Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trafficking in children from State rampant

Ramya Kannan
221 children trafficked in a year

CHENNAI: Trafficking in children from Tamil Nadu is regular. They are taken primarily to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh and made to work in trying circumstances.

The children work in sweet stalls, bakeries and prawn and the fish processing industry, as help in hotels and labourers in homes, according to a 2006 study, conducted among children rescued at various exits (primarily different railway stations). The children are also involved in bangle and carpet making units, employed in rubber estates and tapioca farms in various parts of the country.

Executed by two NGOs Saaral-CSHD and Nessakkaram SEEDS, which work among children to prevent abuse, the study observed that a total of 221 children were taken for labour between February and December 2006 and 167 had run away from home to cities, mainly Chennai and Mumbai.

During interactions with the children, it was clear that they had no clue where they are going to be taken for employment. There were also cases where girls forced into labour have run away from their work place due to exacting conditions and landed up at railway stations, hoping to travel home `ticket less.'

The study revealed that trafficking in children took place from 16 districts, with Villupuram, Vellore, Salem, Dharmapuri, Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga contributing the maximum numbers. There were a number of parents from Kalidaikurichi in Villupuram district who complained to the study team about children who went missing after agents paid paltry sums and took them away on the pretext of finding them work.

Three villages in Madurai had sent over 10 per cent of their boys out of home to work and in one village, Pudhur, 15 per cent of the boys and 5 per cent of girls were outside home, sold to a broker. The parents attributed their decision to extreme poverty, lack of rain, inadequate water resources and the lack of cultivable land. With jobs dwindling, there is no income available locally and families send children out to earn for them. The children are in the age group 12-18 years.
"We believe that the study has revealed only the tip of the iceberg. The real intensity and magnitude of the problem is likely to be disastrous," days George Heston, director, Saaral -CSHD

Monday, January 29, 2007

One school, two hand pumps, but children still thirsty

Primary school, Village Goharan, is five kilometers from the Vijaypur development block headquarters, District Sheopur. It is one of the lucky ones as it has two hand pumps just outside the school premises, but children still have to bring water bottles from homes when they come to study at the school. The two handpumps are lying in broken condition and not in use for sometime now. Teachesr at the school have raised the issue with public health engineering department for many times, the hand pumps lie unrepaired.

Blog news

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Madhya Pradesh School promoting Gandhian culture since 1892

By Abdul Samad

Harda (Madhya Pradesh), Jan.28 (ANI): An over a century old school in Madhya Pradesh's Harda District is being run in a style that could give joy to the followers of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation.Be it students or teachers, all wear a Gandhi cap and Khadi dress. The tradition has been kept alive since 1892. The school has followed Gandhi's ideals since its inception.

"The students as well as the teachers coming here do wear the cap and this is not a compulsion but is tradition that has been followed since 114 years," said Ghulam Nabi, one of the teachers. "Gandhiji had asked fellow countrymen to wear this cap and on our part, we follow suit, irrespective of which class we are studying in," said Anand Singh Rajput, a student.

There are 500 students in the school and majority of them come from poor background. This proves a major impediment in the basic maintenance of the school.But the school is in a pathetic state because of many essential things getting no attention from anyone due to lack of funds.

The school authorities want the State Government to help in renovation of the school building, which has withstood vagaries of all seasons for the past 114 years. Today, it is in dire need of repairs. Besides it requires an arrangement for the residence of schoolteachers.

"We have certain demands, we want quarters for the teachers and reconstruction of the entire building as it is getting old day-by-day. It urgently needs renovation so that it can last for many more years, says the Moti Singh Suchar, the school Principal. (ANI)

A school that abides by Gandhigiri

Bhopal, Jan 28 (IANS) Imagine a school where teachers mark themselves absent voluntarily if they get late and the headmaster notes down his own time of arrival!

The Bawadia Kalan Middle School on the outskirts of the Madhya Pradesh capital has become quite popular with students and parents with a bit of "Gandhigiri" - a term that has come to signify winning over people with persuasion and honesty.

"I have not seen the much talked about Munnabhai's Gandhigiri but what I feel is that Gandhigiri is nothing but 'living for others by honesty' and that is what we have adopted in this school," said A.N. Pathak, the headmaster. No official or local politician has ever visited the school in Bawadia Kalan village. But that has hardly been a hindrance to its smooth-functioning. The school, which has classes up to the middle level, has 454 students, 11 teachers and one head master.

"Almost all amenities like drinking water, toilets (specially for girls), lights, fans and a speaker in each classroom have been arranged with public cooperation thanks to the teachers who have become friendly with the villagers," said Pathak.

"Villagers in most places avoid sending their children to school either due to lack of facilities or because the child is not interested or both, but in our village it is not so," says Matadin who runs a grocery shop in the village. "Teachers take so much personal interest in educating the child that neither the parents nor the child thinks of missing school."

"In case a child misses classes for more than two days, a teacher personally comes to us to inquire about him and persuade us to send him for studies regularly. They care not only for the studies of children but also for their entertainment and try to ensure that students get a homely environment in school as well," he said.His three children, including two daughters, go to school regularly.

Unlike most government schools, teachers here mark themselves absent voluntarily if they come late for three days in a row. All teachers as well as the headmaster not only sign the attendance register but also put their time of arrival on it."We treat all students as family members and give them a family-like atmosphere, so that they do not think of being absent from class," said Arvind Tiwari, teacher.

--By Sanjay Sharma

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Commission to review maladies of public distribution system

Supreme Court of India has constituted a committee/ commission to investigate and study the Public Distribution System in India. As per Sachin Jain of Vikas Samvad , a media advocacy group this is the time when we can put our feelings and experiences in the commission, and an opportunity to express. Under the orders of the Supreme Court of India in Writ Petition (C) No.196 of 2001, the Government of India, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has constituted a Central Vigilance Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice D.P. Wadhwa, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, to look into the maladies which are affecting the proper functioning of the Public Distribution System and also suggest remedial measures.

