Is José Mujica The World’s Poorest and Humblest President?


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj. .

“I may appear to be an eccentric old man… But this is a free choice.” – José Mujica,  President of Uruguay

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José Alberto "Pepe" Mujica Cordano, President of Uruguay.
José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano, President of Uruguay.

On September 20, 2012, in the article “‘Poorest president’ donates 90% of his salary” published in Yahoo! News, Claudine Zap wrote:

How’s this as a man of the people: The president of Uruguay, José Mujica, has earned a nickname, “el presidente mas pobre” (translation: “the poorest president”).

The 77-year-old recently admitted to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that he donates almost all of his presidential salary, making him the poorest, or, as Univision pointed out, most generous president, in the world.

El presidente explained he receives $12,500 a month but keeps only $1,250. The public servant told the newspaper, “I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less.”

He and his wife—a senator who also donates part of her salary—live in a farmhouse in Montevideo. His biggest expense is his Volkswagen Beetle, valued at $1,945.

Perhaps not surprisingly, under the former guerrilla fighter, who was elected in 2010 as a member of the left-wing coalition, the Broad Front, the country has become known for being one of the least corrupt on the continent.

Mujica has no bank accounts and no debt, and he enjoys one thing money can’t buy: the companionship of his dog, Manuela…”

The author of an article published in The Economist wrote that some Uruguayans see him as “a roly-poly former guerrilla who grows flowers on a small farm and swears by vegetarianism.”

In the article “After Years in Solitary, an Austere Life as Uruguay’s President“, published in The New York Times on January 4, 2013, Simon Romero, wrote:

“Some world leaders live in palaces. Some enjoy perks like having a discreet butler, a fleet of yachts or a wine cellar with vintage Champagnes. Then there is José Mujica, the former guerrilla who is Uruguay’s president. He lives in a run-down house on Montevideo’s outskirts with no servants at all. His security detail: two plainclothes officers parked on a dirt road.

In a deliberate statement to this cattle-exporting nation of 3.3 million people, Mr. Mujica, 77, shunned the opulent Suárez y Reyes presidential mansion, with its staff of 42, remaining instead in the home where he and his wife have lived for years, on a plot of land where they grow chrysanthemums for sale in local markets.

Under Mr. Mujica, who took office in 2010, Uruguay has drawn attention for seeking to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage, while also enacting one of the region’s most sweeping abortion rights laws and sharply boosting the use of
renewable energy sources like wind and biomass.”

A 1987 VW Beetle - All the president's wealth (Photo - bbc.co.uk)
A 1987 VW Beetle – All the president’s wealth (Photo – bbc.co.uk)

An article titled “José Mujica – The Simple Living President of Uruguay” published about 10 months ago in rewordit.org, the author wrote:

“Being selected as the fortieth President of Uruguay must have really been a proud moment for José Mujica, but this appointment was far different than the rest of politicians we’re accustomed to seeing in the world. At such a juncture, when anyone else would have loved driving into an elaborately manned and chauffeur-driven vehicle to reach La Residencia de Suarez – the presidential palace, Mujica was better off driving his 87 model of Volkswagen himself together with wife Lucia and spend some solacing moments at Montevideo.”

The above is what most media say about the 78-year-old José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano.

However, Mujica has his share of detractors in his own country. Adolfo Castells in his article “Folclórico deslumbramiento primer mundista” (Dazzling Folklore of first-world) says:

Mujica se presenta como ejemplo de político austero y abnegado, cuando en realidad sacrificio no hace ninguno porque no le gusta vivir confortablemente. Lo cual estaría en su perfecto derecho si no hiciese una suerte de exhibicionismo de la pobreza.

Translation: “Mujica presents himself as an example of austere and self-sacrificing politician, when actually sacrifice has nothing to do here because he does not like living comfortably. This would be in his perfect right if he did not use it to create a sort of exhibitionism of poverty.”

Castells scoffs at the media that says Mujica is a vegetarian:

“… en el colmo de la desinformación— afirma que nuestro Presidente es vegetariano. Seguramente piensa que los chorizos del Quincho de Varela están rellenos de berenjena y soja.

Translation: “… in the height of the disinformation — affirmed that our president is vegetarian. Surely they think that the sausages of Quincho de Varela are stuffed with eggplant and soya.”

Castells says that Mujica has successfully created the character ‘The poorest president’ like José Joaquín de Olmedo, who on October 9, 1820, declared the city of Guayaquil independent from Spain, and was Vice-President of Ecuador from 1830 to 1831. Castells says:

Ese personaje se disfraza de pobre, llama a la prensa cuando va a comprar la tapa de un WC,

Translation: “Mujica is so poor that he called the press when purchasing a lid for his WC,”

On January 8, 2013, Gerardo Sotelo in his article titled “Ejemplo” (Example) published in El País wrote:

“Suddenly, Jose Mujica appears in the New York Times and Korean television as ‘the world’s poorest president’. His austere lifestyle, which is in contrast to the pomp that surrounds most of their leaders, surprises foreign columnists. This international recognition leaves his followers spellbound, and his detractors full of resentment.”

Sotelo then goes on to compare José Mujica with Mahatma Gandhi:

“Are we witnessing the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi or a skilled politician who hides behind his austerity, a life devoted body and soul to gain power?

For now, there is nothing to compare the testimony of the life of the Uruguayan president travelling in a [Volkswagen] Fusca and cooking his own stew, with Gandhi.

The Indian leader lacked all material goods, except sandals, a pair of glasses, a prayer book, and a covered bowl to eat his lean food. Much more important was that, even though Gandhi was able to gather all the political and religious power he wanted he did not accept any position. His detachment [from possessions] and did what his conscience dictated was the way to his freedom, and he knew the same could help his people to achieve their own freedom.

Detachment makes sense when it affects something that is treasured. Unlike most of his colleagues, including several left leaders, Mujica can live with very little because he does not find value in the comfort that some material possessions offer. Therefore, he spends part of his valuable time on more mundane chores such as cooking food for his bitch Manuela. So, what value does his renunciation achieve?

Gandhi fasted to urge his compatriots to fight unitedly for freedom.  His renunciation had enormous spiritual value because it was something that was necessary. We have not seen Mujica do anything like that.”

