Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Kids get a raw deal in budgets

Himanshi Dhawan
[ 25 Feb, 2007 2252hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

NEW DELHI: They form one-third of the population but their share in the Union budget is a mere 4.86%. Children under 18 years have become a blind spot for a nation rushing towards higher GDP growth. A quick glance of the social sector indices reveals that despite rapid growth in GDP and per capita income, children's health and education has not received the desired attention which reflects in the high levels of foeticide, malnutrition, illiteracy and child labour rampant across the country.

Significantly, while Central funding for children has increased marginally, the overall public expenditure remains stagnant because the states' share in these sectors has declined. About 80% of Indian children continue to be anaemic, 47% are malnourished, the infant mortality ratio has remained at 67 per 1,000 while it is 46 in Bangladesh, and the all-India child sex ratio is 927 girls for 1,000 boys which puts the country right at the bottom of the chart internationally, even below countries like Nigeria (965) and Pakistan (958).

If these statistics paint a grim picture it is because despite a GDP jump from 3.6% in 1951-1979 to 9% in 2006, proportionate spending on children has increased from a paltry 2.11% in 2001-2002 to 4.86%. According to reports compiled by the women and child development ministry, of the total spending on children a large bulk (70.14%) is spent on education, leaving very little for health, development and protection issues. In the 2006-2007 budget, child development got 17.72% share while health schemes got 11.43%. The budget allocation for child protection, recently brought into focus after the Nithari serial killings, is a paltry 0.70%.

An even more disturbing trend is the decline in states' share of spending on children in the past few years. A UNICEF study has reported that with a few exceptions, share in education has dropped from an aggregate 17.4% in 2001-2002 to 13.4% in 2005-2006.

Spending in Bihar came down from 23.7% in 2001-02 to 17.9% in 2005-06 while expenditure on education in Madhya Pradesh has halved from 16.3% to 8.7% in the same period. Healthcare has been given an even lower budget. Spending by states on an average has dropped from 4.4% in 2001-2002 to 3.8% in 2005-2006 with even progressive states like Delhi, Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu reducing funds.

Clearly, it not the lack of resources. A study on the social sector undertaken by former Planning Commission member N C Saxena shows India with a per capita income of $2,670 has an infant mortality rate (IMR) of 67 while its human development index (HDI) is 0.595.

Vietnam, where the average per capita income is much lower at $2,300, has a lower IMR than India at 30 and HDI that is 0.691. Other developing countries too appear to have recognised the significance of public spending. Bangladesh spends 1.6% of its GDP on health and 2.5% on education while China spends 2% on health. Developed countries like US and Japan spend over 6% on health with Malaysia spending 6% on education.

On the eve of the Union budget, observers argue that there is a strong case for India to raise public spending and place social services on its priority areas before it is too late.

Madhya Pradesh May Not Achieve MDG Goals

By Loveleen
26 February,

Madhya Pradesh is the state in heart of India and is laden with major social developmental challenges. If India needs to achieve the millennium development goals states which fall in category of states with human development challenges like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkand need to reach them first. All of them lag behind.

Interestingly Madhya Pradesh had made a major proclamation in October 2006 when 3.3 million people in the state stood up against poverty by participating in campaign initiated by UN millennium development campaign. It did made it to record books too. Now news is in air that State’s Chief Minister may be traveling to United Nations (UN)head quarters and get acknowledged and recognized for the same achievement.

Though I am not sure whether that is an achievement or not? In fact it is an irony that just weeks after the same event which made it to record books findings of National family health survey (NFHS III) data a survey undertaken by Government of India was shared. The data revealed that under nutrition in children between 0 – 3 years had increased from 54% to 60 %. This means that majority of children in Madhya Pradesh are malnourished. Though state denied data of its own Central Government and had quoted less figures which still meant that every second child in the state is malnourished. Though Non governmental organizations which are working in the state, agree with the findings of the NFHS III data. State’s own data base also reveals one another fact largely not talked about open that about 100,000 children are severely malnourished meaning can die if medical care is not provided to them.

