Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eliminating Child Labour

The Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiya Foundation (MVF) was established 1981, in memory of educationist and historian Prof. Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiya. Beginning as a research institution on social transformation issues, it is now building capacities in rural and urban areas for abolition of child labour by universalizing school education.

The website ( lists following as achievements:
  • 6,00,000 child labour mobilised out of work and into fulltime, formal, government day schools.
  • 50,000 child labourers have been put through Bridge Course Camps and 30,000 Education Activists mobilized to liberate children.
  • 80,000 youth volunteers and members of CRPF protect child rights.
  • 25,000 adolescent girls in schools and 8000 child marriages stopped.
  • 1500 Gram Panchayats are child labour free.
  • 1500 Gram Panchayats review child rights through the health and
  • education subcommittees.
  • 50,000 children mainstreamed to formal schools through RBCs.
  • 25,000 bonded labour released and sent to schools.
Their Charter : The Non - Negotiables:
  • All Children must attend full-time formal-day schools.
  • Any child out of school is a child labourer.
  • All labour is hazardous,and harms the overall growth and development of the child.
  • There must be total abolition of child labour.
  • Any justification perpetuating the existence of child labour must be condemned.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Don't BE Suprised & KNOW Jihad's True Face

Arun Shourie writes how India's officials & ministers not only knew about India's SPECIFIC security holes BUT WENT ABOUT REGULARLY LECTURING ON THOSE ISSUES. For example:

By now it was time for Shivraj Patil to address yet another meeting of the DGs and IGs of Police. Thus on November 22, 2008, that is literally on the eve of the attacks in Mumbai, he told the police chiefs, "To control terrorism in the hinterland, we have to see that infiltration of terrorists from other countries does not take place through the sea routes and through the borders between India and friendly countries.The coastlines also have to be guarded through Navy, Coast Guard and coastal police. The states' special branches and the CID should identify the persons forming part of the sleeper cells and lodging in cities and towns and studying in educational institutions and working in industries and professions..."

And four days later, the terrorists, using the exact same sea route, do the exact same thing that these worthies have been warning others about. Are they consultants to Government or ones running the government? Is their job to issue warnings to others or to see that the warnings are acted upon? Warning given, the job is done. But that is the fate of warnings in this system. After all, that very sea route was used to smuggle explosives for the blasts across Bombay in 1993. Were those blasts not warning enough?

Seven years later —in 2000 — the warning and lesson were made explicit yet again. Four task forces were set up in the wake of the Kargil war. The one on border management warned, "The long coastline with its inadequate policing makes it easy to land arms and explosives at isolated spots on the coast." It recalled that this is exactly how explosives were smuggled into Maharashtra in 1993. "The situation, if anything, has worsened over the years with the activities of the ISI becoming more widespread along the coast particularly by extension into the coast of Kerala... Such coastal areas must be particularly kept under surveillance."


Where do you think, and by whom do you think are the teachers instructed to ensure that students from class 1 onwards "recognise the importance of jihad"; to ensure that they "must be aware of the blessings of jihad"; to ensure that they "create yearning for jihad in his heart"; to ensure that they develop "love and aspiration for jihad, tabligh, shahadat, sacrifice, ghazi, shaheed"? Where do you think, and by whom are teachers instructed to ensure that students from kindergarten onwards learn to "make speeches on jihad and shahadat", and are "judged on their spirit while making speeches on jihad"? Do you think these are instructions issued by the Islamic fundamentalists to maulvis in madrasas? They are instructions given by the government of Pakistan through official circulars to principals and teachers in government schools of Pakistan.

You didn't know that? Exactly. That is a large part of the problem. You will find reams of these and other facts in the 2002 report edited by Pakistani academics, A.H. Nayyar and Ahmed Salim, and published by the Sustainable Development Institute, Islamabad, 'The Subtle Subversion: The state of curricula and textbooks in Pakistan, Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics'. Get on to the Internet, download and read the report Here is a part of the problem that you can solve by yourself. 

Further he says:

But for any of this to happen, the society has to be clear in its mind. This is, it has for 20 years been, war. It can be won only by overwhelming the adversary — not by running after the terrorist, as K.P.S. Gill says, but by out-running him, indeed by over-running him. Not an eye for an eye. For an eye, both eyes. Not a tooth for a tooth. For a tooth, the whole jaw. Human rights? Yes, we will respect the human rights of the terrorists and their sponsors and their local supporters to the extent that they respect the human rights of our people. 