The Committee has invited views and suggestions on the problems affecting the Public Distribution System - whether it is Fair Price Shops, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation, Food Corporation of India, Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Government of India or any other authority/body concerned with Public Distribution System. One can write at e mail at cvcpds.fpd@nic.in or Fax at 011- 26494067 or write to office of the Committee at 716, Mahabir Block, Asiad Village Complex (Khel Gaon), Siri Fort Road, New Delhi-110016 on or before 20th February, 2007.

Blog news

Friday, January 26, 2007

Action in textbooks sale case

Betul, MP, Jan 22 (UNI) Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Director
Surjeet Singh Chouhan, who is Madhya Pradesh Chief
Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's brother, has said
that action would be initiated against the District Project Coordinator in a case relating to seizing of textbooks -- that were supposed to have been distributed free of cost under the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission -- from a scrap-dealers' godown.
''The Chief Minister has taken a very serious view
of the matter, formed different investigation teams
and sought a report. A statewide probe is underway. On
November 13, 2006, a similar case surfaced in
Shajapur,'' Mr Chouhan told UNI over telephone. He
probed the matter in various areas of the district
yesterday. Mr Chouhan is to submit his report today to the Chief Minister, School Education Minister and the
Principal Secretary.''Three teachers, who were found prima facie guilty,have been suspended. The scrap-dealer and two teachers have been jailed,'' he added.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

India’s water portal

A web-based initiative by a NGO could be a useful public and media resource on national water data and management practices.

Anil Gulati

The Government of India has designated the year 2007 as the "Water Year". Several districts of the country face challenges regarding the availability and quality of water and its accessibility; consequently, this formal theme should help draw immediate attention to the issue of judicious water management and its inherent link to sanitation.

An impetus to this theme was provided when the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, launched a "water portal" on January 12, 2007.

Called India’s Water Portal, this web-based initiative is expected to be a one-stop knowledge resource on water in the country. Developed by the Arghyam Trust, a non-governmental organization, the portal places important information in the public domain and offers a platform for debates, discussion, idea-sharing and case studies to help create a national knowledge base.

India’s Water Portal clearly lays its focus on water with its theme "safe, sustainable and for all". According to the portal’s articulated principles, it intends to be an open, inclusive, web-based platform for sharing water management knowledge amongst practitioners and the general public. It aims to draw on the rich experience of experts from the water sector, package their knowledge, add value to it through technology, and then disseminate it to a larger audience through the Internet. The portal intends to pursue alternative outreach methods like the print media, radio and workshops, to ensure that this knowledge reaches those who need it the most. The ultimate objective of the portal is to address equity and sustainability issues in the water sector.

In his inaugural address during the launch of the portal (refer to the Press Information Bureau release), Dr. Manmohan Singh said that "[it] can help create repositories of knowledge. Their utility will increase as Internet penetration grows."

In this portal, information is available both in Hindi and English, adding value to its reach within India. Although some information still needs to be translated, it is a good beginning. The home page displays a good photograph that could be enhanced by photograph credits and a caption.

The portal features sections like Organization, Tools and Techniques, Data and Resources, Networks and Projects that can be updated. Interestingly, meteorological data on various indicators from year 1901 to 2002 for any part of India is available, which should be useful for water resource planning and research. Links provide details on a various topics: for instance, in the section on Tools and Techniques, details are available on rainwater harvesting, agriculture, drinking water management, water body restoration, urban water management, ground water management, watershed development, sanitation, waste water management and water quality. Other highlights include lists of courses, movies, slideshows and case studies, research and policies related to specific areas of knowledge. The lists of recommended reading and links that are provided in some sections make the site web-friendly and a one-stop resource for information on water.

India’s Water Portal could function as a quotable resource for the media and media advocates to help raise concerns on issues related to water resources, as a link to access feature stories, and as an information base for buttressing op-eds and articles. This author suggests that featuring media stories as well as stories of challenges faced by the people of India would make the portal more dynamic and truly for the people.


All views expressed in this article are writer's personal opinion

Sunday, January 21, 2007

How real are reality TV shows?

By Anil Gulati

In an era of TRPs (Television Rating Points) and SMSs, umpteen number of reality shows are stealing the limelight. They are high on TRPs and spinning money for their producers - a factor which motivates many others to join the race.

The one getting popular now is the Indian version of international worldwide hit 'Big Brother'. Called 'Big Boss' on Sony TV, it has 13 celebrity participants, though a few of them have been 'evicted' out of the game now. The challenge is to live under constant surveillance by TV cameras and be popular among participating contestants.

But that is not enough - the ultimate is to survive the 'SMS poll'. Reality shows like these, which engage audiences, have been growing. Some that I can remember and have just finished are 'Nach Baliye 2' and 'Jhalak Dhilka Ja'. In all them the major share of voting power via SMS or telephone calls, which decided the fate of the participant, was with audience.

The format may vary like in the case of 'Big Boss' - one who gets more SMSs is evicted out of the game while in other shows the participant wins.Stakes for participants are high in these shows - be it the prize money or popularity. Similarly, the money which spins around in these shows is extremely high. Be it advertisers who peg their products on the same, the audiences that not only watch the show and gives it higher TRPs, but also the audience that votes by SMS or telephone calls. Worth referring here would be an article on rediff.com some time back (February 2006). The article talked about the money these SMSs provide to the channel and mobile operator. On an average, a popular reality television show gets about 7 million cell phone text messages each episode.At Rs.4 per SMS, it adds up to Rs.28 million per episode. Over a year (52 weeks), that is an astounding Rs.1,460 million. On a 50-50 split between the channel and the mobile operator, it works out to Rs.730 million to the channel. Just one medium (SMS) on one reality show of 52 weeks can give you this much.