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 Jose Mujica, President of Uruguay -
Jose Mujica, President of Uruguay

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Re-posted: 20 Clever Inventions You Probably Didn’t Know Were Made By Indians


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Plastic Surgey - Susruta, famed Hindu surgeon, is depicted in the home of a noble of ancient India, about to begin an otoplastic operation. The patient, drugged with wine, is steadied by friends and relatives as the great surgeon sets about fashioning an artificial ear lobe. He will use a section of flesh to be cut from the patient’s cheek; it will be attached to the stump of the mutilated organ, treated with homeostatic powders, and bandaged. Details of this procedure, and of Susruta’s surgical instruments, are to be found in the Susruta-samhita, ancient Indian text on surgery. (Source: dodd.cmcvellore.ac.in)
Plastic Surgey – Susruta, famed Hindu surgeon, is depicted in the home of a noble of ancient India, about to begin an otoplastic operation. The patient, drugged with wine, is steadied by friends and relatives as the great surgeon sets about fashioning an artificial ear lobe. He will use a section of flesh to be cut from the patient’s cheek; it will be attached to the stump of the mutilated organ, treated with homeostatic powders, and bandaged. Details of this procedure, and of Susruta’s surgical instruments, are to be found in the Susruta-samhita, ancient Indian text on surgery. (Source: dodd.cmcvellore.ac.in)

Indian inventions and discoveries have been instrumental in shaping the face of the current modern world. We picked up 20 such interesting findings out of a whole bunch that will make you go, “I didn’t know that”.

Click here to read more …

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Re-posted from STORYPICK

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Sugar – Part 3: Oh Sweet Poison, Thy Name is Sugar!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
Richard Johnson, Nephrologist, University of Colorado Denver

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What does the word “sugar” mean to you?

To me, anything that tastes sweet: cane sugar (sucrose), beet sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, honey, syrups, sugary drinks, molasses, agave the popular ingredient for tequila, chocolates, toffees, confectioneries, etc.

Baby and cake icing (Source: tammydeyoungdesigns.com)
Baby and cake icing (Source: tammydeyoungdesigns.com)

Most of us had our first singular experience of sweetness when we licked the dab of cake icing or a drop of honey from the finger of one of our loving parents.

Even though sugar tastes delicious it is not a food. Though it is habit-forming it is not a drug, but many people get addicted to it. The more sugar you taste, the more you want! It gives instant energy and quickens the muscles, but it is not a nutrient.

Old Lady enjoying her huge ice cream (Source: Lupe Clemente/flickr.com)
Old Lady enjoying her huge ice cream (Source: Lupe Clemente/flickr.com)

Sugar is the universal name for a variety of carbohydrates, derived from various sources.

Carbohydrates supply energy for working muscles. They provide fuel for the central nervous system, enable fat metabolism, and prevent protein from being used as energy.

Before learning to grow food, the carbohydrates that our ancestors consumed for energy must have come from whatever plants that were available to them according to the season.

Around 6,000 BC, people in New Guinea cultivated sugarcane. They drank the sweet juice by chewing the stalks of the sugarcane. The cultivation of sugarcane spread gradually from island to island, and around 1000 BC reached the Asian mainland. By 500 BC, the Indians were processing crystalline sugar from sugarcane. By 600 AD sugar found its way to China, Persia, and northern Africa. Eventually by the 11th century, it reached Europe. In England between the 18th and 19th centuries consumption of sugar increased by 1,500 percent.

By the mid 19th century, Europeans, Americans and the people of the civilized world became habituated to the use of refined sugar and considered it as a staple item of food.

Now, we consume sugar daily in one form or another because our body cells depend on carbohydrates for energy. An ingrained love for sweetness has evolved within us and we use sugar generously to sweeten almost all our raw, cooked, baked, frozen food and drinks.

There is good and bad food. Health experts point their finger accusingly at all foods that have sugar and brand them bad. They say that we are in fact poisoning ourselves by satiating our sweet tooth. Some even use the adjective ‘toxic’ to describe sugar and say it disrupts the body’s usual hormonal cycles and endangers our internal and external organs.

All experts say the use of sugar results in high rates of obesity, metabolic disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other ailments.

Testing urine by smelling and tasting was once the primary method used to diagnose diseases. Hippocrates (460-377 BC) of Kos noticed that a patient’s urine smelled differently as the course of fever changed. The Greco-Roman doctor Galen (131-201 AD) of Pergamon believed that urine revealed the health of the liver, where blood was supposedly produced. He stated, evaluating the urine was the best way to find whether or not the body’s four humours – blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile – were in equilibrium.

Thomas Willis (1621–1675) by John Wollaston (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)
Thomas Willis (1621–1675) by John Wollaston (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

In 1675, Thomas Willis (1621-1675), an English physician who played an important part in the history of anatomy, neurology and psychiatry, and a founding member of the Royal Society of London, was the first in modern medical literature to diagnose diabetes by the taste of urine. He observed that the urine of the diabetics tasted “wonderfully sweet, as if it were imbued with honey or sugar.” His taste test impelled him to append the latin word ‘mellitus‘ for honey to this form of diabetes. Ancient  Hindu, Chinese, and Arab texts also have reports of the same sweet taste in urine of patients suffering from diabetes.

Haven Emerson (1874-1957), Emeritus Professor of Public Health Practice at Columbia University, New York, pointed out that significant increase in deaths from diabetes between 1900 and 1920 corresponded with an increase in sugar consumption.

In the 1960s a series of experiments on animals and humans conducted by John Yudkin, the British nutrition expert revealed that high amounts of sugar in the diet led to high levels of fat that paved the way for heart disease and diabetes. But Yudkin’s warning was not heard because other scientists blamed the rising rates of obesity and heart disease to cholesterol caused by too much saturated fat in the diet.

Even though the Americans changed their diet by consuming less fat than they did 20 years before, obesity increased.

Why?

The culprit was sugar and fructose in particular.

Now, we eat most of our sugar mainly as sucrose or table sugar. Americans include high-fructose corn syrup as well.

One molecule each of two simple sugars – glucose and fructose, having the same chemical formula, but with slightly different molecular structures, bond together to form a molecule of sucrose.

Because fructose is about twice as sweet as glucose, an inexpensive syrup mixing the two was an appealing alternative to sucrose from sugarcane and beets. In the 1960s, the U.S. corn industry developed a new technology to convert corn-derived glucose into fructose from which high fructose corn syrup was produced. Despite its name, the high fructose corn syrup has 55% fructose, 42% glucose, and three percent other sugars.

The various avatars of sugar are metabolized differently in the body. Our body cells prefer the simple sugars fructose and glucose to the heavier disaccharide sucrose. Enzymes such as sucrase in the intestine split sucrose into fructose and glucose instantaneously. Glucose travels through the bloodstream to all of our tissues.

The human body regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose reaches all the tissues in the body through the bloodstream. It stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, the hormone which helps remove excess glucose from  the blood, and boosts production of leptin, the hormone which suppresses hunger.

All body cells convert glucose into energy, but only liver cells can convert fructose to energy by metabolizing it into glucose and lactate.

Too much fructose from sugars and sugary drinks including fruit juices, taxes the liver by making it spend much energy on converting and leaving less for all its other functions. This leads to excess production of uric acid that induces formation of gout, kidney stones and leads to high blood pressure. According to some researchers large amounts of fructose encourage people to eat more than they need since it raises the levels of grehlin, the hormone that stimulates hunger.

