Friday, December 29, 2006

Muslim males in MP are more literate

As per book Same "Population of India in the new millennium, Census 2001," released recently says Muslim males are more literate than males of other major religions. In the state of Madhya Pradesh where 79.8 per cent Muslim males were educated compared to 75.5 per cent Hindu males.Similarly the literacy among Muslim males in Andhra Pradesh was 76.5 per cent as against Hindus'' 70.3 per cent while it was 82.4 per cent in case of the Muslim males in Gujarat as against 79.1 per cent of Hindu males.

Even among women, Muslims were more educated with literacy of 59.1 per cent as against Hindu women's 49.2 per cent. The study, however, admits that unlike the males, the literacy rate of Muslim women was not up to the mark in most of the states.

Adapted from various press coverages namely Indiandaily and news agencies

200 mn Indians live on Rs 12 a day

December 28, 2006

The Indian economy may be growing in leaps and bounds and so are reports which seem to suggest that India is on its way to becoming a superpower. But the one question that leads to a never-ending debate is –Is India really shining ? The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report Level and Pattern of Consumer Expenditure, 2004-05released on Wednesday reveals that about one third of India’s rural population or over 200 million people still live on less than Rs 12 per day.

The report shows that Orissa, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and UP remain the poorest states in the country in terms of Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) of rural population. “Compared with 30 per cent at the all-India level, in Orissa and Chattisgarh as many as 55-57 per cent of villagers were, in 2004-05, living below the MPCE level of Rs 365, which is Rs 12 a day,” news agency PTI quoted a part of the NSSO report as saying. It adds that 10 per cent of all-India rural population was living at just Rs 9 per day.

In Madhya Pradesh, 47 per cent of rural population is living on Rs 12 a day followed by Bihar and Jharkhand (46 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (33 per cent), Karnataka (32 per cent) and Maharashtra (30 per cent). The study defines the items of consumption as clothing, footwear, education, medical care, durable goods and all other items like food, fuel, light, rents and taxes.

However, the Urban poor appeared to be faring slightly better as 30 per cent of such people was found to be spending Rs 580 per month, that is Rs 19 a day.

But 10 per cent of the urban population had to live at just Rs 13 a day in 2004-05. Urban poverty seems to be concentrated in those states, where rural poverty is high.

In Bihar, as much as 55 per cent of urban population is living at Rs 19 per day, followed by Orissa (50 per cent), UP and Chattisgarh (44 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (43 per cent) and Rajasthan (36 per cent). Based on a sample of around 80,000 rural and 45,000 urban households, the survey report noted that one-tenth of rural India was spending as much as Rs 890 per month in 2004-05, which amounts to living on Rs 10,880 per capita annual expenditure. In urban India, the top 10 per cent rich people are spending as much Rs 1,880 per month, which amounts to Rs 22,560 per capita annual expenditure.

According to the report, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat emerged as the richest states, where as much as 57, 51, 47 and 26 per cent of the rural population was spending at least Rs 690 per person monthly as compared to 20 per cent all-India figures. The report also pointed out that the monthly per capita expenditure in rural and urban India was also affected by the size of family, besides other factors.

At the state level, the report observed that the rural poverty based on Rs 12 a day per capita expenditure in West Bengal (24 per cent), Gujarat (21 per cent), Assam and Rajasthan (17 per cent) was also lower than the all-India average of 30 per cent rural population.

(With inputs from PTI)

15 rupee a day per person in rural india

The latest NSSO data which is 61st in series reveals

In urban India, about 42 per cent of the households – which accounted for nearly 51 per cent of the population – spent less than Rs. 790/- per month per person. On the other hand, in rural India, about 41 per cent of the households – which accounted for 47
per cent of the population – could spend up to Rs.455/- per month per person. The proportion of households with per capita spending Rs.890/- or more was as low as 13 per cent in rural India. Compared to this, in urban India, about 48 per cent of households was
spending Rs.930/- or more per month per person.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Malnutrition kills two kids in Madhya Pradesh

By Sanjay Sharma, Indo-Asian News service Dec 27, 2006

Gwalior, Dec 27 (IANS) At least two children have reportedly died from malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior district, child rights activists say, emblematic of a deep-rooted problem afflicting over 80,000 underprivileged children in this state. While one-year-old Purushottam of Ateri village died Sunday, two-year-old Chhottu died Dec 20 though the court had directed the state to take special care of him, the activists said.

