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Adolescents learn smoking by imitation


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Most teens pick up the habit of smoking by watching their favorite film actors puffing away in movies. This widely popular belief has been confirmed in a recent survey of school students of Delhi. The survey, published in British Medical Journal, finds that adolescents who watch Bollywood stars light up or use other tobacco products on screen are more likely to be tobacco users.

A cross-sectional sample of 3,956 adolescents (classes VIII and IX, ages 12-16 years) from 12 randomly selected New Delhi schools was surveyed in 2009. It included assessing tobacco use status, receptivity to tobacco promotions (based on owning or willingness to wear tobacco-branded merchandise) and exposure to its use in the movies.

The survey led to the subjects listing out 59 films that had 162 shots of tobacco-use scenes that they could summon up. It is a matter of deep concern that the young generations are blatantly ignoring the repercussions of such acts and according to the survey, at least 11.8 per cent of the adolescents were found receptive to tobacco promotions from the Bollywood movies.

India accounts for one-sixth of tobacco illnesses worldwide and will face a fast increase in tobacco-related mortality from 1.4 per cent of all deaths in 1990 to 13.3 per cent in 2020. The tendency among adolescents to pick up smoking by watching the film stars will add to the number thus weakening the present and generations to come.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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