Sunday, March 25, 2007

These kids should have got free books (you paid for) that were sold as scrap

Milind Ghatwai

Indian Express, March 25, 2007

BETUL (MADHYA PRADESH), MARCH 24:Last fortnight, The Indian Express reported how textbooks meant for school students, under the government’s showpiece Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan — largely funded by the education cess you pay — were being sold here in scrap at Rs 2 a kg. As many as 24,932 books were seized from a godown in Betul and Umri

Jagir village. Officials recommended a probe by “professional agency.” While that probe is yet to begin, The Sunday Express toured the district and found students in several schools still waiting for books nine months after their session began and just weeks before their examinations are due. And found records fudged to show that books had been distributed when, in fact, they were sold as scrap.

First stop: Barangwadi school, about 60 km from the district headquarters. Not a single student in Class VII received any Mathematics textbook. In a class of 57 students, 38 are still waiting for their English textbooks, 39 for their Social Studies textbooks and 15 for Sanskrit textbooks.

“If there are no books in Betul, how can we give any book to you,” teacher Nandkishor Mohobe quoted officials in the Block Resource Coordinator’s office at Betul as telling school staff when they asked for books. “We told parents they were free to buy from the market. Even if books were available, they would have not been able to purchase them because many of them can’t afford it,” class teacher Santulal Dhurve said.

Then he did what comes naturally in a remote village like this. He asked for books from those who had graduated only to find that their copies were tattered and the syllabus had changed. So a few “unchanged chapters” in these second-hand books were highlighted and students were told to “group study.”

Second stop: Chhipnia Pipri school, about 65 km from Betul. 41 of 57 Class VII students are waiting for Social Studies textbooks, 15 for Mathematics books and 28 for Environment books. “I pursued the matter until September but then I gave up,” says class teacher S C Pal. “Because by that time, the first semester examination was already over.”

“The books are not even available in the market. No one keeps them because they are meant to be available for free,” school in-charge P C Hurmade said.

Third stop: Dehelwada, a few km from Chhipnia Pipri. Not a single student in Classes VI and VII (total strength 67) received Social Studies books. All 34 students of Class VII are waiting for English textbooks while 20 of their classmates are also waiting for Mathematics books. “There used to be some discrepancies in supply but never anything like this,” school in-charge M R Yadav said. “We had to plead with those who had passed their exams and gone to higher classes to spare their old books for their brothers and sisters,” Yadav said.

• Fourth stop: Malegaon school. The school register is in a locked cupboard and the key is with school in-charge who is not around. Seven of 12 students present in Class VII say they are still waiting for Social Studies books. Many have bought some copies of Mathematics, English and Environment books from the market but there are students who haven’t. Bhagchand Yaduvanshi, who teaches both Class VI and VII in this school, devised his own formula to distribute the few books he got. “I began with girls followed by Harijan and OBCs,” he said. He was told the remaining books would come some day.

Fifth stop: Chirapatla school in Chicholi block. Several students in Std VII haven’t received Mathematics books. This includes 13-year-old Laxmi Karoche, whose father Mehkum is president of Parents-Teachers Association of the primary section. Mehkum was told the books had been distributed among all students. Complaints have been received from several students in schools in Badakhedi, Shambhuwada, Mangara and Bhumka Dhana and Jandehi villages in Amla block and several villages in the remaining nine blocks of Betul district.

For the record, M K Singh, commissioner of Rajya Shiksha Kendra, the nodal agency which received the over 2 lakh books for distribution, told The Sunday Express: “We have received a report signed both by the district collector and the district project coordinator saying that books were distributed to all eligible students. I will get it verified. Our official probe has pointed out irregularities so we have recommended removal of the DPC.” State education minister Narottam Mishra was unavailable for comment.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Is India still worst hit by TB?

Vibha Sachdeva, CNN- IBN

New Delhi: March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day and India is one of the worst hit countries by the disease. The illegal mines are the only source of livelihood for 200 Sahariya Tribal families working as labourers in Majhera village Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh. They are hence exposed to tuberculosis.

Ninety men have died from TB so far and more than 12 have advanced tuberculosis. The TB scare is a reality but there are no other jobs as options for them. “There is no source of income and I am a widow,” says a widow, Dhano. The nearest health centre is more than 27 kilometres away. It is out of reach for patients weakened by tuberculosis, as they are unable to get there on foot.
However, health authorities say they are meeting targets. “We have been organising TB camps in these areas for the last one year and they have been successful,” says health officer, Dr Dinesh Kaushal. In rural areas, primary health centres are supposed to be in a 10 km radius, by law, but the rules and healthcare facilities are completely inadequate in this village.
Meanwhile, the villagers forced to work in the quarries, forced to risk their lives and forced to confront the deadly disease.

Friday, March 23, 2007


As per BBC web site

Early diagnosis is key to treating TB Cases of tuberculosis across the world appear to be "levelling off", the World Health Organization says.

However, the WHO warns the emergence of drug-resistant TB strains means cases could rise in the future. TB kills around 1.6 million people each year. The data was released to mark World TB Day on Saturday.

