parle G's target audience, kids and their mothers. Kapadia says Parle always believed in branding: "I still remember Parle G's taglines such as 'Often imitated, never equalled'". Parle was among the first advertisers to paint Mumbai's train compartments with Parle Gluco ads when the Indian Railways allowed it. It was the belief in branding that also made Parle G's makers self-reliant, build scale and maintain pricing. Kapadia says, "It wanted to sell biscuits in consumer-friendly packs, rather than leave them loose in jars." Parle resorted to importing and patenting its own packing machinery as early as the fifties. Praveen Kulkarni, general manager, marketing, and with the company since mid-90s, says, "Parle G, till the 1980s commanded over 95 per cent. The glucose market was 60-70 per cent of the overall market." Glucose is now 22 per cent of Rs 24,000 crore and Parle G is around 80 per cent of it, reaching 6 million outlets."

If there is a single product that a poor man in this country can buy it is Glucose biscuit which can be considered a complete food. To day every street corner shop through out the length and breadth of the country sells smaller packs of these biscuits at Rs 2, Rs 3, and Rs 5. Whether it is eaten as a quick bite or as a one time food during the day, glucose biscuit fills the role! Remarkably even MNC companies which are fighting for dominance in the market are just the followers and it will remain as one till the foreseeable future!  Talk about the price front and Parle has fulfilled its role as a counterbalance to the MNCs from escalating the price unreasonably as the latter is known to do when they achieve strangle hold on the market by virtue of their dominance. Glucose biscuit is one food product, which always held its price line in spite of inflationary pressure over the years. Imagine a kilo of glucose biscuit costs less than Rs 80 while the breakfast cereals being marketed by the MNCs cost beyond Rs 400 per kilo! Indian citizen must be grateful to Desi stalwarts like Parle for making this country an affordable one, especially for the poor and lower middle class people!


Friday, February 27, 2015

Solar power mission-A new thrust in the offing?

The growth of solar power generation has been phenomenal since 2010 and the output reached more than 3000 MW by 2014, expecting to attain a target of 100,000 MW by 2020. Government of India recently indicated in its Economic Survey that it intends to accelerate the pace of growth of this sector providing all the supports necessary. This is indeed welcome because India is suffering from acute shortage of power, estimated at 10-13% of the daily demand and solar power generated by giant projects like the one in the Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan capable of producing 4000 MW can provide great relief. Power and infrastructure are crucial if the government's "Make in India" dream is to fructify. Here is what the Survey tells us about the intention of the government and the country better succeed in this endeavor if further economic progress is to be achieved.

"The country's National solar Mission is being scaled up five-fold to 1,00,000 megawatts by 2022, says the Economic Survey for 2014-2015. "In the next five years proposals are likely to generate business opportunities of the order of $160 billion in the renewable energy sector," the survey says."It offers very good opportunity for businesses to set and scale up industry, leapfrog technologies and create volumes. Some of India's major immediate plans on renewable energy include scaling up cumulative installed capacity to 170 gegawatts (GW) and establishing a National University for Renewable Energy," it adds.
One of the major road blocks the country has to overcome is scarcity of land for setting up big scale plants while land acquisition poses another challenge. Currently we are witnessing the political charade being played out in the country by opposition parties and some NGOs in the name of a well meaning Ordinance that wants to accelerate pace of industrialization by making land acquisition with minimum hassles and fast. Solar power generation needs about a square kilometer of land for every 20-60 MW power out put and unless the plant size is big enough the cost of production cannot be brought down to make solar power competitive with others. A kWh power from imported coal is estimated to cost Rs 4-5 while solar power may cost Rs 7 per kWh till recently. Probably with lower cost solar panels being offered by China and increasing the capacity of the new plants to achieve scale of economy, the cost can be brought down to about Rs 5 per mWh soon. If the present government continues with its present strategy, India may become an energy self sufficient nation in not distant a future..


No banned pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables sold in Indian markets, so says the government!-How truthful is this assertion?

If we believe our ministers who rule us from time to time, irrespective of their party affiliations, Indian citizens should be the happiest lot in this world! Unfortunately by now every citizen knows that reality is totally different. Latest wisdom emanating from the health minister at Delhi is that vegetables marketed in India are safe with hardly 3% containing pesticide residues above the levels considered dangerous based on assessment of 25000 samples over a period of 3 years between 2011-2014 and further these produce did not contain any banned pesticide residues. Further he stated that only about 1.1% of 7500 fruit samples examined had such residues. Now we can go to sleep soundly after such an assurance was reiterated by the health minister of the country the other day, that too through our parliament! Let us see what he really said. The sample size used for estimating residue levels was slightly above 32 thousand during a span of 3 years when India produced over 240 million tons of fruits and 450 million tons of vegetables. Calculate yourself what is the percentage of production that was selected for residue analysis! Infinitely insignificant! Can the minister fool the people of this country with such misleading statements though he may qualify his statement implicating the previous regime under whom the bureaucrats collected this information!? Even assuming what he said was not a "cooked up" version of the real figures, is not his statement scientifically and statistically untenable? Read his "revelations" in the excerpts quoted below:   