Sugar also triggers the body to increase production of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol often informally called bad cholesterol. LDL cholesterol transports their content of many fat molecules into artery walls, attract macrophages, and thus drive atherosclerosis.

Also, excess fructose increases fat production, especially in the liver. The fat converts to circulating triglycerides that are easily stored in fatty tissue, leading to obesity and a risk factor for clogged arteries and cardiovascular diseases.

Some researchers have linked a fatty liver to insulin resistance – a condition in which cells become unusually less responsive to insulin, exhausting the pancreas until it loses the ability to regulate blood glucose levels properly.

Richard J. Johnson, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver has proposed that uric acid produced by fructose metabolism also promotes insulin resistance thought to be a major contributor to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, the disorders that often occur together.

Richard J. Johnson, MD, University of Colorado
Richard J. Johnson, MD, University of Colorado Denver

Rich Cohen in his article “Sugar Love” (A not so sweet story) published in the National Geographic quotes Dr. Richard J. Johnson:

“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.

Why is it that one-third of adults [worldwide] have high blood pressure, when in 1900 only 5 percent had high blood pressure? Why did 153 million people have diabetes in 1980, and now we’re up to 347 million? Why are more and more Americans obese? Sugar, we believe, is one of the culprits, if not the major culprit.”

Now, more than one-third of adults and nearly 12.5 million adolescents and children are obese in the United States. In 1980 about 5.6  million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes. However, in 2011 more than 20 million Americans were found to be diabetic.

Dr. Arun Bal, diabetic foot surgeon warns:

“India is facing an epidemic of diabetes. At present, confirmed diabetes patients in India are 67 million, with another 30 million in prediabetes group. By 2030, India will have the largest number of [diabetic] patients in the world. Diabetes is not only a blood sugar problem, but brings along other complications as well.”

Dr. Suresh Vijan, Interventional cardiologist, also warns:

“The incidence of heart disease is increasing at a rapid rate. It was 1.09% in the 1950s, increased to 9.7 % in 1990, and 11% by 2000. This rising trend will make India the heart disease capital of the world… Indians face a dual risk of heart disease and diabetes. The risk of death due to myocardial infarction is three times higher in diabetics as compared with non-diabetics. Life expectancy too is reduced by 30% in diabetics as compared to non diabetics; this translates into a loss of eight years of life… Increased consumption of dense-rich foods along with increasing sedentary lifestyle has increased the incidence of diabetes and heart disease.”

Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, is crusading against the use of sugar. His YouTube videos “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” and “Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0” have gone viral.

It’s not just the heart, diabetes takes a severe toll on vision too.

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Don't Lick the spoon !(Source: news.discovery.com)
Don’t Lick the spoon ! (Source: news.discovery.com)

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Sugar – Part 2: The Different Avatars of Sugar


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Image source: nourition.com
Image source: nourition.com

Sugar is the universal name for a variety of carbohydrates or saccharides that have a sweet taste.

The word ‘sugar’ immediately brings to our mind the white crystals we add to tea and coffee to make it sweet.

However, scientifically, the term ‘sugar’ refers to various types of substances derived from different sources: simple sugars known as monosaccharides, and compound sugars: disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

Any word that ends with “-ose” would most probably denote a sugar.

The range of sweetness we experience when eating foods is determined by the different proportions of sugars found in them.

Many chemically-different substances that are non-carbohydrates may also have a sweet taste, but are not classified as sugars. Some of these are used as low-calorie food substitutes for sugar and are categorized as artificial sweeteners.

Saccharides

Saccharides (Greek sacchar: sugar)  are one of the most important biomolecules. They are also known as carbohydrates and control the energy in cells, provide structural integrity, and provide a role in the immune system, development and fertilization in all living things.

Natural saccharides are generally simple carbohydrates called monosaccharides having the general formula (CH2O)n  where n is three or more.

Plants use carbohydrates to store energy and to provide supporting structures. Animals and humans consume plants to get their share of carbohydrates as a source of carbon atoms for synthesis of other compounds.

Carbohydrates supply energy for working muscles. They provide the fuel for the central nervous system, enable fat metabolism, and prevent protein from being used as energy.

Monosaccharides

Monosaccharides (Greek monos: single, sacchar: sugar) or simple sugars are the most basic units of carbohydrates with the general formula C6H12O. Examples of Monosaccharides include Glucose (dextrose), fructose (levulose) and galactose. They have one sugar unit with six carbon atoms and five hydroxyl groups (−OH).  They are the building blocks of disaccharides and polysaccharides (such as cellulose and starch). 

Monosaccharides normally found in food (Source: socialphy.com)
Source: socialphy.com

Each carbon atom that supports a hydroxyl group (except for the first and last) is chiral (a molecule that has a non-superposable mirror image), giving rise to a number of isomeric dextro– and laevo-rotatory forms all with the same chemical formula. For instance, galactose and glucose are both aldohexoses, but have different physical structures and chemical properties.

Monosaccharides form an aqueous solution when dissolved in water.

Glucose also known as D-glucose, dextrose, corn sugar, grape sugar and blood sugar is a simple dietary monosaccharide found in plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with fructose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion.

Glucose

The name “glucose” is derived from the Greek word γλευχος, meaning “sweet wine, must”. The suffix “-ose” denotes a sugar.

In a biological sense, glucose is found everywhere. It occurs naturally in fruits and plant juices. It is the primary product of photosynthesis. Most ingested carbohydrates are converted into glucose during digestion and it is the form of sugar that is transported around the bodies of animals in the bloodstream. It is used as an energy source by most organisms, from bacteria to humans.

Use of glucose may be by either aerobic respiration, anaerobic respiration, or fermentation. Glucose is the human body’s key source of energy, through aerobic respiration, providing about 3.75 kilo calories (16 kilojoules) of food energy per gram. Aerobic respiration requires oxygen.

Simplified reaction:

C6H12O6 (s) + 6 O2 (g) → 6 CO2 (g) + 6 H2O (l) + heat
ΔG = −2880 kJ per mol of C6H12O6

The negative ΔG indicates that the reaction can occur spontaneously.

Glucose can be manufactured from starch by the addition of enzymes or in the presence of acids. Glucose syrup is a liquid form of glucose that is widely used in the manufacture of foodstuffs.

Fructose or fruit sugar, is a simple dietary monosaccharide found in honey, fruits that grow on trees and vines, flowers, berries, and most root vegetables. It is the sweetest of the sugars.

Fructose

Fructose, a 6-carbon polyhydroxyketone is an isomer of glucose – both have the same molecular formula (C6H12O6but they differ structurally. It is often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose.

Along with glucose and galactose, fructose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion.

Commercially, fructose is processed from sugarcane, sugar beets, and maize.

Galactose (Greek galakt: milk), a monosaccharide sugar, is a constituent of the disaccharide lactose along with the glucose. It does not occur in the free state. It is less sweet than glucose.