Drug resistance

The WHO figures show the overall number of TB cases has continued to increase - but only in line with the global population growth, reaching 8.79m in 2005, compared with 8.71 million a year earlier. The overwhelming majority - 7.4 million - were found in Asia and sub Saharan Africa. Mario Raviglione, head of the WHO's Stop TB programme said numbers of TB cases are going up, but only in line with population growth. But he said the growth of new strains was worrying.

Increasing cases

Dr John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: "Since the late 1980s the number of people diagnosed with TB has risen every year and, in line with this trend, 2006 shows a slight increase.

The key to reducing levels of TB is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of the infection
Professor Peter Borriello, Health Protection Agency "During 2005 we saw a large rise in the number of cases reported. "We therefore need to be cautious about predicting future trends based on 2006 figures alone." He added: "At this stage, it is too early to tell whether these provisional results for 2006 signify a slowing in the overall trend of increase in the number of cases."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Child blindness in India 5 times higher than elsewhere: Study

Mumbai, March 19. (PTI): The prevalence of blindness among children in India is five times higher than that reported in other developing countries, with an estimated 3.2 lakh of them suffering from some form of eye-disease, a study has said. Ironically, in 50 per cent of these cases blindness can either be prevented or treated, according to the study by ORBIS, an international nonprofit organisation striving to eliminate avoidable blindness.
The study said, "Most of the causes of childhood blindness are exacerbated by lack of community awareness and parental neglect".

"Ignorance and harmful traditional practices can unwittingly lead to blindness," it said, adding "Certain States such as Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are prone to high rates of childhood blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency, cataract and eye-injuries". The study stresses that "In a number of cases, parental intervention can help reduce incidence of eye problems".

Childhood cataract is the most common treatable cause of blindness. Unfortunately it is responsible for 10 to 30 per cent of all childhood blindness because of parental neglect.
"Children with cataract are difficult to identity as they do not recognise the need for intervention," it pointed out. Cataract in children may be congenital or may appear any time during the first few years of childhood. But many parents are not aware that surgery is the only treatment available for childhood cataract and that it should be undertaken, the study suggested.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Starbucks donates to water aid for villages and slums of MP

Seattle, March 16, 2007 -- To commemorate World Water Day and raise awareness for the more than 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to clean drinking water, Starbucks Coffee Company has announced two US$1 million grants that will each benefit water programs in India and Kenya. For each bottle of Ethos™ water purchased in Starbucks U.S. Company-operated stores, US$0.05 is contributed to the Ethos Water Fund at the Starbucks Foundation. These funds support Starbucks goals of contributing at least US$10 million by 2010 to nonprofit organizations that are helping to alleviate the world water crisis.

"Starbucks hopes to help raise awareness and be a significant collaborator in support of solutions to help alleviate the world water crisis," said Jim Donald, Starbucks president and CEO.
Working through WaterAid, a US$1 million grant will help develop an integrated approach to water and sanitation-related health problems for an estimated 120,000 beneficiaries living in 80 rural villages and 40 urban slums in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Starbucks donates to water aid for villages and slums of MP

Seattle, March 16, 2007 -- To commemorate World Water Day and raise awareness for the more than 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to clean drinking water, Starbucks Coffee Company has announced two US$1 million grants that will each benefit water programs in India and Kenya. For each bottle of Ethos™ water purchased in Starbucks U.S. Company-operated stores, US$0.05 is contributed to the Ethos Water Fund at the Starbucks Foundation. These funds support Starbucks goals of contributing at least US$10 million by 2010 to nonprofit organizations that are helping to alleviate the world water crisis.

"Starbucks hopes to help raise awareness and be a significant collaborator in support of solutions to help alleviate the world water crisis," said Jim Donald, Starbucks president and CEO.
Working through WaterAid, a US$1 million grant will help develop an integrated approach to water and sanitation-related health problems for an estimated 120,000 beneficiaries living in 80 rural villages and 40 urban slums in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Water crisis: Permanent solution needed

Editorial, Central Chronicle, MP edition, March 17, 2007

Call it a dilemma that despite claims of development, Madhya Pradesh continues to face water crisis as soon as the summer season commences. Thirty districts of the state are in the grip of water crisis. And reports of more than 100 civic bodies supplying water once in two days only speaks of the gravity of the crisis in the coming days. The situation in Gwalior division is said to be very bad where water is being supplied every alternate day. The government has initiated steps to meet the crisis by allotting over Rs 6 crore. The PHE minister Jagdish Devda is claiming that the situation would not be allowed to deteriorate. The administration would make supply of water through tankers. The government is committed to provide funds for every district to meet the water crisis. Water crisis, in fact, is becoming grave day by day. It is possible that the government may make available crores of rupees to meet the crisis. This is ok but we also have to chalk out a permanent solution.

This question would have to be meditated upon by our policy makers, and society jointly. Jhabua district, at one time was under the grip of severe water crisis but the water conservation efforts there have changed the situation today. This has been due to pursuing a thought-out policy. Hence the same success story could be applicable for other areas too. Now, it is for the members of the society that they follow a certain water conservation policy which would make available the nectar in the lean days. The government should also frame an area-wise action plan to solve the water problem.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dalits wedding procession baton-charged, cops suspended

Bhopal, March 14 (IANS) Members of a Dalit wedding procession in Madhya Pradesh, including women, children and elderly, were baton-charged by cops who were apparently annoyed by the high volume of the loudspeakers. Three policemen were later suspended.

