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21 years to be minimum legal age of marriage in India for women too?

A task force, chaired by veteran politician and activist Jaya Jaitly, has begun deliberations. Will submit report by July 31.

29 Jun 2020

Legal AgeImage Courtesy:indiatvnews.com

In another month, a high powered task force set up by the Parliament, will submit its report on whether the minimum legal age for marriage for women in India needs to be changed from the current 18 years. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development had notified the committee chaired by veteran politician and activist Jaya Jaitly. The committee has been formed under the Women Welfare Division, of the ministry and was notified in the Gazette on June 4.

The taskforce is mandated to study the implications of the age of marriage of girls, age of childbirth on the health and mortality rates of both infants and mothers, in India. It is expected to submit its findings by July 31. The meetings have begun, and inputs on various elements have been sought from subject experts from across the country. 

Chairperson Jaya Jaitly, told SabrangIndia that the broad issues that are being examined include legislative measures, the various existing laws and how they intertwine, perhaps even contradict each other. “We will study the social inputs, as well as the laws and status on  health and education. For example the impact on education of girls, of Swacch Bharat, the mid day meal schemes,” she said. The committee has already held two meetings, and in its future meetings will also study the international precedents on what the ideal age of marriage is in various countries. “We need to look at best practices,” says Jaitly, “we can’t just give a wishlist and idealism.” She says the task force will study the following broad elements, “We need to look at health,  law, primary education, secondary education etc.” The proposal, once accepted, may be discussed in Parliament, and eventually become law. 

According to sources, the task force’s recommendations may pave the way for the amendments of  key laws including Protection of Children from Sexual Offences; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  

The issue was highlighted by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech this year. She is quoted in the Gazette saying, “Women’s age of marriage was increased from fifteen years to eighteen years in 1978, by amending erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929. As India progresses further, opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers. There are imperatives of lowering MMR as well as improvement of nutrition levels. Entire issue about the age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time..” 

The taskforce members include: Dr. Vinod Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog, Dr  Najma Akhtar (VC Jamia),  Vasudha Kamath (VC, SNDT Univ, Maharashtra), Dr  Dipti Shah (leading gynaecologist, Gujarat) as well as secretaries from the ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Women & Child Development, Higher Education, School Education & Literacy, and Legislative Department. 

The task force will also invite experts from other fields, especially those working on child rights’ issues, to consult with them in future meetings. The meetings remain virtual under the Covid-19 conditions, and the task force has been provided secretarial assistance by the NITI Aayog. 

The official terms of reference for  the task force are:

Examine the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with (a) health, medical well-being and nutritional status of mother and (b) neonate/infant/child, during pregnancy, birth and thereafter

Suggest measures for promoting higher education among women

Suggest suitable legislative instruments and/or amendments in existing laws to support its recommendations

Work out a detailed roll-out plan with timelines to implement its recommendations 

The reason health is foremost on the list is the expert opinion that motherhood at a younger age increases infant and maternal mortality. Some others argue that an older woman has lesser reproductive years ahead of her. 

According to a report in the Economic Times, Indian government’s move to revise the legal age of marriage for women, may have been triggered by a 2017 Supreme Court ruling on marital rape “exemption”. The ET reffers to the said judgment "which held that child marriages should be rendered void-ab-initio (invalid from the outset) to shield women from marital rape, had set the ball rolling for the Centre to amend the existing law to declare child marriages invalid." 

The Hindu then had also reported that, “Exception clause to the heinous offence of rape allows a man to have sex with his wife who is not aged below 15.”  According to a PTI report carried by The Indian Express, “The apex court, however, sought to know as to whether Parliament debated the aspect of protecting married girls, between the age group of 15-18 years, from the forced sexual acts by their spouses. It also asked whether the court could intervene to protect the rights of such married girls who may be sexually exploited by their spouses. The apex court also said that marriage of a girl, who is below the age of 15 years, was 'illegal'”.

“Yes, many contradictions already exist,” said the veteran leader, "the minimum age of marriage was raised from 16 to 18." She added the task force still needs to study again the marriage age, in relation to the changes in education and health, beyond what the law on age is. There may also be a discussion on the parity between genders and the legal marriageable ages for each. At the moment young men who are 21, and young women who are 18 years of age can marry under the law. According to sources, the recommendations are likely to propose that the minimum age of marriage for women in India be raised 21, at par with the men. 

Though Jaitly herself has said that the task force’s discussions are in an early stage yet, and many factors, laws, precedences are yet to be examined. She says, the “best practises” need to be drawn from.

The focus should now be on “incentives rather than punishments,” said Jaitly when asked about the flouting of the existent anti child-marriage law, among some socio-ethnic groups in the country. The committee will also closely look at the various clauses in Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006. It may also consider if it is better to have the same age of marriage for both genders and what that age should be. “After all, the voting age is the same, but I look at my grandson who is almost 18 years old, and I can’t imagine him thinking about marriage. Teenagers have many other worries...” said Jaitly, on a lighter note.

In the early inputs, the figures on the application of various government welfare schemes aimed at the girl child, especially her education, have been submitted and are being studied. More reports, especially on health are expected to be submitted to the task force soon. According to sources, it has also been suggested that the members of the task force perhaps invite the major stakeholders: the young women and men who will be directly impacted, to offer their opinions. In the current situation, this may be done over video conferencing, or a virtual town hall. Though this too is just an idea that one of the task force members have voiced and needs to be discussed further. 

“Yes, a member suggested we reach out to the stakeholders, (perhaps via) the youth, and sports ministry. We need to (hear from) young voices,” confirmed Jaitly.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 has a number of punishments, such as:

Solemnising a child marriage—Whoever performs, conducts, directs or abets any child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.

Promoting,  permitting, attending, participating in the solemnisation of child marriages shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend up to one lakh rupees.

The marriage of a minor child is declared to be void if the child is:

Taken or enticed out of the keeping of the lawful guardian; or by force compelled, or by any deceitful means induced to go from any place.

Is sold for the purpose of marriage; and made to go through a form of marriage or if the minor is married after which the minor is sold or trafficked or used for immoral purposes. 

According to UNICEF, India has the highest absolute number of child brides in the world. The situation is explained in detail by Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of non government organisations that work to end child marriage. Their studies elucidate that child marriage in India is driven by gender inequality, level of education, and poverty. Points that Jatly also said will be examined. 

Girls Not Brides, also adds other social factors that lead to marriage of young girls such as ‘to preserve the purity’, or ensuring that there is no ‘risk’ of pre marital sex, or worse, sexual assault. However, the partnership adds that “child brides in India are at greater risk of sexual and physical violence within their marital home.” According to the website India has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

21 years to be minimum legal age of marriage in India for women too?

A task force, chaired by veteran politician and activist Jaya Jaitly, has begun deliberations. Will submit report by July 31.

Legal AgeImage Courtesy:indiatvnews.com

In another month, a high powered task force set up by the Parliament, will submit its report on whether the minimum legal age for marriage for women in India needs to be changed from the current 18 years. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development had notified the committee chaired by veteran politician and activist Jaya Jaitly. The committee has been formed under the Women Welfare Division, of the ministry and was notified in the Gazette on June 4.

The taskforce is mandated to study the implications of the age of marriage of girls, age of childbirth on the health and mortality rates of both infants and mothers, in India. It is expected to submit its findings by July 31. The meetings have begun, and inputs on various elements have been sought from subject experts from across the country. 

Chairperson Jaya Jaitly, told SabrangIndia that the broad issues that are being examined include legislative measures, the various existing laws and how they intertwine, perhaps even contradict each other. “We will study the social inputs, as well as the laws and status on  health and education. For example the impact on education of girls, of Swacch Bharat, the mid day meal schemes,” she said. The committee has already held two meetings, and in its future meetings will also study the international precedents on what the ideal age of marriage is in various countries. “We need to look at best practices,” says Jaitly, “we can’t just give a wishlist and idealism.” She says the task force will study the following broad elements, “We need to look at health,  law, primary education, secondary education etc.” The proposal, once accepted, may be discussed in Parliament, and eventually become law. 

According to sources, the task force’s recommendations may pave the way for the amendments of  key laws including Protection of Children from Sexual Offences; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  

The issue was highlighted by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech this year. She is quoted in the Gazette saying, “Women’s age of marriage was increased from fifteen years to eighteen years in 1978, by amending erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929. As India progresses further, opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers. There are imperatives of lowering MMR as well as improvement of nutrition levels. Entire issue about the age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time..” 

The taskforce members include: Dr. Vinod Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog, Dr  Najma Akhtar (VC Jamia),  Vasudha Kamath (VC, SNDT Univ, Maharashtra), Dr  Dipti Shah (leading gynaecologist, Gujarat) as well as secretaries from the ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Women & Child Development, Higher Education, School Education & Literacy, and Legislative Department. 

The task force will also invite experts from other fields, especially those working on child rights’ issues, to consult with them in future meetings. The meetings remain virtual under the Covid-19 conditions, and the task force has been provided secretarial assistance by the NITI Aayog. 

The official terms of reference for  the task force are:

Examine the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with (a) health, medical well-being and nutritional status of mother and (b) neonate/infant/child, during pregnancy, birth and thereafter

Suggest measures for promoting higher education among women

Suggest suitable legislative instruments and/or amendments in existing laws to support its recommendations

Work out a detailed roll-out plan with timelines to implement its recommendations 

The reason health is foremost on the list is the expert opinion that motherhood at a younger age increases infant and maternal mortality. Some others argue that an older woman has lesser reproductive years ahead of her. 

According to a report in the Economic Times, Indian government’s move to revise the legal age of marriage for women, may have been triggered by a 2017 Supreme Court ruling on marital rape “exemption”. The ET reffers to the said judgment "which held that child marriages should be rendered void-ab-initio (invalid from the outset) to shield women from marital rape, had set the ball rolling for the Centre to amend the existing law to declare child marriages invalid." 

The Hindu then had also reported that, “Exception clause to the heinous offence of rape allows a man to have sex with his wife who is not aged below 15.”  According to a PTI report carried by The Indian Express, “The apex court, however, sought to know as to whether Parliament debated the aspect of protecting married girls, between the age group of 15-18 years, from the forced sexual acts by their spouses. It also asked whether the court could intervene to protect the rights of such married girls who may be sexually exploited by their spouses. The apex court also said that marriage of a girl, who is below the age of 15 years, was 'illegal'”.

“Yes, many contradictions already exist,” said the veteran leader, "the minimum age of marriage was raised from 16 to 18." She added the task force still needs to study again the marriage age, in relation to the changes in education and health, beyond what the law on age is. There may also be a discussion on the parity between genders and the legal marriageable ages for each. At the moment young men who are 21, and young women who are 18 years of age can marry under the law. According to sources, the recommendations are likely to propose that the minimum age of marriage for women in India be raised 21, at par with the men. 

Though Jaitly herself has said that the task force’s discussions are in an early stage yet, and many factors, laws, precedences are yet to be examined. She says, the “best practises” need to be drawn from.

The focus should now be on “incentives rather than punishments,” said Jaitly when asked about the flouting of the existent anti child-marriage law, among some socio-ethnic groups in the country. The committee will also closely look at the various clauses in Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006. It may also consider if it is better to have the same age of marriage for both genders and what that age should be. “After all, the voting age is the same, but I look at my grandson who is almost 18 years old, and I can’t imagine him thinking about marriage. Teenagers have many other worries...” said Jaitly, on a lighter note.

In the early inputs, the figures on the application of various government welfare schemes aimed at the girl child, especially her education, have been submitted and are being studied. More reports, especially on health are expected to be submitted to the task force soon. According to sources, it has also been suggested that the members of the task force perhaps invite the major stakeholders: the young women and men who will be directly impacted, to offer their opinions. In the current situation, this may be done over video conferencing, or a virtual town hall. Though this too is just an idea that one of the task force members have voiced and needs to be discussed further. 