Galactose

Glactose, is a component of the antigens found on the surface of red blood cells that determine blood groups.

Disaccharides

Sucrose, maltose, and lactose are compound sugars or disaccharides, with the general formula  C12H22O11. They are formed by the combination of two monosaccharide molecules with the exclusion of a molecule of water.

Sucrose is the granulated sugar that we customarily use as additive in our food. It is a disaccharide with one molecule of glucose covalently linked to one molecule of fructose.

Sucrose

Animated sucrose molecule model
Model of a sucrose molecule (Author: RedAndr)

Sucrose is found in the stems of sugar cane and roots of sugar beet. It also occurs naturally alongside fructose and glucose in other plants, in particular fruits and some roots such as carrots.

After eating, during digestion, a number of enzymes known as sucrase split sucrose into its constituent parts, glucose and fructose.

Maltose also known as maltobiose or malt sugar, is a disaccharide formed during the germination of certain grains, the most notable one being barley, which is converted into malt, the source of the sugar’s name. It is less sweet than sucrose, glucose, or fructose.

Maltose

A molecule of maltose is formed by the combination of two molecules of glucose.

Maltose is formed in the body during the digestion of starch by the enzyme amylase and is itself broken down during digestion by the enzyme maltase

Lactose is the naturally occurring disaccharide derived from galactose and glucose found in milk. A molecule of lactose.is formed by the combination of a molecule of galactose with a molecule of glucose.

Lactose

A molecule of galactose is formed by the combination of a molecule of glucose with a molecule of lactose.

After consuming milk, during digestion, lactose is broken down into its constituent parts by the enzyme lactase. Children have this enzyme in them. In some adults the enzyme lactase does not form as they grow up and are unable to digest lactose.

Oligosaccharides

Oligosaccharides (Greek oligos: a few, sacchar: sugar) are polymeric carbohydrate molecules containing a small number, typically three to nine, monosaccharide units. They are commonly found on the plasma membrane of animal cells where they play a role in cell–cell recognition.

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), also sometimes called oligofructose or oligofructan, are oligosaccharide fructans. They consist of short chains of fructose molecules.

FOS occur naturally and are found in many vegetables.

FOS exhibit sweetness levels between 30 and 50 percent of sugar in commercially prepared syrups and are used as an alternative sweetener. Due to consumer demand for healthier and calorie-reduced foods, FOS emerged commercially in the 1980s.

The range of sweetness we experience when eating foods is determined by the different proportions of sugars found in them.

Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) occur naturally, and consist of short chains of galactose molecules. These compounds can be only partially digested by humans.

Mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) are widely used in animal feed to improve gastrointestinal health, energy levels and performance. They are normally obtained from the yeast cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Polysaccharides

Polysaccharides are polymeric carbohydrate molecules composed of long chains of monosaccharide units bound together by glycosidic bonds. Typically, polysaccharides contain more than ten monosaccharide units.

Cellulose, starch, glycogen, xanthan gum in plants, etc., are polysaccharides.

3D structure of cellulose, a beta-glucan polysaccharide. (Autho - Ben Mills)
3D structure of cellulose, a beta-glucan polysaccharide. (Autho – Ben Mills)

Polysaccharides, have a general formula of Cx(H2O)y where x is usually a large number between 200 and 2500. Considering that the repeating units in the polymer backbone are often six-carbon monosaccharides, and the general formula can also be represented as (C6H10O5)n where 40≤n≤3000.

Definitions of how large a carbohydrate must be to fall into the categories polysaccharides or oligosaccharides vary according to personal opinions of scientists.

Polysaccharides are an important class of biological polymers. Their function in living organisms is usually either structure or storage-related. Starch (a polymer of glucose) is used as a storage polysaccharide in plants, being found in the form of both amylose and the branched amylopectin. In animals, the structurally similar glucose polymer is the more densely branched glycogen, sometimes called ‘animal starch’. Glycogen’s properties allow it to be metabolized more quickly, which suits the active lives of moving animals.

The range of sweetness we experience when eating foods is determined by the different proportions of sugars found in them.

 

← Previous – Sugar – Part 1: History of Canesugar

Next → Sugar – Part 3: Oh Sweet Poison, Thy Name is Sugar!

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Sugar – Part 1: History of Cane sugar


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Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj
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Sugar is the universal name for a variety of sweet-tasting carbohydrates, derived from various sources. Sweetmeats, confectionaries, chocolates, alcoholic liqueurs, sweet beverages, etc. use sugar for sweetening.

The English word ‘sugar’ is derived from the Arabic word سكر sukkar, which came from the Persian شکر  shekar, itself derived from Sanskrit शर्करा śarkarā, which originated from Tamil சர்க்கரை Sarkkarai. Thus, the etymology of the English word ‘sugar’, in a way, reflects the spread of sugar from India to the western world.

Rich Cohen in his article “Sugar Love” (A not so sweet story) published in the National Geographic says:

“In 1700 the average Englishman consumed 4 pounds a year. In 1800 the common man ate 18 pounds of sugar. In 1870 that same sweet-toothed bloke was eating 47 pounds annually. Was he satisfied? Of course not! By 1900 he was up to 100 pounds a year. In that span of 30 years, world production of cane and beet sugar exploded from 2.8 million tons a year to 13 million plus. Today the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar annually, or more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.”

Sugarcane

Most plants have sugar, but only sugarcane and sugar beet have sufficient concentrations for efficient extraction. Around 80% of the world’s sugar is derived from sugarcane.

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Sugarcane crop
Sugarcane crop

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Sugarcane is any of several species of tall perennial true grass of the genus Saccharum, tribe Andropogoneae, native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, and used for sugar production. They have stout jointed fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar. They grow six to 19 feet (two to six meters) tall. All sugar cane species interbreed and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids.

The crop has been cultivated in tropical climates in the Far East since ancient times.

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The island of New Guinea.
The island of New Guinea.

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Eight thousand years ago, sugar featured prominently in the food of the inhabitants of the island of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, after Greenland. During sacred religious ceremonies, their priests sipped water sweetened with sugar from coconut shells.

The use of sugarcane spread gradually from island to island, and around 1000 BC reached the Asian mainland.

By 500 BC, the Indians were processing crystalline sugar from sugarcane. In India sugar is used as a medicine for headaches, stomach flutters, impotence, etc. The art of sugar refinement passed from master to apprentice and remained a secret science. From there sugar travelled with migrants and monks to China, Persia, northern Africa and eventually to Europe in the 11th century.

Sugar found its way to Persia around 600 AD and as luxury rulers entertained their guests with a variety of sweets. From there the Arabs carried the knowledge and love of sugar, perfected sugar refinement and made it into an industry. “Wherever they went, the Arabs brought with them sugar, the product and the technology of its production,” wrote Sidney Mintz in Sweetness and Power. “Sugar, we are told, followed the Koran.”