Think of it if internationally in any country one knows that one lakh children need help, it becomes a major issue which can topple governments while here state is making to record books – for making proclamation just by standing, a question which has difficult answers. Recently an enquiry set up by Commissioners appointed by Supreme court of India had called state’s Sheopur district as world’s hot spots of malnourishment. State also has highest rate of infant mortality rates in the country and has six states in India which have highest maternal mortality ratio. It is not only in these indicators one happens to read in media about hunger deaths which get reported in the state. All these are part of millennium development goals. Even in case of poverty elimination for which the state made great announcements we are way behind and neither since that proclamation state has taken any concrete step which reflects actions. It also may be important to mention that state also heads in crime against children and new NFHS III data also reveal that 45 % of women in the state have ever heard of HIV/AIDS, which is also part of one the goals. In this scenario probably United Nations may need to pressurize state’s political heads to deliver against goals agreed by the country, or else it may take them another hundred years to reach the goals targeted for 2015, rather then acknowledging them.

Loveleen is a free lancer writer based in Bhopal and contributes by writing on social issues.

Monday, February 26, 2007

32 panchayats decide to boycott by-elections in Shivpuri due to water shortage and fluorosis

People living in thirty two panchayats of the karera block of the district Shivpuri have decided that they will not vote in the upcoming by elections in March. They will boycott the byelections. ‘All of them are same, nobody cares about us’ say villagers when one mentions about elected representatives. Villages in these panchayats face acute water crisis and people’s health is getting affected with fluorosis. It is not that they did not approach the elected representatives with their problems, they did, but with hardly any concrete result !. As by election approach for Gwalior parliamentary seat came in they decided this was better way to make their issue known and probably let the political leaders feel the pinch. The major issues which impacts them and which lead to the present situation is waters shortage, issue of ban of sale / resale of land, ban on boring water and fluorosis.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Salman Khan on a wall clock !

Dharda Ganesh is one of the fourteen hundred fifty nine villages of Shivpuri district in the state of Madhya Pradesh – the heart of India. It is about an hour's drive from the district headquarter but seems more when one has to encounter bumpy roads with road less stretches. The village looks like a typical village in the state of Madhya Pradesh, cluster of mud huts, roofed with thatch or earthen tiles, narrow paths laded with mud and water (if it rains) which leads to the outside world. Probably when one is there it feels that times had a little effect on the life style of people there. I happen to be there as part of my travel to the district. Thought it was for few hours but could not miss Kirori Mal’s shop - Kirori Mal the barber. His shop is just at the entrance of the village, outside the Panchayat Bhawan. It was a make shift of shop with few inches above the ground, one has to climb a height to enter the same.

Probably he seems to be a huge fan of Bollywood. The walls of his shop were lacquered with the photographs of all the major known actresses. May be it was an added attraction to his shop for the clients who come for a haircut or for shave and sometimes had to wait for their turn. He was self confessed fan of Salman Khan. But I was bit puzzled as I could not see Salman Khan on the walls so got bit inquisitive. I dared ask him where is Salman Khan ?. He looked in my eyes and then guided his finger towards his wall clock, which was hanging on the wall of shop. There was the Khan!! Captured in the wall clock! Actually he had made a cut out of the Salman Khan and had replaced it with second's needle of the wall clock. Instead of 'seconds' needle on the clock it was Salman Khan's photograph cut in shape of it. Quite an interesting way to use photographs which is supposedly his idol. So it was Salman Khan on the move that too every second!! Not only Bollywood actress but moving Salman Khan was an added attraction to his young clients of the village to visit his shop every now and then. Well it was moving khan on the clock…

- anil gulati

(This is a personal contribution, hence all views expressed in this piece are personal opinions of the writer)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Seven new polio cases in India this year

The total polio cases in India last year i.e. in 2006 were six hundred seventy two. In this year the number of cases as of date are seven and the latest case has just came in from Badaun district of UttarPradesh which is second case from Uttar Pradesh. Bihar has had three cases and is leading the tally while Haryana and Maharashtra have reported one case each.

Blog news network

Madhya Pradesh to get 12011 crores from centre in 2007-08

Annual Plan size for Madhya Pradesh for the year 2007-08 was approved today at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Plan outlay was agreed at Rs.12011 crores which include onetime additional Central assistance of Rs.111 crores for projects of special assistance to the State.

Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Ahluwalia said that the Commission was keen on improving efficiency of centrally sponsored schemes and would carry out a review of guidelines shortly. Observations of States would be useful in identifying problems and their correction. He said as directed by Prime Minister the Commission would shortly be calling a meeting of NDC to discuss agriculture. States should prepare plans to identify roles to be played by both Centre and States in bringing about necessary acceleration in this important sector.