“Yes, a member suggested we reach out to the stakeholders, (perhaps via) the youth, and sports ministry. We need to (hear from) young voices,” confirmed Jaitly.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 has a number of punishments, such as:

Solemnising a child marriage—Whoever performs, conducts, directs or abets any child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.

Promoting,  permitting, attending, participating in the solemnisation of child marriages shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend up to one lakh rupees.

The marriage of a minor child is declared to be void if the child is:

Taken or enticed out of the keeping of the lawful guardian; or by force compelled, or by any deceitful means induced to go from any place.

Is sold for the purpose of marriage; and made to go through a form of marriage or if the minor is married after which the minor is sold or trafficked or used for immoral purposes. 

According to UNICEF, India has the highest absolute number of child brides in the world. The situation is explained in detail by Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of non government organisations that work to end child marriage. Their studies elucidate that child marriage in India is driven by gender inequality, level of education, and poverty. Points that Jatly also said will be examined. 

Girls Not Brides, also adds other social factors that lead to marriage of young girls such as ‘to preserve the purity’, or ensuring that there is no ‘risk’ of pre marital sex, or worse, sexual assault. However, the partnership adds that “child brides in India are at greater risk of sexual and physical violence within their marital home.” According to the website India has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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Students with disabilities, those from underprivileged households and women left out of online learning during pandemic

The half-baked approach by the education department has left out most of the children from access to education during the lockdown

09 Jun 2020

LockdownImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The travails of the lockdown have come for many in many forms. During this time, the foundation of our society – education, has taken a backseat and taken a severe hit. With educational institutions shutting doors due to the pandemic, with no knowledge of when they will be safe to reopen, the futures of millions of children are at stake.

Children from marginalized sections of society

The pandemic has exposed various problems with the education system. The socio-economic digital divide being the starkest of the gamut. A recent incident of a Standard 9 student belonging to the scheduled caste community allegedly committing suicide due to not being able to attend online classes shook was proof of that. The 14-year-old, a resident of Kerala’s Malappuram, allegedly set herself ablaze on June 1. Her family didn’t have any access to the facilities needed for digital education – neither a functioning TV, nor a mobile phone with internet.

In Kerala, the KITE Victers channel has been broadcasting lessons on television through cable and online as well under the project ‘First Bell’. However, a survey by the General Education Department found out that out of the data recorded from over 43.76 lakh students in the state government schools, more than 2.6 lakh students had no provisions for online classes, reported SheThePeople.

With an incident like this and the evidence of millions of other marginalized children left without access to education, it is apparent that the government doesn’t have a wholesome understanding of the demography of its own residents and is only adept at issuing orders without checking for ground reality.

Only after a child lost her life, did the Kerala government decide to take corrective measures. In Ernakulam, six anganwadis threw open their doors to students from financially weaker sections of society to help them attend online classes, reported The New Indian Express (TNIE). Maya Lakshmi, district project officer, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) told TNIE, “Since the Malappuram incident on Monday, six anganwadis in the district have been opened up to help students gain access to online classes. The anganwadis are made available as per the request of the ward members. At present, the centres are all closed since classes for the little ones can’t be held until further notice. Hence, they can be used to conduct online classes for students who don’t have access to the same at their homes.”

In Kochi, under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, pending a final nod from education department officials and local government officials, anganwadis and libraries are set to turn into classrooms for students who have no access to TV, computers and smartphones, reported Mathrubhumi.

However, with different states adopting one channel to disseminate information, there is no plan on how they will strive to address the diversity of languages.

The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) how the move towards digital education was only going to widen the gap between the affluent and the marginalized, apart from creating a profitable edu-market for corporate producers of digital technology.

Apart from not having access to television or internet access, the psychological and physical environment for children from marginalized sections of society is rarely conducive to their growth. Living in homes with bare necessities, higher responsibilities and large families, it is difficult for students to concentrate on their studies if they do manage to get access to online classes.

While the current online education module, puts the onus on parents to ensure the learning of children, but children from backwards sections of society have nobody to aid their learning. Also, not all content is issued in regional languages which makes the problems more complex for both, parents and children. With no access to guidance, where are these students to go?

Children with disabilities

However, while these efforts take place on a micro level, at the macro level, scores of children, especially with disabilities and special needs are not even being thought of. As per the 2019 State of Education Report for India: Children with Disabilities, there are 7,864,636 children with disabilities in India. Out of these, 61 percent aged between 5 and 19 were attending educational institutions. The Wire reported that a study by the Javed Abidi Foundation which studied the responses of several students to the order of operating online classes, showed that, in particular, students with visual disabilities weren’t able to access the study material and classes. If they did, it was with the help of family members. Students with hearing difficulties couldn’t access the classes at all as there were no sign language interpreters during the video calls. There were no transcripts or subtitles to help them learn too.

Gender divide

UNESCO showed that out of the 320,713,810 learners affected due to school closures in India, 158,158,233 were females. A study by McKinsey in 2018 had reported that unpaid care work was one of the biggest contributors to the gender gap in secondary school completion, with girls who did two hours of housework per day having a 63% probability of completing secondary school against that of 84% for boys.

A report by Internet and Mobile Association of India and Neilsen in 2019 points out that the female internet population in India is half of the 258 million male internet population. All over India, 67 percent of males have access to the internet as opposed to 33 percent females. In rural areas, 72 percent males have access to the internet as against 28 percent females. In urban areas, only 38 percent females have access to the internet as opposed to 62 percent males.

In India, for women, especially from the weaker sections of society, schools aren’t just grounds for learning, but also a means for nutrition and health and hygiene. A report by News 18 showed that experts estimated that after the closures caused by the pandemic, girls from disadvantaged families might lose 50 percent of their total years of education and remain in the thick of being pushed in child labour and early marriage.

It is evident that online learning is neither a sustainable nor a long-term answer to the pandemic. With evidences and research of the glaring insufficient digital infrastructure, the digital divide, the gender gap and the insufficiency in teaching methodologies, will the government wake up to create a more wholesome approach or will it continue to let the marginalized sections move away further to the periphery?

Related:

E-learning is corporate driven; not the way to go during lockdown and after

Students with disabilities, those from underprivileged households and women left out of online learning during pandemic

The half-baked approach by the education department has left out most of the children from access to education during the lockdown

LockdownImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The travails of the lockdown have come for many in many forms. During this time, the foundation of our society – education, has taken a backseat and taken a severe hit. With educational institutions shutting doors due to the pandemic, with no knowledge of when they will be safe to reopen, the futures of millions of children are at stake.

Children from marginalized sections of society

The pandemic has exposed various problems with the education system. The socio-economic digital divide being the starkest of the gamut. A recent incident of a Standard 9 student belonging to the scheduled caste community allegedly committing suicide due to not being able to attend online classes shook was proof of that. The 14-year-old, a resident of Kerala’s Malappuram, allegedly set herself ablaze on June 1. Her family didn’t have any access to the facilities needed for digital education – neither a functioning TV, nor a mobile phone with internet.

In Kerala, the KITE Victers channel has been broadcasting lessons on television through cable and online as well under the project ‘First Bell’. However, a survey by the General Education Department found out that out of the data recorded from over 43.76 lakh students in the state government schools, more than 2.6 lakh students had no provisions for online classes, reported SheThePeople.

With an incident like this and the evidence of millions of other marginalized children left without access to education, it is apparent that the government doesn’t have a wholesome understanding of the demography of its own residents and is only adept at issuing orders without checking for ground reality.

Only after a child lost her life, did the Kerala government decide to take corrective measures. In Ernakulam, six anganwadis threw open their doors to students from financially weaker sections of society to help them attend online classes, reported The New Indian Express (TNIE). Maya Lakshmi, district project officer, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) told TNIE, “Since the Malappuram incident on Monday, six anganwadis in the district have been opened up to help students gain access to online classes. The anganwadis are made available as per the request of the ward members. At present, the centres are all closed since classes for the little ones can’t be held until further notice. Hence, they can be used to conduct online classes for students who don’t have access to the same at their homes.”

In Kochi, under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, pending a final nod from education department officials and local government officials, anganwadis and libraries are set to turn into classrooms for students who have no access to TV, computers and smartphones, reported Mathrubhumi.

However, with different states adopting one channel to disseminate information, there is no plan on how they will strive to address the diversity of languages.

The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) how the move towards digital education was only going to widen the gap between the affluent and the marginalized, apart from creating a profitable edu-market for corporate producers of digital technology.

Apart from not having access to television or internet access, the psychological and physical environment for children from marginalized sections of society is rarely conducive to their growth. Living in homes with bare necessities, higher responsibilities and large families, it is difficult for students to concentrate on their studies if they do manage to get access to online classes.

While the current online education module, puts the onus on parents to ensure the learning of children, but children from backwards sections of society have nobody to aid their learning. Also, not all content is issued in regional languages which makes the problems more complex for both, parents and children. With no access to guidance, where are these students to go?

Children with disabilities

However, while these efforts take place on a micro level, at the macro level, scores of children, especially with disabilities and special needs are not even being thought of. As per the 2019 State of Education Report for India: Children with Disabilities, there are 7,864,636 children with disabilities in India. Out of these, 61 percent aged between 5 and 19 were attending educational institutions. The Wire reported that a study by the Javed Abidi Foundation which studied the responses of several students to the order of operating online classes, showed that, in particular, students with visual disabilities weren’t able to access the study material and classes. If they did, it was with the help of family members. Students with hearing difficulties couldn’t access the classes at all as there were no sign language interpreters during the video calls. There were no transcripts or subtitles to help them learn too.

Gender divide

UNESCO showed that out of the 320,713,810 learners affected due to school closures in India, 158,158,233 were females. A study by McKinsey in 2018 had reported that unpaid care work was one of the biggest contributors to the gender gap in secondary school completion, with girls who did two hours of housework per day having a 63% probability of completing secondary school against that of 84% for boys.

A report by Internet and Mobile Association of India and Neilsen in 2019 points out that the female internet population in India is half of the 258 million male internet population. All over India, 67 percent of males have access to the internet as opposed to 33 percent females. In rural areas, 72 percent males have access to the internet as against 28 percent females. In urban areas, only 38 percent females have access to the internet as opposed to 62 percent males.

In India, for women, especially from the weaker sections of society, schools aren’t just grounds for learning, but also a means for nutrition and health and hygiene. A report by News 18 showed that experts estimated that after the closures caused by the pandemic, girls from disadvantaged families might lose 50 percent of their total years of education and remain in the thick of being pushed in child labour and early marriage.

It is evident that online learning is neither a sustainable nor a long-term answer to the pandemic. With evidences and research of the glaring insufficient digital infrastructure, the digital divide, the gender gap and the insufficiency in teaching methodologies, will the government wake up to create a more wholesome approach or will it continue to let the marginalized sections move away further to the periphery?

Related:

E-learning is corporate driven; not the way to go during lockdown and after

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Apathy kills Agra woman's unborn baby

The healthcare facility where she was taken after going into labour, asked her husband to first get surgical gloves as they were not available there

28 May 2020

PregnantImage Courtesy:timesofindia

In a shocking display of outright callousness, a Community Health Centre (CHC) in Agra, refused to help a pregnant woman who had gone into labour until her husband supplied them with surgical gloves! The unborn baby died after the mother was denied medical assistance.

39-year-old Anil Kumar Chauhan, a farmer from Chawali  village that falls under Etmadpur block, had taken his 35-year-old wife Guddi Devi to the CHC on May 18 at 9:30 PM in an ambulance after she suffered labour pains. A woman staff at the CHC then examined her and asked Anil to return home with her at the time and asked them to come back to the next day.