'Both deaths occurred at a Gwalior hospital due to the alleged negligence of the staff and doctors,' said Sandesh Bansal, an activist with Jan Adhikar Manch. Bansal told IANS: 'The cause of Chhottu's death was even more shocking. The district authorities continued to shirk their responsibility of taking care of the child and his family though the high court had ordered them to do so. They said it was not their job since the family belonged to Raisen district.'

Chhottu belonged to one of 18 families of bonded labourers rescued from Raisen district, 50 km from here, in 2005 at the behest of the Bandhua Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, a group working for the rights of workers.Since the state failed to rehabilitate the rescued families, Jai Prasad of the Morcha knocked the doors of the high court, which directed the district administration and the state labour department to look after the families under the Madhya Pradesh rehabilitation programme. But the authorities apparently refused to, saying the families were not their responsibility since they were not from Gwalior.

'The matter pertains to Raisen from where they were brought here,' said C.S. Dixit, Gwalior's assistant labour commissioner.The administration's attitude has made the workers think that they were better off as bonded labour.

'We are being treated like animals, worse than when we were hostage in stone quarries,' laments Bharat Adivasi, Chhottu's father. Added Prasad: 'This is happening despite the government's claims of making efforts to curb malnutrition, for which it has spent millions of rupees in the past three years.'

The state's budget for the overall development of women and children went up to Rs.5.9 billion this year. Of this, Rs.3 billion was earmarked for providing nutritious diet to undernourished women and children - Rs.1.9 billion more than the previous year. But according to the government's Child Growth Monitoring Drive, 80,000 children in the state continued to suffer from severe malnutrition.

In April, the state unveiled a special scheme called the 'Bal Shakti Yojana', which seeks to treat severely malnourished children. It includes medical services necessary for such kids.The number of malnourished children in the 0-5 years age group is 33,000, which is about 50 percent of the total child population in the state, according to National Health Survey data.

© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

21.6 % newborn kids are breastfed in MP: Survey

Pioneer, Bhopal December 26, 2006
Girish Sharma | Bhopal

Despite several schemes launched by the Madhya Pradesh Government, only 21.6 per cent newborn children in the age group of 0 to 5 in the State are breastfed from their mothers.This fact came to light in the latest 2005-2006 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), released by the Government of India. The State Government introduced a slew of new programmes to encourage mothers breastfeed infants as they require colostrum immediately after birth.

Colostrum - mother's first milk - is like a natural vaccine and helps the child to fight with number of infections in the life. As per the study as published in Lancet the medical journal, infant mortality can by brought down by about 19 per cent if the child is given colostrum immediately after birth and is breastfed by the mother for six months, followed by complementary feeding from six months till two years. Madhya Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. As per sample registration system data of Government of India released this year, 79 out of every 100 children, born in the state die before their first birthday. In case of the colostrum feeding that is mothers first milk, as per the NFHS III survey only 14.6 per cent children under the age of three years are breastfed within one hour. In rural area only 13.3 per cent are breastfed while in urban areas it is 20.3 per cent. Though there has been a slight rise from an old figure of NFHS II (1998 -99) figure of 8.9 per cent, but still it is abysmally low.

Many myths and superstitions are prevalent in rural and tribal areas of the state regarding breastfeeding and is cited as one the reasons for low percentage of breastfeeding.

State Government wakes up to child malnutrition death

Pioneer December 26, 2006
Staff Reporter | Bhopal

Taking action on the basis of a news report 'Child dies of malnutrition' published in The Pioneer on December 22, Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary Rakesh Sahani sought clarification from Labour Commissioner Rajneesh Vaishya on Monday.

Surprisingly, the earlier clarification report sent by Vaishya on December 22 kept on contending that Bharat Adivasi, whose 2.5 year-old child Chhotu died of malnutrition at the Government hospital in Gwalior on December 19, did not belong to Gwalior district and was not a bonded labourer. The report, which was sent to The Pioneer, puts further that the child died of tuberculosis. However, medical experts had admitted that the child died of malnutrition and the same was quite visible on the body and face of the victim.

Vaishya during a telephonic conversation reiterated the same statement earlier given and maintained the stand of Assistant Labour commissioner CS Dixit, who had asserted that they were not responsible for the incident as the family belonged to another district. The report tells that all the labourers have been asked to return to their home district.

However, Vaishya admitted that a humanitarian approach to child's condition could have saved his life. "If the Labour Department, instead of being apathetic to the whole matter and contending that it was not their cup of tea, had co-coordinated with the district administration and the Health department, the situation could have saved," he admitted.