On economic performance of the State, it was pointed out that indicators are moving in the right direction and efforts are on to take the State out of Bimaroo Status. Appreciable progress has been made in social sector specially education and health. Focused attention should continue to improve social sector indices further. Efforts in improving irrigation and women empowerment were appreciated. Further acceleration of efforts aimed at employment generation and poverty reduction were needed.

The Chief Minister said that State has improved fiscal management which is clearly reflected in plan expenditure showing upward trend. Balance from current revenue has been consistently improving for three years and after becoming revenue surplus State it expects doubling revenue surplus next year. He said special attention has been given to improving infrastructure. Impressive performance has been registered in creation of irrigation potential, electricity generation and road construction.

Infrastructure development through public private partnership has been a big success. Besides being the first State to avail viability gap funding, it has constructed nearly 1500 kms of road under PPP approach. Elementary education has been universalized and State's performance in NRHM and NREG has been appreciated.

The thrust of Eleventh Plan would be on development of infrastructure for irrigation, power and roads, empowerment of women, SCs, STs and poor. Appropriate policy intervention would be made to further improve health and education. Livelihood promotion and skill development would get priority with emphasis on agriculture & allied activities.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

In Chambal's shadow, guns are currency of power

Bhind (Madhya Pradesh), Feb 18 (IANS) The Bhind region is home to the highest number of malnourished children and some of the most underweight and anaemic women in the country. Poverty might abound but when it comes to putting forth stacks of green notes in exchange for a gun, there's no thinking twice for the men.

"It's the question of our pride," says Pehalwan Singh of Hamirpura village, Bhind.From the first look of it, Bhind appears to be like any other Indian small town, messy and chaotic. But unlike most other towns, you see men carrying guns on their shoulders while cycling around and shops scattered all over the place selling pistols of all makes."My village has around 160 families and at least 90 possess a gun," says Singh. And what about the licence? "We have licence. At times a family might have a licence for one gun but may possess more than one," he smiles.Situated in the Chambal region in the north west of Madhya Pradesh, Bhind district is infamous for being a haven for bandits and robbers that was once home to the legendary bandit queen Phoolan Devi and other dreaded dacoits.As we make our way through the yawning chasms and gaping 'beehads' (ravines) which provide a good hiding place for the dacoits, it is not difficult to imagine their looming presence somewhere in the horizon."Oh yes, the dacoits are still there so we need guns for self-defence but they generally don't trouble the locals," says Sanjay Singh Badhoria, a villager. Not a very comfortable thought for a visitor though!Priced anywhere between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 45,000, what was amazing is that while they don't hesitate to shell this amount of money for buying a gun, poverty and inadequate medical aid is killing a number of people, especially mothers, in this area."If a person's gun gets stolen, he loses all respect in society.

They say that a man who cannot protect his gun is good for nothing," says Singh in the backdrop of Bhind's rising contribution to the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of Madhya Pradesh, which in turn contributes to 10 percent of the MMR in the country.As two men, with guns strapped to their backs, carry a wounded person in the district hospital of Bhind in perfect ease and not attracting any raised eyebrows except the visitor's, it's quite apparent what they mean when they say that they "carry their pride on their shoulders".According to the National Family Health Survey, Madhya Pradesh contributes 7,000 maternal mortality cases every year among the 70,000 of the country. The sex ratio of this area is 829 females to every 1,000 males.

--By Azera Rahman

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bhopal artist to engrave Ramayana on wood

Bhopal, Feb 17 (ANI)

Om Prakash Kushwaha, 55, is just like any other artist. However, that's where all the similarity ends. This resident of Bhopal is attempting a unique feat of writing the Ramayana on wood.

