Bengaluru Buzz: Rise in viral fever cases | Missing voter names … and more

The other news of the week: NISAR payload arrives, parents upset over kindergarten admission order, second PU examination begins, and more.

Viral fever cases among children

An increase in hospitalisations, among children, due to viral fever has been reported since December last year. Influenza, including the currently prevalent H3N2 strain, is causing upper respiratory tract infections and body ache. On the other hand, adenovirus is leading to respiratory infections, gastro-enteritis and conjunctivitis, though body ache associated with it is less severe. Fever, cold, sore throat, body pain, vomiting and diarrhoea are probable adenovirus symptoms.

However, adenovirus symptoms, which used to earlier resolve in two to three days, are now lasting seven to 10 days, with high-grade fever. The prevalence has been mainly due to the immunity gap in the last few years as children were not exposed to common viruses.

Hence, the total hospitalisation numbers are higher than before and during COVID-19 years. In private hospitals, ICU and ventilators are mainly occupied by children, whose viral fevers advance due to pneumonia or sepsis. The Health Department may also provide test kits to hospitals at discounted prices to guage the prevalence of the virus.

Meanwhile, Health Minister K Sudhakar, on March 6th, assured that there is no need to panic over H3N2 infections and the government will soon release precautionary guidelines to prevent its spread. An order directing all health staff at hospitals to wear masks compulsorily has been issued.

The early onset of summer has aggravated the situation, he said, advising people to avoid exposure to the sun from 11 am to 3 pm. All healthcare workers have been advised to take influenza vaccines. The focus is now on preparedness for future pandemics and setting up a Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) at Arogya Soudha.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express, The New Indian Express, The Hindu

Missing voter names

Karnataka Congress is planning to file a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI) over selective deletion of voter names from various constituencies. Party leaders alleged that the names removed from the electoral rolls are based on a list compiled by Chilume group. It has been accused of theft of voter data and is being investigated by the police and State Election Commission (SEC).

Shivajinagar MLA Rizwan Arshad explained that 9,195 voters from just 91 of the 193 booths in his Assembly segment were served notices. Dalits, Muslims and Christians form a majority in his constituency, he said. Notices were issued to the voters by the SEC based on a complaint by the BJP. The court has offered relief to only 22 voters, who had filed a writ petition in the High Court.

As per ECI guidelines, names cannot be deleted voluntarily six months prior to elections. Yet, he questioned, why were notices issued to voters due to pressure from BJP. Moreover, there was a disparity in the names of voters displayed by the SEC and the list of voters submitted to political parties.

Meanwhile, voters whose names are missing in revised electoral rolls are struggling to restore them with the original EPIC (Electors Photo Identification Card) number, which was a document to obtain the Aadhaar card and passport. The BBMP disclosed that over 6.69 lakh voters had been removed from the electoral rolls in November 2022, either because they were deceased or had duplicate IDs. Electoral officers have been accused of arbitrarily deleting names without even taking the voter’s consent.

An official said that there is a provision to apply for a fresh voter ID until ten days before the last date of submission of nomination by candidates for the upcoming polls.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Read more: Here’s how a Whitefield apartment community got its residents to vote

NISAR payload arrives

ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) received the NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR), a Low Earth Orbit observatory satellite from the US space agency, NASA. NISAR is expected to map the entire globe in 12 days and provide spatially and temporally consistent data to comprehend changes in the earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation biomass, sea level rise, groundwater and natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides. The payload was moved to the U R Rao Satellite Centre for further testing and assembly.

NISAR was envisioned eight years ago, in 2014, as a powerful demonstration of the capability of radar as a science tool. It will be launched in January 2024 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre into a near-polar orbit and will be functional for at least three years.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Economic Times

Kindergarten admission issues

Many pre-kindergarten class students are being asked by school managements to repeat a year, in order to abide by the New Education Policy (NEP) and Right To Education (RTE) rules.

Apparently, in order to get admitted to Class 1, students need to be six years old, so a student who falls short of the age limit needs to repeat the class. The rule would be applicable to students applying to join Class 1 from 2025 onwards.

Kindergarten kids in a classroom.
Representative image. Kindergarten applicants face age issues under NEP. Pic: Wikipedia/Globetoters

Parents protested and asked why schools were accepting children underaged for pre-kg if they knew about the rule. As the pre-kg fees is similar to the kindergarten classes, parents are upset about the double expenditure.  

Government officials are firm that students should be four years old when they join LKG, five years old when they move on to UKG, and six years old in the first grade.

Source: The Hindu

Dalit groups vs She toilets plan

Dalit groups are opposing the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike ) plan to build more than 100 ‘She Toilets’, as it seems to benefit only advertisers. Last month, the BBMP had launched a short-term tender to construct ‘She Toilets’, using a public-private partnership (PPP) model, reserving 25 out of 100 toilets for the SC/ST communities.

Dalit groups, such as Dalit Bahujan Chaluvali, Karnataka Dali Industrialists Federation and the Bahujan Samaj Party are opposing the tender conditions, which they feel is excluding participation from SC and ST members, who are mostly responsible for maintaining the toilets.

The groups have also objected to the BBMP’s financial eligibility criteria, which has set a benchmark of Rs 2 crore. Although 99% of the toilets are maintained by the dalits, they said the BBMP wants corporate firms to reap the economic benefits.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read more: #MyCityMyBudget to focus on public toilets, footpaths

Second PU examination begins

Over 7 lakh students are taking the second PU exams, starting from March 9th. Over 3.3 lakh girls and 3.1 lakh boys out of 6.3 lakh regular students are registered. Over 1.9 lakh students have registered for arts, 2.1 lakh students for commerce and 2.2 lakh students for science, according to the education department. The transport corporations KSTRC and BMTC are offering free bus services to students to travel to the 156 examination centres.

This year, the II PU and Class 10 examinations will be easier. The Karnataka School Examination and Assessment Board (KSEAB) has modified the blueprint of all the subjects. The questions will be asked according to the blueprint, said sources in KSEAB.

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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