The incident occurred when the marriage procession (baraat) of Sohan Lal, a resident of Budrakh village in Chhattarpur district, nearly 350 km from here, was heading towards the bride's house, accompanied by a lot of singing and dancing Monday night.

The police Wednesday claimed that members of the wedding party assaulted Superintendent of Police Chanchal Shekhar and Town Inspector Arun Dubey when they were asked to lower the loud speakers' volume. The aggrieved party, however, denied the allegations.

"As soon as the baraat reached the main road, policemen honked to get past the procession but when no one heard them due to the loud speaker, they started hitting them with batons," a witness said.

Said Ramesh Bhaghel, who attended the wedding: "About a dozen people, including the groom, children and elderly people were injured when they attacked the group."

The victims then blocked the Sagar-Kanpur National Highway in protest and agreed to go ahead with the ceremony only when Vijay Katariya, deputy inspector general (Chhatarpur range) and District Collector Ajatshatru reached the spot to pacify them.

Town Inspector Dubey and constables Mukesh and Rajesh were later suspended. "We have suspended the accused policemen and are looking into the matter," Katariya said.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

MP has over 10 lakh child labourers

The Pioneer, March 13, 2007

Madhya Pradesh has in excess of 10 lakh child labourers, State Labour Minister Jagdish Deora informed the Assembly on Monday. In a written reply to Dhyanendra Singh (BJP), he said, "As per the 2001 Census, the figure was 10,65,259. The Government has freed all 8,826 children employed in hazardous work and is taking several steps for rehabilitating them." School Education Minister Narottam Mishra informed Hitendra Singh Solanki (BJP) that contract teachers were not deemed as Government servants. "Such teachers are local bodies' employees and their services are governed through separate rules, said Mishra.

Referring to a roughly nine-month-old case of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan textbooks being sold off to a scrap dealer instead of being distributed to poor children in Betul district, he said that three teachers and the dealer were arrested and the teachers suspended in this regard.
"Anthrax claimed 113 animals in Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, Katni and Dindori districts between January 2005 and January 31, 2007," Animal Husbandry Minister Ramakant Tiwari told Umashankar Gupta (BJP). Higher Education Minister Vijay Shah referred to a case of a degree being issued to a female student in 2006 by the city-based Barkatullah varsity on basis of a fake marksheet. "Notices were issued to three employees for carelessness. In Hari Singh Gaur University, Sagar, 150 vacancies of professors and readers are being filled.

Rain Hailstrom may affect crops in MP

The Pioneer, March 13,2007

The weather took an unexpected turn in Madhya Pradesh with sudden rainfall in the morning hours, on Monday. The unwarranted rains and hailstorm especially in the districts of Rewa, Satna and Jabalpur resulted in huge crop losses to the farmers. Cloudy skies and isolated drizzles were witnessed in the state capital Bhopal throughout the day.

Meanwhile six persons were killed after being struck by lightning in Rewa. According to Bhopal meteorological department director D P Dube, "Upper air cyclonic circulation formed over this State is drawing moisture from the Arabian Sea."

He forecast that isolated drizzles were likely in Bhopal, Guna, Ujjain and Jabalpur divisions and hail was likely in isolated places, during the next 24 hours. Although the movement did not bring about any substantial changes over the day temperature, humidity was experienced in most parts of the State. In Bhopal the temperature on Sunday was 34.7 degrees C, two degrees above normal. The minimum temperature on Sunday night was also not an exception at 18.9 degrees C. The temperature that generally prevails during the beginning of March, around 33 degrees C was recorded at 5.30 p.m. on Monday. Similar was the condition in other major cities in Madhya Pradesh like Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior.

The rains since Monday morning also failed to bring down mercury levels in Jabalpur. Even on Sunday night the temperature was 21 degrees C, which was around two degrees higher than that of Bhopal. The untimely rains also exposed the poor drainage in Bhopal with major streets getting choked, resulting in flood-like situation in various areas. Such scenes were common in the Old City, including Navbahar, Sabji Mandi and Lakherpura. Residents of Gwalior were blessed with pleasant weather with mild temperature between 25-28 degrees C with night temperatures as low as 17.5 degrees C.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Water shortage in Sagar - clash in Indore

It is now parts of Sagar which are facing water crisis. Newswhichmatter had been regularly reporting over growing water crisis in the state and have been covering reports of the same.

Dawari, Bina, Khurai, Raheli, Gadahota and Sagar block are facing acute water shortage. One could see women waiting with their cans and utensils searching and waiting for water. Sagar had witnessed 200mm less rainfall though interestingly it had flood two years back. Water levels have gone 2- 3ft down due to less rainfall this year. While in Indore in south thoda area, Sunday morning there were clashes between two parties over issue of water and later on mob damaged the vehicles nearby. Though police could control the situation but issue is even clashes over water ?

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No takers for India’s first bird flu vaccine

Bhopal: More than six months since a research institute here developed the first vaccine in India against bird flu, there seem to be no takers for its formula or even its doses, prepared after the avian influenza scare last year.The High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) here, which developed the vaccine in July 2006, has preserved about 100,000 doses of the vaccine, each costing 27 paise. But no drug manufacturing company has contacted it so far to buy either these doses or the formula for commercial use, say its officials.