"There has not been a single incidence in which residues of banned pesticides were found in vegetables and fruits in India, according to Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Minister of State for Agriculture. Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a program for 'Monitoring of Pesticide Residues at National Level' under which samples of vegetable and fruits are collected and analysed for the presence of pesticide residues. "No residues of banned pesticides have been detected in any of the samples collected under this program," said Dr Balyan in Lok Sabha on February 24, 2015. There have been reports in media about use of toxic substances like calcium carbide and oxytocin for early ripening of fruits and vegetables, he added. Clause 2.3.5 of Chapter 2 of Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on sale) Regulations prohibits sale of fruits which have been artificially ripened by use of acetylene gas commonly known as carbide gas produced from calcium carbide. However, use of ethylene gas in low concentration exogenously to trigger ripening of fruits is considered safe. During 2011-2014, out of 25,664 vegetable samples, 764 (2.9%) samples were found to contain pesticide residues above the maximum permissible residues level (MRL). Out of 7,501 fruits samples, the residues above MRL were detected in 88 (1.1%) samples. However, none of the banned pesticides were detected, said Dr Balyan. The Registration Committee constituted under the provisions of the Insecticides Act, 1968 registers pesticides only after establishing their safety to human, animal and environmental health. Technical reviews are carried out from time to time and continued use of pesticides is permitted only if found safe. A 'Grow safe food' campaign has been initiated to carry the message of safe and judicious use of pesticides to farmers and other stakeholders. "A simple message on the five essential principles of judicious pesticide use - application of pesticides on the right crop, against pests for which the pesticide has been approved, at the right time, in approved doses, and as per approved method of application - is sought to be conveyed through hoardings, banners etc in regional languages in Gram Panchayats and rural areas," said Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan".

It may be worthwhile to recall two studies in the past on the same subject of pesticide residues in horticulture produce materials-one from Pune in 2014 and the other from Hyderabad in 2012. The Pune study found that during  April 2013 and January 2014, 96 samples of vegetables out of 345 analyzed had pesticide residues including banned ones like Chlordane, Carbofuron  and DDT while the Hyderabad study reported essentially the same with 18 pesticides being detected in fruits and vegetables sold in markets there. Interestingly the items analyzed included grapes, apples, brinjal, okra, bitter gourd, tomato, chilli, capsicum, cabbage and cucumber, all commonly consumed every day in this country. There have been hundreds of other studies also across the country most of them bringing out the bitter truth that pesticide residues are part of Indian life whether we like it or not! One expected from the present political dispensation ruling the country which claims it is party with a difference, not to sacrifice truth and cheat the poor citizen with such false assurances!


Traffic lights system for choosing right foods-Will it really work as expected?

Food package labeling system is intended to make transparent the nature of food inside a pack to the consumers and this is working reasonably well in many countries. Different countries follow different formats to compel manufacturers to disclose a few critical information about the contents inside a sealed food pack. There might not be 100% satisfaction among some consumers because many facts printed on such labels are "Greek and Latin" to them except may the expiry date! But it has to be conceded that the extent of information provided on labels reveal a lot about the nutritive value and type of additives added which give a fairly good idea about the contents and their nature provided these are given in a language that can be discerned by them. Still it is now believed that more than words and figures many consumers understand better if the same facts are presented through symbols or graphics. It is here the so called "traffic light" symbol system of presenting food as very good, good or not so good with each category represented by green, amber and red color. A recent news report from Australia that some schools are adopting this traffic light symbol format to guide the students to buy most nutritious food is indeed heartening. Here is a take on this encouraging development. 

"A "traffic-light" system ranking foods and drinks according to their nutritional value has been introduced to ACT school canteens, events and activities. Education and Training Minister Joy Burch will launch the new ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy on Friday. Under the policy, food will be placed into green, amber or red categories depending on nutritional value, with the traffic-light system to be applied to the sale of all food and drinks in school canteens and to all public school activities and events in Canberra.  There will be some exceptions for events such as school fetes or birthdays. The policy also prevents sugary drinks from being sold in public school canteens and bans vending machines on public school sites.  School staff will also be encouraged not to eat "red" or low nutritional value food or drinks in view of students while principals will be responsible for ensuring "red" food or drinks are not used as rewards or incentives for student learning.  Ms Burch said the government was committed to improving access to healthy food and drinks  in ACT schools.  She will announce a series of fact sheets  developed to support the food and drink policy and ensure it is consistently implemented across schools.  The fact sheets - which were developed following community consultation last year - include resources for canteens and parents about healthy lunchboxes and how to eat fresh. Ms Burch said the policy was part of a range of initiatives to improve healthy eating at ACT schools. "Our attitudes towards food are formed during childhood so it makes sense that once a child begins school, the school environment plays a role in influencing their food preferences," she said. "This new policy promotes a consistent, whole school approach to healthy food and drinks and will help develop healthy eating and drinking habits from an early age." ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations vice-president Hugh Boutler said the new policy provided support to parents looking to reinforce the importance of healthy eating to their children." 

