In the news: Gujarat's rising maternal mortality, abandoned babies in Hyderabad and more

A wrap of health news over the past week.

More new mothers have been dying in Gujarat: CAG

Maternal mortality has been rising in Gujarat since 2014, according to a report tabled in the state assembly by the Comptroller Auditor General last week. The maternal mortality ratio, the report finds, has risen from 72 per 1,00,000 live births in 2013-’14 to 85 in 2015-’16. This report contradict the Gujarat government’s claims that its health indicators have been improving.

The CAG finds that, given this step back, it will be difficult for the state to achieve its target maternal mortality ratio of 67, which it was supposed to achieve by March 2017. Even the implementation of the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, a central government scheme, has not helped improve the maternal mortality, said the CAG.

Moreover, the report finds that 15,817 newborns died in Gujarat within the first week of birth due to lapses on the part of the health department in providing prescribed care and treatment. For instance, between the years 2013 and 2016, 56% of home deliveries were performed in the absence of skilled birth attendants. State health services have also not ensures a minimum stay of 48 hours after a normal delivery for the better care and treatment of a mother and child, the report said.

The report also finds that the state was supposed to operationalise 50% of its primary health centres as 24x7 centres by 2010 and yet, as of August 2016, only 24% PHCs functioned round the clock.

400 CRPF jawans at Kerala camp ill from food poisoning

An enquiry has been ordered into a case of suspected food poisoning at a Central Reserve Police Force force camp at Pallipuram in Kerala’s capital Thirvanathapuram on Sunday.

About 400 jawans complained of stomach pains, diarrhoea and vomiting after supposedly eating a fish curry served at the camp on Saturday evening. Of those that took ill, 109 are under observation at the Trivandrum Medical College hospital.

Newborn babies abandoned in Hyderabad

The body of a newborn male baby was found in a garbage dumping area near Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital last week, The News Minute reported. The baby was premature at seven months. The Hyderabad police are conducting an investigation to find out who the parents are and have registered a case of concealment of birth by secret disposal of dead body.

While the police say that this is the third complaint they have received in the last four months about a baby being dumped in the garbage, child rights activists say that there have been at least 17 cases in the last three months of newborns being abandoned. Of the 17 cases, one activist said, 14 were girl children. Activists also point out that many babies born with disabilities have been found abandoned.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.