HSADL, which has the technique for identifying the avian influenza virus among poultry, tested thousands of bird samples including droppings of migratory birds last year after first strains of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus were detected in western Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra."The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) entrusted us with the job of developing the vaccine soon after the first outbreak of the disease in February 2006 and also promptly provided us Rs80mn to help us accomplish the challenging task," said the joint director H Pradhan.It was Pradhan who led a special team of scientists that swung into action, toiling day and night on the vaccine and developed it in less than six months after the outbreak."The cost of the vaccine has been worked out at 27 paise per dose. It is expected to go up to 35 paise including the trader's profit and cost of transportation. But it will be for the company manufacturing the vaccine to decide on the selling price," Pradhan said.After sweeping across two years and a wide swathe of South East Asia, parts of Central Asia, Africa and in Europe the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus was detected in India-in the tribal pocket of Navapur in northern Maharashtra's Nandurbar district. While health experts always believed that the disease was knocking on India's doors, it was lonely recently that the government was alerted by the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal. The lab confirmed the presence of the virus in eight samples of the dozen it received from Nandurbar-tests were being conducted on blood samples from dead birds since February 11 after about 40,000 chickens were reported to have died in the area. Talking about the efficacy of the vaccine, Pradhan said: "The vaccine can be used immediately after a bird flu outbreak to control the spread of the virus as well as for vaccination in anticipation of an outbreak."The immune response is good and the protection offered by the vaccine has been found to be above 90% ," he added. – IANS

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Renal problems on rise

Published in The Times of India. March 7, 2007

With an estimated 1.5 lakh new cases every year, chronic kidney disease (CKD) has emerged as the third most common non-communicable disease in the country, thanks to the rising incidence of hypertension, obesity and alcoholism. As the world celebrates World Kidney Day on March 8, Times City takes a look at the problem and its possible solutions. The kidney, whose functions include maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance of the body is intimately associated functionally with all other vital organs — so much that in international medical parlance, CKD is referred to as a diseases multiplier. It is in fact a part of a vicious circle where on the one hand CKD is a result of multi-systemic problems and on the other, it further aggravates those problems. Says Dr Sanjeev Bagai, paediatric nephrologist and head of the department of paediatrics, Rockland Hospital: "Internationally available figures for India out the incidence in adults and adolescents at one in every 10-15 people. For newborns, it is 0.1-1% which, given our population, is a huge figure. Rising maternal age has further complicated matters because many more babies now are being born with congenital kidney abnormalities. The critical part here is that awareness levels are still very low and outside major cities, the availability of diagnostic facilities is poor." The risk factors for kidney diseases are often the same as that for the heart, given that the filtration of blood in the kidney which is its primary modus operandi, depends on the same factors — arterial diameter, blood pressure and rate of blood flow — as the well-being of the heart. Doctors blame the country's rising CKD figures on rising hypertension — that causes the filtration rate to become too fast for effective purification of the blood, smoking — that is known to cause stiffening of arteries and diabetes and hypercholesterolemia which are known to be responsible for atherosclerosis. Ironically, it is only recently that the country has woken up to the CKD clock ticking away so doctors are still uncertain how much of the bloated figures are a result of better diagnostic facilities and what the real extent of the disease in India may be. Says Dr Salil Jain, consultant nephrologist, Fortis Hospitals: "It is true that risk factors for CKD like diabetes, hypertension and smoking are on the rise. But it is also true that awareness levels among doctors is much better now and we are picking up many more cases than before. It is precisely to gauge the extent of the problem that the national level committee on chronic kidney disease was recently formed. This is a registry that will give us realistic figures of whether and to what extent kidney disease is on the rise." The common symptoms of CKD are loss of appetite, frequent vomiting, frequent urination often with discomfort, recurrent fever, face and ankle swelling, weakness and anaemia, headache, nose bleeding and hypertension, rashes, recurrent abdominal pain and recurrent respiratory infections.

Govt. to launch flourosis prevention programme

The Hindu. March 8, 2007

New Delhi, March 8. (PTI): The Government is considering to launch a national programme for the prevention and control of fluorosis, which has affected 25 million people in the country.
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Panabaka Lakshmi said the Government is planning to launch a National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis. She said, it has been estimated that the population actually affected by flurosis in the country is 25 million.

Fluorosis, which affects due to the content of flouride in drinking water and food products, is a problem in 19 states. Lakshmi said Skeletal Fluorosis, a bone disease that occurs due to excessive consumption of fluoride in water, is one of the three forms of fluorosis, which is prevalent in the country. The States that are affected are Andhra Pardesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Orissa, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tawa Matsya Sangh, fishing co-operative in Madhya Pradesh, loses licence

Shailesh Kumar

The future of the Tawa Matsya Sangh (tms), a cooperative of fisherfolk operating in the Tawa reservoir in Madhya Pradesh’s Hoshangabad district, is firmly on hold. On December 23, 2006, their licence to fish in the reservoir expired, and since then all hell has broken loose. The reservoir was created when a dam was built on the river Tawa, a tributary of the Narmada river, in 1974. tms, comprising tribals the dam had displaced, was formed as a platform demanding their right to fish in the reservoir; tms has managed fishing there since 1996.Despite the expiry of the licence, and non-renewal, tms fisherfolk continued to fish in the reservoir.
In early January, 2007, the forest department at Sakhota Naka intercepted two tms motorboats and 60 kg of fish. “When we approached the forest ranger, he asked for Rs 5,000 as penalty. We said we don’t have that much money; instead, 5,000 fisherfolks can sit on dharna here,” says Guliabai, a tms leader, of Kesla village.