He claims to be inspired by divine intervention to undertake this Herculean task.According to him, the 'book' will have a total of 1075 pages, out of which 21 pages have been completed so far. The pages or the sheets are made of high quality 'Saugan' wood and Kushwaha uses a special tool to engrave the words on the wooden sheets."It takes me five to seven days to complete one page. To make sure that no word gets broken and everything is readable, I buy good quality of wood (Saugan), as it can be preserved for 1,000 years," says Kushwaha.The wooden sheets are pressed to keep their thickness at 1/4 of an inch, and their length at 18 inches and width, 14 inches. Each page is capable of accommodating 13 sentences.According to Kushwaha, it would take a truckload of wood and an investment of approximately 20,00,000 rupees (45350 dollars) to complete the book.He sees the whole endeavour as a service to God and believes all requirements would be taken care of by the almighty himself."There is no motive behind all this (writing the wooden Ramayana). It is a service to God. I don't want to make money out of it. If somebody comes and asks to put it up for exhibition, I might do it but I don't want to do business out of it. We are poor people and are content with our lives, we don't want fame or money," says Kushwaha.The work is being conducted under the guidance of experts who check every page after it is completed.Kushwaha believes the manuscript will have a shelf life of at least 1000 years because of the good quality of the wood and the treatment being given to it.Originally written in 'Sanskrit' by saint Valmiki, Ramayana is one of the most sacred epics of the Hindus, the other being the Mahabharata. Compiled in verse, it dates back to approximately the fifth century BC. (ANI)

Bhopal artist to engrave Ramayana on wood

Bhopal, Feb 17 (ANI)

Om Prakash Kushwaha, 55, is just like any other artist. However, that's where all the similarity ends. This resident of Bhopal is attempting a unique feat of writing the Ramayana on wood.

He claims to be inspired by divine intervention to undertake this Herculean task.According to him, the 'book' will have a total of 1075 pages, out of which 21 pages have been completed so far. The pages or the sheets are made of high quality 'Saugan' wood and Kushwaha uses a special tool to engrave the words on the wooden sheets."It takes me five to seven days to complete one page. To make sure that no word gets broken and everything is readable, I buy good quality of wood (Saugan), as it can be preserved for 1,000 years," says Kushwaha.The wooden sheets are pressed to keep their thickness at 1/4 of an inch, and their length at 18 inches and width, 14 inches. Each page is capable of accommodating 13 sentences.According to Kushwaha, it would take a truckload of wood and an investment of approximately 20,00,000 rupees (45350 dollars) to complete the book.He sees the whole endeavour as a service to God and believes all requirements would be taken care of by the almighty himself."There is no motive behind all this (writing the wooden Ramayana). It is a service to God. I don't want to make money out of it. If somebody comes and asks to put it up for exhibition, I might do it but I don't want to do business out of it. We are poor people and are content with our lives, we don't want fame or money," says Kushwaha.The work is being conducted under the guidance of experts who check every page after it is completed.Kushwaha believes the manuscript will have a shelf life of at least 1000 years because of the good quality of the wood and the treatment being given to it.Originally written in 'Sanskrit' by saint Valmiki, Ramayana is one of the most sacred epics of the Hindus, the other being the Mahabharata. Compiled in verse, it dates back to approximately the fifth century BC. (ANI)

390 bone pieces, remains of children found in Ratlam

Ratlam (MP), Feb 17: A total of 390 pieces of bones and skeletal remains of children were found in a pit at a hospital here on Saturday, police said. Following a tip-off, the bones were found in a pit behind the operation theatre of the Missionary Hospital, Superintendent of Police Satish Saxena said. "Though the bones seem to belong to new-born children or aborted foetuses, it is difficult to ascertain the age of the children as the skeletons are not intact," he said. The area was sealed off and samples were sent to the state forensic laboratory for tests, Saxena said.

Bureau Report

Bones found in Ratlam

Just in….

Some 390 pieces of bones have been recovered in private hospital in Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh. The same have been recovered in the compound of the hospital supposedly near to the operation theatre of the hospital.

The chief of nursing home is not in the district while district administration has sealed the same.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fewer class rooms in govt primary schools

NUEPA reports fewer classrooms in govt. primary schools

New Delhi -- The analytical report for Elementary Education in India 2005-06 by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) has revealed that the average number of classrooms in government primary schools in few states of the country has shown downward trend in recent years.

In states like Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, average number of classrooms in primary schools run by state governments has decreased considerably compared to last year. Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand have least average number of classrooms among all states followed by Punjab and Arunachal Pradesh. Delhi has the highest difference of 4.3 in average number of classrooms between two consecutive report years 2004-05 and 2005-06. The NUEPA has also found that states like Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, despite having sound infrastructure facilities are lagging in terms of number of girls scoring 60% or more in class IV and V examinations.