Despite these high stakes, many of them show so-called reality but doesn't look 100 percent real - they lack total transparency. Hardly any of these reality shows reveal the exact number of votes the winner or loser gets - something which all of us may like to know.

There have been times when one may question the decisions, but with no answer. Shows like these would look more real if there is more transparency and they reveal the exact numbers of SMSs received (not the percentage) and the system followed thereafter.I am not raising any doubts on the decision or making any allegations but am trying to make a point that the audience in this case, which spends the money, has all the right to know. For that matter, the participants who lose or win and advertisers who peg their products on these shows have an equal right to know.

Interestingly, the recent controversy on 'Big Brother', being telecast on Channel 4 in Britain, has made it more popular there. Similarly in India too, controversies and celebrities in the show make them more or less popular. More the controversies, more people get engrossed, reaping double benefit not only with higher TRPs but higher number of SMSs and more cash! In the case of 'Bigg Boss', a celebrity was brought back via a wild card entry but ... was it based on the channel's own business calculations that the celebrity could help bring higher TRPs or by votes of people? Nobody actually knows and numbers were not shared on the show.

One explanation could be that anyone who helps in increasing TRPs will also get higher number of SMSs, but that may be an assumption. Viewers tend to get attached to many of these shows and emotions are raised. Entertainment is there but viewers also spend their money to vote for them and are motivated to do so. One may be using the emotions of viewers for the business advantage of channels and in the process, the viewer does not even know the reality. Reality - as made to be perceived - may or may not be real. Media reports have also raised allegations, though very few, of contestants using their networks or providing SIM cards to vote for a particular person.

Ultimately, the TV channels are in an entertainment business venture and not social ventures, but do impact social structures. An element of transparency needs to be built into these reality shows, especially since it impacts the lives of people, engage them emotionally and use their money. It may be there but needs to be shared transparently with people.

(Anil Gulati is a resident of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at
Copyright Indo-Asian News Service

India sees 2007 wheat output at 74m tonnes

ndia is likely to produce at least 74 million tonnes of wheat in 2007 with weather conditions favourable and farmers planting the crop over a larger area, a senior farm ministry official said on Friday.

“The estimate of 74 million tonnes is conservative,” agriculture commissioner Narendra Bahadur Singh told Reuters. “Production may cross 74 million tonnes if temperatures do not rise in February and March.” A sharp rise in temperature in February 2006 trimmed India’s wheat output to 69.5 million tonnes after early estimates for the year forecast production of around 74 million tonnes. A similar effect was seen in 2005.

“An additional one million hectares have been brought under wheat sowing this year,” Singh said. “So far, the weather has been conducive and if it does not get unusually warm, we will have a bountiful output.” In the current season, farmers have sown wheat on 27.55 million hectares, buoyed by higher prices of the cereal.

India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, grows only one crop of the grain in a year. Sowing is in the winter months of November and December and the harvest takes place from March.

The country normally grows wheat on around 26 million hectares, mainly in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana, and the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Poverty: unable to pay dowry: Girls attempts suicide

Pandurna Chhindwara

Dowry still plays an important role in marriages; at least in Pandurna in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh this seems to be the case. Inability to pay dowry as expected by boy’s parents lead her to attempt suicide. Her neighbours and other community members did help and manage to save her life. She stays with her brother and their parents are not alive anymore. Her brother was unable to pay money; in his absence she attempted suicide. Though state proclaims to be able to fight the menace of dowry and also proclaims to support marriages of eligible girls who are poor. Probably in this case this proclamation like in many cases does not appear to benefit poor.

Blog news

Friday, January 19, 2007

Betul (Madhya Pradesh) text books sale incident update

CM orders enquiry

Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has ordered an enquiry into Betul incident on the issue of text books sale and has asked I.S. Dani Principal Secretary School Education to conduct a high level enquiry into the incident. Subsequently Santosh Mishra from Rajya Shiksha Kendra is going to Betul to undertake an enquiry into the incident.

More books found - In a private house three kilometer from Betul district HQ in Umari Village books worth lakhs of rupees were found again yesterday but the officials have denied the same and have told media that they had only kept it there for storage

Blog news

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The Ministry of Rural Development has sanctioned the release of second instalment amounting to Rs.40.50 lakh to the DRDA, Panna Distt. of Madhya Pradesh for implementation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Drought Prone Areas Programme” (DPAP) under “Hariyali Guidelines”. The Ministry of Rural Development has initiated `Hariyali’ for empowering the village community through Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to undertake the area development progammes on watershed basis with financial and technical support from the Government. Under this initiative, all the on-going area development programmes, such as Integrated Wasteland Development Programmes (IWDP), Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) and Desert Development Programme (DDP) are to be implemented through the PRIs. New projects under the aforesaid area development programmes are implemented under `Hariyali Guidelines’ from 1st April , 2003. Special emphasis is given to rain water harvesting and desilting of ponds under watershed projects.

Under Hariyal programme of the Ministry, the efforts have resulted in bringing 87 lakh hectres of wasteland under green cover.

School text books sold in Betul & Tikamgarh

As many as five tonnes of Rajya Shiksha Kendra textbooks for classes one to eight and related material have been sold to a scrap dealer at a school in Khedli village, five km from this district headquarters, official sources said.

Madhya Pradesh Revenue Minister Kamal Patel has ordered an inquiry into the sale of school textbooks worth crores to a scrap dealer.Police seized the textbooks yesterday while District Collector Chandrahas Dubey suspended teachers Ramesh Pawar, Shivpal Ingre and Abhay Gorekar after the January 14 crime came to light.


As per media sources books distributed under SSA schmes have been found at whole sale shops and pan shops here in Tikamgarh. Papers from them is being used for making packets for retail goods or pan. They were allegedy sold to the scrap dealer.

