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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 15–31 March 2008.

Asian fruit 'beats drug-resistant diarrhoea bugs'
A fruit common across South Asia can help treat drug-resistant forms of dysentery. Indian scientists from the University of Madras report extracts of Aegle marmelos, known as bael in many parts of South Asia, makes resistant forms of the Shigella bacteria that causes diarrhoea and dysentery susceptible to antibiotics. More>>

Maldives, Sri Lanka 'lead the way on e-governance'
The Maldives and Sri Lanka lead the way in using information and communication technologies to improve the activities of government organisations, according to the UN. The UN e-governance 2008 survey also shows that Bangladesh is improving in e-governance, although the country still lags behind most of its South Asian neighbours. More>>

UN warns of disappearing Asian forests
Parts of Asia are losing about 28,000 square kilometres of forests each year, warns a UN report. With South and South-East Asian countries among the most vulnerable to climate change, the deforestation trend should be reversed, say the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. More>>

Tech Museum award for Yunus
Bangladesh Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the microcredit system in the country and is founder of its Grameen Bank, has won the Tech Museum's 2008 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award. The award will be presented in November and honours people who apply technology to solve humanity's most pressing needs. More>>

Modelling clarifies environment pollution rankings
An Indo-US team of scientists has developed a technique to rank industries based on their potential to pollute the environment. This may help policymakers formulate pollution control strategies and remove some of the vagueness in ranking technical and scientific parameters in linguistic terms. More>>

Scientists develop metal-free anti-cancer compounds
Scientists in India and the United States have produced metal-free phosphorus compounds that could offer an alternative to using harmful metal-based drugs such as cisplatin to treat cancer. The new compounds showed promise during tests on human cancer cell lines. More>>

Cell-based test to screen inflammation
A new technique helps screen for tiny molecules involved in triggering inflammation. The test, developed by Indian scientists, helps detect four kinds of chemicals that inhibit a key molecule that plays a role in inflammation and immunity. More>>

Plant growth hormones 'produce finer silk'
Silkworm larvae fed on leaves of plants treated with growth-promoting hormones produce better quality silk, say scientists from North-East Institute of Science and Technology at Jorhat, India. The findings could help improve the quality and quantity of silk production. More>> [240kB]

Scientists find natural tracking dye
Indian biotechnologists report that a natural yellow pigment from the annatto tree, Bixa orellana, can substitute for the harmful chemical dye bromophenol blue, used to track ions in electrophoresis tests. More>> [123kB]

Sci-fi guru Clarke makes final odyssey
British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, the author of classic novels such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, passed away in his adopted country Sri Lanka on 19 March. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma.

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