The first Europeans to know about sugar were the British and French Crusaders that went east to wrest the Holy Land from the Arabs. Having their taste buds excited by sugar the Crusaders returned with stories and memories of sweets. Unfortunately, they found the temperate climates in Europe unsuitable for cultivation of sugar cane, which needed tropical, rain-drenched fields to grow.

The sugar that reached the West through a trickle of Arab traders was rare and was classified as a spice. Due to its high cost only by the nobility consumed it.

With the spread of the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s, trade with the East became more difficult for the Europeans. To the Western elite who had fallen under the spell of sweets were propelled to develop new sources of sugar.

So, it was the age of exploration for the Europeans – the search for new territories around the world.

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Infante Henry, Duke of Viseu aka Henry the Navigator (March 4, 1394 – November 13, 1460). (Source: From the Polytriptych of St. Vincent in the National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon).
Infante Henry, Duke of Viseu aka Henry the Navigator (March 4, 1394 – November 13, 1460). (Source: From the Polytriptych of St. Vincent in the National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon).

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Infante Henry, Duke of Viseu (March 4, 1394 – November 13, 1460), the third child of King John I of Portugal, better known as Henry the Navigator, was an important figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries in total. He was responsible for the early growth of European exploration and maritime trade with other continents.  In 1419, Portuguese sailors in the service of Infante D. Henrique claimed Madeira, an archipelago about 250 miles (400 km) north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean. In 1425, Infante Henry sent sugarcane with an early group of colonists who settled in Madeira.

Sugarcane found its way to other newly discovered Atlantic islands such as the Cape Verde Islands, and the Canaries.

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Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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In 1493, when Christopher Columbus set off on his second voyage to the New World, he too carried the cane. He planted the New World’s first sugarcane in Hispaniola.

From then on dawned the era of mass sugar production in the slave plantations in the Caribbean islands.

Within decades the Portuguese and the Spanish expanded sugar cane plantation to Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Cuba and Brazil. They cleared the rainforests for sugarcane plantations. The Portuguese turned Brazil into an early boom colony, with more than 100,000 slaves producing tons of sugar.

The harvested crop of sugarcane was crushed and ground and then pressed to extract the cane juice, which was thickened into a syrup by boiling. This produced sugar crystals, which were dried before storage. The raw sugar was piled in the holds of ships and carried to Europe for refining.

Until the 15th and 16th centuries, sugar was classed with nutmeg and cardamom as a luxury spice enjoyed only by the wealthy upper classes.

The original British sugar island was Barbados found by a British captain on May 14, 1625. Tobacco and cotton were grown in the early years, but sugarcane overtook these two on the island as it did wherever it was planted in the Caribbean. Sadly, however, the fields got depleted, the water table drained within a century, and the ambitious planters had left Barbados in search of other island to exploit.

In the 17th century the British established large-scale sugar plantations in the West Indies. The price of sugar fell. Sugar changed from a luxury to a staple item. Since the fall in price made it affordable to the middle class and the poor, the demand for sugar increased.

But the sugar trade was tarnished by its colonial heritage of inhumanity and exploitation. Profits from the sugar trade helped build the British Empire. When the enslaved native population dwindled due to disease or war the planters replaced them with more slaves brought from the west coast of Africa with the expansion of the Atlantic slave trade.

By 1720 Jamaica became number one in the sugar market.

Until the slave trade was banned in Britain in 1807, more than half of the 11 million Africans shipped to the New World ended up on sugar plantations.

The slaves from Africa found the life hard. In the Caribbean millions died in the fields, pressing houses, or while trying to escape. Gradually the people in Europe came to know and understand the hardship of the slaves. While reformers preached abolition, housewives boycotted cane sugar produced by the slaves.

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François-Marie Arouet ( 1694 – 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire. French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher.
François-Marie Arouet ( 1694 – 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire. French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher.

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In 1759, a slave in Voltaire’s Candide, ou l’Optimisme, missing both a hand and a leg, explains his mutilation:

“When we work in the sugar mills and we catch our finger in the millstone, they cut off our hand; when we try to run away, they cut off a leg; both things have happened to me. It is at this price that you eat sugar in Europe.”

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William Johnson Fox (1786-1864) - an English religious and political orator .
William Johnson Fox (1786-1864) – an English religious and political orator .

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William Johnson Fox (March 1, 1786 – June 3, 1864), an English religious and political orator in An Address to the people of Great Britain on the propriety of abstaining from West Indian sugar and rum. [London], 1791 wrote:

“So necessarily connected are our consumption of the commodity, and the misery resulting from it, that in every pound of sugar used, (the produce of slaves imported from Africa) we may be considered as consuming two ounces of human fleshA French writer observes, ‘That he cannot look on a piece of sugar without conceiving it stained with spots of human blood.'”

Fox’s pamphlet was widely circulated, and helped promote the idea that sugar was contaminated with the blood and flesh of the suffering slaves who produced it. Nonetheless, production of sugar never stopped.

Current Production of Sugar

The use of sugar beet as a new source of production was developed in Germany in the early 19th century. By the end of the century, production of beet sugar had spread across Europe and beet had overtaken cane as the primary source of sugar there.

Sugarcane is indigenous to tropical South and Southeast Asia. Different species likely originated in different locations. Saccharum Barberi originated in India and Saccharum edule and Saccharum officinarum from New Guinea. Almost 70% of the sugar produced globally comes from Saccharum officinarum and hybrids of this species.

At present, Brazil and India are the world’s two largest sugar producers. For the past 40 years, these two countries have accounted for over half the world’s production of canesugar. The European Union is the third-largest sugar producer and accounts for around half the world’s production of beet sugar.

World sugar production (1,000 tonnes)

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Largest producers of raw sugar as percentage of world production, 2007-12

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Largest exporters of raw sugar as percentage of total exports by volume, 2007-12

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Fast facts: the sugar lowdown (Source: fairtrade.org.uk)

  • Sugar is one of the most valuable agricultural commodities. In 2011 its global export trade was worth $47bn, up from $10bn in 2000.
  • Of the total $47bn, $33.5bn of sugar exports are from developing countries and $12.2bn from developed countries.
  • The sugar industry supports the livelihoods of millions of people – not only smallholders and estate workers but also those working within the wider industry and family dependents. 
  • Around 160 million tonnes of sugar are produced every year. The largest producers are Brazil (22%), India (15%) and the European Union (10%).
  • More than 123 countries produce sugar worldwide, with 70% of the world’s sugar consumed in producer countries and only 30% traded on the international market.
  • About 80% of global production comes from sugarcane (which is grown in the tropics) and 20% comes from sugar beet (grown in temperate climates, including Europe).
  • The juice from both sugarcane and sugar beet is extracted and processed into raw sugar.
  • World consumption of sugar has grown at an average annual rate of 2.7% over the past 50 years. It is driven by rising incomes and populations in developing countries. 
  • The top five consumers of sugar use 51% of the world’s sugar. They include India, the EU-27, China, Brazil and the US.
  • Brazil plays an important role in the global sugar market, as the world’s largest sugar producer, the world’s major exporter and one of the highest per capita consumers, at around 55 kg a year. 