Drought hits India bird reserve

By Narayan Bareth, BBC News, Jaipur

A lack of rain is being blamed for bird shortages
The world-famous Bharatpur bird sanctuary in western India is facing a shortage of birds because of severe water scarcity, officials say.

Migratory birds visiting the area in Rajasthan state are down to only about 100 compared to some 10,000 last year. The lack of water follows low rainfall. Officials say the situation is so dire that six new wells have been dug.With so little water, many migratory birds are not nesting and are flying back to their areas of origin.

Once the hunting ground of Indian royal families, the Bharatpur area is now one of the world's finest bird sanctuaries. It has more than 400 species of water birds, from as far afield as Afghanistan, Tibet and Central Asia. There are Siberian cranes from the Arctic, and greylag geese from China have become a regular feature.Last year, the birds made 2,000 nests but this time only a few have been seen.

The famous Siberian Crane, for example, was last sighted here in 2002.All this is bad news for the large numbers of bird lovers from around the world who visit Bharatpur during the winter season.

Officials say that although the number of tourists has remained the same, many are leaving the sanctuary complaining that they have seen far fewer birds.

"I came here from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh and was disappointed when I found there were no birds. People will no longer come here if that remains the case," said one tourist Sudhir Rawat.

Extra water

Last year, more than 100,000 visitors spent time at the national park, including 34,000 from outside India. Now officials are trying to arrange for extra water from the Chambal River - which originates in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh - through a pipeline network.

However, environmentalists say this will not solve the problem, because the birds are used to a natural flow of water which also supplies food.

State officials reserved water from the Panchna Dam for the sanctuary three years ago, but were forced to give up their plan because of protests by local farmers, who said that they needed the water for their crops. The Bharatpur bird sanctuary, also known as the Keoladeo national park, was declared a national park in 1982 and a world heritage site in 1985.

Guna initiates Dular Scheme to combat malnourishment in kids

Guna district in the state of Madhya Pradesh has seven hundred seventy three children which are malnourished. Six hundred sixteen fall in the Grade three of malnourishment while 157 in Grade four. As part of district’s impetus to combat malnourishment among these kids, it has initiated news scheme. In this scheme these children individually will now be responsibility of specified health and Women and child development department workers. Specified ANM, anganwadi worker, MHW or ASHA will virtually have to adopt these kids individually. She/ he will have take care of their nutrition and help provide the child with the nutritious food as provided by the district. A monitoring card for each child will monitor their progress and will be available at their homes. It will be responsibility of the worker who adopts them to maintain the same. The worker who adopts them will get the child weighed regular in their presence, monitor progress and help provide them with the nutritious food and fill the monitoring card.

Under aegis of Collector G K Sharaswat with support from UNICEF this new scheme has been initiated which has been christened as Dular and was launched recently by the Minister in Charge of the district Rutam Singh.

Blog news

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Now children are missing in Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal, Jan 16 (IANS) Tazwar Mohammad, a minibus driver, has been running helter- skelter searching for his two-and-a-half year old son Imran who has been missing for over a month.

Tazwar is not the only one who is searching for his child. Many parents in Madhya Pradesh have gone desperate over their missing children. The recent revelation of child killings in Nithari village in Uttar Pradesh has aggravated their anxiety.

Repeated requests to the police have not yielded any result. According to the police, 611 children went missing from seven towns of the state in 2006 - 282 from Bhopal followed by Indore (129), Ujjain (108), Dhar (33), Khandwa (28), Mandsor (16) and Khargone (15). "The figures of missing children from other 40-odd districts are yet to be collected," the police said.

Statistics available with the police show that a total of 431 boys and 254 girls went missing in 2006, of which 265 boys and 138 girls were found while 166 boys and 116 girls were still untraceable.In 2005 too, 129 children went missing from Bhopal. They still remain untraceable.

"More and more parents are approaching us since the Nithari killings came to light," said Archana Sahay, head of Childline in Bhopal."Police should take up the case of every missing child seriously and people should also be aware. When the media can find out such cases, why can't the administration," she asked.

"Till now we were hoping that our child will come back some day," said Mohammad Sabir, whose 13-year-old deaf and dumb son Faizal has been missing since Dec 12.

"But when we saw the reports of Nithari killings and reached the police station, the cops behaved rather rudely," Sabir said.Bhopal Superintendent of Police A.K. Singh has denied the allegations, saying police always act promptly in all cases of missing children.

According to the state police chief, A.R. Pawar, Madhya Pradesh is a more vigilant state than Uttar Pradesh and the chances of Nithari-type incident here are remote."Still, I will direct the officials to be more vigilant in the case of missing children," he said.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Nagendra Singh has asked the police to maintain a record of missing children from each district.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Urea Rs 270 a bag in Dhar while long wait for kerosene in other districts

Grain market Dhar, Town – Urea was being sold for 270 rupees for bag instead of Rupees two hundred fifty one. Though officers from agriculture extension were present at the market but still 19 rupees extra were being charged by the shopkeeper namely Nizamuddin & Company.

Media comes forward in support of farmers – The moment media came to know about it was there at the spot and shopkeeper was wiling to give the same even at Rs 249, thanks to media support farmers got some relief but what about other places ?

Next to urea another problem coming up in the state is long queues at the kerosene shops. One can see the same situation not only in the state capital but queues were also visible in various places in Indore and Sehore districts.

Water crisis in Khajuraho

Chronicle News Service

Panna, Jan 15: The water level in world famous tourist place Khajuraho is going lower due to this water crisis is prevailing. Even in cold weather the five star hotels have to bring water from tankers.

All the big hotels of this tourist city bring water from nearby farm houses as a result the farm owners earn a lot of money selling water.It is noticeable that in the whole Bundelkhand, drought like situation is becoming and the tourist city is also in the clutches. In summer the situation would be more adverse. Due to scanty rain conventional sources of water are drying. Whereas water from private borings also hardly available.

