Monday, April 21, 2008

Politics stand with collective, which can make a difference

Getting grass root issue within the construe of political discourse is a big challenge. Though simple issues like primary education of children, high infant mortality, increasing crime against dalits women, malnutrition, no roads in SC/ST villages etc. Though these issues impact people, and it is not that political leaders are not aware of them. They are, especially the local ones, but it hardly affects them. Why as it does not impact them, their image and above all their voting constituency. And if the issues impact weaker sections, children, women, it will never make it to political discourse until and unless someone pushes it. System systematically or authoritatively makes sure that they cannot raise their voice and in case it happens, the system will try to curb that voice. Issues like these are not raised in the place they should be – i.e. state assemblies or parliament. But why? Political discourse is polemical. It speaks for collective a ‘polis’. So if the issue impacts that collective it still does not become part of that discourse. Reason is that it does not threaten the existence and values of that collective and does not impact existence its political leaders. Yes the day that threatens them, it will become part of the discourse. It is but natural that collective that votes for them and brings them to power gets so much affected and impacted that it impacts their voting pattern, - which is life line to their existence – the issue will become political. They will find way to make it political but that too for their advantage? It is clear that it is that collective of people which makes votes can make a difference. The need is to bring some together and catalyze that ‘collective’ on the issue which impacts them. But how, that is not easy – this collective has lot of aspects like distribution of power; interests of people involved, formal and informal rules that govern the interaction among different players in the process. It needs recognition of the power of collective, empowerment, and collective to understand the problem, may be solution and how they together can raise concern to seek solution of the problem which is workable and suitable.

SC/ST atrocities highest in MP

5,711 cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 have been registered in Madhya Pradesh in the year 2006, while in Rajasthan the number was 4,877, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday. Madhya Pradesh has registered largest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes closely followed by Rajasthan.

In Uttar Pradesh, 4,838 cases were registered, 4,579 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,918 in Karnataka, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. Northeastern states of Meghalaya and Mizoram registered zero cases of atrocities against SC/STs and similar was the case with Lakshwadeep and Puducherry, she said.

Jano Re Abhiyan resents RTI amendments in MP

'Jano Re Abhiyan' is a civil society movement being supported by various NGOs pushing to create awareness on Right to information in the state of MP. Recently in Madhya Pradesh some changes have been made in Right to Information act. In which the provisions for BPL have been altered .The state government has made changes in fees and appeal rules. The amendment states that photocopies of document upto only 50 pages would be provided to the BPL applicant if the information seek by them were not directly related to them .It will now be very difficult for an uneducated and illiterate rural person to argue with a government official for proving the legitimacy and relevance of the information being seeked by him.

Janu re abhiyan is resenting the same. They say that that the amendment will now provide an excuse to the government on the pretext of above changes. The genuine rights of the poor and marginalized of the country will be denied.

Keep up the pressure !

If social organizations want they can make the issue of people to bring it to attention of eyes and ears of people in power. No doubt it is tough and requires a sustained effort, but it is possible.

Recently survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy who had been continuously pushing the impact of the suffering of the people impacted by Bhopal Gas Tragedy went on a 38 days of padyatra from Bhopal to New Delhi and then had to sit on 20 day "dharna" at Jantar Mantar to rake up conscious of the GOI over their pathetic plight of children who are suffering from by ground-water contamination in Bhopal as impact of Bhopal gas Tragedy. This campaign was organized by three NGOs namely Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action working for the survivors of Bhopal disaster.

Finally they were able to meet the Group of Ministers in GOI who had assured them that it would endorse and forward their demand for a special commission to address rehabilitation, and for legal action against Dow and Union Carbide, to the Prime Minister. In the meeting while emphasising that it had never conceded the Madhya Pradesh government's request for inclusion of 20 additional municipal wards in Bhopal as gas-affected, the GoM members clarified that it had requested the State government to submit data on gas-related deaths and injuries in the 20 wards. But no such data had been submitted till date. Chemical and Fertilizers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan who met the delegation, assured that the government would continue its efforts to make the Dow Chemical pay Rs. 100 crore as advance for environmental remediation. Hopefully it will bring some results, but one would need to keep the pressure till the time people get justice.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indore traffic chaos solution - PIL

After hearing Public Interest Litigation rightly done by a citizen about the rise in encroachments and roaming animals which cause immense traffic problems in Indore. Indore is the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh High Court has issued notices to the Mayor and other top police and administrative officials for alleged mismanagement of the city, with increasing encroachments and animal menace causing problems for the locals. Indore has a major problem over parking of vehicles on wrong sites, issues of encroachments and it his high time that district administration tale some steps.