Consider first an op-ed article in Sunday's Los Angeles Times by Martha Nussbaum, a well-known professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. The article was headlined "Terrorism in India has many faces." But one face that Nussbaum fails to mention specifically is that of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic terror group originating in Pakistan that seems to have been centrally involved in the attack on Mumbai.

This is because Nussbaum's main concern is not explaining or curbing Islamic terror. Rather, she writes that "if, as now seems likely, last week's terrible events in Mumbai were the work of Islamic terrorists, that's more bad news for India's minority Muslim population." She deplores past acts of Hindu terror against India's Muslims. She worries about Muslim youths being rounded up on suspicion of terrorism with little or no evidence. And she notes that this is "an analogue to the current ugly phenomenon of racial profiling in the United States."

So jihadists kill innocents in Mumbai — and Nussbaum ends up decrying racial profiling here. Is it just that liberal academics are required to include some alleged ugly American phenomenon in everything they write?
But if terror groups are to be defeated, it is national governments that will have to do so. In nations like India (and the United States), governments will have to call on the patriotism of citizens to fight the terrorists. In a nation like Pakistan, the government will have to be persuaded to deal with those in their midst who are complicit. This can happen if those nations' citizens decide they don't want their own country to be dishonored by allegiances with terror groups.Otherwise, other nations may have to act.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Right To Information Hero

Shailesh Gandhi ran his plastic manufacturing company successfully for 23 years, and then sold it off to spend rest of his life in "giving back to society".

He seems to have found his 'calling' in championing the cause of Right to Information Act in India. He has been hounding the government by filing more than 800 RTI applications and creating awareness about the power of RTI as an empowering tool in the hands of an individual citizen.

Some of his thoughts:
The United Nations' Human Rights 1948 Declaration was a landmark because it mentioned freedom of expression in the same breath as right to information; one cannot properly function without the other for when you don't know the real facts then how can you express freely?


When the individual is empowered, he can shake things up, because he doesn't need to compromise his stand just to let his views be heard, which would happen if he were to go through an organization. Every citizen wants to challenge the government, but it is too time and energy-consuming to do so. The RTI makes things simpler.

The government has responded by appointing him as the Central Information Commissioner. He has the accepted the challenge with a caveat:

My philosophy and ideals will not undergo any change. Infact , if the system try to co-opt me, I may call it quits as I am only responsible to the people of this country.

However, his commitment level is very high - he has set a target of disposing 350 -400 appeals every month from the current average of 15-200 appeals per month.

Currently, the number of appeals at State Information Commission are over 16,000, and the appeals at CIC are over 8,000.

This IIT Alumnus will take only a token of Rupees 1 as he "has earned enough to lead a simple life.''

You may download a "RTI Primer for Beginners" here.

The RTI Application format is here.

Now, how many RTI applications will you file?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nepal asked to free 3000 children

Nepal: UN official calls for release of children in Maoist cantonments:

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has asked Nepal’s authorities and the country’s Maoist forces to "immediately free nearly 3,000 children who have still not been formally released from the Maoist cantonments".

Are you listening, Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prime Minister)?

Pushpa means flower! Drop your adopted name of
Prachanda, which translates as 'The Fierce One'.

Free the children...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dreaming of Enlightened Governance!

ENTER, THE ENLIGHTENED NETA: Sunanda Mehta writes about R.V. Krishnan, who researched on “possible solutions” on how the country needs to be “set on the right track” and compiled them into a book - ‘Manifesto in Search of a Party’.

First, he waited "naively" for two years - "hoping something would happen of his book, someone would sit up and decide to do something about the solutions he had proposed for the country."

When nothing happened- he called 15 of his friends (on September 7, 2007) and had a "heated discussion" on the idea of a political party.

Thus, the Professionals Party of India was born in Pune. Their vision:

"Improve the Quality of Life of every Indian"

Last fortnight, PPI got an official acknowledgement from the Election Commission of India for its registration it as a political party.

Their Social Manifesto says:
Clean up and beautify the environment.Improve living conditions. Create a social environment where people live a happy, prosperous and peaceful life. Strife of any type shall become insignificant. Indians will be proud to be INDIAN.
How do they plan to win elections?

Their proposition:

India has an electorate of 671 million. A little over half of them voted in the last general elections. India is believed to have a “middle class” of about 250 million. But the percentage of those who actually vote or are able to vote, is abysmal. Roughly half of India was born after 1983.
You will find that if professional Indians stood and got elected to the Indian Parliament, they will bring new, enlightened governance to quickly improve our quality of life and win back our rightful place in the 21st century world, and the middle class has the requisite numbers to make this happen.
And even if that percentage of the middle class votes which is the national average, PPI can win elections.