Shiva hotel which is situated in Khajuraho , its owner Neeraj Latoria said that due to the water crisis the five star hotel owners have to purchase water of worth Rs 1-1.5 lakh permonth. The farmers of nearby areas selling water to these hotels in spite of irrigating fields. In this way they are earning Rs 5-10 thousand per month selling water.

People who have sufficient water in their borings they have purchased their own tankers for supplying water. Sources said that earlier such a situation was never seen.

Thousands of people from country and abroad every year visit here to look the beauty of these unique temples in Khajuraho.

There are so many hotels in Khajurao where the tourists halt. Some of them are five star hotels. The most hit are these hotels whose business is affected due to lack of water.In summer they would have to face more crisis of water.

Lalit Singh said that in coming summer the tourists would not be able to avail the facility of swimming at five star hotels.

Chief Municipal Officer Arun Pateria accepted that there is crisis of water in tourist town. At present hotels are getting water through tankers but in summer the nearby boring may also not able to supply water.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Village Pandola questions Madhya Pradesh proclamations on human development

Village Pandola, District Sheopur, is located in the northern part of state of Madhya Pradesh, in the central part of India.

The village is about fifteen kilometers radius of the district head quarter and today faces challenge when impacts development of children and women in the district.

It has seen times changing. There used to be time in eighties when village was plush with water. Water was not an problem sufficient quantity was available for irrigation and for drinking. That was eighties… People used to grow fennel here, weaving was another profession they were engaged in. Village was counted in the category of prosperous villages. As state took its stride towards development but forgot Pandola. It got left behind on the many developmental fronts.

Today it suffers with water shortage. Empty ponds, without water can been seen and have been like this for more than five years. Water in taps in wards comes for about half an hour, if it comes and water pressure is quite low. Hand pumps and tube wells are main source of water. As they dry up, people ‘dig and bore’ the ground further.

Development has been there, but on official records. There have been number of proclamations, both political and by the state machinery. Many of them got headlines in district media. But many of the schemes either have not yet started, even some did, they are lying unfinished.

Village Sarpanch, Nenka is a tribal. He is not uneducated but wants the children of the village to be educated. Nenka realizes its importance and emphatically points out the need of education and says it is most needed. But where can children get education is a question which needs answer?. Village has three primary schools and one middle school, but not with adequate teachers and infrastructure. Village has a high school which was opened four years back but till date does not have its own building. It neither has adequate number of teachers, nor has any science and computer laboratory which is must as per the state norms? One can imagine about the condition of the school and its education standards. There was a proclamation that one school for girls will be opened but nobody knows when ?

Village has just one sub primary health centre and an Ayurvedic hospital. One out of two positions in sub health centre is lying vacant. Medicines are always in shortage and ayurvedic hospital started fifty years back still is in rented building. District suffers with major issue like growing malnutrition among children, high number of maternal and neo natal and infant deaths. Road was to be constricted about two years back but still is lying unfinished. If this is condition of the village just fifteen kilometers of the district head quarter and which as prosperous one upon a time what must be the condition of other 532 villages in 219 gram panchayts of the district is a question still remains unanswered ?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Noida killings: Bhopal couple fears for missing child

Rubian Khan Shapoo
Friday, January 12, 2007 (Bhopal):

Ever since the news of Noida killings of children emerged, there has been horror and shock among the parents who have missing children. In Bhopal, there is anxiety among a family whose son has been missing for over a year. They have had no help from the police despite the fact that the father is a havaldar.

For more than a year Ramwati has been worried about her 15-year-old son who has been missing since Nov 2005. But since December last year she's been in agony. She saw news of the Nithari killings on television and fainted. Since then she can't stop crying, terrified that her son might have met the same gruesome end. "I have no hopes. They have buried all the kids and now I am scared. What if they have done the same thing to my son?, asks Ramwati, Missing child's mother.

Sisters hopeful
The boy's sisters are desperately hoping their brother is back with them for Holi. Their father is less hopeful. He's spent almost Rs one lakh trying to find his son and now with no help from his colleagues in the police he's at his wits end. His biggest fear is the organ trade angle to the Nithari killings. Police are telling us that they are investigating but they are not doing anything," said Havaldar Bikram Singh.

This boy is not alone, more than 400 children from several age groups have gone missing in Bhopal in the past one year. What's even more worrying is that according to the National Crime Bureau, Madhya Pradesh tops the list of crimes against children.

After the Nithari serial killing episode, most parents are scared in fact very scared. What if their loved ones is one of the victims.

The story was on NDTV and is on NDTV.com

Meal for children being sold or found infected

Children meal was being sold in one of the districts namely Shivpuri in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Women and Child Development staff was caught while they were taking away kilos of wheat flour. This wheat flour comes for anganwadi kendra (ICDS centres) and to be given free to children of the Shivpuri, for combating hunger and malnutrition. They were caught be Tehsildar and it was alleged that they were taking for selling the same while the staff members or ICDS workers caught refute the same. Enquiry will be held in the incident.

Just two days back wheat flour in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh was found to be infected with fungus. It may be important to mention here that state of Madhya Pradesh has highest number of children under three years of age which are malnourished in India. These centers are like life lines for them but if this is the way the state’s centres run, am not sure where are we heading ?????

Under threat, village head gives up control

Faced with death threats, a tribal 'sarpanch' (village chief) in Madhya Pradesh has handed over control of his 'panchayat' to powerful rivals. Rakesh Adivasi, 25, of Maubuzurg panchayat in Tikamgarh district, reportedly surrendered his panchayat - the village council - to the brother of former village head Surendra Singh Gaur.

Rakesh allegedly received periodic threats to his life and to his family members from the family of Gaur, said Virendra Pateria, secretary of the Maubuzurg panchayat. Pateria, who is in Bhopal, told IANS: 'Rakesh used to be harassed since the day he assumed office. Gaur's people would ask him for a cut every time he got funds sanctioned for development works. He was threatened with death if he refused.