“On January 25, 2007, thousands gathered in protest. Republic Day witnessed a flag-hosting ceremony and we asked for our boats back.” Then women commandeered two boats of the forest department at Sakhota Naka, and another two at Tekapar. A police complaint was lodged against them, and when a posse turned up, tribals captured two police jeeps.

A police force surrounded villages but the fisherfolk continued with the dharna, at Daudi village, and did not return the boats. The police force had to retreat, and the forest department gave up. They returned the boats on the night of January 28, 2007; fisherfolk reciprocated two days later. “The forest department also took our fishing nets when they captured the Sangh’s boats,” says Maniram Dhurve, of Manna village. “They have not returned these. Neither do they allow us to fish. The net cost Rs 300 a kg. Mine weighed 8 kg. My brother is physically challenged. We don’t have help.”Dhurve’s distress is not symptomatic of tms.

The latter, often touted as a model fishery regime, approached the Central Empowered Committee (cec, a body the Supreme Court set up to advise it on forest-related matters) on February 2, 2007, to seek relief and the right to fish. A hearing was held on February 8, 2007.Caught pincer-liketms is caught in a regulatory pincer. On the one hand, there is the Madhya Pradesh Matsya Mahasangh (MPMM), the state’s nodal fishery body, which shows no signs of renewing tms’s licence. The agency, responsible for granting inland fishing rights statewide, is itself eyeing the resource-rich reservoir. tms fears if the nodal body wins the case, it may restrain tms from a bid, despite the co-operative’s huge success in the last 10 years. “On December 14, 2006, we approached the Supreme Court for fishing rights in the reservoir. The matter is sub-judice, so I can’t comment much on the performance of tms. Extending fishing rights to tms is not in my hands, it is up to the government to give them the rights after the Supreme Court passes judgment,” says Kanchan Jain, managing director, mpmm. On the other hand, there is the matter of the forest department’s jurisdiction over the reservoir, via the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Over time, various areas around the reservoir were declared protected; then came a proposal to carve, out of these protected areas, the Satpura Tiger Reserve.

People's lives affected due to water crisis

A Dalit women was allegedly beaten up by two young men in Thakurpura area of Shivpuri town a district in Gwalior division of the state of Madhya Pradesh over issue of water. Bhinkumari wife of Rajendar Jatav was allegedly beaten up by one Ravi Prasad and his friend due to an argument over water. Water crisis exists in the area. The Shivpuri town is experiencing water shortage, one can see this by the long ‘yellow can queues’ lined up in the town to get water from supply which comes, few hours and pressure too is very low. The problem is in not only in Shivpuri tonw alone. In nearby district Sheopur, a week back villagers of village Sarandad Gram Panchayat Gohata, had threatened to go on hunger strike if the issue of water crisis was not resolved immediately. People have started deserting the village due to the acute water shortage, and they are finding hard to get water for drinking purpose. Similar situation is being seen in many parts of the Indore Malwa region too. But those who have money and power and can afford tubewells are digging ground water, which gives more crunch on the limited ground water available.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Every second child in India is abused

Hindustan Times, Nandini R Iyer, New Delhi, March 9, 2007

Every second child in India has suffered some form of abuse finds the world's largest-ever study on child abuse. Conducted by Prayaas with support from Unicef and the Department of Women and Child Development, the study, which interviewed 17,000 children and such stakeholders as teachers and NGOs, reports that over 50 per cent children interviewed reported some form of physical, sexual or economic abuse.

At least 25 per cent respondents had been sexually abused - 30 per cent of them by family members of relatives - finds the National Study on Child Abuse. Forty per cent of all children interviewed said they were subjected to physical violence, and five per cent of these said they had resorted to substance abuse to cope with being battered regularly. The year-long study that covers 13 states including Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Goa and Madhya Pradesh concluded in December 2006. Findings were submitted early this year to the government which is expected to make the study public by the end of the month. "The findings are indeed very serious," said a senior official with the Department of Women and Child Development. "We were aware that there is a problem of child abuse in the country which is why we participated in the study." Based on the study, the department will be asking the Planning Commission for Rs 2,000 crore in the 11th Plan (as against Rs 215 crore in the last plan) for various child protection schemes, said sources. "This study will act as a base for various legislations and schemes," said senior police officer Amod Kanth, who is the founder secretary of Prayaas.

"Child protection is a matter of serious concern," he said, but refused to discuss the findings of the study. Significantly, the study also notes that by the government's own admission, 35 million homeless children in India need protection. But only an abysmally low 35,000 are actually placed in shelters provided by the government and non-government organisations.