Source --

Dolphins dwindle in Chambal sanctuary

The dolphins in Chambal river have declined by almost one-third - from 98 to 69 - in the last three years and include only 40 adults, 21 adolescents and eight calves, said wildlife officials here. Though there is a National Chambal Sanctuary to protect the aqua life, little has been done to protect the dolphin from the ever-increasing pollution and rampant poaching mainly responsible for the declining numbers, the officials said. "Founded in 1979, the sanctuary covers the entire 435-km flow of the Chambal river through Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is known for alligators, crocodiles, tortoises and rare Gangetic dolphins," said sanctuary authorities. The sanctuary is co-administered by the three states. The other inhabitants of the sanctuary include chinkara, sambar, nilgai, hyena, leopard, wolf and wild boar. Dolphins were first discovered in the Chambal during a 1985 census of alligators but the rare Gangetic dolphins are the sanctuary's main attraction. Known as the Ganges River Dolphins, they are blind but hunted for their meat, said forest department officials.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The Ministry of Rural Development has released Rs.1.83 crore as 2nd instalment of the central share under the `Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana’ (SGSY) during the year 2006-07 to 3 DRDAs of Madhya Pradesh, namely, Bhopal, Mandsaur and Sagar. The amount should be utilized on the Programme as per approved guidelines of SGSY. The funding pattern will be 75:25 by the Centre and the State.

The State Govts/DRDAs/ZPs are also to ensure to submit the report of State and District Levels Vigilance & Monitoring Committee meeting held during current year by March 31, 2007, otherwise Ist instalment during the next year will be held up. The State Government should release its share within one month of the date of release of the Central assistance. Under SGSY, assistance is given to the poor family living below the poverty line for taking up self-employment. It actively promotes group approach by organising the rural poor into Self-Help Groups.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Is it polio day today ?

Today Feb 11, was Polio Sunday in Madhya Pradeshas in other parts of India. It was National Immunisation Day the last one was on January 7, 2007. To look at the real picture at ground, blog spoke to many of its stringers and here is the picture

Manisha market, Shahpura Bhopal used to have polio booth but for last two rounds, it was missing this time. Though Bhopal collector had ordered (not motivated as normally done by many NGOs earlier – District administration and motivation probably two different terms) children to participate. One could not see much publicity around polio day except a school rally and few posters undertaken by the district to motivate, though many children in it did not knew why they were in the rally ? A parent of three in old bhopal asked us – is it a polio day today ?

Though health minister of state of MP had sent a special sms and there were press adverts but no plan to reach unorganized sector. What about people who do not have mobile and cannot read or write ? What about places like Rahul Nagar in Bhopal where many did not knew about it.

Chandan nagar Indore again the motivation to take children was missing. The blog reporter met many children who were not vaccinated and asked their parents to take them to the polio booths. This slum area in Indore was in focus as it had missing children.

In Bhind district one could only hear announcements around district hospitals but virtually nothing was there in interiors in name of IEC, neither anyone from health department told them about the polio round. How will people know, forget about they sending them to polio booths.

Similar case one could see in Gwalior rural areas, even in rural expcet few booths it was dsimal picture at many places.

There has been a shortfall in being abel to reach all, though state press release which would be released by today evening may not say the same.

Hope state’s health department could cover the same in house to house rounds which follow ? target was to reach crores of children but we have just reached lakhs…..

Blog news network

Letter on scooty ad

A letter from US on Scooty ad...

I live in the US and I have regional channels in my house and hense i get a chance to see all the Indian advertisements and recently I saw this Scooty(TVS) ad and it goes like a girl taking care of her scooty and her sisters comes and says without the scooty taking the public bus and going in the crowd would have hindered their education and they would have got married in a small age and saw mega serials with their motherinlaw . But since their parents got them scooty they didnt lead that life and they made their parents proud.

Well we are Indian were majority of the women are still house wives and below poverty line were they cant even afford an scooty. Does that mean women who are house wives cant be proud of themselves or is it ethical to show faces at crowded busses. this add was one of the most offensive ads i saw in the recent days and none seem to have taken notice of this. t has been back of my mind for a while I really would be relieved if someone took any step for these kind of offensive ads.