'Upset over the regular disputes, he ultimately surrendered. Now Govind Singh, popularly known as 'Raja Sahab', takes all decisions while Rakesh is provided 10 percent of the funds sanctioned.

'Now the work of the panchayat, which is reserved for Scheduled Tribes, is done under the directives of Raja Sahab and the office bearers are left with the job of signing papers whenever they are asked to,' he added.

All work related to the panchayat is conducted by Gaur and he also has control over all the funds although he was not elected by the village people.

Govind Singh denied the allegations. He said: 'Anti-social elements in the village used to harass Rakesh every now and then. Rakesh came to me for help and I agreed to provide him protection.'

Manish Shrivastava, the Tikamgarh district collector, told IANS over telephone: 'I have not come across any such complaint. If it is happening, it is illegal. We will inquire into the matter and take appropriate action.'

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Women stop Minister in Dhar on water crisis

Angered by the water crisis in their area women from Dhar district stopped the troupe of the Minister in -charge Kailash Vijayavargiya at Dahalami on his way from Mandu. Empty water storing utensils were kept on the way to stop the vehicles. The Minister had stop for hours. Though he spoke to the women but am not was not able to give any committment....

Water alert – Acute crisis waits in Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh

Getting a drum of water (not necessarily safe drinking water) is a job in its own. Women who normally get water in villages have to travel more than a kilometer (one side) on a lane not easy to traverse on for ‘water for life’ for their families. This is the situation in harijan ward number 15 in the Pichore block of the district Shivpuri, of the state of Madhya Pradesh in Central part of India. Though they have hand pumps but are just for namesake. They hardly work. Water is in acute shortage here. They have written to higher authorities but are waiting for the response, when will it come is a second question in itself. One can visibly observe anger and dissatisfaction in the community with the system, esp. when it comes to issue of water and other basic amenities. For them it does not matter who are in power, they feel situation for them does not changes. Similarly in ward number 39 of the Shivpuri urban women had protested outside the corporation office against the water shortage.

Not only in this ward, even in the village like Kotgaran in the district suffers from acute water shortage. The village has population of two thousand five hundred people but not enough water.

Reports emanating from Shivpuri clearly indicate increasing water shortages in the district. Ground water levels have fallen drastically – say by 40 feet, people in the district. They add that one has to dig 250 -300 feet to get to a water source. It had scanty rainfall in last two years. Though many parts in the state had witnessed excess rainfall this year but Shivpuri didn’t.

Districts had banned boring the ground further which is a normal practice, though not a solution. But one can still see the same happening by people in power, - public representatives. In the process it is the contractors which are minting money. Though seizure of such boring machines had been ordered and action has been taken against only few. Remember we are here just raising an issue of availability of water.

It is said that clean water and sanitation are kind of vital prerequisites for improved nutrition, reduction in child and maternal mortality and the fight against disease. District had witnessed difficult times and how the poverty did and hunger existing in the district had aggravated the affects of drought in years gone by. The district already has many challenges as regard to the situation of women and children is concerned and if this is the situation of water in winters am not sure what we have in store in the coming summer ? This is warning…….for times to come…..

Also whatever water will be there, there exists disparities in regards to its access – let’s not play this down. Caste, economic disparities and the gender gap play an important role here and in end it is women and children who would have to bear the brunt.
Government of India has announced the year 2007 as "Water Year" with a view to address water-related issues – a need immediate here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mid day meal in primary schools of Shivpuri face implementation glitches

Attendance in primary schools in Badarwas block of district Shivpuri is being over reported as per media reports. The reports allege corruption within the system and to get that extra buck over reporting is shown in schools for mid day meal scheme.

Additional benefit is that it helps to keeps the figures look good for reporting to state's mission. Classes which are actually reporting student attendance of 30 – 40 students, on paper (officail reords) are showing an attendace of 70 - 80 students.

In another incident in the district in Pichore block of the district during a checking at PDS shop. Records of PDS shop say that food material was supplied to school for mid day meal while the school never received the same.

Where did it go - a matter is under investigation but fact is that children for whom the food was meant have been deprived of their right….

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lustre lack polio sunday in Bhopal

Three polio cases last year, State has 40 % immunization level among children

Today was Polio Sunday. It was targeted to reach more than one crore children under five years of age in the state of Madhya Pradesh. All arrangement were made as confirmed by state press release yesterday. Polio vaccine, vaccinators for Polio booths,mobile teams had been arranged for the same purpose. Except press advertisements, few posters and one or two auto having polio banners, one could not see any awareness activity being undertaken in Bhopal to propagate the message urging parents to bring the children for polio immunisation. Amitabh’s TV advertisements were seen on TV but they were released by the Health Department of Government of India. Polio booths were also not very visible.

Unlike last years when there used to be social mobilization efforts undertaken by various NGOs in the state. Hundreds of NGOs used to support state’s effort. Parents, civil society organizations, young people and even school children used to come forward to support mobilization drive, which used to give this day a festival look. Even media used to be mobilized. All that was missing this time, except few efforts.

A parent of two year old at Raisen road area did not even knew that today was polio day. People at Trilanga, Gulmohar area of Bhopal did not knew where to go for polio immunization or where the polio booth was set up in their area. In case of old city few knew about polio immunization day. Informally speaking to parents present in numbers at Bhopal mela, except one none of them had got their children immunized.

Madhya Pradesh had three polio cases last year in year 2006 after a gap of one and half years. Children are getting missed during immunization rounds and is one of the reason for the upsurge of polio cases in the state. If this low enthusiasm persists in the capital city what will be the condition in rural areas, where chance of missing children is more. As per the latest NFHS III survey data state has only 40 % level of immunization among children. Inspite of this hardly any extra effort was made by the state’ health department to mobilize parents and children.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Madhya Pradesh sops for tribals - when will they become reality?

