The new Harare library boasts featuressuch as a gaming room, study hall andearly childhood development centre. Children up to six years of age are givena bright and cheerful environment inwhich to learn.(Image: Central Library, Cape Town) MEDIA CONTACTS • Nazeem Hardy Library and Information Services +27 21 400 3933 or +27 84 888 8408 RELATED ARTICLES • Soweto’s state-of-the-art library • Rhodes opens R75m library • SA peresent at Timbuktu unveiling • Poor schools score textbooks • BMX glory for Khayelitsha teenMark ReidThe cutting-edge Harare Library, which serves the Cape Town community of Khayelitsha, opened to the public in June. Response to the new facility, said the City of Cape Town’s Library and Information Services Department, has been enthusiastic and positive.Harare Library is just one component in the city management’s Violence Protection through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) plan, which is targeted at making Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s most poverty stricken areas, and a notorious crime hotspot, into a safe place for its residents.Currently budgeted at R120-million (US$18-million), the VPUU is funded by the City of Cape Town, in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation and Development, and the German Development Bank.The programme is expected to take five years to complete, and will address issues such as lack of access to basic services, adequate schooling and economic opportunities, which are just a few of the factors that contribute to the instability of the area.The VPUU, which was implemented in 2005, aims to tackle crime and violence by providing better social and commercial services, strengthening community structures, and getting residents more involved in their suburb.The opening of the new library, which is designed to be eco-friendly with natural ventilation and efficient use of daylight, follows the creation of other public VPUU facilities in the suburb. These include two community buildings, a new park, and a school sports complex.A Carnegie Foundation grant made it possible to stock Harare Library with quality content, in both print and digital formats.Other exciting features of the library include a teen area with a giant chess board, a gaming room, free internet, and Wii consoles on which educational and fun activities can be enjoyed.In just four days, said a City statement, more than 2 400 people had passed through the doors of the Harare Library.Serving residents of all agesAt 1 800 square metres, Cape Town’s newest library is part of a multi-purpose centre that includes not only the library but also offices for community groups such as NGOs.The modern facility provides normal services such as access to books, magazines, DVDs and videos, but is unique among libraries in the city in that it also has a specialised early childhood development centre, a computer centre with more public access computers than anywhere else in Cape Town, a study hall and a number of meeting rooms.The early childhood development centre is known as Funda Udlale and caters for children up to the age of six. Toddlers are given access to books, soft toys, game facilities and educational computers, which allows them to learn specific skills and take part in role-playing.The facilities are also available to crèches and day care centres in the area, who are encouraged to bring their children into a bright and stimulating environment. Also on offer for the tots are an artificial grass playing area and a blackboard that covers an entire wall.
In the era of big-bang reforms and privatisation, a section of Indian bureaucracy continues to exist quietly, without making any valuable contribution to the country or its economy.Directorates, inspectorates, controllers, research stations and several other government entities, which are relics of the British and licence-permit Raj, are still in operation despite having outlived their utility. Mail Today, in the first part of its investigation series, blows the lid off these government offices feeding on the tax-payers’ money.A survey of central government ministries dealing with sectors such as agriculture, health, environment, water resources, commerce and food supplies shows that tax payers’ money continues to be spent on government offices which have no meaningful role to play anymore. Such offices are in addition to the public sector units which have become useless, as exposed by Mail Today recently.Of no consequenceThe list of redundant offices includes directorates for various crops and commodities (sugar, cotton, jute, cement, rice, tobacco, oilseeds, pulses, vanaspati etc.), National Test House, National Oilseeds and Vegetable Oils Development Board, Indian Plywood Industry Research and Training Institute, National Institute of Water Sports and Hindustan Vegetable Oil Corporation, among others.The NTH laboratory in Ghaziabad.Most of these offices handle minor regulatory roles or are just standard setting bodies or testing centres – functions which are already being carried out by fullfledged regulatory authorities. Some others produce training manuals, conduct training programmes or simply generate inconsequential reports. Most of these offices, however, occupy prime real estate and have hundreds of employees on their rolls. “Such bodies have no business to exist after they have outlived their role, purpose and utility. In the past, many committees of the government have made clear recommendations on what needs to be done with such organisations,” said former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian.advertisement’Rehabilitate staff’Some former officers are of the opinion that the cases of such offices should be taken up one by one. Former power secretary EAS Sarma said: “The fate of each institution should be decided by examining if it has become dysfunctional because it is no longer needed or because there are vested interests against its functioning.”The existence of such offices, however, is frustrating for other departments which are short of staff and loaded with pending work. “They have frozen