The traffic light system for food labels is a relatively new initiative not liked by the food industry because of their apprehension that the market will be adversely affected. Unqualified support from British Medical Association and Food Standards Agency in UK lends it much credibility and reliability. Consumer is delighted about this development and wants this to be made mandatory. According to this system, a food product is classified into 3 categories based on the contents of total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in 100 g portion, Green light indicates that the product has total fat less than 3 g, saturated fat less than 1.5 g, sugar less than 5 g and salt less than 0.3 g per 100 g. On the other end, a red light will indicate that fat is more than 17.5 g, saturated fat more than 5 g, sugar more than 22.5 g and salt more than 1.5 g per 100 g. Amber color will indicate values in between the two extremes. Imagine what pleasure it could be for the families to shop looking for products with mostly green light as far as possible and avoid red light altogether. Over a period of time industry will learn to avoid red light on their label by making more nutritious and better products. In India the "green dot" printed on a label of a product denotes it is 100% vegetarian, containing no animal derived ingredients and population, especially those shunning animal products find this a great help in avoiding foods without this symbolic green dot. Government of India must now consider to introduce the traffic lights system to help its citizens, many practically illiterate, or at least unable to read English to wade through the isles of the super markets to pick and choose what they want without wasting too much time in deciphering what a product contains or does not contain through the verbose label! 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The scourge called "Swine Flu"-Did we fail as a nation to prevent this epidemic?

Is the number of Swine Flu deaths reported in India so far really alarming? Rajasthan has already declared it as an epidemic while in other states the severity is much less. Still an average citizen in India has a few concerns about the safety for himself in spite of bland assurances from an insipid government that it does have a handle on the issue and advising him not to panic!  With the death toll mounting each day, how can the citizen be insulated from the ever blaring media reports about the dangers of Swine Flu? How can he be unconcerned about the ineffectiveness and unreliability of government promises and action when no less than the Health Minister of the country could not provide  a satisfactory answer in the Lok Sabha regarding the fate of 35 million dosses of vaccine lying with the government unutilized even when the people need them, at least in vulnerable states ;like Telengana and Rajasthan? What a tragedy! With thousands of brilliant scientists, especially in the area of pathogens-related area willing to help the government, no sincere attempt is being made to channel their skill, expertise and experience in tackling this emerging calamity. Here is a commentary on the on-going situation in the country vis-a-vis Swine Flu epidemic as obtaining now.

Surprisingly, most affected states, barring Rajasthan that has formally declared it an epidemic, are tending to underplay the threat. But the virus is displaying some distinctly odd characteristics this year, foxing experts - hinting at the need for out-of-the-box approaches. The approach of summer normally reduces the intensity of the seasonal flu infection, but has not done so this year. The other peculiarity, noticed and documented in Telangana, is that a sizable proportion of patients who have died due to swine flu belonged to the 17-40 age group. Normally, the H1N1 virus affects children and the aged more. Experts believe that the causative H1N1 virus may have either reasserted itself or mutated to develop added potency. Or, it may be turning less sensitive to anti-viral drugs. Both indications are scary and merit urgent investigation and well-crafted remedial strategies. Apart from these, the limited number of diagnostic laboratories and supply inadequacy of anti-flu drug Tamiflu or its generic version Oseltamivir are coming in the way of checking this virus. Many of the laboratories equipped to test H1N1 virus are charging as much as Rs 10,000 a test. Delhi has now capped charges to Rs 4,500, but few laboratories are observing this ceiling. The number of hospitals and chemists authorised to sell the anti-viral drug is too few to meet the growing demand. The procedure for accessing free medicines from the government outlets is cumbersome and time-consuming. With such being the ground reality, the government's response defies logic. Experts wonder why vaccination, as a preventive measure, is not even being considered although anti-flu vaccination is almost routine in many seasonal flu-endemic countries. An indigenous anti-H1N1 virus vaccine was developed by the Serum Institute of India way back in 2010, but it has remained, by and large, unused. The stocks of the vaccine produced by the institute every year during the flu season have to be destroyed for want of takers, while people are continuing to suffer due to this infection. The government has a duty to act on prevention, before this reaches epidemic status."

Recently one of the experts is reported to have said that Swine Flu would fade away with people developing what he called euphorically as "herd immunity"! This probably means that even if no corrective action is taken, people would develop immunity eventually after a few deaths! What callousness in uttering these words! Though hundreds of our law makers go on frequent foreign jaunts wasting crores of rupees through out the year, no one seems to be interested in observing and absorbing good things around them when they visit a country and behave more like carefree tourists enjoying the company of their families and friends at the expense of the public exchequer.  How they could have missed the way governments elsewhere in the world work to the benefit of their citizens whose life they value above every thing! For example in the US, every year the pathologists track the nature of virus that causes influenza, type them and prepare preventive vaccines well ahead of winter in adequate doses. At each and every public place free shots of this vaccine are given especially to vulnerable groups like children and old people. If accountability is the yardstick to measure efficiency of governance, then the present health minister may have any justification to continue in his post after bungling in this case for which country has already paid with the precious lives of almost 900 people so far!