Are the sops real ? or re announcements ?

In the series of Panchayats started last year, an Adivasi Panchayat was held today in the state of Bhopal for tribal’s of Madhya Pradesh. Hundreds participated. Lot of hype surrounded the Panchayat. As expected, new proclamations were made. But if one tracks the state’s developmental track one will realize that some of them were re -announcements while for others one does not know when they will become reality ?

These Panchayats are in line with some held earlier. Picking up example of Mahila Panchayat which was held last year, many announcements were made during the same. But till date neither the state policy based on the suggestions then made has come out. Neither any extra benefit has accrued to women of the state. Situation remains as it is – rather it has worsened.

In today’s announcement there has been increase in the scholarships and facilities for tribal students at different level, a special scheme named as Kamdhenu for tribal families in the 11 districts was launched. In addition it was proposed to convert forest villages into revenue villages and setting up of a new Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojana and many others similar sops were announced. Issues like whether state will increase or provide funds for them and what will be modus operandi to implement and monitor these was not at all touched. Though there is still a time to put the same in place, but if there is will and power to make that happen ?

Stipend amount to students have been increased. For boy students it has been increased from Rs. 350 to Rs. 500 and for girl students from Rs. 360 to Rs. 525 per month- but no mechanism is put in place to make sure that students get the benefit?

Some examples of re - announcements are as follows

Special anganwadi’s centers for the tribals

These anganwadis have been announced number of times since last year. They are actually part of the Supreme Court order to the state, sanctioned by Central Government. State does not contribute to this. State’s WCD Minister had shared the same information on the floor of the house in the last state assembly session, but when will they become reality - is an issue which needs debate.

Toilet kits for students

Vanya Sandarb, a publication of the state tribal department had mentioned about the same in the last issue dated December 25, 2006 page number 10 . What is new about it? Nobody knows. The app cost mentioned in the publication was 88.49 lakhs in, today it is one crore. ?? - are we adding something extra.

Interestingly they have tooth brushes and tooth paste and nail cutters in the same – how many will like to use them? May be something else could be thought of? This is in plastic box – environmentally unfriendly to tribal’s ?

These are questions media may or may not pick up tomorrow but are and will remain important – hence on this on newswhichmatter.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Only 13.9 pc schools have toilets in MP

Published www.mpnewsonline.com

Bhopal, Jan 04: Only 13.9 percent of schools in Madhya Pradesh have toilets for girls in schools at the primary level. The findings of the State Report Cards based on the figures of the year 2004-05 on the status of elementary Education in India complied by National Institute of Educational planning and administration, are revealing. These school report cards are based on data received from 1.04 million schools spread over 58 districts in 29 states and Union Territories (UTs). This data is not only about education but also talks of many facts, which influence education in India.

The report card analysis mentions that only 33.7 percent schools in category of primary and upper primary schools have girls' toilets. This is important, as a reducing gender gap is one of the major challenges, which state faces when it comes to education. Data also reveals that 11.1 percent schools are single classroom school and 26.7 percent are single teacher schools. Though state survey say that state has good enrolment rates but providing quality education and retaining children to school is an issue, probably educationist says that factors like these have huge impact on the quality of education and preventing drop out which are an issue in this state.

According to Census 2001, the Percentage of children aged 6 to 13 years attending school was found satisfactory at 66.8 percent (female) and 76 percent (male). The percentage of children in the age group of 11-13 years completing primary education was 45.8 (female), and 55 percent (male).

Archana Sahay of voluntary orgnaisation 'Arambh' opined that toilet for girl students, is an essential facility in schools. The school education department should look into this problem on priority basis while education at primary level is being encouraged in the state, she added. She informed that there are over 10.50 lakh children out of school in the state, but surprisingly, the government has almost a decade old figures of only 2.50 lakh. The government had last year launched a special campaign 'School Chalo' in the state for encouraging education in Madhya Pradesh, particularly in rural areas. State Education Centre Commissioner MK Singh said that in all the new school buildings toilets for girls are being constructed, while in the old school buildings, the facility of toilet and pure drinking water is being provided under 'Total Sanitation drive'

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reproductive Rights Blog mentions about our blog

News Round Up (Jan. 1)
Happy New Year! In the past few days I've found a whole lot of stories that I don't want clogging my bookmarks. Plus, my mac sucks. Just thought I would throw that out there.
Excerpts from Reproductive Rights blog

News Round Up (Jan. 1)- Happy New Year! In the past few days I've found a whole lot of stories that I don't want clogging my bookmarks. Plus, my mac sucks. Just thought I would throw that out there. The American College of OBGYNs (great website, btw) is now recommending that ALL women be offered a screening test for Down's Syndrome. This less invasive test (less invasive than an amniocentises) is called a nuchal translucency test, which measures the fetus' neck width. The test can be done earlier in the pregnancy, which gives women options to terminate, or to prepare for the baby earlier.

I got an email giving me a heads up about a campaign to reduce maternal mortality in India. One of the things that struck me when I was in India was how little autonomy women had regarding their own health care. We had 300 reported cases of bride burnings the summer I worked in Delhi (that's 300 in Delhi alone), and likely hundreds more that weren't reported. The most interesting thing to me was that women had to ask permission to seek health services (often denied by their husbands, in-laws, or parents) and that women didn't have any expectation of privacy regarding their medical services if they were married. As readers know, issues regarding safe motherhood are not at all limited to India.

RHRealityCheck.org wrote about a human rights challenge to Nicaragua's abortion ban.

For full article please refer to the link above..

Children of Nithari need justice

Children of Nithari need justice

According to the media reports, 38 children from Nithari village near Noida suburb of National Capital Territory of Delhi went missing over a period of 30 months, but only 19 police complaints were registered, as per, media reports five of these 19 children returned home. "The recent discovery of skeletal remains in the area suggests that more than those registered as missing may have been killed. This is a gross violation of human rights of the citizens and in particular, the children, action was needed much that after recovery of skeletons and when media racked the issue. Today UNI reports that National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government and director general of police, seeking a factual report within two weeks on the sexual abuse and murder of children and women in Noida's Nithari village.