appointments in central government offices at a time when many departments are facing a short-age of staff. Why can’t useless organisations be wound up and the staff used elsewhere,” said a senior government official.The irrelevance of some of these offices can be gauged from the fact that almost all their functions have been moved to new departments. For instance, the directorate of vanaspati, vegetable oils and fats – a wing of the department of food and public distribution – continues to exist despite all its regulatory functions being taken care of by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, set up in 2006.National Test House (NTH), set up a century ago in Kolkata as a wing of the Indian Railways for testing of products manufactured locally, is involved in functions similar to those of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). In 2002, the government decided to bring NTH under BIS, but nothing has been done till now. NTH has regional labs in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Ghaziabad, Guwahati and Jaipur. Its Ghaziabad complex is spread over 19 acres.The expenditure reforms commission had recommended in 2000 that seven crop directorates (rice, wheat, millet, sugarcane, cotton, jute and tobacco) be wound up because all they were doing was forwarding reports from states producing these commodities to the crop division in the agriculture ministry. It suggested that two other directorates – oilseeds and pulses – be merged with the agriculture ministry. The commission also saw no justification for the existence of National Oilseeds and Vegetable Oils Development Board and National Coconut Development Board. But all these boards and directorates are still functional in 2012.The Directorate of Cotton Development in Mumbai.Click here to EnlargeThe directorate of tobacco keeps promoting the industry, unmindful of the existence of a separate tobacco board to do so. The significance of government machinery to promote tobacco may also be questioned as another wing of the government, the health ministry, spends crores of rupees on the anti-tobacco campaign.The National Sugar Institute, which was set up as Imperial Institute of Sugar Technology in 1936 in Kanpur, lingers on despite sugar technology development being the mandate of at least half-a-dozen research institutes in the country. Another remnant of the ‘control and command’ economy is the development council for sugar industry.advertisement”The only option is to take a knife and start exorcising,” said Subramanian. There are many new areas where employees can be redeployed as there is shortage of staff there, he added. Sarma, though, felt if the institutions are no longer needed, the government should explore ways to rehabilitate the personnel by trying to look at the vacancies in other organisations. Otherwise, the only option is to offer voluntary retirement, he added.The ministry of water resources has multiple agencies doing peripheral work. The central soil and materials research station in the Capital is basically a soil testing outfit and is being run despite at least six other institutes handling different aspects of soil health in the country. There is no rationale behind running a water quality assessment authority when the subject is being looked into by separate pollution and groundwater boards at central and state levels. Another outfit of the ministry – national water development agency – too has a nebulous profile.”Some directorates and research stations surely need to be shut down, along with state farm corporations. If they have to do what the private sector is doing, why do we need them?” asked agriculture policy expert Devinder Sharma.
DefinitionSpasms are contractions of the muscles of the hands, thumbs, feet, or toes. Spasms are usually brief, but they can be severe and painful.Alternative NamesFoot spasms; Carpopedal spasm; Spasms of the hands or feet; Hand spasmConsiderationsSymptoms depend on the cause. They may include:CrampingFatigueMuscle weaknessNumbness, tingling, or a “pins and needles” feelingTwitchingUncontrolled, purposeless, rapid motionsNighttime leg cramps are common in the elderly.CausesCramps or spasms in the muscles often have no clear cause.Possible causes of hand or foot spasms include: Abnormal levels of electrolytes or minerals in the body Brain disorders, such as Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, dystonia, and Huntington disease Chronic kidney disease and dialysis Damage to a single nerve or nerve group (mononeuropathy) or multiple nerves (polyneuropathy) that are connected to muscles Dehydration (not having enough fluids in your body)Hyperventilation (overbreathing), which is rapid or deep breathing that can occur with anxiety or panicMuscle cramps, usually caused by overuse during sports or work activityPregnancy, more often during the third trimesterThyroid disordersToo little vitamin DUse of certain medicationsHome CareIf vitamin D deficiency is the cause, supplemental vitamin D should be taken under the doctors direction. Calcium supplements may also help.Being active helps keep muscles loose. Aerobic exercise, especially swimming, and strength building exercises are helpful. But care must be taken not to overdo activity, which can worsen the spasms.Drinking plenty of fluids during exercise is also important.When to Contact a Medical ProfessionalIf you notice recurrent spasms of your hands or feet, call your health care provider.advertisementWhat to Expect at Your Office VisitThe doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history and symptoms.Blood and urine tests may be done. Tests may include:Potassium, calcium and magnesium levelsHormone levelsKidney function testsVitamin D levels (25-OH vitamin D)Treatment depends on the cause of the spasms. For example, if they are due to a low level of vitamin D in your body, your doctor will likely recommend that you take a vitamin D supplement.ReferencesStein J. Spasticity. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2008:chap 144.Review Date:2/24/2014Reviewed By:Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.