Rains hailstrom affects crops in Morena villgaes

A day back rains lashed parts of Morena region in the Chambal division of state of Madhya Pradesh which have affected the crops in the three tehsils of the district. Affected farmers came out and demonstrated on the road asking for compensation from the Government.

About two dozens villages had experienced sudden rains and hailstrom . Grain growing in the fields have been affected and even their was loss of animal life. Affected farmers had made demonstration outside the Collectors office and also around villages jhigani sikroda jori and charai village. The Commissioner sensing the pressure of the people has immediately given instructed revenue department to undertakes evaluation submits its report.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007



Availability of safe drinking water supplies is a challenge today in districts of states like Madhya Pradesh, and is particularly acute in some districts of the state. Given less rainfall in those districts, increasing depletion and contamination of its surface and ground water resources contribute to the crisis.

www. has been raising this concern regularly and this is the situation in now what will happen in coming summers ? Thankfully Central Chronicle editorial also raises similar concern. Hope many others will join the crusade !

Editorial in Central Chronicle, March 7, 2007

With the beginning of the month of March, water shortage is being felt in many parts of the state. For the last several years, as soon as the Holi festival was over people began to experience water shortage. A shortage of potable water at this stage ends up with grave problems in the availability of water in later months. Water is one of the basic needs of man. The issue has assumed so much importance that even the parties in power are losing the mandate of the people in future elections. A major part of the budgets are allotted for water availability in the State and local bodies budgets. Despite of this hefty provision, the people are continuing to face water shortages in the summer months. The problem persists in several parts of Madhya Pradesh and even the State capital Bhopal is not aloof from the same. Hand pumps have gone dry so also the pipelines are without any water.

Search for water from alternative sources is on; old wells are being repaired. Gwalior, Indore, Jabalpur, Rewa and Sagar are some of the places where people have started experiencing shortage of water. Gwalior residents are only getting one-time water supply since the rains stopped. Even after good rains this season, the ground water level in many places has not increased. Every year the same story is getting repeated and still no foolproof efforts seem to be taking shape. The government would have to make drastic efforts and search out solutions immediately. Both big cities and small towns are grappling with water shortages. The situation is more worse in the rural and adivasi areas. In the state capital, despite facility of supply of potable water through tankers, the problem still persists. It is learnt the Jabalpur residents are coming on the roads in protest.

Bhopal gas survivors on fast

Bhopal: Four survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster are on an indefinite fast to demand healthcare and economic rehabilitation for thousands of people affected by toxic fumes that emanated from the now-defunct Union Carbide pesticide plant more than 22 years ago.The hunger strike, which began on Monday, is part of their campaign 'Jeene Ka Haq' (Right to Live) to mark the first anniversary of their protest march from Bhopal to New Delhi in support of their demands. The campaign, which began 12 days ago, is to also demand social support for the survivors and their families, safe drinking water and removal of hazardous waste from the plant site.

The participants include Rashida Bee, who had lost six family members to cancer for having inhaled the noxious fumes. A winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, she suffers from chronic physical and mental problems. The others are Guddi Bee and Jabbar Khan, who live next to the Union Carbide factory and are suffering due to contaminated ground water. The fourth is Shehazadi Bee, who was exposed to the toxic gases in 1984 and later to the contaminated water when she moved close to the factory. Rachna Dhingra and Satinath Sarangi, who have been working along with the survivors for the last several years to get them relief, have also joined them. On the night of December 2, 1984, over 40 tonnes of lethal Methyl Iso-Cyanate (MIC) gas spewed out of the Union Carbide plant, killing more than 3,000 people instantly and maiming thousands others for life. More than 15,000 affected people have since died. The leaders of various gas-survivors' organisations, including Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Bhopal Ki Aawaaz, want the state government to ensure that the toxic waste is not allowed to contaminate surrounding areas and the survivors are provided safe drinking water, as directed by the Supreme Court. They are also demanding free medical care for the affected people, implementation of a drug policy to ensure proper treatment with quality medicines and greater emphasis on yoga and herbal care to treat the gas survivors. (IANS)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Schools don't have adequate teachers

The school education in the country is plagued by lack of trained teachers and there are a sizable number of schools facing inadequate number of teachers, according to a recent government survey. About 21 per cent of the 25,33,205 full-time teachers in primary schools are untrained teachers. Interestingly, 4.6 per cent of these teachers are having academic qualification below secondary, the recent seventh all India school education survey conducted by NCERT in collaboration with state governments and national informatics centre found.

Similarly, of the 13,51,499 full-time teachers in the upper-primary schools, nearly 19 per cent of the teachers have not got any training. About 20 per cent of these teachers are having academic qualification as secondary or equivalent, the survey showed. The scenario is little better in the secondary schools where about 13 per cent of the 10,51,733 teachers are not trained. At this stage, about 12 per cent of the teachers had the academic qualification as higher secondary or equivalent, it said. The percentage of untrained teachers at higher secondary level is about 17. Out of the 1,46,526 para teachers at primary stage, 3.6 per cent teachers were having academic qualification as below secondary. Similarly about 23 per cent of para teachers at upper primary stage were having the academic qualification as secondary or equivalent.