Ready to vote?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Creative Capitalism to target the poorest!

Bill Gates is evangelizing Creative Capitalism: "an attempt to stretch the reach of market forces so that more companies can benefit from doing work that makes more people better off. "

He reminds us that while "Capitalism has improved the lives of billions of people, has left out billions more..................One billion people live on less than a dollar a day. They don't have enough nutritious food, clean water or electricity. The amazing innovations that have made many lives so much better — like vaccines and microchips — have largely passed them by. "

He asserts "it is mainly corporations that have the skills to make technological innovations work for the poor" and thus we should find new ways to bring far more people into the capitalist system.

The fundamental question posed is:

How can we most effectively
spread the benefits of capitalism
and the huge improvements in quality of life it can provide
to people who have been left out?

His argument: "....improvements will happen faster and last longer if we can channel market forces, including innovation that's tailored to the needs of the poorest, to complement what governments and nonprofits do. We need a system that draws in innovators and businesses in a far better way than we do today."

His mission:

More than 30 years ago, Paul Allen and I started Microsoft because we wanted to be part of a movement to put a computer on every desk and in every home. Ten years ago, Melinda and I started our foundation because we want to be part of a different movement — this time, to help create a world where no one has to live on a dollar a day or die from a disease we know how to prevent. Creative capitalism can help make it happen. I hope more people will join the cause.
How do Socialists react to this?

Phil Hearse calls it "idle dreams":
But the main drawback in Gates’ proposal is that it is a schema, an idea though up in a Seattle ivory tower, that has precious little purchase on the real world. That’s why it’s so abstract, for example in its insistence that it’s ‘governments’ and ‘non-profits’ that have to solve the main problems of food, water and poverty. But which governments? Using which methods? Financed how? Paying for infrastructural development with which funds?
Bill talks about C.K. Prahalad, who says, in his book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, there are markets all over the world that businesses have missed. A reference is made to one study that found that the poorest two-thirds of the world's population has some $5 trillion in purchasing power.

This is "ammunition" for Phil Hearse:

....the poorest two thirds of humanity wield $5 trillion worth of spending power, so the transnational corporations need to make new markets to exploit/benefit this sector. Well, that’s more than 4.2 billion people. If we do the sums, it’s easy. It’s saying the average annual spend of the poorest two thirds of humanity is $1,190 a year, a pathetic amount that comes to $3.2 a day. Within that there are probably millions who have $10 or $12 a day, many with $4-6 and a billion who have $1 – or less. The target group of ‘creative capitalism’ is never going to be that poorest billion who have virtually nothing at all.
Phil's recommendations?
The billions of the poor and the oppressed need something more practical than creative capitalism to change the structures of their exploitation. Like overthrowing the social relations of capitalist oppression at a local, national and international level.
The debate on Social Freedom goes on.....Which side are you on?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Corruption as a way of life:-(

The famous urban legend: A 'worldwide survey was conducted by the UN'. The only question asked was:

Would you please give your
honest opinion about
solutions to the
food shortage
in the rest of the world?'

The survey was a huge failure,

  • In Africa they didn't know what 'food' meant,
  • In India they didn't know what 'honest' meant,
  • In Europe they didn't know what 'shortage' meant,
  • In China they didn't know what 'opinion' meant,
  • In the Middle East they didn't know what 'solution' meant,
  • In South America they didn't know what 'please' meant,
  • And In the USA they didn't know what 'the rest of the world' meant!!
India demonstrated this legend about an hour back!

Three Members of Parliament (from Bhartiya Janata Party) have alledged that about Rupees 3 crore each (India TV says 27 crores) has been offered to them to abstain from Nuclear Deal Voting!

Inside the Lok Sabha, one hour ago, these MPs, reached the Speaker's Table and deposited the 'advance money' of 3 crores under his table. Then they opened up the bags and one by one started showing 1000 rupee bundles, live on TV! It is claimed that a Television channel has recorded the bribe giving ceremony - the recording was submitted to the speaker on a CD.

This has to be ONE OF A KIND event in the history of the world! Certainly, first time in India's Parliament!

US has a 'fantastic' lobby system - their laws permit paying money to political parties to 'influence' policies. Time to introduce that in India?