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Next → Sugar – Part 2: The Different Avatars of Sugar

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Re-posted: 15 Amusing Things That’ll Happen If Arvind Kejriwal Is Made The CEO Of Microsoft


CEO-cover-NEW-930x360

Recently, Indian born Satya Nadella was promoted to the post of CEO of Microsoft. While both traditional and social media are abuzz ith debates, consequences,factors, pride and puns, we join the bandwagon with a slightly hypothetical route:

What if, instead of Satya Nadella, ‘aam aadmi Arvind Kejriwal was made the CEO of Microsoft?

These 15 disasters will strike Windows users worldwide.

Click here to read more

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Re-posted from STORYPICK

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Price of Diesel Around the World!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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On  February 13, 2014, I posted  an article titled “Price of Petrol Around the World!” Some of my readers wanted to know about the price of diesel in India and in other countries around the world.

Diesel prices in India in Indian Rupees (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)
Diesel prices in India in Indian Rupees (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

The above graph shows the price of diesel in India from September, 2012 to February, 2014 with the average value during this period was र57.89 with a minimum of र53.46 in September, 2012 and a maximum of र64.49 in June, 2013.

Diesel prices in India and other countries  (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)
Diesel prices in India and other countries (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

Compared to the average price of diesel in the world, India is relatively cheaper. Diesel in India is 32% cheaper than the world average of र85.63. The average price of diesel around the world in February, 2014 is र82.41 per liter. Though all countries have access to the same petroleum prices of international markets, they impose various taxes on petroleum products and offer subsidies. Hence, the retail price of diesel differs substantially among countries.

As a general rule, countries that produce and export oil sell diesel to their nationals at much lower prices while rich countries charge higher prices. However, the economically advanced United States have a comparatively low price of diesel – $1.03 (र64.49) per liter.

In Venezuela, the government subsidizes gasoline and the Venezuelans pay almost nothing to drive their vehicles at $0.01 (र0.85) per liter.

Diesel prices around the world in February 2014
(Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

Country USDollars IndianRupees
     
Venezuela 0.01   0.85
Iran 0.03   1.70
Saudi Arabia 0.08   5.09
Egypt 0.16 10.18
Bahrain 0.16 10.18
Kuwait 0.19 11.88
Qatar 0.24 15.27
Yemen 0.30 18.67
Brunei 0.31 19.52
Ecuador 0.35 22.06
Oman 0.49 30.55
Bolivia 0.53 33.09
Sudan 0.54 33.94
Angola 0.54 33.94
Syria 0.57 35.64
Kazakhstan 0.65 40.73
Iraq 0.72 44.97
Malaysia 0.72 44.97
Argentina 0.86 53.46
Bangladesh 0.88 55.15
Thailand 0.91 56.85
Sri Lanka 0.91 56.85
India 0.95 59.40
Mexico 0.97 60.25
Jordan 0.97 60.25
Zimbabwe 0.98 61.09
Philippines 0.98 61.09
Nigeria 0.98 61.09
Lebanaon 0.98 61.09
Ethopia 0.99 61.94
Belarus 0.99 61.94
Kyrgyzstan 1.01 62.79
Ghana 1.01 62.79
Nepal 1.02 63.64
USA 1.03 64.49
Brazil 1.03 64.49
Vietnam 1.05 65.34
Tunisia 1.05 65.34
Guatemala 1.05 65.34
Bhutan 1.05 65.34
Indonesia 1.06 66.19
Maldives 1.06 661.9
DR Congo 1.07 67.03
Taiwan 1.09 67.88
Mozamique 1.10 68.73
Namibia 1.10 68.73
Pakistan 1.10 68.73
Morocco 1.13 70.43
South Africa 1.14 71.28
Ukraine 1.14 71.28
Russia 1.16 72.13
Jamaica 1.16 72.13
Tajikistan 1.17 72.97
Sierra Leone 1.20 74.67
Costa Rica 1.20 74.67
Colombia 1.21 75.52
Guinea 1.21 75.52
Peru 1.21 75.52
Liberia 1.22 76.37
Kenya 1.22 76.37
Gorgia 1.22 76.37
Chile 1.22 76.37
New Zealand 1.22 76.37
Botswana 1.24 77.22
Laos 1.24 77.22
Uganda 1.24 77.22
Cambodia 1.25 78.07
Armenia 1.27 78.91
Tanzania 1.27 78.91
Burkina Faso 1.27 78.91
Mauritania 1.27 78.91
Moldova 1.28 79.76
Ivory Coast 1.28 79.76
China 1.28 79.76
Canada 1.28 79.76
Paraguay 1.29 80.61
Domi. Rep. 1.32 82.31
Japan 1.33 83.16
Fiji 1.33 83.16
Mongolia 1.33 83.16
Singapore 1.35 84.00
Djibouti 1.37 85.70
Lesotho 1.37 85.70
Swaziland 1.40 87.40
Cameroon 1.40 87.40
Mauritius 1.41 88.25
Australia 1.43 89.10
Cape Verde 1.47 91.64
Niger 1.48 92.49
Togo 1.50 93.34
Rwanda 1.52 95.04
Macedonia 1.52 95.04
Benin 1.55 96.73
An dorra 1.56 97.58
South Korea 1.58 98.43
Mali 1.61 100.13
Madagascar 1.62 100.98
Hong Kong 1.62 100.98
R. of Congo 1.62 100.98
Luxembourg 1.63 101.82
Zambia 1.65 102.67
Senegal 1.65 102.67
Chad 1.67 104.37
Bosnia and Herz 1.70 106.07
Croatia 1.71 106.92
Poland 1.73 107.76
Larvia 1.73 107.76
Lithuania 1.73 107.76
Montenegro 1.75 109.46
Albania 1.77 110.31
Romania 1.80 112.01
France 1.80 112.01
Estonia 1.80 112.01
Austria 1.80 112.01
Czech Rep. 1.81 112.86
Hungary 1.82 113.70
Uruguay 1.82 113.70
Malawi 1.82 113.70
Burundi 1.82 113.70
Serbia 1.84 114.55
Spain 1.85 115.40
Bulgaria 1.85 115.40
Malta 1.85 115.40
Slovenia 1.85 115.40
Greece 1.86 116.25
Slovakia 1.86 116.25
Portugal 1.92 119.64
Germany 1.95 121.34
Cyprus 1.97 123.04
Belgium 1.97 123.04
Irelan 2.01 125.58
Switzerland 2.04 127.28
Netherlands 2.04 127.28
Turkey 2.07 128.98
Finland 2.08 129.83
Sweden 2.09 130.67
Denmark 2.11 131.53
Iceland 2.12 132.37
Israel 2.16 134.92
C.A. Republic 2.16 134.92
UK 2.26 140.86
Italy 2.29 142.55
Norway 2.67 166.31

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February 14 is Saint Valentine’s Day!