MP gets 100 crores for rural roads

The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India has released first instalment of Rs. 100.00 crore under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) for development of rural roads. The grant is towards the Plan expenditure and will be subject to the conditions laid down from time to time in the guidelines of the PMGSY and supplementary directions. PMGSY was launched in December 2000 as a 100 per cent Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a target of connecting every habitation that has a population of more than 1000 within the next three years and every habitation with a population of more than 500 by the year 2007 i.e. by the end of the 10th Five Year Plan through good all-weather road.

A sum of Rs.20,400.70 crore has been released By GOI to the Indian States and Union territories towards the programme and up to December 2006, 35,868 roadworks covering a length of 1,07,569.08 Kms. have been completed.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Polio - should we give up dream of eradication or not ?

By MARIA CHENG Sunday, March 04, 2007

LONDON - Nearly 20 years ago, the World Health Organization and its partners launched an ambitious program to eradicate polio by the end of the millennium. That deadline passed and another was missed in 2005 _ and polio still strikes about 2,000 people a year, mostly children.At a WHO meeting this week, some leading experts asked a grim question: Is it time to abandon the goal of eradication and focus instead on containing the disease? The answer, for most, was no _ even though many had doubts."Many people wonder why we are spending all this time and effort on polio when there are much bigger problems," said Dr. Donald A. Henderson, who headed WHO's smallpox eradication program in the 1970s. Smallpox is the only disease ever to have been eradicated.There is no question the polio eradication program has reaped rewards: Since it began in 1988, the incidence of the disease has dropped by more than 99 percent. But with the number of polio cases at a virtual standstill for the last five years, some experts worry that the campaign by WHO and its partners _ the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary International and UNICEF _ is running aground.

"Even if things quiet down in the countries where we have problems, there will be another area that bursts into flames," said Dr. Ellie Ehrenfeld, who sits on the WHO Advisory Committee for Polio Eradication."We are living in a different world where I'm not sure what eradication means anymore," said Ehrenfeld, who was not invited to Wednesday's meeting.Critics of the eradication program note smallpox was wiped out in a decade, while the polio campaign is entering its 19th year. WHO is seeking a $575 million budget for polio eradication for 2007-2008.

In a speech to participants, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan urged participants not to give up."We are facing our best and perhaps our last chance to eradicate polio," she said, adding that leaving the job unfinished would squander the more than $5 billion invested so far because it would open the way for a resurgence of the disease.The four polio-endemic countries _ Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan _ are also intent on ridding the world of the virus."We will spare no effort in eradicating polio," said Naresh Dayal of India's Ministry of Health and Welfare. This year, India will spend $286 million to fight the polio virus."While eradication is possible, we shouldn't even consider moving to a control strategy," said Dayal.

Others are not convinced."We cannot continue forever," said Dr. Isao Arita, another WHO smallpox veteran. "Everyone wishes WHO to accomplish the task but there is a limit."For WHO, giving up on eradication would a crushing blow."There's an almost religious conviction that they must see this through," said Dr. Samuel Katz, an infectious diseases specialist at Duke University and co-inventor of the measles vaccine."But there are other things we could do that would be as beneficial to child health rather than spending another billion dollars in frustration," he said.In the countries where polio occurs, there are many competing health priorities, including respiratory and diarrheal diseases, malaria and AIDS.

Some experts say that a polio containment policy wouldn't necessarily be radically different from an eradication policy, except that it would free up money for other health problems.Tighter regulation in countries where polio occurs could help trap the virus, and international officials might adopt measures such as requiring proof of vaccination for travelers coming from polio-endemic countries.WHO and its partners insist it is possible to eradicate polio, and that the only challenges are logistical.Different problems plague the four endemic countries: In Nigeria, the weak health system coupled with a vaccine boycott in some areas gets the blame; in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the virus moves back and forth across the border where the official focus is on the war on terror; in India, children are often infected with other viruses, making the polio vaccine less effective.Some experts think a different vaccine could help. The eradication campaign uses the oral vaccine because it protects entire communities. But while the oral vaccine is cheap and easy to administer, there is a downside: For approximately every 2.5 million doses, it causes one case of polio.WHO is looking into the more expensive injectable polio vaccine, which uses an inactivated virus that cannot trigger polio. Results from the studies won't be available until next year.WHO insists it is considering all options _ except giving up on eradication."Any program would be negligent if it didn't check all the possibilities," said Dr. David Heymann, WHO's top polio official, "but our partners didn't want to hear about a control strategy."

A service of the Associated Press(AP)

Found in Bhopal, the last king of France

Found in Bhopal, the last king of France
Angelique ChrisafisParis, March 3

Balthazar Napoleon de Bourbon, an Indian lawyer and part-time farmer, has always been fascinated by France. Framed pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the palace of Versailles decorate his house in a dusty, bustling suburb of the central Indian city of Bhopal. He gave his children French names even though he has never set foot in France.

But he may soon make his first trip to Paris, after he was visited by a relative of Prince Philip, who told him that he is the first in line to the lost French throne.This Indian father-of-three is being feted as the long-lost descendent of the Bourbon kings who ruled France from the 16th century to the French revolution.