Anil told The Times of India, “I pleaded with them to admit her as she was in pain and start the treatment, but to no avail. Later, I called the Etmadpur sub-divisional magistrate, Jyoti Rai, for help. On getting directions from the SDM, the staffers at the CHC misbehaved with me for complaining to the officer.”

If this was not enough, the CHC staff allegedly asked the distressed couple to bring surgical gloves to begin her treatment because they were not available at the hospital. Chauhan recounted that around 11 PM, the CHC staff asked him to bring surgical gloves. However, even after looking for an hour, he couldn’t find any as it was late and the night curfew due the Covid-19 lockdown was on. At around 3 AM, he returned home with his wife. In the early hours on May 19, Guddi fell unconscious and Anil rushed her to a private hospital. When the doctors there conducted an ultrasound, they told Anil and Guddi that their child had died in the womb.

“My child could have been saved if she was provided treatment was provided treatment at the CHC. I hope authorities will take cognizance of the matter and ensure strict action,” Anil said.

Inquiry ordered

Following Anil Kumar’s complaint, Etmadpur SDM issued a notice to the CHC administration. District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh also ordered a probe into the incident. However, child rights activist told the publication that since April at least five children had died in Agra due to unavailability of timely medical assistance, the district administration only ordered inquiries but took no action.

In May, after suffering excruciating stomach pain, a 12-year-old child lost his life when six hospital allegedly refused to treat him fearing he might be Covid-19 positive. An eight-month-old too lost his life after he was turned away by three private hospitals in Agra.

In the month of May itself, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had issued notices to the Agra District Magistrate after a six-month-old died due to the unavailability of an ambulance. It has issued another notice to the UP’s health department in the matter of two children carrying firewood in a discarded PPE suit which the kids found in a pile of garbage in a graveyard. PPE suits are to be sprayed with disinfectants and disposed of in an electric furnace after use.

The medical system of Uttar Pradesh seems to be crumbling if one is to go by these incidents. With no action taken against authorities who are in charge of saving lives, it looks like the citizens are set to suffer more till the lockdown is in place.

Related:

Is it enough to be ‘not as bad as Italy or France’?
The Deaths of Migrant Workers in India 

Apathy kills Agra woman's unborn baby

The healthcare facility where she was taken after going into labour, asked her husband to first get surgical gloves as they were not available there

PregnantImage Courtesy:timesofindia

In a shocking display of outright callousness, a Community Health Centre (CHC) in Agra, refused to help a pregnant woman who had gone into labour until her husband supplied them with surgical gloves! The unborn baby died after the mother was denied medical assistance.

39-year-old Anil Kumar Chauhan, a farmer from Chawali  village that falls under Etmadpur block, had taken his 35-year-old wife Guddi Devi to the CHC on May 18 at 9:30 PM in an ambulance after she suffered labour pains. A woman staff at the CHC then examined her and asked Anil to return home with her at the time and asked them to come back to the next day.

Anil told The Times of India, “I pleaded with them to admit her as she was in pain and start the treatment, but to no avail. Later, I called the Etmadpur sub-divisional magistrate, Jyoti Rai, for help. On getting directions from the SDM, the staffers at the CHC misbehaved with me for complaining to the officer.”

If this was not enough, the CHC staff allegedly asked the distressed couple to bring surgical gloves to begin her treatment because they were not available at the hospital. Chauhan recounted that around 11 PM, the CHC staff asked him to bring surgical gloves. However, even after looking for an hour, he couldn’t find any as it was late and the night curfew due the Covid-19 lockdown was on. At around 3 AM, he returned home with his wife. In the early hours on May 19, Guddi fell unconscious and Anil rushed her to a private hospital. When the doctors there conducted an ultrasound, they told Anil and Guddi that their child had died in the womb.

“My child could have been saved if she was provided treatment was provided treatment at the CHC. I hope authorities will take cognizance of the matter and ensure strict action,” Anil said.

Inquiry ordered

Following Anil Kumar’s complaint, Etmadpur SDM issued a notice to the CHC administration. District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh also ordered a probe into the incident. However, child rights activist told the publication that since April at least five children had died in Agra due to unavailability of timely medical assistance, the district administration only ordered inquiries but took no action.

In May, after suffering excruciating stomach pain, a 12-year-old child lost his life when six hospital allegedly refused to treat him fearing he might be Covid-19 positive. An eight-month-old too lost his life after he was turned away by three private hospitals in Agra.

In the month of May itself, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had issued notices to the Agra District Magistrate after a six-month-old died due to the unavailability of an ambulance. It has issued another notice to the UP’s health department in the matter of two children carrying firewood in a discarded PPE suit which the kids found in a pile of garbage in a graveyard. PPE suits are to be sprayed with disinfectants and disposed of in an electric furnace after use.

The medical system of Uttar Pradesh seems to be crumbling if one is to go by these incidents. With no action taken against authorities who are in charge of saving lives, it looks like the citizens are set to suffer more till the lockdown is in place.

Related:

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The Deaths of Migrant Workers in India 

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Central government mum on the vaccination of children being impacted during lockdown

There has been a global reduction in vaccination shipments due to the coronavirus

08 May 2020

Immunization

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has taken a toll on the immunization of children, reported The Telegraph India. As per the advisory by the umbrella association of pediatricians, most toddlers missed their scheduled vaccinations due to their recommendation that vaccinations be postponed till March 31. However, when the doctors came to know that the lockdown wouldn’t be ending anytime soon, they issued another advisory asking doctors to resume scheduled vaccinations following certain guidelines.

Countries have also been warned by the World Health Organization about letting their guard down on immunization of children while fighting the coronavirus.

However, this isn’t happening because of private clinics being shut. This has left parents worried and harrowed. Online queries have spiked due to the same. Worried about their children’s immunity being compromised amid the coronavirus pandemic, the parents are rushing to online platforms. “Online paediatric queries witnessed a growth of 350 per cent since March 1,” said a spokesperson of Practo, a digital healthcare platform.

The spokesperson also added that the top queries were cough and cold in babies and the impact of delayed vaccination during the lockdown.

A 36-year-old teacher from New Alipore looking for a pediatrician to administer the Varicella vaccine, commonly known as the chickenpox vaccine to her 17-month-old said, “The vaccine was due in April. The doctor who administered the previous vaccines has shut his clinic. When I called, he said he would not start the clinic before the lockdown is officially lifted.”

She said that the doctor who was aged 70, was taking “extra precaution because he was in the vulnerable age group.”

Another woman in Salt Lake, is worried because her 10-month-old daughter is yet to get the MMR-I vaccine, for protection against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccine was due in April. Generally, she takes her daughter to a private hospital for vaccinations but the schedule has been hit due to the Covid-19 crisis. Going to the hospital is a problem. Also, I cannot discount the risk of infection at the hospital. But the doctor has said she would not resume her private clinic before May 21,” she said.

Explaining the importance of vaccinations, Jaydeep Choudhary, a pediatrician associated with the Institute of Child Health said, “Vaccines can be classified into three broad types according to how important they are in the wake of this pandemic outbreak. The absolutely essential primary vaccines should ideally be administered to newborns before they are released from the hospital. The vaccines like triple antigen, polio and rotavirus vaccines, due in periodic intervals over the first few months, are also non-negotiable. The vaccines for lungs and the respiratory tract — for protection against influenza and pneumonia — should also be ideally not delayed because weak lungs would make a baby more vulnerable to Covid-19.”

Choudhary who is also the chairperson of the infectious diseases chapter of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) added, “The vaccines for water-borne diseases, like typhoid and hepatitis, can wait for a while.”

The second advisory by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) had some “general instructions for vaccination clinics.” The advisory recommended that “a polyclinic/ nursing home/ hospital should have segregated vaccination areas with separate entrance and exit” and “it is essential to stager appointments to avoid crowding at the clinic”.

Doctors who have resumed vaccinations say they are working according to IAP guidelines. “My chamber can accommodate 10 children and their parents following social distancing norms. I am asking the parents to take prior appointments and adhere to the timings. Some of them are waiting inside their cars parked on the road and entering the clinic when their turn comes,” said Apurba Ghosh, the director of the Institute of Child Health. His clinic is in Ballygunge.

Priti Khemka, a pediatrician associated with the Bhagirathi Neotia Woman and Child Care Centre and the digital platform, has handled many online queries over the past month. “Some children have their booster shots (additional dose) due. I have told parents that the main focus should be on primary vaccines. The booster shots can be delayed for a while,” she said.

Fall in shipments

Countries have been warned by the World Health Organization about letting their guard down on immunization of children while fighting the coronavirus.

The United Nations too had said that children’s lives were “at stake” because of the backlog in vaccine shipments all over the world.

Governments, the private sector, the airline industry, and others have been approached to free up freight space at an affordable cost, “and to work with us to find ways around the transport disruptions we face”, said UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado.

 

 

“Compounding the challenge is the exorbitant cost of securing flights, with freight rates at 100 to 200 per cent above normal and charter flights even more costly,” she explained. “Countries with limited resources will struggle to pay these higher prices, leaving children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio.”

Since late March there has been a reported 70 to 80 percent reduction in shipments. Speaking to Business Standard, S Sridhar, managing director of Pfizer, said “All vaccines except those that are given immediately after birth are expected to have been impacted. Sridhar added that the website of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, a global public-private health partnership, says delays in vaccination campaigns and routine introductions will mean at least 13.5 million people in 13 of the world’s least-developed countries will be at risk of not being protected against diseases like measles, polio and human papillomavirus (HPV), with millions more likely to follow.

In India, ASHA workers who take up immunization campaigns, especially in rural India, are now credited with the task of surveillance, testing and other work during the Covid-19 crisis. Adar Poonawala of Serum Institute of India said that logistical issues have hit vaccine demand. He said, “n some countries, it is due to the shortage of healthcare workers and in some, the customs and cargos are not available. Other modes of transports like airlines have been impacted as well and most of all the mothers are not willing to bring their children because they fear getting Covid-19.”

Some states are now asking public health centers (PHCs) to start weekly vaccination camps. Chhaya Pachauli, member of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) a national platform that co-ordinates activities on health and health care, said that the organization had written to the Rajasthan government, where they operate, to start door-to-door vaccination drives. “If work on the MGNREGA can begin, why not immunisation drives?” Pachauli asks.

Meanwhile, the Centre has mostly kept mum on the issue and only indicated that there would soon be an advisory on launching “catch-up” immunization drives.

Related:

Does the Karnataka Govt think migrant workers are bonded labourers?

India 131st out of 180 countries on child survival rankings: WHO-UNICEF-Lancet report

Central government mum on the vaccination of children being impacted during lockdown

There has been a global reduction in vaccination shipments due to the coronavirus

Immunization

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has taken a toll on the immunization of children, reported The Telegraph India. As per the advisory by the umbrella association of pediatricians, most toddlers missed their scheduled vaccinations due to their recommendation that vaccinations be postponed till March 31. However, when the doctors came to know that the lockdown wouldn’t be ending anytime soon, they issued another advisory asking doctors to resume scheduled vaccinations following certain guidelines.

Countries have also been warned by the World Health Organization about letting their guard down on immunization of children while fighting the coronavirus.

However, this isn’t happening because of private clinics being shut. This has left parents worried and harrowed. Online queries have spiked due to the same. Worried about their children’s immunity being compromised amid the coronavirus pandemic, the parents are rushing to online platforms. “Online paediatric queries witnessed a growth of 350 per cent since March 1,” said a spokesperson of Practo, a digital healthcare platform.

The spokesperson also added that the top queries were cough and cold in babies and the impact of delayed vaccination during the lockdown.

A 36-year-old teacher from New Alipore looking for a pediatrician to administer the Varicella vaccine, commonly known as the chickenpox vaccine to her 17-month-old said, “The vaccine was due in April. The doctor who administered the previous vaccines has shut his clinic. When I called, he said he would not start the clinic before the lockdown is officially lifted.”

She said that the doctor who was aged 70, was taking “extra precaution because he was in the vulnerable age group.”

Another woman in Salt Lake, is worried because her 10-month-old daughter is yet to get the MMR-I vaccine, for protection against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccine was due in April. Generally, she takes her daughter to a private hospital for vaccinations but the schedule has been hit due to the Covid-19 crisis. Going to the hospital is a problem. Also, I cannot discount the risk of infection at the hospital. But the doctor has said she would not resume her private clinic before May 21,” she said.

Explaining the importance of vaccinations, Jaydeep Choudhary, a pediatrician associated with the Institute of Child Health said, “Vaccines can be classified into three broad types according to how important they are in the wake of this pandemic outbreak. The absolutely essential primary vaccines should ideally be administered to newborns before they are released from the hospital. The vaccines like triple antigen, polio and rotavirus vaccines, due in periodic intervals over the first few months, are also non-negotiable. The vaccines for lungs and the respiratory tract — for protection against influenza and pneumonia — should also be ideally not delayed because weak lungs would make a baby more vulnerable to Covid-19.”

Choudhary who is also the chairperson of the infectious diseases chapter of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) added, “The vaccines for water-borne diseases, like typhoid and hepatitis, can wait for a while.”

The second advisory by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) had some “general instructions for vaccination clinics.” The advisory recommended that “a polyclinic/ nursing home/ hospital should have segregated vaccination areas with separate entrance and exit” and “it is essential to stager appointments to avoid crowding at the clinic”.

Doctors who have resumed vaccinations say they are working according to IAP guidelines. “My chamber can accommodate 10 children and their parents following social distancing norms. I am asking the parents to take prior appointments and adhere to the timings. Some of them are waiting inside their cars parked on the road and entering the clinic when their turn comes,” said Apurba Ghosh, the director of the Institute of Child Health. His clinic is in Ballygunge.

Priti Khemka, a pediatrician associated with the Bhagirathi Neotia Woman and Child Care Centre and the digital platform, has handled many online queries over the past month. “Some children have their booster shots (additional dose) due. I have told parents that the main focus should be on primary vaccines. The booster shots can be delayed for a while,” she said.

Fall in shipments

Countries have been warned by the World Health Organization about letting their guard down on immunization of children while fighting the coronavirus.

The United Nations too had said that children’s lives were “at stake” because of the backlog in vaccine shipments all over the world.

Governments, the private sector, the airline industry, and others have been approached to free up freight space at an affordable cost, “and to work with us to find ways around the transport disruptions we face”, said UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado.

 

 

“Compounding the challenge is the exorbitant cost of securing flights, with freight rates at 100 to 200 per cent above normal and charter flights even more costly,” she explained. “Countries with limited resources will struggle to pay these higher prices, leaving children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio.”

Since late March there has been a reported 70 to 80 percent reduction in shipments. Speaking to Business Standard, S Sridhar, managing director of Pfizer, said “All vaccines except those that are given immediately after birth are expected to have been impacted. Sridhar added that the website of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, a global public-private health partnership, says delays in vaccination campaigns and routine introductions will mean at least 13.5 million people in 13 of the world’s least-developed countries will be at risk of not being protected against diseases like measles, polio and human papillomavirus (HPV), with millions more likely to follow.

In India, ASHA workers who take up immunization campaigns, especially in rural India, are now credited with the task of surveillance, testing and other work during the Covid-19 crisis. Adar Poonawala of Serum Institute of India said that logistical issues have hit vaccine demand. He said, “n some countries, it is due to the shortage of healthcare workers and in some, the customs and cargos are not available. Other modes of transports like airlines have been impacted as well and most of all the mothers are not willing to bring their children because they fear getting Covid-19.”

Some states are now asking public health centers (PHCs) to start weekly vaccination camps. Chhaya Pachauli, member of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) a national platform that co-ordinates activities on health and health care, said that the organization had written to the Rajasthan government, where they operate, to start door-to-door vaccination drives. “If work on the MGNREGA can begin, why not immunisation drives?” Pachauli asks.

Meanwhile, the Centre has mostly kept mum on the issue and only indicated that there would soon be an advisory on launching “catch-up” immunization drives.

Related:

Does the Karnataka Govt think migrant workers are bonded labourers?

India 131st out of 180 countries on child survival rankings: WHO-UNICEF-Lancet report

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Lockdown impact: Distraught mothers, dead babies and more

Due to the ill-planned lockdown, many have suffered indescribable distress and continue to do so

25 Apr 2020

LockdownImage Courtesy:telegraphindia.com

As the lockdown in India continues in the hope of curbing the spread of the coronavirus, it has brought along a multiple problems with itself.

1.       In Ranchi, Mohammed Imtiyaz, a grocer in his mid-30s lost his newborn daughter in the wee hours of Monday due to what he called overzealous cops enforcing the lockdown. A resident of Hindpiri’s Nizam Nagar area that is a containment zone, Imtiyaz was stopped twice by the police when he tried to take his pregnant wife to a hospital in his car around 1 AM on Monday this week.

Due to this, his wife, Nargis Parveen, had to deliver the baby at home with the help of a few women in the neighbourhood.

“The baby survived only for about half an hour,” Imtiyaz told The Telegraph on Tuesday. A sub-inspector had been suspended over the incident.

Holding back his tears, he told the publication, “The nearest hospital from our home is Seva Sadan at Upper Bazar, barely 600 metres from my home. If the baby was born there, things might have been different, the child might have lived.”

He said, “At a Nizam Nagar gate, the police told me to go back and get permission from some senior police official. I tried to go out from another road near the Marwari College, but was stopped again by another police team who said I had to arrange an ambulance.”

A distraught Imtiyaz added, “Unfortunately, my wife’s labour pains were so severe that there was no time to arrange an ambulance. Couldn’t cops understand that?”

Imtiyaz said that his first wife had died, leaving a daughter behind. “But this was Nargis’ first child. There are around 12 other pregnant women in our area. I humbly request the government to ensure these mothers-to-be don’t share my wife’s fate.”

2.       In Bengaluru, a migrant woman labourer who had to deliver her child on a pavement, was given first aid by a dentist who also revived her newborn, Deccan Chronicle reported.

The incident took place on April 14. Shanti, from North India had walked seven kilometers looking for a hospital. She went into labour soon, but a clinic she found was shut, forcing her to deliver on the pavement. As the child didn’t respond, her husband wrapped it in a newspaper, assuming it had died.

However, Ramya Himanish, the dentist, descended like an angel to save the child and the woman. She noticed the woman lying on the pedestrian platform, bleeding and immediately took her to the clinic.

Dr. Ramya told reporters, “When I went there, I saw the woman bleeding. I brought her inside and provided treatment. Then I checked the baby. After the resuscitation process, the child came to life.”

She also summoned an ambulance and sent the woman with the newborn to a government hospital for further better treatment.

3.       In Telangana too, a pregnant woman, who was in the last month of her pregnancy, walked 100 km and reached Kusumanchi mandal headquarters to go to her native place in Odisha from Hyderabad, along with her husband. She was rescued by police and revenue officials on Tuesday night and shifted to a hospital in Khammam, reported The Indian Express.

Sunita Sheel (27) and her husband Sridam Sheeel (37), residents of MV-79 village in Malkangiri district, Odisha, had arrived in Hyderabad three months ago to work as labourers. However, the contractors stopped paying them once work was halted due to the lockdown. Because they had no money and no transportation available, they started walking back to their native place.

A lorry driver saw her and offered them a lift after which he dropped the couple at Suryapet. They started walking from Suryapet again, and reached Kusumanchi in Khamman district. The police who was checking vehicles there, stopped them and put them with an organization that has been helping people in need.

4.       Reflecting no respite to migrants, the Assam police on Wednesday intercepted a truck at Golakganj in Dhubri ferrying 39 migrant labourers to Bengal from Hojai. The labourers had lost their jobs and money due to the lockdown and were on their way home, reported the Telegraph India.

The labourers were detained and the Bengal police was contacted, but due to the lockdown, the police said it was not possible to take them all back. The Dhubri police then contacted the Hojai police and sent back all the labourers where they were to be quarantined at their respected places with all possible resources.

5.       Citizens who are handicapped and depend on help by caregivers are facing a crisis during the lockdown. Most of them haven’t received financial help which was promised by the Centre and most don’t know whom to ask for it. The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), a non-profit, recently shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to look into difficulties faced by lakhs of disabled Indians, reported India Today.

Arman Ali, the non-profit’s executive director said, “The Rs 1,000 announced is for the entire three-month period which translates to Rs 333 per month for an individual. No one in the country has received the amount as yet.”

People who need medical attention find it difficult to get passes for caregivers owing to complicated procedures and lack of transportation. Thalassemia patients too are finding it difficult to get blood for transfusion.

For citizens of rural India, the problems are worse because there is no money coming in due to the lockdown and even two meals are a distant dream.

This is just a miniscule percentage of problems that are actually haunting people amid the lockdown. Nobody knows when and how, and if help will reach those in dire need.

Related:

Imprisoned on their boats along Guj coast
Several states announce monetary aid for workers stranded outside state

Lockdown impact: Distraught mothers, dead babies and more

Due to the ill-planned lockdown, many have suffered indescribable distress and continue to do so

LockdownImage Courtesy:telegraphindia.com

As the lockdown in India continues in the hope of curbing the spread of the coronavirus, it has brought along a multiple problems with itself.

1.       In Ranchi, Mohammed Imtiyaz, a grocer in his mid-30s lost his newborn daughter in the wee hours of Monday due to what he called overzealous cops enforcing the lockdown. A resident of Hindpiri’s Nizam Nagar area that is a containment zone, Imtiyaz was stopped twice by the police when he tried to take his pregnant wife to a hospital in his car around 1 AM on Monday this week.

Due to this, his wife, Nargis Parveen, had to deliver the baby at home with the help of a few women in the neighbourhood.

“The baby survived only for about half an hour,” Imtiyaz told The Telegraph on Tuesday. A sub-inspector had been suspended over the incident.

Holding back his tears, he told the publication, “The nearest hospital from our home is Seva Sadan at Upper Bazar, barely 600 metres from my home. If the baby was born there, things might have been different, the child might have lived.”

He said, “At a Nizam Nagar gate, the police told me to go back and get permission from some senior police official. I tried to go out from another road near the Marwari College, but was stopped again by another police team who said I had to arrange an ambulance.”

A distraught Imtiyaz added, “Unfortunately, my wife’s labour pains were so severe that there was no time to arrange an ambulance. Couldn’t cops understand that?”

Imtiyaz said that his first wife had died, leaving a daughter behind. “But this was Nargis’ first child. There are around 12 other pregnant women in our area. I humbly request the government to ensure these mothers-to-be don’t share my wife’s fate.”

2.       In Bengaluru, a migrant woman labourer who had to deliver her child on a pavement, was given first aid by a dentist who also revived her newborn, Deccan Chronicle reported.

The incident took place on April 14. Shanti, from North India had walked seven kilometers looking for a hospital. She went into labour soon, but a clinic she found was shut, forcing her to deliver on the pavement. As the child didn’t respond, her husband wrapped it in a newspaper, assuming it had died.

However, Ramya Himanish, the dentist, descended like an angel to save the child and the woman. She noticed the woman lying on the pedestrian platform, bleeding and immediately took her to the clinic.

Dr. Ramya told reporters, “When I went there, I saw the woman bleeding. I brought her inside and provided treatment. Then I checked the baby. After the resuscitation process, the child came to life.”

She also summoned an ambulance and sent the woman with the newborn to a government hospital for further better treatment.

3.       In Telangana too, a pregnant woman, who was in the last month of her pregnancy, walked 100 km and reached Kusumanchi mandal headquarters to go to her native place in Odisha from Hyderabad, along with her husband. She was rescued by police and revenue officials on Tuesday night and shifted to a hospital in Khammam, reported The Indian Express.

Sunita Sheel (27) and her husband Sridam Sheeel (37), residents of MV-79 village in Malkangiri district, Odisha, had arrived in Hyderabad three months ago to work as labourers. However, the contractors stopped paying them once work was halted due to the lockdown. Because they had no money and no transportation available, they started walking back to their native place.

A lorry driver saw her and offered them a lift after which he dropped the couple at Suryapet. They started walking from Suryapet again, and reached Kusumanchi in Khamman district. The police who was checking vehicles there, stopped them and put them with an organization that has been helping people in need.

4.       Reflecting no respite to migrants, the Assam police on Wednesday intercepted a truck at Golakganj in Dhubri ferrying 39 migrant labourers to Bengal from Hojai. The labourers had lost their jobs and money due to the lockdown and were on their way home, reported the Telegraph India.

The labourers were detained and the Bengal police was contacted, but due to the lockdown, the police said it was not possible to take them all back. The Dhubri police then contacted the Hojai police and sent back all the labourers where they were to be quarantined at their respected places with all possible resources.

5.       Citizens who are handicapped and depend on help by caregivers are facing a crisis during the lockdown. Most of them haven’t received financial help which was promised by the Centre and most don’t know whom to ask for it. The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), a non-profit, recently shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to look into difficulties faced by lakhs of disabled Indians, reported India Today.

Arman Ali, the non-profit’s executive director said, “The Rs 1,000 announced is for the entire three-month period which translates to Rs 333 per month for an individual. No one in the country has received the amount as yet.”

People who need medical attention find it difficult to get passes for caregivers owing to complicated procedures and lack of transportation. Thalassemia patients too are finding it difficult to get blood for transfusion.

For citizens of rural India, the problems are worse because there is no money coming in due to the lockdown and even two meals are a distant dream.

This is just a miniscule percentage of problems that are actually haunting people amid the lockdown. Nobody knows when and how, and if help will reach those in dire need.

Related:

Imprisoned on their boats along Guj coast
Several states announce monetary aid for workers stranded outside state

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Did MCGM guidelines about resumption of construction activity ignore female workers and their children?

Guidelines also appear to be anti-poor as they offer freedom of movement to supervisors but expect labourers to stay at the site

20 Apr 2020

Covid 19Image Courtesy:portal.mcgm.gov.in

On April 20, as the country welcomes the first phase of lockdown relaxation, Maharashtra took its first tentative steps to resume economic activity in a staggered manner across the state. The revival plan has been laid down in a series of notices issued by various government departments.

One such circular was issued by the office of the Chief Engineer Development Plan. It lays down revised guidelines for permission of construction activity in the area that falls under the purview of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Permissions have been granted for:

1. All urgent pre-monsoon related works

2. Construction of works in construction projects, within limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, where workers are available on site and no workers are required to be brought in from outside (in situ construction). However, in MCGM and in PMC with the permission of Municipal Commissioner.

When it comes to pre-monsoon related urgent work in all areas except containment zones, the following guidelines apply:

For all precautionary works which are required to be carried out before monsoon for all structures (constructed or under construction), construction of retaining walls, or work of shore piling etc. to protect against landslides, waterproofing of terraces and such exposed areas, completion of basements and other subsoil works, shall be permitted to commence, provided such works had commenced prior to March 14, 2020, and were required to be left as it is, due to commencement of lockdown.

The circular states, “For aforesaid work, transport of all goods is allowed under clause 12 of the revised guidelines issued by Government Supervisory staff, machine operators shall also be permitted be (sic) travel and attend the site, from their place of residence every day. They will however not (be) allowed to use public transport for the purpose. Workers shall also be permitted to be brought to site from their place of residence, provided proper arrangement for their staying at site is made and they are not required to travel to place of work on everyday basis.”

The above restrictions on using public transport for travel are rather curious given how few people own vehicles. The onus has therefore been placed squarely on the construction companies to arrange transportation, which if they are unwilling or unable to arrange renders workers jobless. Also, the insistence of making stay arrangements for workers at the site instead of extending them the same courtesy of to-and-fro travel as given to supervisory staff and machine operators, appears to have an anti-poor bias.

While it is true that many construction workers lead a nomadic lifestyle pitching tents and living in makeshift shanties near construction sites before moving on their next projects, many other migrant labourers live in slums in rented accommodation with their families. They depend on daily transport to and from the construction site and this is usually arranged for by various labour contractors who pick up labourers daily from specific spots where they gather every day. This issue has been completely ignored in the circular.

It also appears to restrict the movement of women construction workers unless they agree to leave their original places of residence and agree to move to the construction site with children in tow. Construction is one of the many industries where female workers engage in hard physical labour alongside their male counterparts.

Also, while both father and mothers should be equally responsible for caring for their offspring, traditionally mothers have been the primary caregivers of children. Small babies and toddlers are a common site at all construction sites, often found hanging from makeshift cradles even as their mother carry bricks on their heads. 

The new guidelines appear to have completely overlooked this important matter, given how children have lower immunity and are therefore more susceptible to infections. Or perhaps it just wants the men to report to work while their wives stay at home caring for the children?  

In case of all other construction work i.e unrelated to urgent pre-monsoon construction, similar guidelines apply except no workers will be permitted to be brought from outside. This is also slightly problematic given how many migrant workers had already left for their home villages in panic after the lockdown was announced, and while they were either left stranded in different places or forced to return, not all may have made it back to their construction sites and would therefore lose out on work opportunities.

The circular also lists the following mandatory requirements at the construction sites:

1. Thermal scanning of everyone entering the site any time of day should be done. If anyone has reading more than predefined value, then he should not be allowed to enter the site.

2. Congestion at any location, specially at entry and exit place should be avoided. Suitable arrangement shall be made, for maintaining segregating distance between workers.

3. All workers should wash their hand at the point of entry, before entering the place of work, before eating. Suitable arrangement for the same should be made at the site.

4. All workers must cover their mouth and nose with cloth or a mask.

5. All Common area such as Labour camp, canteens, toilets, entry/exit gate, should be cleaned on daily basis, and disinfectant should be sprayed twice a week.

6. A doctor should visit the site at least twice a week and examine each worker and render medical assistance if required.

7. No one shake hands with anyone.

8. Separate arrangement for sick worker (isolation) should be kept ready.

Even in all of the above the administration’s myopia regarding children of construction workers, and by extension primarily the concerns of their mothers, is glaring. There is no requirement for the visiting doctor to render services to the children. There are also no guidelines about day care facilities for these children or how social distancing would be enforced among toddlers and crawling babies even if the construction company took the initiative to organise a creche facility.

The entire circular may be read here:

Related:

New guidelines by MHA allow agri and fisheries after April 20, encourage online teaching
MHA exempts MFP and NTFP from lockdown

Did MCGM guidelines about resumption of construction activity ignore female workers and their children?

Guidelines also appear to be anti-poor as they offer freedom of movement to supervisors but expect labourers to stay at the site

Covid 19Image Courtesy:portal.mcgm.gov.in

On April 20, as the country welcomes the first phase of lockdown relaxation, Maharashtra took its first tentative steps to resume economic activity in a staggered manner across the state. The revival plan has been laid down in a series of notices issued by various government departments.

One such circular was issued by the office of the Chief Engineer Development Plan. It lays down revised guidelines for permission of construction activity in the area that falls under the purview of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Permissions have been granted for:

1. All urgent pre-monsoon related works

2. Construction of works in construction projects, within limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, where workers are available on site and no workers are required to be brought in from outside (in situ construction). However, in MCGM and in PMC with the permission of Municipal Commissioner.

When it comes to pre-monsoon related urgent work in all areas except containment zones, the following guidelines apply:

For all precautionary works which are required to be carried out before monsoon for all structures (constructed or under construction), construction of retaining walls, or work of shore piling etc. to protect against landslides, waterproofing of terraces and such exposed areas, completion of basements and other subsoil works, shall be permitted to commence, provided such works had commenced prior to March 14, 2020, and were required to be left as it is, due to commencement of lockdown.

The circular states, “For aforesaid work, transport of all goods is allowed under clause 12 of the revised guidelines issued by Government Supervisory staff, machine operators shall also be permitted be (sic) travel and attend the site, from their place of residence every day. They will however not (be) allowed to use public transport for the purpose. Workers shall also be permitted to be brought to site from their place of residence, provided proper arrangement for their staying at site is made and they are not required to travel to place of work on everyday basis.”

The above restrictions on using public transport for travel are rather curious given how few people own vehicles. The onus has therefore been placed squarely on the construction companies to arrange transportation, which if they are unwilling or unable to arrange renders workers jobless. Also, the insistence of making stay arrangements for workers at the site instead of extending them the same courtesy of to-and-fro travel as given to supervisory staff and machine operators, appears to have an anti-poor bias.

While it is true that many construction workers lead a nomadic lifestyle pitching tents and living in makeshift shanties near construction sites before moving on their next projects, many other migrant labourers live in slums in rented accommodation with their families. They depend on daily transport to and from the construction site and this is usually arranged for by various labour contractors who pick up labourers daily from specific spots where they gather every day. This issue has been completely ignored in the circular.

It also appears to restrict the movement of women construction workers unless they agree to leave their original places of residence and agree to move to the construction site with children in tow. Construction is one of the many industries where female workers engage in hard physical labour alongside their male counterparts.

Also, while both father and mothers should be equally responsible for caring for their offspring, traditionally mothers have been the primary caregivers of children. Small babies and toddlers are a common site at all construction sites, often found hanging from makeshift cradles even as their mother carry bricks on their heads. 

The new guidelines appear to have completely overlooked this important matter, given how children have lower immunity and are therefore more susceptible to infections. Or perhaps it just wants the men to report to work while their wives stay at home caring for the children?  

In case of all other construction work i.e unrelated to urgent pre-monsoon construction, similar guidelines apply except no workers will be permitted to be brought from outside. This is also slightly problematic given how many migrant workers had already left for their home villages in panic after the lockdown was announced, and while they were either left stranded in different places or forced to return, not all may have made it back to their construction sites and would therefore lose out on work opportunities.

The circular also lists the following mandatory requirements at the construction sites:

1. Thermal scanning of everyone entering the site any time of day should be done. If anyone has reading more than predefined value, then he should not be allowed to enter the site.

2. Congestion at any location, specially at entry and exit place should be avoided. Suitable arrangement shall be made, for maintaining segregating distance between workers.

3. All workers should wash their hand at the point of entry, before entering the place of work, before eating. Suitable arrangement for the same should be made at the site.

4. All workers must cover their mouth and nose with cloth or a mask.

5. All Common area such as Labour camp, canteens, toilets, entry/exit gate, should be cleaned on daily basis, and disinfectant should be sprayed twice a week.

6. A doctor should visit the site at least twice a week and examine each worker and render medical assistance if required.

7. No one shake hands with anyone.

8. Separate arrangement for sick worker (isolation) should be kept ready.

Even in all of the above the administration’s myopia regarding children of construction workers, and by extension primarily the concerns of their mothers, is glaring. There is no requirement for the visiting doctor to render services to the children. There are also no guidelines about day care facilities for these children or how social distancing would be enforced among toddlers and crawling babies even if the construction company took the initiative to organise a creche facility.

The entire circular may be read here:

Related:

New guidelines by MHA allow agri and fisheries after April 20, encourage online teaching
MHA exempts MFP and NTFP from lockdown

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SC directs Juvenile courts to consider releasing children allegedly in conflict with law

The order was given in a suo moto case and is replete with directions to followed by CCIs and JJBs

06 Apr 2020

Supreme CourtImage Courtesy: livelaw.in

In a suo moto case on conditions of children protection homes, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta passed an order directing Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) and Children Courts to consider releasing the children allegedly in conflict with the law on temporary basis unless proviso of section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act prevents the same.

While section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act deals with the provisions related to bail of a person who is apparently a child alleged to be in conflict with the law, the proviso to the section states as follows:

“Provided that such person shall not be so released if there appears reasonable grounds for believing that the release is likely to bring that person into association with any known criminal or expose the said person to moral, physical or psychological danger or the person’s release would defeat the ends of justice, and the Board shall record the reasons for denying the bail and circumstances that led to such a decision”

The apex court bench has passed such orders with the intention of de-congesting these children homes across the country in wake of the COVID19 epidemic in the country. The order consists of several measures prescribed by the bench to the government authorities functioning under the Juvenile Justice Act. Some of these measures are mentioned hereunder:

For Child Welfare Committees

·         Take steps that are to be taken   in   the   light   of   COVID   ­   19,   while   conducting   their inquiries/inspections and also whether a child or children should be kept in the CCI considering the best interest, health and safety concerns.

·         Gatekeeping or preventive measures need to be considered and families counselled to ensure that institutionalization is the last resort.   Focus   should   be   on   prevention   of   separation   when possible.

·         Monitor cases sent back to their families via telephone

·         Monitor any incidents of sexual or gender based violence exacerbated in contexts of anxiety and stress produced by lockdown

For Juvenile Justice Boards

·         Proactively consider whether a child or children should be kept in the Child Care Institution (CCI) considering the best interest, health and safety concerns.

For governments

·         Circulate information to all CCIs about how to deal with COVID ­19 immediately, with instructions that awareness about COVID19 is spread in a timely and effective manner.

·         Work with Persons in Charge of CCIs and District Child Protection Units to plan staffing rotations or schedules to reduce in-person   interaction   by   CCI   staff, where   feasible.   Begin developing a system for how to organise trained volunteers who could step in to care for children, when the need arises.

·         Ensure availability of adequate food, drinking water, and other necessities such as clean clothes, menstrual hygiene products, etc

Further, the court also directed CCIs to take preventive measures towards COVID19 by promoting practice of hygiene, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting premises. It also directed CCIs to take responsive measures in case symptoms are spotted.

The court also asked state governments to ensure that all its functionaries perform their duties diligently and that strict action would be taken in case of dereliction of duty under rule 66(1) of Juvenile Justice Model Rules, 2016.

The order also asks governments to ensure availability of counselling and monitoring systems to prevent incidents of violence.

The suo moto petition was disposed of with this order.

The court order can be read here.

Related:

SC stays Raj HC order directing suspension of sentences, bail pleas to not be listed as “urgent matters”
ICMR revises Covid-19 testing protocol
Kerala HC stays controversial decision of govt on home delivery of liquor
Distressed over the plight of India’s internal migrants: UN Human Rights chief

SC directs Juvenile courts to consider releasing children allegedly in conflict with law

The order was given in a suo moto case and is replete with directions to followed by CCIs and JJBs

Supreme CourtImage Courtesy: livelaw.in

In a suo moto case on conditions of children protection homes, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta passed an order directing Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) and Children Courts to consider releasing the children allegedly in conflict with the law on temporary basis unless proviso of section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act prevents the same.

While section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act deals with the provisions related to bail of a person who is apparently a child alleged to be in conflict with the law, the proviso to the section states as follows:

“Provided that such person shall not be so released if there appears reasonable grounds for believing that the release is likely to bring that person into association with any known criminal or expose the said person to moral, physical or psychological danger or the person’s release would defeat the ends of justice, and the Board shall record the reasons for denying the bail and circumstances that led to such a decision”

The apex court bench has passed such orders with the intention of de-congesting these children homes across the country in wake of the COVID19 epidemic in the country. The order consists of several measures prescribed by the bench to the government authorities functioning under the Juvenile Justice Act. Some of these measures are mentioned hereunder:

For Child Welfare Committees

·         Take steps that are to be taken   in   the   light   of   COVID   ­   19,   while   conducting   their inquiries/inspections and also whether a child or children should be kept in the CCI considering the best interest, health and safety concerns.

·         Gatekeeping or preventive measures need to be considered and families counselled to ensure that institutionalization is the last resort.   Focus   should   be   on   prevention   of   separation   when possible.

·         Monitor cases sent back to their families via telephone

·         Monitor any incidents of sexual or gender based violence exacerbated in contexts of anxiety and stress produced by lockdown

For Juvenile Justice Boards

·         Proactively consider whether a child or children should be kept in the Child Care Institution (CCI) considering the best interest, health and safety concerns.

For governments

·         Circulate information to all CCIs about how to deal with COVID ­19 immediately, with instructions that awareness about COVID19 is spread in a timely and effective manner.

·         Work with Persons in Charge of CCIs and District Child Protection Units to plan staffing rotations or schedules to reduce in-person   interaction   by   CCI   staff, where   feasible.   Begin developing a system for how to organise trained volunteers who could step in to care for children, when the need arises.

·         Ensure availability of adequate food, drinking water, and other necessities such as clean clothes, menstrual hygiene products, etc

Further, the court also directed CCIs to take preventive measures towards COVID19 by promoting practice of hygiene, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting premises. It also directed CCIs to take responsive measures in case symptoms are spotted.

The court also asked state governments to ensure that all its functionaries perform their duties diligently and that strict action would be taken in case of dereliction of duty under rule 66(1) of Juvenile Justice Model Rules, 2016.

The order also asks governments to ensure availability of counselling and monitoring systems to prevent incidents of violence.

The suo moto petition was disposed of with this order.

The court order can be read here.

Related:

SC stays Raj HC order directing suspension of sentences, bail pleas to not be listed as “urgent matters”
ICMR revises Covid-19 testing protocol
Kerala HC stays controversial decision of govt on home delivery of liquor
Distressed over the plight of India’s internal migrants: UN Human Rights chief

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India 131st out of 180 countries on child survival rankings: WHO-UNICEF-Lancet report

The report highlights the various contributors – social, environmental and other, that threaten the lives of children everywhere

21 Feb 2020

child health

According to a new WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission report called ‘A future for the world’s children?’ India ranks 131st among 180 countries in the category of child survival.

The report states that no country in the world is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures. It also stated that the health and future of every child is under “immediate threat” from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children.

The report also says that children must be put at the centre of every country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, even though it has been five years since these goals were adopted, “few countries have recorded much progress towards achieving them”.

Health Issues India states that though the country has improved on many counts – it recorded a 30 percent decrease in newborn mortality rates – it still continues to face an evident socioeconomic crisis. While the report states that there are positive examples of how policy changes have worked and how change can be driven through citizen action, India still has a long way to go.

The infant mortality rate in India currently stands at 33 per 1,000 live births, meaning nearly 800,000 to 850,000 infants die every year in India, the average daily number standing at 2,350. Speaking to IE, Lu Gram, India Index developer at the Institute for Global Health, UCL, said, “In terms of basic survival, one-fifth of Indian households still live in extreme poverty, nearly half do not have access to improved sanitation, and over a quarter do not have access to a skilled birth attendant. The government has launched initiatives such as Swachh Bharat, Janani Suraksha Yojana and MNREGA, etc. to deal with these issues, but it remains to be seen whether they will successfully tackle them or not. In terms of children’s ability to thrive, India displays some of the worst indicators on child nutrition in the world, as 28 per cent of children are low birth weight and 42 per cent are stunted. It also has some of the highest rates of intimate partner violence, with 39 per cent of women having experienced IPV in the past (compared to 11-15 per cent seen in high-income countries). Another issue is the high youth suicide rate, as suicide is the most common cause of death for the 15-29 age group.”

India is also riddled with problems of malnutrition, 69 percent of deaths of children below the age of five were caused due to it. Not just this, a contradictory issue of obesity is also on the rise among Indian youth. By 2030, the country is set to be home to 27 million obese children, becoming a major driver of childhood obesity.

The report highlights how children have been adversely hit by marketing, especially through internet and mobile targeting. A public survey conducted between September 2018 and December 2018 showed that 88.8 percent of youth started drinking before the legal drinking age and could procure alcohol without any age check.

A report by the Tobacco Atlas stated that 625,000 children in India ranging from 10 – 14 years of age continue to use tobacco each day. It states that though 0.64 percent boys – a number fewer than other countries smoke tobacco in India each day, the number is still pegged at more than 429,500 boys making the issue a dire public health threat.

Even climate change and environmental pollution – challenge that the country’s government has pledged to overcome still stands to daunt it today.

The report reads, “Children and young people are full of energy, ideas and hope for the future. They are also angry about the state of the world.”

India deals with vast amounts of air and water pollution. In the past, India stood 177th out of 180 countries which were ranked for their environmental performance. Air pollution, the report stated, caused 1.1 million deaths in the country each year and more than 5 cities in India stood in the top 10 list of the world’s most polluted cities.

Anthony Costello, a co-author of the Lancet report said that India faced manifold challenges related to climate change in the near future. “We don’t want to bequeath our children an unsafe world, with increasing heatwaves, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, water shortages, population migration and malnutrition. India faces all of these challenges in the near future,” he told Health Issues India, adding that “the Indian government should recognise that every effort to tackle climate change will be good for the health of children and all families: clean air, clean water, better play areas, safer roads, better nutrition, and population stability.”

Citing a National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) case study from India, the WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission report states that state officials and communities have increased public awareness of their rights and empowerment to demand these rights. However it says that more focus needs to be given to data collection as the use of data can effectively contribute to monitoring and planning health policies and programmes, including those relevant to children’s health and wellbeing, and their potential for wider scale-up.

It is the duty of Prime Ministers and cabinets to think across all ministries about the impact on the health of the children and their future, Costello says. The report too emphasizes – “Since threats to child health and wellbeing originate in all sectors, a deliberately multi-sectoral approach is needed to ensure children and adolescents survive and thrive form the ages of 0-18 years, today and in the future. Citizen participation and more importantly, soliciting the inputs of children and adolescents themselves, apart from the contribution of the government is imperative to grant the children the future they deserve.


Related:

India ranks first in child deaths under 5 years of age: UNICEF report               
Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to effects of climate change
Our children’s future

 

India 131st out of 180 countries on child survival rankings: WHO-UNICEF-Lancet report

The report highlights the various contributors – social, environmental and other, that threaten the lives of children everywhere

child health

According to a new WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission report called ‘A future for the world’s children?’ India ranks 131st among 180 countries in the category of child survival.

The report states that no country in the world is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures. It also stated that the health and future of every child is under “immediate threat” from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children.

The report also says that children must be put at the centre of every country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, even though it has been five years since these goals were adopted, “few countries have recorded much progress towards achieving them”.

Health Issues India states that though the country has improved on many counts – it recorded a 30 percent decrease in newborn mortality rates – it still continues to face an evident socioeconomic crisis. While the report states that there are positive examples of how policy changes have worked and how change can be driven through citizen action, India still has a long way to go.

The infant mortality rate in India currently stands at 33 per 1,000 live births, meaning nearly 800,000 to 850,000 infants die every year in India, the average daily number standing at 2,350. Speaking to IE, Lu Gram, India Index developer at the Institute for Global Health, UCL, said, “In terms of basic survival, one-fifth of Indian households still live in extreme poverty, nearly half do not have access to improved sanitation, and over a quarter do not have access to a skilled birth attendant. The government has launched initiatives such as Swachh Bharat, Janani Suraksha Yojana and MNREGA, etc. to deal with these issues, but it remains to be seen whether they will successfully tackle them or not. In terms of children’s ability to thrive, India displays some of the worst indicators on child nutrition in the world, as 28 per cent of children are low birth weight and 42 per cent are stunted. It also has some of the highest rates of intimate partner violence, with 39 per cent of women having experienced IPV in the past (compared to 11-15 per cent seen in high-income countries). Another issue is the high youth suicide rate, as suicide is the most common cause of death for the 15-29 age group.”

India is also riddled with problems of malnutrition, 69 percent of deaths of children below the age of five were caused due to it. Not just this, a contradictory issue of obesity is also on the rise among Indian youth. By 2030, the country is set to be home to 27 million obese children, becoming a major driver of childhood obesity.

The report highlights how children have been adversely hit by marketing, especially through internet and mobile targeting. A public survey conducted between September 2018 and December 2018 showed that 88.8 percent of youth started drinking before the legal drinking age and could procure alcohol without any age check.

A report by the Tobacco Atlas stated that 625,000 children in India ranging from 10 – 14 years of age continue to use tobacco each day. It states that though 0.64 percent boys – a number fewer than other countries smoke tobacco in India each day, the number is still pegged at more than 429,500 boys making the issue a dire public health threat.

Even climate change and environmental pollution – challenge that the country’s government has pledged to overcome still stands to daunt it today.

The report reads, “Children and young people are full of energy, ideas and hope for the future. They are also angry about the state of the world.”

India deals with vast amounts of air and water pollution. In the past, India stood 177th out of 180 countries which were ranked for their environmental performance. Air pollution, the report stated, caused 1.1 million deaths in the country each year and more than 5 cities in India stood in the top 10 list of the world’s most polluted cities.

Anthony Costello, a co-author of the Lancet report said that India faced manifold challenges related to climate change in the near future. “We don’t want to bequeath our children an unsafe world, with increasing heatwaves, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, water shortages, population migration and malnutrition. India faces all of these challenges in the near future,” he told Health Issues India, adding that “the Indian government should recognise that every effort to tackle climate change will be good for the health of children and all families: clean air, clean water, better play areas, safer roads, better nutrition, and population stability.”

Citing a National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) case study from India, the WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission report states that state officials and communities have increased public awareness of their rights and empowerment to demand these rights. However it says that more focus needs to be given to data collection as the use of data can effectively contribute to monitoring and planning health policies and programmes, including those relevant to children’s health and wellbeing, and their potential for wider scale-up.

It is the duty of Prime Ministers and cabinets to think across all ministries about the impact on the health of the children and their future, Costello says. The report too emphasizes – “Since threats to child health and wellbeing originate in all sectors, a deliberately multi-sectoral approach is needed to ensure children and adolescents survive and thrive form the ages of 0-18 years, today and in the future. Citizen participation and more importantly, soliciting the inputs of children and adolescents themselves, apart from the contribution of the government is imperative to grant the children the future they deserve.


Related:

India ranks first in child deaths under 5 years of age: UNICEF report               
Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to effects of climate change
Our children’s future

 

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How a child's Slippers were used to terrorize a school: Bidar

21 Feb 2020

bidar sedition

Imagine a posse of policemen led by a senior officer with the rank of a Deputy Superintendent raiding a home looking for evidence in a case of sedition. You would think they were looking for terrorists, or for guns and ammunition or bombs and the material that makes them.

You would be hopelessly wrong. The police were looking for a child's slippers. The child in question was at home, a student in the sixth standard. The bewildered and terrified child dutifully answered the questions they asked: Did you lend your slippers to anyone? If so, to whom? Yes, she had lent her slippers to a friend. Why?

Because she knew her friend was poor and did not have slippers nice enough to wear on stage for a class play. Did you know what they were going to be used for? The child was puzzled. Slippers to wear of course, she wore them and returned them to me.

The child brought out the object of their interest. She watched the policemen smile at each other as they examined her slippers, turned them this way and that. Her slippers were triumphantly wrapped up and carried away by the police, a day's duty done, India saved in the nick of time by yet another act of sedition. Bizarre? Absurd?

Insane? Welcome to the Indian version of a Kafkaesque world, a reality, not a nightmare that you can wake up from and say, oh, thank goodness, it was just a bad dream.

Something like this actually happened on the night of January 31 in the town of Bidar in North Karnataka when a child was interrogated and her slippers taken as evidence in a case of sedition filed by the Bidar police against two women, Fareeda Begum and Nazbunissa.

It all started on January 21 when the children of Class 6 and 7 in the Shaheen School in Bidar performed a skit as part of their class activity on social issues. Discussions on contemporary topics and role play by students is part of the syllabus in most schools.

The developments around CAA are a topic of discussion with a significant number of parents, particularly in minority-populated areas, taking part in the protests. Children have become part of the discussion. There is nothing surprising about this.

We could not have imagined even a decade ago that a teen would shake the world, mobilizing millions of children in the battle against climate change. Here in India, thousands of children have been deeply impacted by the CAA and the hate-filled speeches of our leaders. They watch them, hear their speeches and are filled with dread.

They also have access to platforms like YouTube and TikTok and watch the many shows by satirists and speeches and learn the slogans given by students in colleges and universities across the country against the CAA..."Azadi".

The script for the skit performed by the children was a cut-and-paste job from material in the public domain against the CAA, NRC and NPR. It included slogans, jokes and dialogues. 

A nine-year-old girl played the role of a mother and another played the role of her son. Ultimately in the skit, the mother convinces her son that nothing will happen to them and they will not have to leave the country. In the course of the performance, the mother says, "Yesterday, the boy who was selling tea is now asking for our papers. 

 I ask him, where is he born, where are his documents, if he doesn't show them, I will beat him with slippers...you boil and sell poisonous tea, we put the sugar of love in it. We will not show our documents." The performance was uploaded on a social media platform by a parent who is a journalist. Within a day, a local BJP leader filed a case against the management of the school. 

The police led by the Deputy Superintendent arrived at the school and demanded the children, around seven or eight of them, aged between nine and twelve years, should be called. The children were interrogated not once but five times. In violation of child protection laws, they were intimidated by men in uniform. 

The nine-year-old who played the role of the mother was a special target. On January 26, when the rest of India was celebrating the completion of 70 years of our constitution, in Bidar, two women were arrested - Nazbunissa, the 35-year-old mother of the child actor, and Fareeda, the principal of the school. 

They were arrested on charges of sedition, on charges of propagating communal disharmony between communities and had to spend a fortnight in jail before they were released. Five others, including the Chairman of the Society who was not even present in the town, are also accused. 

It is true that it is inappropriate in a children's performance for words such as "We will beat him with chappals" to be used even though there was no direct naming of the Prime Minister, the dialogue referring to a boy selling tea asking for documents when he could not produce his own educational qualifications was clear enough. 

 At best, the district educational authorities could have taken note and expressed their disapproval. 

In the bail order, the local court, which was given a transcript of the play, has held that there is no evidence in the play of communal disharmony or incitement of hatred against any community. 

 The court also mentions there is no evidence that the women arrested were involved since their names have not been mentioned in the FIR. 

Legal counsel for the women will surely move for cancellation of the charge of sedition in the next hearing. Perhaps it is at that stage that the police will produce their "evidence" – 

a child's slippers! What will the argument be? That the child was wearing slippers because she was intending to actually go to Delhi to beat the PM with those slippers? Or that she wore the slippers to gesture what she would do with them? Would it have been less seditious if she had been barefoot? 

Often, we do not fully realize the enormous cost that common citizens pay in these days of hate-filled politics. Such politics also generates an utter irrationality within the system, when the desire to please the rulers spreads like a plague among all levels of the bureaucracy, leading to the most bizarre actions which even the best satirists could not dream of. 

Such is the role of the police in this Bidar case. The statements of top leaders of the ruling regime inciting hatred, senior ministers like Amit Shah issuing threats every time they speak, have a most damaging impact on society and on systems of governance that impact the day-to-day lives of citizens. 

Apart from everything are the real lives of the women accused in the case. Fareeda Begum, around 50 years old, has worked hard as an educationist and has a reputation as a strict but extremely caring teacher, helping her students get good grades. 

She has been the main breadwinner of her family, bringing up her two daughters. Nazbunissa is a widow and has just this one daughter. Eager to get her a good education, Nazbunissa left her village and started working as a domestic worker in Bidar. 

Such is the intelligence of her daughter that she got through the entrance exam of the school and did well enough to earn herself a scholarship. She is talented in other fields too, which is why her classmates chose her to enact the role of the mother in the play.

 I met the two women in Bidar jail, along with my colleagues in the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA). I also met the child and the teachers and management of the Education Society that runs the school. It was heartbreaking to see the child. 

She was in the care of her mother's employer, a relative of one of the members of the school board. She was stoic; perhaps at this young age and through the hard times of poverty and dependence, she has learnt not to show her emotions in case it displeases those in positions of power over her and her mother. I spoke to her of inconsequential things. 

 But when I asked her whether she liked acting, her little face lit up and she said, "Oh yes, I do, I can act again if I am asked to, but now maybe I will not get that chance." 

The school, a minority-run institution, is most impressive with a socially diverse community of 9,000 students, more than half of whom belong to non-Muslim families. It has won several state awards, most notably for its programme entitled "Academic Intensive Care Unit" where they run an intensive educational programme for dropouts between classes 10-12. Such has been the success of this programme that many of the students have gone on to college where they have got good grades. 

 I was told by local journalists that the charges against the institution were also motivated by rival educational institutions, jealous of its success and recognition as one of the best in the region. 

The hypocrisy and double standards shown up by this case are equally glaring. Just a month earlier in December, after the Ayodhya verdict in the Supreme Court, the students in a school owned by an RSS-leader, the Sri Rama Vidyakendra High School in Kalladka near Mangalore, enacted a play in which the children put up a poster of the Babri Masjid and then tore it, symbolizing the demolition of the masjid amid slogans of "Jai Shri Ram". 

 The chief guests at the function included Kiran Bedi, the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, who tweeted her approval, union minister Sadananda Gowda and many other state BJP leaders and ministers. The video shows the highly communal nature of the play enacting an event called grossly illegal by the Supreme Court. But no action was taken. 

A few weeks ago, the country witnessed slogans to shoot at traitors raised by the Minister of State for Finance in the Modi government. But not even an FIR was registered, not even after there were three actual incidents of shooting, clearly linked to the minister's incitement. 

The child in Bidar may be able to overcome and forget her trauma in the happiness of being united with her mother. But we should not forget. Popular resistance to such authoritarian abominations as the Bidar case, depends on our remembering.

Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha and the article that also appeared on ndtv.com is being reproduced with her permission

 

How a child's Slippers were used to terrorize a school: Bidar

bidar sedition

Imagine a posse of policemen led by a senior officer with the rank of a Deputy Superintendent raiding a home looking for evidence in a case of sedition. You would think they were looking for terrorists, or for guns and ammunition or bombs and the material that makes them.

You would be hopelessly wrong. The police were looking for a child's slippers. The child in question was at home, a student in the sixth standard. The bewildered and terrified child dutifully answered the questions they asked: Did you lend your slippers to anyone? If so, to whom? Yes, she had lent her slippers to a friend. Why?

Because she knew her friend was poor and did not have slippers nice enough to wear on stage for a class play. Did you know what they were going to be used for? The child was puzzled. Slippers to wear of course, she wore them and returned them to me.

The child brought out the object of their interest. She watched the policemen smile at each other as they examined her slippers, turned them this way and that. Her slippers were triumphantly wrapped up and carried away by the police, a day's duty done, India saved in the nick of time by yet another act of sedition. Bizarre? Absurd?

Insane? Welcome to the Indian version of a Kafkaesque world, a reality, not a nightmare that you can wake up from and say, oh, thank goodness, it was just a bad dream.

Something like this actually happened on the night of January 31 in the town of Bidar in North Karnataka when a child was interrogated and her slippers taken as evidence in a case of sedition filed by the Bidar police against two women, Fareeda Begum and Nazbunissa.

It all started on January 21 when the children of Class 6 and 7 in the Shaheen School in Bidar performed a skit as part of their class activity on social issues. Discussions on contemporary topics and role play by students is part of the syllabus in most schools.

The developments around CAA are a topic of discussion with a significant number of parents, particularly in minority-populated areas, taking part in the protests. Children have become part of the discussion. There is nothing surprising about this.

We could not have imagined even a decade ago that a teen would shake the world, mobilizing millions of children in the battle against climate change. Here in India, thousands of children have been deeply impacted by the CAA and the hate-filled speeches of our leaders. They watch them, hear their speeches and are filled with dread.

They also have access to platforms like YouTube and TikTok and watch the many shows by satirists and speeches and learn the slogans given by students in colleges and universities across the country against the CAA..."Azadi".

The script for the skit performed by the children was a cut-and-paste job from material in the public domain against the CAA, NRC and NPR. It included slogans, jokes and dialogues. 

A nine-year-old girl played the role of a mother and another played the role of her son. Ultimately in the skit, the mother convinces her son that nothing will happen to them and they will not have to leave the country. In the course of the performance, the mother says, "Yesterday, the boy who was selling tea is now asking for our papers. 

 I ask him, where is he born, where are his documents, if he doesn't show them, I will beat him with slippers...you boil and sell poisonous tea, we put the sugar of love in it. We will not show our documents." The performance was uploaded on a social media platform by a parent who is a journalist. Within a day, a local BJP leader filed a case against the management of the school. 

The police led by the Deputy Superintendent arrived at the school and demanded the children, around seven or eight of them, aged between nine and twelve years, should be called. The children were interrogated not once but five times. In violation of child protection laws, they were intimidated by men in uniform. 

The nine-year-old who played the role of the mother was a special target. On January 26, when the rest of India was celebrating the completion of 70 years of our constitution, in Bidar, two women were arrested - Nazbunissa, the 35-year-old mother of the child actor, and Fareeda, the principal of the school. 

They were arrested on charges of sedition, on charges of propagating communal disharmony between communities and had to spend a fortnight in jail before they were released. Five others, including the Chairman of the Society who was not even present in the town, are also accused. 

It is true that it is inappropriate in a children's performance for words such as "We will beat him with chappals" to be used even though there was no direct naming of the Prime Minister, the dialogue referring to a boy selling tea asking for documents when he could not produce his own educational qualifications was clear enough. 

 At best, the district educational authorities could have taken note and expressed their disapproval. 

In the bail order, the local court, which was given a transcript of the play, has held that there is no evidence in the play of communal disharmony or incitement of hatred against any community. 

 The court also mentions there is no evidence that the women arrested were involved since their names have not been mentioned in the FIR. 

Legal counsel for the women will surely move for cancellation of the charge of sedition in the next hearing. Perhaps it is at that stage that the police will produce their "evidence" – 

a child's slippers! What will the argument be? That the child was wearing slippers because she was intending to actually go to Delhi to beat the PM with those slippers? Or that she wore the slippers to gesture what she would do with them? Would it have been less seditious if she had been barefoot? 

Often, we do not fully realize the enormous cost that common citizens pay in these days of hate-filled politics. Such politics also generates an utter irrationality within the system, when the desire to please the rulers spreads like a plague among all levels of the bureaucracy, leading to the most bizarre actions which even the best satirists could not dream of. 

Such is the role of the police in this Bidar case. The statements of top leaders of the ruling regime inciting hatred, senior ministers like Amit Shah issuing threats every time they speak, have a most damaging impact on society and on systems of governance that impact the day-to-day lives of citizens. 

Apart from everything are the real lives of the women accused in the case. Fareeda Begum, around 50 years old, has worked hard as an educationist and has a reputation as a strict but extremely caring teacher, helping her students get good grades. 

She has been the main breadwinner of her family, bringing up her two daughters. Nazbunissa is a widow and has just this one daughter. Eager to get her a good education, Nazbunissa left her village and started working as a domestic worker in Bidar. 

Such is the intelligence of her daughter that she got through the entrance exam of the school and did well enough to earn herself a scholarship. She is talented in other fields too, which is why her classmates chose her to enact the role of the mother in the play.

 I met the two women in Bidar jail, along with my colleagues in the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA). I also met the child and the teachers and management of the Education Society that runs the school. It was heartbreaking to see the child. 

She was in the care of her mother's employer, a relative of one of the members of the school board. She was stoic; perhaps at this young age and through the hard times of poverty and dependence, she has learnt not to show her emotions in case it displeases those in positions of power over her and her mother. I spoke to her of inconsequential things. 

 But when I asked her whether she liked acting, her little face lit up and she said, "Oh yes, I do, I can act again if I am asked to, but now maybe I will not get that chance." 

The school, a minority-run institution, is most impressive with a socially diverse community of 9,000 students, more than half of whom belong to non-Muslim families. It has won several state awards, most notably for its programme entitled "Academic Intensive Care Unit" where they run an intensive educational programme for dropouts between classes 10-12. Such has been the success of this programme that many of the students have gone on to college where they have got good grades. 

 I was told by local journalists that the charges against the institution were also motivated by rival educational institutions, jealous of its success and recognition as one of the best in the region. 

The hypocrisy and double standards shown up by this case are equally glaring. Just a month earlier in December, after the Ayodhya verdict in the Supreme Court, the students in a school owned by an RSS-leader, the Sri Rama Vidyakendra High School in Kalladka near Mangalore, enacted a play in which the children put up a poster of the Babri Masjid and then tore it, symbolizing the demolition of the masjid amid slogans of "Jai Shri Ram". 

 The chief guests at the function included Kiran Bedi, the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, who tweeted her approval, union minister Sadananda Gowda and many other state BJP leaders and ministers. The video shows the highly communal nature of the play enacting an event called grossly illegal by the Supreme Court. But no action was taken. 

A few weeks ago, the country witnessed slogans to shoot at traitors raised by the Minister of State for Finance in the Modi government. But not even an FIR was registered, not even after there were three actual incidents of shooting, clearly linked to the minister's incitement. 

The child in Bidar may be able to overcome and forget her trauma in the happiness of being united with her mother. But we should not forget. Popular resistance to such authoritarian abominations as the Bidar case, depends on our remembering.

Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha and the article that also appeared on ndtv.com is being reproduced with her permission

 

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NRC Assam: Respite for excluded children if parents are in final list

CJP’s IA had secured the order from the SC that children who were excluded from the final NRC list if their parents’ names are in it not be sent to detention centers

14 Feb 2020

Assam NRC

On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha was informed that pending a final decision, the government has decided not to send to the detention centre, children who were excluded from the final NRC (National Register of Citizens) in Assam but whose parents were included in the list.

Nityanand Rai, the Union Minister of State for Home said that the approved standard operating procedures for disposal of claims and objections had specific provision for children who got left out from the draft NRC, while their parents had been included.

In a written reply to the question he said, “Attorney General for India stated on January 6, 2020 before the Supreme Court that the children of parents included in NRC, Assam, will not be separated from their parents and sent to detention centre in Assam pending decision on the application.”

This comes as a big win for Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) who in November 2019 had filed an Intervention Application, in a writ petition case through its counsel Aparna Bhat stating cases of children excluded from the list even when their parents and, in some instances, the relatives/guardians of the children are part of the NRC.

In order to illustrate the severity of the issue, a detailed list of 61 such children excluded from the list, in which their parents were included, was presented to the court.  The case studies of 3 children were also detailed to help the apex court understand the ground realities and sufferings of families separated due to this arbitrary process of NRC.

These included the story of Hasmat Ali who has three minor children. While his and his wife’s name was included in NRC, their children’s names found no place in it and since then he has had to rush from one hearing to another which are held at far-away places, collecting all kinds of documents, incurring large expenses, even taking money on loan, to ensure his children do no end up in detention camp.

The said application prayed the apex court to pass orders to the office of the Coordinator to immediately take steps to ensure that no child is left out of the NRC especially in cases where the parents/guardians/caregivers were included in the list. It also asked that in the interim, the court pass orders directing state of Assam not to take any coercive action against the children or separate them from their families.

In this regard, in its order, given on the January 6 hearing, the Supreme Court directed the Assam government to ensure that no children of parents whose names had been included in the final NRC list be sent to detention centres or be separated from their parents until the said application by CJP was fully considered.

The reply of MoS Home, Nityanand Rai can be read below.

The Supreme Court order may be read below.


Related:  

Rein'state'ed - The case of the 'exchanged' women at Partition
Exclusive! MP to begin Census House listing & NPR from May 1- June 14
Telangana issues Census notification, sparks fear of NPR-NRC

 

NRC Assam: Respite for excluded children if parents are in final list

CJP’s IA had secured the order from the SC that children who were excluded from the final NRC list if their parents’ names are in it not be sent to detention centers

Assam NRC

On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha was informed that pending a final decision, the government has decided not to send to the detention centre, children who were excluded from the final NRC (National Register of Citizens) in Assam but whose parents were included in the list.

Nityanand Rai, the Union Minister of State for Home said that the approved standard operating procedures for disposal of claims and objections had specific provision for children who got left out from the draft NRC, while their parents had been included.

In a written reply to the question he said, “Attorney General for India stated on January 6, 2020 before the Supreme Court that the children of parents included in NRC, Assam, will not be separated from their parents and sent to detention centre in Assam pending decision on the application.”

This comes as a big win for Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) who in November 2019 had filed an Intervention Application, in a writ petition case through its counsel Aparna Bhat stating cases of children excluded from the list even when their parents and, in some instances, the relatives/guardians of the children are part of the NRC.

In order to illustrate the severity of the issue, a detailed list of 61 such children excluded from the list, in which their parents were included, was presented to the court.  The case studies of 3 children were also detailed to help the apex court understand the ground realities and sufferings of families separated due to this arbitrary process of NRC.

These included the story of Hasmat Ali who has three minor children. While his and his wife’s name was included in NRC, their children’s names found no place in it and since then he has had to rush from one hearing to another which are held at far-away places, collecting all kinds of documents, incurring large expenses, even taking money on loan, to ensure his children do no end up in detention camp.

The said application prayed the apex court to pass orders to the office of the Coordinator to immediately take steps to ensure that no child is left out of the NRC especially in cases where the parents/guardians/caregivers were included in the list. It also asked that in the interim, the court pass orders directing state of Assam not to take any coercive action against the children or separate them from their families.

In this regard, in its order, given on the January 6 hearing, the Supreme Court directed the Assam government to ensure that no children of parents whose names had been included in the final NRC list be sent to detention centres or be separated from their parents until the said application by CJP was fully considered.

The reply of MoS Home, Nityanand Rai can be read below.

The Supreme Court order may be read below.


Related:  

Rein'state'ed - The case of the 'exchanged' women at Partition
Exclusive! MP to begin Census House listing & NPR from May 1- June 14
Telangana issues Census notification, sparks fear of NPR-NRC

 

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