Hopefully some steps on issues of parking arrangements, but am not sure if major issue of encroachment will see any action (Pressure from the big – wigs f the city !) or may be more PIL’s will be needed to make sure that traffic of Indore can breathe easily.

Public health infrastructure in MP needs an urgent attention

The State of Madhya Pradesh has the highest rates of malnutrition among the children in India. As per the latest National Family Health Survey 60 % of its children in age group of 0 – 3 years are under nourished. Madhya Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate and 3rd highest maternal mortality ratio in the country. 76 out of every 1000 children born in the state die before their first birthday and approximately 24 women die everyday in the state. Though the state has introduced many schemes to help combat the same, but is not yielding the desired results for children and women. As per state's health department web site Madhya Pradesh for its population of 60.38 million (as per 2001 census) has the following health infrastructure:

- District hospitals 48
- Civil hospitals 54
- Community health centers 270
- Primary health centers 1149
- Sub health centers 8834
- Sanctioned beds in district hospitals 8945
- Sanctioned beds in civil hospitals 2775
- Total licensed blood banks by state 41

Activists have been strongly advocating to call attention on the issues of maternal and infant survival in the state. An analysis taken by civil society organizations on rural health infrastructure versus the population in the state reveals that there is just 'one bed per 5.6 villages' in the state which indeed is alarming!. It is not only the issue of beds or buildings. Even where there are structures or health centers they lack basic minimum facilities as needed and defined by rules and are not sufficient enough to save lives or provide for better health care to its people.

As per Reproductive and Child Health District level household survey (2004) data, out of the 386 primary health centre's surveyed in the state only 224 had drinking water facility. This means that only 58.3 percent primary health centre's had drinking water while others have no such facility. Similarly in case of community health centre's out of the 46 surveyed only 10 had facility of drinking water. In case of vehicles like ambulances out of the 386 primary health centers surveyed only 35 had vehicles which were in running condition and out of 46 community health centre's surveyed 31 had vehicles in the running condition.

Infrastructure investment does not only mean building equipments etc. It does includes human resource, which is the core in health, and needs to be focused upon. State needs to fulfill vacancies of doctors, para-medics, and nurses but also provide them with facilities to support them to provide care for the people. The State needs to peg health of its people as priority number one, transform on immediate basis which is not only limited to public proclamations and announcing schemes but also delivering results at ground level.

The dangerous roads ?

Driving on Indian roads is not an easy call. Every day, many lives are lost on roads all over India. The number of people, who die on road accidents, has been increasing every year. However, this can be prevented by adopting some safety measures

The World Road Statistics, 2006, which provided the data for the year 2003 in respect of India, indicated that the number of persons killed per lakh of population in India was 8.08. As per the preliminary tentative data shared by KH Muniyappa, minister of state for shipping, road transport and highways, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, as per the press note released by Press Information Bureau on December 6, 2007, which covers the majority of States and Union Territories, the number of deaths due to road accident is estimated at more than a lakh (1,01,439) during the year 2006, as compared to the figure of 94,968 deaths for the year 2005. This clearly indicates that Indian roads are perilous.

Looking at the data for year 2005, the capital city of India, Delhi, had reported 1,717 deaths on its roads in year 2005, which was highest in India. Among other cities, which reported the highest number of deaths on roads was Chennai, the second highest behind Delhi with 1,055 deaths, followed by 835 in Bangalore, 787 in Mumbai, 598 in Kanpur, 577 in Hyderabad, 495 in Jaipur and 484 in Kolkata. It may be pertinent to note here that two third of people, who died on road in the year 2005, were in the 15-44 age bracket, meaning we are loosing lives at young age. And it is not that only heavy vehicles, which are responsible for this, data revealed that smaller vehicles, like cars and two wheelers contribute virtually as much as heavier vehicles like trucks.

But it is not that we cannot respond to this and let people die on its road. China has been able to bring down its road death tally. In the year 2005, 98,738 people died on road accidents in China, which came down to 89,455 in year 2006. China has reported a drop of 10.8 per cent in road accidents for last four consecutive years staring from 2003, despite registering a growth in the number of privately owned cars. This means it is possible, maybe something we can learn from them.