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Valentine's Day gifts

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The feast of Saint Valentine falls on February 14 each year.

Most people in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, and in many countries around the world, celebrate this centuries-old holiday popularly known as Valentine’s Day. In most countries, this remains a working day.

For centuries, people have cherished the month of February as a month for romance that has vestiges of both pagan Roman and Christian traditions.

It was a custom among the pagan Roman youths and maidens to select partners, on February 14. Alban Butler, author of Lives of the Saints has presented an aspect of the Roman Lupercalia as a festival of a “Juno Februata,” under the heading of February 14:

To abolish the heathens’ lewd, superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honour of their goddess, Februata Juno, on the 15th of the month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.”

On February 14, lovers exchange sweets, candy, chocolates, flowers and other gifts in the name of a mysterious Christian saint named Valentine. Why mysterious?  No one knows for sure who the real patron saint of the day is! The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentinus.

Whoever he was, Saint Valentine really existed. Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. The Catholic Church, however, recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentinus.

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Statue of St Valentine, Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin. (Source: shanepedia.wordpress.com)
Statue of St Valentine, Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin. (Source: shanepedia.wordpress.com)

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According to the most popular legend, Valentinus was a holy priest in Rome. With St. Marius and his family, Valentinus helped the martyrs during the persecutions of early Christians. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young soldiers as he reckoned that single men made better soldiers than those married and having a family.

The holy priest Valentinus thought the emperor’s decree was not just and decided to defy it. He performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Eventually, the Emperor became aware of the marriages performed by the priest, and his ministry among Christians and ordered the arrest of Valentinus. The prefect of Rome, on finding Valentinus not ready to renounce his faith had him beaten with clubs, and then beheaded him on February 14, about the year 269.

Like all other saints, St. Valentine too is said to have performed miracles. The legends say that during his imprisonment Valentinus healed the daughter of his Roman jailer named Asterius and converted 46 members of his family to Christianity. The legends further say that Valentinus fell in love with the girl who visited him during his confinement, and before his execution wrote her a farewell letter and signed it: “From your Valentine.”

Another story states that Valentinus was condemned to death for attempting to help beaten and tortured Christians escape from Roman prisons.

Pope Julius I, built a church near Ponte Mole to honour the martyr. A large part of the saint’s relics is now in the church of St. Praxedes.

In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius marked February 14 to observe the martyrdom of St. Valentine said to have died in 269 AD. So, the Catholics are now celebrating February 14 as the feast day of St. Valentine – patron of love, young people, and happy marriages.

These sombre legends portray Valentinus as a sympathetic, heroic, and a romantic person. In the Middle Ages, as a result of the reputation created as a legendary hero. Valentinus became one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Now, the word “Valentine”, denotes a card or letter expressing one’s love and affection for a person of the opposite sex. Sending a ‘Valentine‘ may also involve flowers, candy, and other gifts.

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Prayer to Saint Valentine

Dear Lord, who art high in the Heavens,
Giver of Love and Passion,
And He who strings the heart’s cords,
Lead the Lovers this day, February ten plus four.
The day during the month of two,
When the date is the perfect number of God
Greater two souls and two hearts.
Some Loves are fleeting,
But that which is built on you will never fail.
So guide the Lovers to know what is to be.
Your truths the Lovers’ mouths should speak,
For Your truth is that which is honest to the heart.
Only this, then, should pass over the red lips of the Lovers.
Your art, the Lovers simply a medium.
It is only with True Hearts that You can create a Masterpiece,
So let the Lovers remember that their Soul’s Desire
Is the one for which You light their Fire.
And let it be You who creates the Art of the Lovers;
The art of two into one.

Amen.

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Price of Petrol Around the World!


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Price of Petrol around the world (Posted in Facebook)
Price of Petrol around the world (Posted in Facebook)

I came across the above picture posted on Facebook. Any rational thinker would surely realize that the aim of the person who originally posted this rubbish was to mislead gullible Indians and malign the powers that currently rule the country.

A few Indians have the false notion that whatever appears in the social media or get printed in the traditional media such as newspapers and magazines is the gospel truth, and to keep up with the Joneses they just copy it on their social media pages without delving into the truth. Do you think these prices are correct? The person who prepared  this falsehood needs some coaching in basic arithmetic. Just look at this: Petrol Price around the world - Arithmetiic

11.80 + 9.75 + 4 + 8 = 33.55%

and

33.55% of र16.5 is र5.5275

so,,

र16.5 + र5.5275 = र22.0275

How did this person arrive at the figure of र50.05? Did he leave out any tax or other levies?

Petrol prices in India (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)
Petrol prices in India in Indian Rupees (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

The above graph shows the price of petrol in India from September, 2012 to February, 2014 with the average value during this period was र80.75 with a minimum of र73.82 in November, 2013 and a maximum of र89.94 in September, 2012.

Petrol prices in India and other countries  (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)
Petrol prices in India and other countries (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

Compared to the average price of petrol in the world, India is relatively cheaper. Petrol in India is 15% cheaper than the world average of र95.18. The average price of petrol around the world in February, 2014 is र90. 67 per liter. Though all countries have access to the same petroleum prices of international markets, they impose various taxes on petroleum products and offer subsidies. Hence, the retail price of petrol differs substantially among countries.

As a general rule, countries that produce and export oil sell petrol to their nationals at much lower prices while rich countries charge higher prices. However, the economically advanced United States have a comparatively low price of gasoline – $0.88 (र55. 15) per liter.

In Venezuela, the government subsidizes gasoline and the Venezuelans pay almost nothing to drive their cars at $0.03 (र1.70) per liter.