Subashni Srinivas
Contact email -

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Girl child unspoken curse

Published in Times of India, Delhi Edition, Feb 10, 2007


One-year-old Devki lies unattended on a string cot at her home in Sasaikhurd village in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, while her twin brother Rahul gurgles in her grandmother's arms. He weighs 7.5 kg, and she 4.7 kg the normal weight of a child half her age. "We feed her but she just doesn't eat," says Gangabati, mother of the twins and a labourer. "My son was born far healthier. The girl has always been like this." But the village Anganwadi worker, Naresh Sharma, has a different take. "Because the girl was born weak, we advised the family to take greater care of Devki," he tells TOI. But what happened was just the opposite. The family consisting of farming-grandparents and labourer-parents took better care of the boy. When the district collector visited the village in November last year, he found the girl was severely undernourished and weighed less than 3.5 kg. Her brother was a healthy 6.5 kg. It was only after the collector threatened her family with legal action that the parents started feeding her properly. Devki's case is symptomatic of the malaise sweeping through northern Madhya Pradesh, where three districts show child sex ratios below 850 girls per 1,000 boys.

The situation has worsened since 2003, when ultra-sonography and sex-determination technology became accessible to the remotest parts of Chambal, one of the most backward areas in the country. Sasaikhurd today has 91 boys and 63 girls aged between 1-5 years. Neighbouring village Gandhinagar has 75 boys and 50 girls aged 5 years or less. With foeticide being added to the old practice of infanticide in the region, health workers find it hard to persuade parents to treat their daughter better. Devki weighed only 1.6 kg in March last year. The anganwadi workers and Unicef volunteers had taken her and Rahul, weighing 3 kg, to a nutrition rehabilitation centre. After 15 days of rehabilitation, the girl's weight rose to 1.9 kg while Rahul became 3.1 kg. One month after discharge, the nutrition rehabilitation centre followed up on the twins and found that while Rahul had grown to 3.3 kg, Devki's weight was constant at 1.9 kg. Werner Schultint, Unicef India's chief of child development and nutrition, who has been monitoring the twins, feels it is not entirely the lack of resources that is responsible for Devki's malnutrition.

It's systematic neglect as well. "The levels of malnutrition in India, at about 45%, are very disturbing. India ranks far below Ethiopia (35%) and sub-Saharan Africa (32%) in malnutrition indices," he says. An elderly villager of Sasaikhurd sums up the general attitude. "Daughters are 'paraya-dhan'. She will take away a fat booty when she gets married. But the son brings money, he helps in the fields. Who gives you fire when you die? The son does," he explains. These biases, coupled with the technology to kill female foetuses, has resulted in Shivpuri town's child sex ratio dropping alarmingly to 846 girls per 1,000 boys from 904 in 2001 a trend reported by TOI on February 6. In neighbouring Morena, there are 837 girls to every 1,000 boys and in Bhind, 832 girls. "The number of girls is falling everywhere," says Rama Garg, anganwadi worker at Gandhinagar village. "Families just want to have two sons and stop. Nobody wants a daughter." Shivpuri district collector Manohar Agnani says female infanticide is rampant in Morena and Bhind, which have the worst sex ratio in the state.

"I was posted in Morena in 2004. Female infants in these two districts are often brutally smothered the leg of a cot is put on the girl child's chest and pressure applied till the weight kills her. If the parents are a little kind, they put opium into her mouth and that's the end of the baby," says Agnani, who has authored the book, 'Missing Girls', an account of infanticide in Bundelkhand. "The situation has worsened after 2003, when sex determination became easy. Whenever I went to villages, I asked for the register and found that the number of girl children was much lower than boys. 'Why aren't the girls registered', I would ask. Anganwadi workers would say that they could register girls only if they are born," says Agnani, adding that they surveyed village after village and found that the rural folk knew of ultrasound and sonography. Nandram of Sasaikhurd has six daughters aged between 20 and 6 years. "I am fed up of having daughters," he says. "I know this place in Shivpuri town where doctors tell you if it is a boy or a girl. Couples from my village have been there and got two sons in a row.