The prime accused, employer-servant duo of Moninder Singh and Surender had confessed to sexual abuse, mutilation and killings of not only young boys and girls but also women, and dumping the remains of the victims in the drain behind the house. "The barbaric act came to light not because the police were investigating the disappearance of children, but by sheer chance as they nabbed Surender who was in possession of a cell phone belonging to a missing woman Payal, who was also murdered.

A newspaper editorial highlighted the negligence of the state administration, saying those who are guilty and responsible for such prolonged negligence of even routine investigation and civil function should be sacked. Parents of several missing children have also approached the commission appealing for its intervention.

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 won’t be a Fair and Lovely year

DNA India, Sunday, December 31, 2006 23:59 IST

Yogendra Yadav

If we wish to look for signs of change in the new year, we must look beyond the political establishment and its equally established opposition

Welcome to Hoshangabad for a peep into the political possibilities of 2007. From November 22 to December 22 of the year gone by, the Kisan Adivasi Sangathan and Samajwadi Janparishad carried out a unique sadbudhi satyagraha in this advasi belt of Madhya Pradesh. Every morning some adivasi families would come to the district headquarter, take a dip in the holy Narmada, garland the Gandhi statue and pray that their own democratically-elected leaders come to their senses. No demonstration, no slogan shouting, no demands, no memorandum, just a plain and simple prayer: get sane soon.

What made this political Gandhigiri unusual was that it was practiced not by a bunch of middle-class Munnabhai clones but by a group of adivasis whose families have over the last few decades experienced multiple displacements ---- for a dam, a proof range and a tiger reserve. Undaunted, these adivasis have won the right to fish in the reservoir created by drowning their land and have created an extra-ordinary fish co-operative. They want their co-operative to be granted an extension and for those living in villages inside forests to have right to live a normal life.

No, it is not the story of transformation of the heart of the Lovely Singhs who lord over the forests and tribes. Year 2007 is not going to be a simple Fair and Lovely story. Last heard, the district administration had declared these non-violent satyagrahis as Naxalites and had demanded extra security force to deal with them! Over the last decade both the Congress and the BJP have taken turns to attack this movement.

Needless to say leaders of these big parties were nowhere to be seen in this satyagraha. Congress is waiting for people to get fed up of the BJP so that the electorate can kick it into power next time. Hoshangabad allows us to put in perspective the mainstream politics and its limited possibilities. It forces us to confront the meaninglessness of happenings we have come to associate with what we call political news. It invites us to look beyond the monotony of party politics and the news coverage around it. Sadbudhi satyagraha enables us to look for fresh possibilities of alternative politics in the new year.

A year with four major elections ---- Presidential elections besides three rounds of assembly elections involving Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur, all scheduled for 2007 ----- cannot but be eventful in this age of 24-hour news coverage. But it is unlikely that any amount of electoral oscillation this year will change the nature of political choices for the people; some new faces are bound to replace old ones, but it is unlikely that the face of politics will change very much. Whatever the outcome of these elections, the UPA government is not going to face a serious challenge.

After coming to power without popular mandate in 2004, the Congress has gained in popularity and recovered some of the social constituency it lost in the 1990s. This trend may not see much change this year: none of the states would be seen as a 'bell weather' states. Uttar Pradesh election might show some general trend, but neither the Congress nor the BJP has much to gain or lose in this election. The BJP is not in any serious danger of losing its position in national politics, notwithstanding its current leadership crisis. It would take a routine alternation in Punjab or Uttaranchal for the leadership to regain its sense of purpose. A possible victory for the BJP in Gujarat can make media sing different tunes.

If the two big parties are not going to undergo or bring about a change this year, can we look to other parties for signs of political change? Here too, we should be surprised if the trend of the post-Mandal politics is reversed. These years have seen an expansion of the third space in politics and at the same time shrinking of the parties representing the third force in politics. A surface reading of political competition in UP might suggest otherwise, for this election will be fought mainly between SP and BSP.

But neither the current favourite BSP nor the Samajwadi Party holds much hope for the cause it ostensibly represents. With the Janata Dal as good as dead, the leadership of the third force is likely to fall on to the already aching shoulders of the CPM, a party unable to negotiate between its revolutionary rhetoric and pragmatic politics, between radical postures in Delhi and establishment face in the states where it rules.

If we wish to look for signs of change in the new year, we must look beyond the political establishment and its equally established opposition. Just look back at most of the significant political movements in the year that has come to an end: the protest against Khairalanji brutality or police firing against protesting farmers in Orissa, the successful resistance to bureaucracy's attempts to take back the Right to Information, the opposition to the real-estate scams in the name of SEZ, agitations about the plight of the farmers in most parts of the country.

Almost invariably these movements were led by non-party, though not non-political, organisations. Medha Patkar's fast in Delhi saw the coming together of most of these organisations. Some of these organisations are willing to take on the party political arena: the formation of People's Political Front in Maharashtra, Loksatta Party in Andhra Pradesh and stirrings for formation of alternative political formation in many other parts of the country are small but significant signs in this direction. The satyagraha in Hoshangabad was led by Samajwadi Janparishad, another such attempt to build alternative politics.

If you are as sick and tired of 'politics' as many citizens in this country are, here is a New Year resolution that you could consider: I shall stop complaining about politics and politicians and will spend that much energy into building a new kind of politics. When I meet an upright and talented young person, I shall encourage him or her to take to politics. Media may give any amount of space to 'big' parties, but I shall edit it in my mind and give more attention to 'small' but significant initiatives for alternative kind of politics. I shall devote at least a portion of my time, energy and resources to realise this new year resolution.

The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies