Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memories beckon...

Yesterday night sleep was evading me as I had a nice afternoon siesta being on leave from office! My thoughts then slipped to my childhood and my house and life in Patna. I could not recall any exciting moment except for a trip to New Delhi during summer vacations with mom to my maternal grandparent’s place. Then my thoughts shifted to my son who is such a bholu raam that I feel worried for him all the time. But then he has inherited this from me! During such moments of brooding I analyse the weak points within me and they are being too submissive and always wanting to please others. The darkness of the night helped me go deeper in to these weaknesses and where from they emerged.

It took me back to my house and to a particular day when I was in Std. VIII and my sis a class higher. My mom was expecting (my brother was to be born) and she was on complete bed rest. We sisters were managing our day to day activities without mom’s help. As usual I went to my parent’s to get ready for school and there was dad sitting fuming in anger. He gave me a long speech which I don’t remember much as I was too shocked and confused to understand why I was being scolded right in the morning. All I can gather today is that it was about an empty jug of water which had caused “much inconvenience” to my dad as he had to go thirsty all night. I guess he didn’t know we had a refrigerator in the house stacked with water bottles! The drama didn’t end here. As my mom was on bed rest and ours was a joint family my grandmother and chachi (aunt) were slogging out in the kitchen cooking breakfast. I asked dadi for my lunch box and was answered with scolding for first taking my mom’s breakfast to her room. I then felt like crying but controlled myself, did what she said, came back to the kitchen, collected my lunch box and left for school with my sis. I don’t remember if both of us had breakfast that morning.

In school I was greeted by my friends, we laughed, we played, my essay was read out loud to everyone in the class as it was flawlessly written. I was a happy girl when I was going back home. When we reached home my dad was there and he hugged me and said sorry for scolding me. But sorry dad what is ingrained in my mind even today is the scolding for no reason. I reacted to such incidents in my childhood by accepting my situation and being submissive all the time. i knew that I am not an important part of my family and hence always wanted to please everyone. This habit stays on even today and I don’t fight for whatever wrong happens to me. It is so much ingrained that I am finding it very difficult to cope with it. Its just that my school has been replaced by my office where I am appreciated and it gives me the confidence to keep moving in life.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A woman's world

The morning started with the usual household chores and suddenly something went wrong. My husband screamed at me for no reason and as always I didn't do anything- just did my chores and left for office.
As I entered the office gate I saw a girl standing at the reception. One of my colleagues was on the phone and demanding to talk to a certain man. The man didn't take the call. I asked what happened? My colleague N said that this girl is HIV+ve and is an outreach worker from one of our projects. Her husband has been abusing her physically and mentally since they got married. He was HIV+ve at the time of marriage and this was revealed to her only when she became positive herself!
The husband instead of being apologetic started abusing her. he sits at home while she earns a living by working as out reach worker with us. he victimizes her again and again for no fault of hers and she said, "I continued to bear this because my husband has been stigmatized by his own family. I felt he needs love and care and my love will change him " But things went on to become from bad to worse. He started beating her up on false pretext like "Who were talking to in the train when you were going for work?" The reality was she that while travelling to a nearby block via train for outreach work someone asked her the time and one of this man's friend saw her and went and told her husband that she was chatting away with a man in the train. He then beat her up badly.
The day she came to our office her husband had crossed all limits and had abused her father. her family was in shock as they had no idea how things had been for their daughter and that they were HIV +ve. At the moment she is sitting in our office and has been asked by us to take a firm decision to leave this man after talking to her family. Once she is firm her case will be forwarded to the Women's Commission.
Yesterday a friend informed me about a girl whose uncle had thrown her out of the house and she had been sitting in a courier office since morning. We went, fed her talked to her and left her in a home for such girls.
Such things make me very sad but my soul asks me what can you do for the cause of these girls when you are not empowered yourself?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Any hope of getting Right to Education ensured in Jharkhand?

child rescued from worksite..which was better- the workplace or this school?

It is common knowledge that the Right to Education Act has been enforced in the state and that it aims at universalisation of education for all 6-14 year olds in the state. However where to wy stand today in its implementation?
With either the student or the teacher being absent, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) schools are not functioning regularly. At many places the teachers are seen defending the children who have not come to school or have dropped out. However it is the responsibility of the teacher to be in control and to ensure that each child enrolled is coming to school and is benefitting.
The para teachers went on strike for more than a month. While the Human Resources Department maintained that stop gap arrangements were made to prevent the running of schools from being hampered the ground reality was that the education system had completely fallen apart during the strike period with classes not being held at all.
The SSA in its bid to take every child to school has made dual enrolments at several places and there is also no mechanism to keep a track of the child who drops out. As several media reports have highlighted in the past, the quality of the schools is poor and the system is suffering from serious shortage of teachers. Around 2000 more teachers are needed in Latehar district itself.
5138 schools in the state are functioning with single teachers and 57.8 percent schools do not maintain the standard student teacher ratio. There are also such schools where the number of children enrolled is very less and the corresponding number of teachers is high.
Having subject wise teachers is a distant dream. There is shortage of classrooms, toilets are mostly absent and many are present but non-functional and drinking water is not available in 25 schools. Ramps constructed for the handicapped in the schools are poorly constructed and have gradient issues. Library, play equipments and playgrounds are facilities which cannot be thought of in these schools.
Jharkhand being a naxal infested state has not issued any directives till date for the safety of the teachers recruited in the extremism prone areas. The result is that teachers refrain from holding classes as there have been cases in the past where the school building was destroyed by the extremists.
The state has a “force” of 28,000 untrained teachers i.e. the para teachers who are paid a pittance as compared to the regular SSA teachers.
More than 8,800 teachers for child with special needs are required and the state has about 250 such teachers on its payroll. These teachers are also not able to perform efficiently in the absence of trainings.  An example from the field can explain the status wherein a teacher for the special quoted a deaf and dumb child as “mentally retarded”.
The state does not have its own curriculum and hence no text books of its own. This issue has been pending for a decade! The SCERT is non-functional and the Director, Higher Education has been given the additional charge of Director, SCERT last week this year. The text books reached the children only after four to six months in 2012.
The SSA used to impart Bridge Courses to children who have never been to school or had dropped out so that they could come up to their age level and be enrolled in to age appropriate classes. These Bridge Courses were being run through NGOs and with complete withdrawal of this curriculum, civil society involvement in to SSA activities is completely nil today. The role of the civil society could have been vital in tracking migrant children, mobilizing of SMCs, motivating the mothers in playing an active role in the SMC, tracking bonded labour, child labour and related issues.
The “Abhyas Prayas” bridge course material developed by UNICEF and CINI for SSA is out of use and redundant today. However it has been circulated to all 30 NCLP special schools meant for child labourers at Ranchi and the educators are imparting non-formal bridge course education through these materials.
The school management committees are functional only on paper and in the current scenario the SMC is equivalent to the school head master. Community involvement, awareness of roles and capacity building of these committees are a big question mark today. They have no clue on grievance redressal mechanisms and are totally incompetent in managing ground level issues. The school development plans submitted by these SMCs are largely compiled by the school head master on his own.
The government has no mechanisms to monitor private schools. No circular has gone from the government to these schools clarifying on how the 25 percent reservation money will be sent to the schools. Owing to this, the private are schools are refraining from enrolling the under privileged and minority children.
There is a child helpline of which there is no awareness. The DIET is largely non-functional.
It is unfortunate that there has been no director SSA since April, 2012 in the state and the principal secretary is in dual charge. The director’s position is crucial and has a huge mandate which cannot be justified through such an arrangement. Even the District Superintendent of Education (DSE) are being transferred frequently. Relevant directives are either not being issued or not followed up when issued.
There are no grievance redressal mechanisms for RTE in the state and no officials have been notified for the same. Another issue of concern is the non-functional State Commission for Protection of Child Rights which was recently constituted. The commission is at a nascent stage and is grappling with issues of its own infrastructure and other logistics.
This kind of sums up the gravity of the situation which needs immediate time bound planning and monitoring. But with the current government’s fate hanging mid way it is impossible to predict the way ahead at the moment.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We can make a difference....

Since motherhood dawned on me, suddenly I found myself intolerant towards all forms of exploitation against little children. However the sad part is that like each one of us, I too have done little to make the world a better place. While we human beings are steadily moving towards complete degradation of moral character (yes now I believe Kalyug is here!), small instances of efforts being made on the positive side gives me a sigh of relief. I always wonder of the kind of circumstances my little one will have to live through when he is my age and whether the majority of the world will be populated by animals (of course with a human face) who beat their own 3 months old daughter to death, abuse little children and so on....
Global warming is one aspect of environmental degradation, pesticides in our food is another but the biggest killer in the coming times is the changing face of us human beings who have no respect or thought for anyone else in the world but for him/herself. 
Children posing with the CM, Jharkhand at his residence

A few days back an ex-colleague called me to inform about a less than 10 year old child being exploited by couple living in the heart of Ranchi city. Similar to the Dwarka case this little child was made to do all household chores, deprived of education and the best part was locked alone in the house for days and that too on the roof! Rescue team from Labour Department went to raid the premises and found that the "smart employers" had already sent off the child to his house and feigned ignorance over the allegations against them. According to them they were doing "charity" by keeping the child with them, giving him food and "educating him". God save all the children of the world from such charitable people!
On a positive note, we as mentors of some selected numbers of children rescued from their workplaces, joined hands with UNICEF and launched a campaign against child labour on the eve of National Anti- Child Labour Day (April 30, 2012). We visited houses of the Chief Minister, the state secretariat, and other high level dignitaries' houses and our caravan paved almost all the streets of Ranchi. While we mustered support and applaud from all corners the best thing about this campaign were the 20 children from National Child Labour Project special school of Hindpiri, Ranchi. About a year back these children (9-14 years) were put in to this non-formal education centre by motivating their parents to educate them. Many of them had never seen a school before. Today they read, write, say poems, SHOUT SLOGANS :) and freely talk to the CM and high level government officials. An instance- A peon at the state secretariat asked one of the campaigning children what was going on and why they had come there. One of the children replied, "You are so grown up and how come you dont know today is National Anti Child Labour day!!".
So still there is a ray of hope with these little efforts that we can make on our behalf and to "heal the world, to make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race........" as sung by MJ....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jab we met!!

We met, we chatted, had a great time together and then we parted…..this time for good or should I say now it depends on each of us whether we want to keep in touch! It was an emotional moment on 23rd march, 2012 where farewell gifts were given away and everyone vented their hearts out on how much they had enjoyed their tenure with CINI and gained from working with different government departments, agencies and especially the Sahiyyas, women, children and adolescents. The very fact that ex-colleagues like me were given an opportunity to be a part of the get together and wish everyone good luck shows how much we all bond together as a team though now working or going to work in different places and organizations.

Last but not the least one man deserves all the credit for bringing CINI Jharkhand to the fore as a premier technical assistance agency in the state and to get people on board who had the vision and technical expertise to spearhead some important developments in the state’s health, nutrition and education sector. The man of course is the Coordinator of CINI Jharkhand, our mentor Dr Suranjeen who shall always be loved and respected by all of us and his advice shall continued to be sought be it matters on handling a project, career advice, medical treatment or discussion on any technical issue under the sun!

Thanks for being there Dr Suranjeen and not to forget the leadership and support provided by Ranjan, Tapan da, Nawal, Sapna, Anup and the list is unending J

New projects will soon bring a new set of people in to CINI Jharkhand and we all shall continue to cooperate with them.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

22 Government Departments of Jharkhand sensitized on the issue of child labour

The Department of Labour, Employment and Training, Government of Jharkhand organized a sensitization workshop on the issue of child labour under the International Labour Organization supported initiative “Converging Against Child Labour: Support for India’s Model” at Hotel Capitol Hill, Ranchi. This training program aimed at familiarizing all concerned departments on the issue of child labour and to discuss with them the legal provisions, schemes as well as roles that different departments can play in tackling the issue. The ultimate objective was to create a pool of trainers in the issue who can further sensitize their respective departments on the issue and on the strategies that can be adopted to help move towards elimination of the issue. “Education of every child is very important and the Right to Education has to be actualized. Awareness on the issue has to be created at the grass root level, for instance, at the Panchayat level”, said Sri Vishnu Kumar, I.A.S., Principal Secretary, Department of Labour, Employment & Training, Jharkhand inaugurating the two days training programme.

“Child Labour is not only an issue of Labour Department and all our stakeholders have to converge to tackle the issue. The Convergence Model initiative supported by ILO has brought in a model which is being piloted in two districts viz. Ranchi and Sahebganj and is already showing positive results in abating the issue of child labour,” add Smt. Aradhana Patnaik, I.A.S., Labour Commissioner, Jharkhand. Secretary, Child Labour Commission cum Nodal Officer, Convergence Model Project Dr Shyam Sunder Pathak coordinated the event along with State Resource Cell, ILO Convergence Model Project staff.

The departments who attended the training were Department of Labour, Employment & Training, Department of Human Resource Development, District Administration, District Social Welfare Women and Child Development, Welfare Department, Information & Public Relations Department, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Department of Rural Development, Department of Urban Development, Panchayati Raj, Department of Finance, Environment & Forest; Law, Officers from Department of Personnel Administrative Reforms and Rajbhasha, Food, Public Distribution & Consumer Affairs, Child Welfare Officers of Special Juvenile Police Units, Agriculture & Sugarcane Development, Industries, Animal Husbandry & Fisheries, Food, Public Distribution & Consumer Affairs among others.

The Resource Persons were from Department of Labour, Employment & Training, UNICEF and Department of Social Welfare, Women & Child Development. Besides this, I.G. C.I.D. Police, Sri Anurag Gupta sensitized the participants on the issues of human in Jharkhand and various penal provisions for the issue. The training programme was entirely participatory and well taken by all participants.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We Rock!!

Now I have to be prompt and write as frequently as I can :)

Today was hectic day, morning chores, getting my son ready and on time to school, going to the bank, reminding my mom n dad to pick ansh from school, visiting government departments to ensure participation to a training programme we are organising this week, attending a meeting for my media fellowship, going to the state secretariat to meet the labour commissioner, fetching ansh from nani-nanu's house, getting household stuff from the market, getting ansh to do his "exam preparations" and then finally blogging while feeding ansh his dinner!!!!!

all I can say yet again "Hats off to me and all the working women of today's era!!" We Rock ladies :)