It only takes Rs 1,500 for an abortion and Rs 350 for the X-ray (ultra sonography)." It is obvious that the Integrated Child Development Services that is expected to address issues of malnutrition, has not been implemented effectively. In fact, in a telling instance, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was forced to write a letter to state chief ministers pointing out inadequate coverage and quality of the ICDS scheme. Directions for regular monitoring and "political will" for implementation have been issued by the PMO. On ground zero, however, there remains little hope for children like Devki.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Amit (MP’ prince) saved from 55 ft pit

06.45 hrs, Feb 5, 2007

Amit a four-year-old boy had fallen yesterday into a 55-feet deep pit in village Ganeshwar in the Katni district of Madhya Pradesh. He had got stuck at 22 feet and after about 12 hours of rescue operation district administration with support from people had been able to save him. He has been taken to hospital for check up. This is the fourth case of a child falling in a pit in the past two months and second in almost a month. On Dec 31, 2006, five-year-old Kallu was trapped in a 216-feet-deep pit dug for a tube well in Ujjain district and died after being taken out. On Dec 23, a child died similarly in Begumganj village in Raisen district.Four-year-old Prince of Haryana had attracted nationwide attention last year when he spent over 50 hours in a well he had fallen into before being rescued.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Chickenpox hits children in kuswan of Shivpuri district in MP

13 22 hrs, Feb 4, 2007

24 children out of about 80 odd children in the village Kuswan have fallen ill due to chickenpox. The village is in badarwas block which is in one of the eight blocks of the Shivpuri district of state of Madhya Pradesh. Initially people thought it was measles, with which lots of myths and superstitions are associated in the district. But the medical staff which visited the village after initial reluctance has told the people of the village and volunteers there that it is Chickenpox. Community members of village say that three children namely Neetu of twelve years, Rachna of thirteen years and Ranjana of seven years are seriously ill. ANM and health worker had visited the village, though any senior health level officials still have to visit the village.

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Rural job scheme numbers don`t add up

Sreelatha Menon & Prasad Nichenametla
New Delhi February 03, 2007

A year after the launch of the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) Programme, two sets of figures that it throws up are arresting.

First, 33.4 million job cards have been issued in the 200 districts where the programme has been operational. Those districts have 54 million rural households.

The numbers say that 60 per cent of all rural households in these districts have registered for hard manual labour, in return for Rs 50 a day.

Since only 22 per cent (or 26 per cent, depending on the figure you choose) of all households are officially poor, a 60 per cent participation rate suggests either a level of deprivation in the countryside that no one has suspected exists, or a gigantic boondoggle under which fake muster rolls get filled up.

The second arresting figure is the number of mandays of work generated during the year: 446 million.

Assuming that this was evenly spread out among the 33.4 million who have registered under the programme, each job card holder got less than 14 days of work during the year.

But that calculation would have to be adjusted with the fact that all 33.4 million job cards were not issued on the first day of the programme. If they were issued in an even pattern through the year, the average job card holder would have got 14 days of work over six months— compared with the 100 days in a year promised under the programme.

The Rs 700 that would have been earned by each job card holder (and only one card is allowed per family) in the year would serve at best as supplementary income for an average family of five; it is not enough to bring poor people above the poverty line — one of the claims made on behalf of the programme.

At gram panchayat Baldevmal, part of the Junagarh block in Orissa's Kalahandi district, the scene is much worse than even what these national averages suggest.

In all, 350 job cards have been given out so far. Panchayat secretary Bhabograhi Meher's figure for mandays of work created is 450. That amounts to barely one day and a bit per job card holder in the entire year.

At Bandhpari panchayat of Lanjigarh block, in the very Kalahandi district, 33-year-old Nurpa Goud got seven days of work in June. This is all that is mentioned on his card.

He says he worked more days, but they have not been mentioned on the card. He is now waiting for more work, as the state government has recently increased the minimum wage under the programme.

There are also places like Ranmal gram panchayat in Kalahandi, where no cards have been given out so far. The state-wide total is 2.5 million cards and 45 million mandays of work — or an average of 18 days per card.

That is slightly better than the national figure of 14 days, and marginally better than Uttar Pradesh's total (54 million mandays for 3.2 million job card holders in 22 districts, making for 16 mandays per card), but nowhere near the target of 100 mandays per card.

If Nurpa Goud's account is true, more work is being done, but people are not being paid for it.

The vital statistical link showing mandays generated per job card is mostly missing in official records.

When mentioned, it often does not reflect the truth, says Manoj Rai of Participatory Research in Asia (Pria), a resource and advocacy group on grassroots development. The states do have data on the number of mandays, but they do not post it on their websites, says Rai.

In response to questions, central ministry officials in New Delhi say they are planning to revamp the information system.