This issue raises concern on how lives get wasted in India, which can be prevented. It is matter of roads, road safety; emergency services available post accidents on roads, safety standards, condition of vehicles on road, drivers behind wheels, visibility on the road etc, meaning we need a sustained and multi pronged approach to address this. But the bigger question is that who will do it? Governments of India, passes on the buck to state that this issue fall under state domain, while the state says that it has limited resources and cannot do beyond. Whosever domain it may fall, fact is that India needs to prevent this to happen and guarantee its citizens certain amount of life security on the road and there needs to be accountability for the same.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bhopal bloggers meet..

'Bhopal bloggers' - this is name to a group of bloggers who blog from city of Bhopal. They met for the first time last Wednesday at Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism, Bhopal.It was chance to share, show one's blog, meet and learn from each other's experience. Even the introduction was different, instead of name and organisation etc.. it was by one's name, name of blog and may be blog's short history.

Not many blog in and from Bhopal, but interest is increasing, so is the numbers and new ones to join in include are students of journalism who are getting on it and joining in the league. Bloggers who participated and shared their experiences were -

Shaishanu Mukherjee, he who blogs at and has a lot of information on and about Bhopal, its history and what is happening in and around Bhopal.

CNN IBN's Hemendra Sharma blogs on IBN live blogging platform and his blog is called 'IN CONVERSATION' which has many of his personal experiences during his professional career. His blog is on an open platform where many had commented including critiqued on his posts.

Shela Masood shared her experience on her blog and how many whom she did not knew ever had got in touch due to this blog.

Manisha Pandey who blogs in Hindi on and shares her thoughts, ideas and feeling on women whom she says are left out 50 % percent population on her blog.

Their are many theme blogs from Bhopal like one on agricuklture blogged by Shiv Narayan, who feels that this will serve as a resource base in hindi on issues linked to agriculture which are real important in this part of India.

Other theme blogs include on maternal mortality and

Raju who writes his poetic feelings on www.suratehal.blogspot.comshared on he started it like 'something' as a past time and now it brings you back. He adds that it indeed is becoming an important web platform to share.

Department of journalism, Makhanlal University of Journalism now has its own blog which not only helps us to share information on what is happening on the campus but also helps students to network with our alumni,' adds P.P. Singh, Head of Department of Journalism.

Vedvat Giri of shared about his citizen journalism site and how his site can be important platform to blog. He did offer to all 'Bhopal bloggers' - though some of them are already a part, to be citzien journalist of mynews and they could share their blog stories with the site.

Students of journalism like Siddarth Bhardawaj who blogs on and many other like Shiv who blogs on were present and shared their experiences.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Solar Cooking ki Duniya !

Barli Development Institute for Rural Women, is an non governmental organisation at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. It is helping empower young rural and tribal women to become agents of social change. The institute was started and is managed by the ‘J duo’s’ – Janak and Jimmy McGilligan, both of them, committed Bahai’s.

At the institute everything is cooked on solar cooking systems. Their kitchen, water heating system all is powered by solar energy. Be it a tea,lunch,dinner, or heating of water all is done by harnessing solar energy. It is simply great to see such an extensive and productive use of solar energy.

It was probbaly 1988 when they got the first soolar cooker installed there and since then they not only use solar energy for themselves but serve as laboratory for use of solar energy and propogate the same. Institute also manufactures and establishes solar kitchens for other NGOs. ‘They have to feel the need of the same and have ownership of the same then only it works’ Jimmy adds emphatically. They have established four solar cookers in Dhar and Jhabua .

I have heard a lot on use of solar energy but when one visits the Institute one feels and see the same in practice how it happens and how it can deliver and help conserve energy…..

contributed by anil

Ambulance at doctors residence !

This is the photograph of Ambulances parked at residence of Block Medical Officer of the block hospital in Obdullahganj, Hoshangabad. Though it is in premises of the hospital but still is not allowed. Hope the keys are with hospital staff ?. Need of ambulance can happen at any time and can be crucial in saving one' should be in the hospital and always available on call.......

Children seek protection of rights of Tibetan children

Hundreds of children from India and Tibet joined hands to demand protection for the rights of children in Tibet. Children from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh marched on to the streets of Delhi carrying the plank cards with the specific demands- "Peace for Children and Children for peace", "Ensure free and quality education for all children in Tibet", "Restore rights freedom dignity and education of Tibetan children". Later on they participated in dharna and peace march at Gandhi Smadhi Rajghat and raised their concern on safety of rights of Tibetan children. The demonstration was organised under the banner of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) with the support of other like minded organisations.