A distant cousin of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he is alleged to be not only related to the current Bourbon king of Spain and the Bourbon descendants still in France, but to have more claim than any of them to the French crown. The story of a potential Asian dauphin to one of the most important royal houses of Europe appears to be a poke in the eye for colonial history, and has sparked a rush of interest among royals in Europe.

Prince Michael of Greece, the cousin of Prince Philip, this week published a historical novel called Le Rajah de Bourbon, which traces the swashbuckling story of Mr Bourbon's first royal ancestor in India. Prince Michael believes Jean de Bourbon was a nephew of the first Bourbon French king, Henry IV. In the mid-16th century Jean embarked on an action-packed adventure across the world which saw him survive assassination attempts and kidnap by pirates to be sold at an Egyptian slave market and serve in the Ethiopian army.

In 1560, he turned up at the court of the Mogul emperor Akbar. It was the beginning of a long line of Bourbons in India, who centuries later would serve as the administrators of Bhopal and become the second most important family in the region.

Michael of Greece, who lives in Paris and is of Bourbon descent, believes his detective work on his newfound Indian "cousins" is more than just the latest whimsy in a history of attempts to uncover relatives of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. "If I am right — and I don't have absolute proof, but I completely believe in my theory - then Balthazar Bourbon would be the eldest in the line," he said. "This is the cherry on the cake. Mr Bourbon is head of a decent, dignified, middle-class Indian family. They look so Indian and yet bear this name.

When you look at them, it seems incredible. The more unbelievable it is, the more I believe in it." He said several of his royal relatives in Spain and France were "quite excited and thrilled to have found a new branch". He was in favour of a DNA test, perhaps from a surviving lock of Bourbon hair, to establish the facts.

From his home in the Bhopal suburbs, Mr Bourbon, 48, said he would be glad to take a DNA test, but remained stoical about the "hypothetical question" of whether he was heir to the throne. Conscious of the bloody outcome for royals in France, he felt royal status could bring "trouble", not to mention questions from skeptical historians. Still, he has long had a brass plaque above his front door reading "House of Bourbon" with the fleur-de-lis crest of the French monarchy. His wife runs the neighbouring school for local children, called the Bourbon school. The family is Catholic and keeps Bourbon relics, including a sword, in their home. He said he felt "a sense of pride" when contemplating the picture of Versailles on his wall.

But he is aware that his family's fortunes waned in Bhopal long ago. He describes the Indian branch of the family as Bourbons on the rocks. "From the day I was born, I was made to understand that I belonged to the family of the Bourbons," he said. "I may be from a royal family but I live my life as a commoner. I didn't have time to learn French as a teenager because my father's death meant I had to work to look after my mother and sisters. Life has been very tough for me." When his sister went to France on holiday she visited a castle once owned by Bourbon kings. It was closed to the public but she showed her Indian passport with the Bourbon name and was allowed in.

"I don't know if any of this will change my life," Mr Bourbon said. "The fact is, we've been having visitors from England, France and across Europe for years, curious about our family name.
"All these travellers, all this publicity, but nothing has happened yet. So how can I believe that something will change now?"

Saturday, March 03, 2007

37 pc women face domestic violence

Over 37 per cent married women in the country were victims of physical or sexual abuse by their husbands with Bihar topping the list. Women in Himachal Pradesh faced less violence at home compared to other states in the country.

The latest National Family Health Survey-III found that 37.2 per cent women had experienced violence and cited lack of education as the key reason behind their woes. "Women with no education were much more likely than other women to have suffered spousal violence. However, spousal abuse also extends to women who have secondary or higher secondary level education, with 16 per cent reporting abuse," the survey said. The survey showed that countrywide more women face violence in rural areas (40.2) as compared to those in the urban areas (30.4).
In Bihar, women in urban areas fared worse than those in rural areas.

While 62.2 per cent underwent the trauma in urban areas, it was 58.5 per cent women in villages. It is followed by Rajasthan (46.3) Madhya Pradesh (45.8), Tripura (44.1), Manipur (43.9), Uttar Pradesh (42.4), Tamil Nadu (41.9), West Bengal (40.3) and Arunachal Pradesh (38.8).

Among the metros, the fairer sex was better off in Delhi (16.3) and Mumbai (19.5) recorded relatively low percentage as compared to Chennai (40.6) and Kolkata (26.7). Nearly, 17 per cent women in Goa have experienced violence, with 17.2 women in rural areas at the receiving end as compared to 16.4 per cent women in urban areas.In Chhattisgarh, a total of 30 per cent women suffered at the hands of their husbands, while in Jharkhand, the figure was 37 per cent. About 40.8 per cent women in Jharkhand villages found the going tough as compared to 24.6 per cent in the urban areas.

In the hill state of Uttarakhand, nearly 28 per cent women experienced violence, with those in villages (29.8) fared worse than their urban counterparts (22.8). After Himachal Pradesh, women fared relatively better in Jammu and Kashmir (12.6), Meghalaya (13.1), Nagaland (15.4), Sikkim (16.5) and Kerala (16.4). Other states where women find themselves vulnerable are Assam (39.6), Arunachal Pradesh (38.8), Orissa (38.5), Maharashtra (30.7), Andhra Pradesh (35.2), Haryana (27.3), Gujarat (27.6) Punjab (25.4), Mizoram (22.5) and Karnataka (20).