Vaishya further admitted that it was not just the case of a victim being bonded labour, but was a question of child who was exposed to administrative failure during the time of crisis.The clarification report says that after the instructions of MP High Court on December 14, a relief fund of Rs 10,000 was released by Red Cross society of district administration, though the Assistant Labour Commissioner CS Dixit on December 22 had stated that he could not locate child's father in the Kamlaraja hospital and that was why the relief could not reach the victim.

Monday, December 25, 2006

MP village attempts to revive Sanskrit

Kumar Shakti Shekhar
Sunday, December 24, 2006 (Rajgarh):

There is a unique village in Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh where almost all the people always converse in Sanskrit.

Children are determined to teach Sanskrit to people who they meet. Villagers initially resisted the language but now after three years, they cant do without it.

Jhiri in Madhya Pradesh's Rajgarh district has renewed the old custom and people have taken it upon themselves to popularise Sanskrit.So for the past three years, Sanskrit has been the medium of education at all schools in Jhiri.

Career in Sanskrit

Now the children speak fluent Sanskrit, even outside the school. In fact, they want to make a career in the ancient language. It's not just the children, even the grown-ups now speak only in Sanskrit.

"I get immense pleasure in talking in Sanskrit because it is our language," said Shyama Chauhan, housewife.Three years ago, the villagers formed the Vidyagram Development Committee (VDC), which decided that everyone, regardless of caste or religion, would learn Sanskrit.

Now even those who may not know the technicalities of the language still speak fluent Sanskrit."An illiterate girl of the village was stunned when she was being taught Sanskrit. She told me that the teacher asked her things like singular and plural. She said that she knew how to speak Sanskrit but did not know the grammar part," said Uday Singh Chauhan, president, VDC.

For the residents of the village Sanskrit is not only a language but also a medium to become more cultured and civilized and this has helped them to a large extent in achieving the goals of social harmony, development and prohibition.

NDTV, December 24, 2006

Fighting malnutrition: Better workplan needed

Editorial by Central Chronicle on malnutrition

December 25, 2006

There has been a 6.3pc rise in malnourished children in Madhya Pradesh. The deduction has been arrived from a report of the National Family Health Survey. In comparison to other states, the state of children is MP is a cause for concern. Percentagewise malnutrition has gone up from 54 to 60.3 whereas the State government has been claiming it to be at 49pc. One reason is also said to be improper use of funds allotted for eradicating the illness. Even the Supreme Court had raised questions over the distribution system of nutritious food to children in the State. The MP government has implemented anganwadi scheme for eradicating malnutrition. However, the number of anganwadis are too little compared to the population. The Supreme Court had, on October 7, given directives for opening an anganwadi centre in every locality, wherein children up to six years of age should be given nutritious diet. It also said that the work of distribution of the food items should not be given to contractors but to women's bodies of localities, self-help groups or other groups of the village people. However, this is not so. A healthy child needs 1700 calories whereas a child is given 80 gm `dalia' in Anganwadi which provides only 300 calories. The state government has achieved notable success in implementation of schemes/ projects but its success in supplying nutritious food to children has not met with desired success. Lack of budget is said to be one of the reasons; other is improper distribution. It is also important to pay attention towards the quality of food being given to the children. The need is for framing a large work plan so that not even one child becomes victim of malnutrition.

Published in Central Chronicle, Bhopal, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Vinay was not so lucky as Prince

A 5 year old boy who fell in the 100 ft pit in Raisen unfortunately could not be saved……

Vinay a five year old boy from Raisen could not survive while he was rescued from a 100 feet pit hole in district Raisen of the state of Madhya Pradesh. The incident happened yesterday evening in Sunehra village of the district Raisen. The pit hole was dug to drill water by tube well but later had gone dry. It was not closed. Vinay, was playing with his friends in the open field, he tripped and fell into the pit - hole. The other boys playing with him immediately informed his parents. His father who is a farmer rushed to his child’s rescue. Local administration employees also reached the spot and the Army was called in from Sagar. The rescue operation lasted six hours during which the boy was heard moaning. Though he was rescued but could not survive. He was declared dead due to asphyxiation when he was taken to the district hospital.