Funds released: Rs 6,714.2 crore

Total 'works' taken up: 5.23 lakh

Districts: 200

Total rural households: 54 million

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Shivpuri: Nutrition centre makes difference

Rubina Khan Shapoo, Friday, February 2, 2007 (Shivpuri) :

In Madhya Pradesh malnutrition has gone up instead of down in the last decade.The government launched the Bal Shakti Yojna in October 2005 where special rehabilitation centres were created for extremely malnourished children. For the first time, the ICDS team and the health department began working in tandem.

NDTV team traveled to Shivpuri, one of the districts where they are aggressively implementing the scheme to see what difference has it really made.Medical treatment Three-year-old Dharmender weighs twelve and a half kg. It's a miracle considering he was severely malnourished, weighing barely six kg just six months ago.Parvati credits her son's recovery to the nutrition rehabilitation center in Shivpuri, where he received intensive medical treatment and nutritious food. She says she learnt how to take care of him.

Shivpuri and Guna districts in Madhya Pradesh are the only districts in Madhay Pradesh to have nutritional rehabilitation center.So far eight nutritional rehabilitation centres for severely malnourished children have been set up in Shvpuri.Children are kept for fifteen days, a month or longer depending on the severity of malnourishment. Like one-year-old Radha, who can barely move and weighs only three kg. The children begin their day with a piece of papaya. Dalia is given at ten and hot yummy vegetable khichdhi with ghee and sugar is served for lunch, followed by an afternoon siesta.Poverty factor Many attribute the success of the centres to the personal interest taken by the Collector of Shivpuri, who is a trained doctor."Out of 1500 children treated so far in these NRC's we could do the follow up of eleven hundred and eleven and the figure shows that almost seventy four per cent of them had weight increase and almost fifty percent of had grade improvement," said Manohar Agnani, Collector, Shivpuri

.But the programme's biggest challenge lies in the fact that many among the target group are unable to replicate the care at home. The parents live below the poverty line and typically both work as daily wage labourers. "I am a labourer. Here you are feeding me and teaching me how to do it. But I will only be able to follow all this if I have something in my house. How will I make all this there?" said Pushpa Jatav, mother of twins.However, one thing is clear though NRCs can help prevent malnutrition related deaths, to tackle malnutrition related deaths well run aaganwadhis with proper facilities for all the children is the only answer.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

IANS reports on our blog

Blogs help raise social issues in Madhya Pradesh

by Sanjay Sharma,
Indo-Asian news service

Bhopal, Feb 1 (IANS) Blogs are fast catching on in Madhya Pradesh where it provides a platform to activists and officials to voice concern on social issues like safe motherhood and children's plight. Among the blogs - a user-generated website as is commonly known - is Managed by 'Campaign to Raise Concern on Maternal Deaths' in the state, it has activists working to help mothers. There are other blogs too like, which has news about the state and opinions of people, and, which deals with infant mortality and low nutrition levels among children.Another blog is, which provides news and views on matters concerning the state.The brings together media reports on maternal mortality in the state.Maternal mortality at 498 per every 1,000 women is one of state's biggest blights. Most of the deaths occur due to pregnancy-related complications within a fortnight of delivery.'To raise concern about and bring visibility to the issue of maternal deaths and factors impacting it, the safe motherhood blog helps to bring out issues at the district level that rarely find a place in the state level media,' said Anil Gulati, a blogger.

The blog, he said, translates the Hindi news into English or adapts it from Hindi and reproduces it on its weblog along with its source.Many a time these news stories from district editions can form a story for the state editions or alternatively can be a pitch for the big story, which also adds to the purpose of the blog, he said.Blogs also help to give expression to one's creative challenge, added Gulati, who has come to be regarded as blogman of Bhopal. He is a regular contributor to some of the blogs.'Some blogs have been able to raise concern on issues like maternal and child deaths in Madhya Pradesh,' said Sachin Jain, who heads a media advocacy group, Vikas Samvad, in Bhopal.For him it is a good advocacy tool. 'Blogs also take up issues which would have remained invisible otherwise. They help to bring the plight of people of the 'other India' into focus,' he claimed.Blogs and citizen journalists are part of newer trends in engaging people and making their voices heard. But do they make any difference?

'They may not be too effective today but they have the potential to complement other forms of journalism one day,' said P.P. Singh of Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism.'These new technology tools can play a major role in reaching out to people with more transparency as they are not bound by present day media constraints, and thus serve the purpose more effectively,' he added.Other blogs that have become popular in a short time are and There is also a Persecution Blog, which shares news and information about the Christian community.

Indo-Asian News Service