Gasoline Prices around the world in February 2014 (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

Country

US

Dollars

Indian Rupees

 

 

 

Venezuela

0.03

   1.70

Iran

0.12

  7.64

Saudi Arabia

0.20

12.73

Kuwait

0.23

14.43

Qatar

0.24

15.27

Bahrain

0.27

16.97

Oman

0.39

24.61

Egypt

0.39

24.61

Yemen

0.45

28.00

Brunei

0.50

31.40

Bolivia

0.53

33.09

Ecuador

0.68

42.43

Kazakhstan

0.72

44.97

Sudan

0.79

49.21

Angola

0.83

51.76

Malaysia

0.87

54.31

USA

0.88

55.15

Indonesia

0.92

57.70

Mexico

0.94

58.55

Belarus

0.98

61.09

Ghana

0.98

61.09

Iraq

0.99

61.94

Argentina

0.99

61.94

Pakistan

1.06

66.19

Zimbabwe

1.07

67.03

Maldives

1.07

67.03

Jamaica

1.07

67.03

Namibia

1.07

67.03

Kyrgyzstan

1.09

67.88

Georgia

1.13

70.43

Guatemala

1.14

71.28

Canada

1.14

71.28

Russia

1.14

71.28

Taiwan

1.17

72.97

Ethiopia

1.17

72.97

Botswana

1.18

73.82

Sierra Leone

1.20

74.67

Tunisia

1.20

74.67

Guinea

1.21

75.52

South Africa

1.21

75.52

Vietnam

1.21

75.52

Brazil

1.22

76.37

Syria

1.22

76.37

Philippines

1.22

76.37

Lesotho

1.24

77.22

Bhutan

1.24

77.22

India

1.25

78.07

Liberia

1.25

78.07

Bangladesh

1.25

78.07

Ukraine

1.27

78.91

Sri Lanka

1,28

79.76

Tanzania

1.28

79.76

Kenya

1.29

80.61

Costa Rica

1.29

80.61

Nepal

1.29

80.61

Tajikistan

1.31

81.46

Moldova

1.32

82.31

Benin

1.33

83.16

Australia

1.36

84.85

China

1.37

85.70

Swaziland

1.37

85.70

Uganda

1.37

85.70

Nigeria

1.37

85.70

Niger

1.37

85.70

Armenia

1.39

86.55

Mozambique

1.41

88.25

Jordan

1.41

88.25

Mongolia

1.41

88.25

Domin. Rep.

1.44

89.94

Lebanon

1.44

89.94

Fiji

1.47

91.64

Thailand

1.47

91.64

Cambodia

1.47

91.64

Mauritania

1.48

92.49

Peru

1.51

94.19

Togo

1.51

94.19

Burkina Faso

1.52

95.04

Rwanda

1.52

95.04

Japan

1.52

95.04

Cameroon

1.54

95.88

Chile

1.55

96.73

Morocco

1.58

98.43

Ivory Coast

1.59

99.28

DR Congo

1.62

100.98

Laos

1.62

100.98

R. of Congo

1.63

101.82

Paraguay

1.63

101.82

Bosnia and Herz.

1.66

103.52

Cape Verde

1.67

104.37

Mauritius

1.67

104.37

Chad

1.69

105.22

Poland

1.70

106.07

Andorra

1.70

106.07

Romania

1.73

107.76

Macedonia

1.73

107.76

Singapore

1.74

108.61

Hungary

1.74

108.61

Latvia

1.74

108.61

Estonia

1.74

108.61

Luxembourg

1.75

109.46

South Korea

1.75

109.46

Lithuania

1.77

110.31

Zambia

1.77

110.31

Bulgaria

1.77

110.31

Albania

1.78

111.16

Czech Rep.

1.78

112.01

Malawi

1.80

112.01

Croatia

1.80

112.01

Colombia

1.81

112.86

Serbia

1.81

112.86

Mali

1.82

113.70

Burundi

1.82

113.70

New Zealand

1.82

113.70

Austria

1.84

114.55

Senegal

1.85

115.40

Montenegro

1.86

116.25

Switzerland

1.89

117.95

Spain

1.90

118.79

Cyprus

1.90

118.79

Uruguay

1.92

119.64

Madagascar

1.95

121.34

Slovenia

1.95

121.34

Slovakia

1.96

122.19

Malta

1.96

122.19

France

2.04

127.28

Djibouti

2.08

129.83

Sweden

2.08

129.83

Ireland

2.08

129.83

Iceland

2.12

132.37

UK

2.14

133.22

Hong Kong

2.16

134.92

Germany

2.16

134.92

Israel

2.16

134.92

Belgium

2.18

135.77

Portugal

2.18

135.77

C.A. Republic

2.19

136.61

Finland

2.20

137.46

Greece

2.26

140.86

Turkey

2.26

140.86

Denmark

2.30

143.40

Netherlands

2.39

149.34

Italy

2.41

150.19

Norway

2.86

178.19

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The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 2 – The Once Pristine Idyllic Wetland Is Now a Wasteland cum Concrete Jungle!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

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 My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.
My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.

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Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)
Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

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Four decades ago, this pristine idyllic wetland had a water spread of approximately 5,500 hectares estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965). It serves as nature’s primary aquifer recharge system for Chennai city. It harvests rain water and the flood water during monsoons and thereby mitigates the desolation and suffering that floods could cause in low-lying areas in Chennai.

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A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo:  anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)
A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo: anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

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Lamentably, over the years, the Chennai Metropolitan authorities without giving any thought to the future recklessly chose to dump over one-third of the garbage, almost 2,600 tonnes per day, of the ever-growing metropolis here in this climactic wetland.

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Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)
Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

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At present the water spread has shrunk to one-tenth its size due to indiscriminate dumping of city refuse; discharging of sewage; disgorging toxic waste products, etc.

Many nature lovers have photographed the current palpable and saddening state of the Pallikaranai wetland. On June 8, 2013, The Hindu published the article The mired marshby Shaju John. This article was augmented by photographs  captured by him in the post Photo file: The mired marsh.

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A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

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Thousands of tonnes of trash of all sorts containing non-biodegradable waste find their way to the wetland amidst the dumped refuse.

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Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

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While traveling along the roads around the Velachery wetland one encounters the unbearable stench emanating from the decaying garbage hillock. Despite the widespread clamour to stop burning rubbish in the dump yard that stifles the air and impairs visibility of commuters, the incessant burning goes on.

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The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

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Despite the toxic smoke rag-pickers, mostly children living in inhospitable slums frequent the garbage dump.

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The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

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Continual inhaling of the ever-present malodorous germ and virus bound air, the stifling smoke, polluted and poisoned ground water subject the people living miles around the Pallikaranai wetland to major wheezing and carcinogenic health hazards.

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The incredible rate of development, such as the rampant construction of sanctioned IT parks, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) campus, Hospitals, Colleges, high-rise office and residential buildings, the Velachery MRTS railway station, the flyovers, the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram, etc., in the midst of the marshland also have immensely contributed to the shrinking of the water spread.

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A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road.  (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)
A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

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One of the flyovers constructed  in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)
One of the flyovers constructed in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)

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Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo - Simply CVR)
Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo – Simply CVR)

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With policies in place to crackdown on poaching, encroachment and illegal waste disposal, there is yet hope for the Pallikaranai wetland.

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Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo:  M. Karunakaran)
Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo: M. Karunakaran)

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In 2007, to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, 317 hectares of the marsh were declared by notification as a reserve forest by the State of Tamilnadu.

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Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve  showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh
Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

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Nevertheless, it is the opinion of the scientists and researchers involved in the study of the wetland that an additional 150 hectares of undeveloped region located on both sides of the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh should also be declared a forest reserve.

However, even now, dumping of garbage by the Chennai metropolitan authorities goes on unabated.

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← Previous: The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 1 – Flora and Fauna

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