A huge crowd had gathered around the hole to watch the replay of what turned out to be a tragic event. Local officials could not keep the crowds away and this also led to the soil subsiding and entering the hole. The rescue team managed to reach the boy by digging a parallel hole six feet away from the one into which Vinay had fallen and then through a horizontal shaft. Eyewitnesses said the boy was alive when he was brought out, but his heart gave out within minutes.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

CS of MP, Bihar and 7 other states to appear before Supreme court on ICDS case

Landmark Supreme Court order on ICDS: On December 13, the Supreme Court issued a landmark interim order on the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the only Central Government scheme for young children and infants. The Court has ordered Chief Secretaries of many states to appear personally before the court to explain why they have not implemented the Court's earlier orders on the ICDS. In that context Chief Secretaries of the State of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh shall appear personally to explain why the orders of this Court requiring the full implementation of the ICDS scheme were not obeyed. This is one of the Court's most positive orders in the 'Right to Food' case since it was initiated in 2001.

For more info please contact

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Missing girls in Madhya Pradesh

Letter to the Hoot: Recent articles in the media have tried to give visibility to an issue which is prevalent yet neglected.

Female foeticide and infanticide is not a new phenomenon, but debate on it is growing. Stories from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat get space in media, which is genuine as they have the lowest child sex ratio in the country. A few months back the news channel Sahara Samay had undertaken some sting operation on nursing homes in states including Madhya Pradesh which were illegally undertaking use of pre natal diagnostic technique for purpose of sex determination of the foetus, banned as per PC & PNDT Act. Some NGOs had filed the first public interest litigation in the state on the issue, which was covered by newspapers like Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Pioneer and Rajya Ki Nai Dunia.

This children’s day there was a first lead story in Dainik Bhaskar from Morena, a district in the state of Madhya Pradesh which has the lowest sex ratio in the state i.e. 837 girls per 1000 boys. The story helped to raise concern on the declining sex ratio in the state, which remains unnoticed by many decisionmakers and media. The story did bring out the focus on the issue of female infanticide prevalent in our society. It pegged the child sex ratio in some parts of the district as 400 girls per 1000 boys. Though statisticians may debate this, but fact of the matter is that girls are being knowingly killed , which still remains unnoticed by many. That story which was call to action and prompted many others to follow.

Dainik Jagran another leading daily in the state wrote an editorial on the issue, which was much needed. Following this there was a recent article in the Hindi magazine Maya by Dr Manohar Agnani. He has being a front runner in raising concern on the issue of female foeticide and in his article points out that it is not only Morena but is prevalent in other districts of the state too. He talks of a village in the district Shivpuri which may have sex ratio as low as 600/ 1000. He adds that time has come that we start talk about the solutions. It may be pertinent to mention about Dr Manohar Agnani’s recent book on female foeticide. It has been titled as Missing Girls and was published by ‘Books for Change’.

Recent articles in media in the state have tried to give visibility to an issue which is prevalent yet wilfully neglected by us. These stories should be a call to people within media, civil society and all of us who feel pained to convert this into a sustained and regular concern feeding media with needed evidence and stories which are newsy and backed by substance to make sure that not only people who make policies but society as a whole rises to put a stop to this killing of girls. This may be just one way to raise concern by engaging media though the solution still lies within all of us.

Anil Gulati

Victims Of Meerut's Hashimpura Killings: Brutalised, But Not Broken

By Harsh Mander

19 December, 2006

The police bullet pierced through his shoulder, stunning him with pain. If it had entered his body just a few inches lower, he would have died, like the forty other young men that the constables had bundled into the truck with him. They took him for dead, throwing him into the canal. Zulfikar was then 17 years old.

A few hours earlier, constables of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) had surrounded Hashimpura, a working class and predominantly Muslim colony of factory workers and weavers in Meerut. It was the evening of May 22, 1987, and the city was still smouldering with the fires of more than a month of embittered and brutal rioting, that had left many slain by police bullets and burning alive, hundreds of homes, factories, shops and vehicles gutted, and people of both communities convulsed with sullen hate and anger.

The PAC forced all the residents of Hashimpura out of their homes onto the road, and searched their homes, randomly smashing their furniture and valuables. It was the sacred month of Ramzan, and most were still observing the ritual fasting as they tensely cowered for hours outside their homes. Almost all the able-bodied men, totalling 324 according to official records, all Muslim, were arrested and crowded into police trucks. They were first driven to police lock-ups, where they were beaten with police batons. They were then shifted to jails, where they were attacked
by prisoners, leaving five dead.

In Hashimpura, after the strong able-bodied men were arrested and driven away, nearly 50 among the teenaged and old men who remained behind were then rounded up by the PAC constables into a yellow truck. Many of their loved ones wailed as they were driven away. Yet, none dreamed that this would be the last time that they would see most of them alive.

Zulfikar and others thought that they too would be driven to the police station. They panicked when the truck instead began to drive them out of the city; they shouted hopelessly but there were none to heed their cries in the shrouds of curfew. The truck rumbled to a halt more than an hour later near the banks of the Upper Ganga Canal in Muradnagar, Ghaziabad. By then, the sun had set. The terrified men packed in the truck still did not know what the men in khaki planned for them.

The man nearest the edge was first pulled down, and the sound of rifle-fire echoed through the uneasy silence; he fell, and his body was dragged to the canal and thrown in. A second man was then pulled down, and met the same fate. Zulfikar was the third. The bullet passed through his shoulder; he too collapsed, but was alive. He held his breath, and the constables took him for dead, and flung him also into the canal. He floated briefly, but soon found himself tangled in some weeds, which he grabbed and silently waited with intense foreboding, blood flowing from his bullet wound into the water.

By then, the men in the truck comprehended the terrible truth of what was happening, and they raised a great uproar. The constables panicked, and changed track. They mounted the truck and opened fire blindly, killing at least half the men there. They dragged out the bodies and threw them into the canal. The remaining men fell silent in cold terror, recalling their God and those they loved, certain now that they would not escape alive.

Zulfikar listened as the truck finally drove away. He came to know later that they then drove to the Hindon Canal, and completed the massacre of the remaining men. Of the nearly 50 men who the PAC picked up, only six survived. A policeman later testified to seeing the blood-stained PAC truck enter the premises of the camp of the PAC.

Zulkifar finally pulled himself out of the canal an hour later, and hid in a urinal. He had to continue his fast amid the stench of urine and his throbbing shoulder the next 24 hours, until he felt it was safe to slink to the home of a relative the next night. Days later, he took a bus to the home of Syed Shahabuddin, MP, in Delhi, and together they broke the story of the massacre in a press conference to a (briefly) outraged world.

Meanwhile, many bodies were found floating in the canal. The Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad, VN Rai, insisted on filing police complaints, even though the top political and police leadership reportedly wanted to suppress the story for fear of a rebellion in the forces. In 1988, the state government directed the Crime Branch Central Investigation Department (CBCID) to investigate, but its report, submitted six years later in 1994, was never made public, and no charges were initially framed.

However, the survivors and members of the families of those killed moved the Supreme Court in 1995 to make the report public and to prosecute those indicted in it. The court refused to intervene, and instead asked the petitioners to approach the High Court. The case remains unresolved in the High Court, but the state government finally bowed to pressure in 1996 by
filing criminal chargesheets against 19 PAC personnel. Not a single senior official is included in the chargesheet. Even the 19 of the accused from the lower ranks of the PAC were not arrested, despite 23 non-bailable arrest warrants. They were in active service, but the government pleaded that they were 'absconding' throughout!

Ultimately, rights activist Iqbal Ansari and relatives of those slaughtered applied to the Supreme Court to transfer the case, in the interests of justice, from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi, which it ordered in September 2002. More years were allowed to pass over the wrangle of which government should appoint the special public prosecutor. The case continued to be adjourned on technical grounds, enabled by a reluctant public prosecutor appointed by the Uttar Pradesh government. Human rights lawyers Vrinda Grover and Rebecca John took up the reins as their advocates.

It was finally in May 2006, 19 years almost to the day after the massacre, that charges were finally framed against the accused. Three of the accused have died, the remaining 16 appear in every hearing in the cramped untidy Tis Hazari courtroom and listen tensely to the statements of the survivors - but continue in active service. A large number of residents of Hashimpura crowd the courtroom. All working class people, many widowed and aged, unsupported by any organisation, gather money from their own savings for travel for every court hearing, only to give wordless strength to each other as they speak out their harrowing truths in court.

Zulfikar, now 36, knows that the battle in the courts will be arduous. Yet, he still longs above all for justice. "Those who did this zulm must be punished. We do not want our children to see such a day again. It is for this that we fight." Some fear that they may still lose the case, but their lawyer Vrinda Grover counters, "The survivors and their families have already won. By their brave resolute epic fight. By bringing 16 PAC men to court every hearing. If the case is dismissed, it is the country that will lose. But not them. They have already won."

Harsh Mander is the convenor of Aman Biradari, a people's campaign for secularism, peace and justice.