Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Friday, November 30, 2007

Run a mile to put a smile on Child's face: Mumbai Marathon 2008

Marathon fever is here, and this year I am going to be participating in the charity run of the Mumbai Marathon 2008 on 20th January! Like last year, I will be helping raise funds for an NGO – Mumbai Mobile Creches – that supports children on construction sites be safe, healthy and educated. Many of you supported this cause last year through your generous donations, and in fact, they were able to reach 4800 kids…a record! This year, they have set a target of 6000 children, and it's really important for me to help them to reach this.

For over 35 years, Mobile Creches has been dedicated to providing children living on construction sites with basic education, nutrition and healthcare.Through its 22 centers in the city, Mumbai Mobile Creches reaches out to over 4,000 children in Mumbai each year. However, there are an estimated 100,000 children living on construction sites in the city. Clearly, many more children need such support and new centers need to be set up.

We will be an exciting, vibrant and enthusiastic group taking the Mumbai Mobile Creches cause to the streets of the city. Our team will include staff, volunteers and supporters and, of course, a bunch of children from our centers. The money we raise will go toward ensuring that many more children on Mumbai's construction sites will be safe, healthy and educated.

If you agree to support Mumbai Mobile Creches, they assure you that your concern will go a long way toward ensuring child-friendly construction sites in Mumbai.

So join with your friends, colleagues and family and RUN FOR MUMBAI MOBILE CRECHES, and make difference to the life of a Child.

LAST DATE TO REGISTER: Thursday, December 6, 2007

For registration please contact today:
NEETA KHAJURIA: 022-2202 0869 / 022-32457774 / 09833953525

Email: / /


Now is your last chance to be a part of the Mumbai Marathon 2008.

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Anti Aging Hormone found ?

A new study on Klotho, an anti-aging hormone that is associated with life span extension in rodents and humans, has discovered that it might be the next "fountain of youth."

Dr. Carmela Abraham, a professor of biochemistry and medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and her colleagues observed that the levels of Klotho in the brain showed a prominent decline with aging.

They found that that insulin, a hormone usually associated with diabetes, increases the levels of secreted Klotho.

They propose that Klotho could become the next "fountain of youth" if further researches are conducted to increase its level to those levels found in young individuals.

The link between Klotho and aging prompted Abraham's group to examine the regulation of Klotho further.

The Klotho protein sits in the membrane of certain cells but is also found circulating in serum and cerebrospinal fluid, which indicates that it is secreted. The fact that Klotho is secreted suggested that enzymes that act like scissors must be involved in the liberation of Klotho from the cell membrane.

Dr. Ci-Di Chen, an assistant professor working in Dr. Abraham's group, then sought to discover the enzymes responsible for Klotho release and also investigated other factors that may affect the release of active Klotho.

They found that insulin increases significantly the levels of secreted Klotho.

According to the team, the reason this finding is important is because surplus insulin has been previously implicated in a biochemical pathway that is associated with a decreased life span and elevated oxidative stress.

In addition, they add, this observation provides a potentially crucial link between Klotho and sugar metabolism, and raises an interesting relationship between Klotho and type II diabetes, commonly known as late onset diabetes.

The authors are proposing a novel mechanism of action for Klotho whereby insulin increases Klotho secretion, i.e., activity, and in turn, the secreted Klotho inhibits insulin's actions in the cell, which are known to be detrimental when insulin is in excess.

Following these findings, the Abraham laboratory is now studying various ways to increase the level of Klotho to those levels found in young individuals.

"The findings reported here may lead to new research designed to regulate the aging process, in other words, compounds that would increase Klotho could become the next "fountain of youth," said Abraham.

News by (ANI)


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Orphanages: Where Tears Go Unseen

Unlike other animals human infants survive on the heat of their mothers' breast and the most liked lullaby for them is the heart beats of their mother. Human kids are so helpless even to fulfill the basic needs of life as it may take months for them to be able to stand on their feet. The affectionate touch of mother is more than anything to them and the presence of the parents, of course needed more than any comfort on earth. What if such an infant is left alone in this world with no mother to feed when feeling hungry, with no mother to lift up when fallen down, with no mother to console with a soft kiss when tears roll down on the cheeks and with no mother to sing a lullaby when sleep closes the eyes? Such unwanted, left alone children reach in orphanages where children of no one is kept and cared.

Orphanages are places where silence is the only lullaby and anguish is the only companion. It is where moms and dads are only two conceptual beings and the tender loving care of parents is only a distant dream. Orphanage may be a building where children with cheerless face wander around and where melancholy is the only tune heard around; this is the flashing image when thinking of an orphanage. Lavish food may be provided, life may go beyond luxury; but orphanages lack the most inevitable thing in human life, the loving, caring, and affectionate presence of parents. Living in a situation where no sprouts of parental love is germinated, these children most often grow up as rebels and the only emotion they feel within them is the flaming revenge against this merciless world which has abandoned them in the gloom of loneliness.

It is at the tender ages the personal development of a child is happening as one absorbs all the human qualities from parents. It is only in a homely atmosphere a child feel secured. Orphanages may provide them with a shelter and necessary living conditions. But the life in an orphanage always let the child to remember that he/she is an orphan, having no dear ones, in contrast to the children outside, to be with them always and love them. Sleeping alone at midnight he/she has no other way than shedding few drops of tears when a monster comes in the nightmares, or comprise the agony in an unheard sigh when stretching the hand to hug an unseen mother.

Children, the living angels on earth are to be considered as the most precious gift given to humanity. They are not to be left alone or to be thrown away mercilessly just because these miniature human race are so tender and helpless to raise their hands to protest or are wordless to question the hellish brutality of the so called civilized modern human beings. Their childhood is to be spent like colourful butterflies enjoying the affectionate care of parents unlike spending the life in prison like orphanages waiting for a dad and mum who, they know, may come never to lock them in an embrace.

Each drop of tear fallen on the lonely corridors of an orphanage is really like a sea of shame on the modern human vanity and selfishness, which demoniacally throw away their children to streets. Each unheard cry of children may echo from seas and sky as words of judgment for leaving them alone in this world. It is not a charity to build clouds-reaching huge mansions for left alone children to live, but the essence of real charity abide in our genuine desires to not have one more orphan child in this world. It is high time for us to pledge that there should not fall anymore tear from an orphan child on this earth. Let our children grow under the love, care and endearment of lovely parents as today's pets and tomorrow's promises.

By Saneesh Michael


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

All India NGO summit : Sangam 2008

This is a personal invitation to the ALL India NGO summit happening from Jan 31st to Feb 2nd 2008 at the Art of Living Foundation International Centre in Bangalore. The summit aims to bring together NGOs engaged in different sectors and across different regions- to come together in knowledge, wisdom and action.

As India ventures to build itself into a developed nation, it is imperative that development is sustainable to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. India must therefore, take into account environmental concerns in addition to economic progress.

In an era of globalization and international trade, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from time to time have ensured & enabled the creation of a vital civil society. These are the stakeholders who have ever been at the forefront, towards meaningful development oriented initiatives. They have today assumed a position of
vital importance both at the policy level and at grass roots, in contributing valuable information and ideas, advocating effectively for positive change, and increasing the accountability and legitimacy of the governance process.

Sangam 2008: The All-India NGO Summit for Environment, is an initiative by the Art of Living, through its sister concern, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), in partnership with the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), and with technical support from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. The vision behind Sangam 2008 is to get India’s foremost social workers on
one common platform and unite to face the challenges of environmental sustainability.

Sangam 2008 aims to incorporate the presence of a host of NGOs working in different sectors – such as education, healthcare, agriculture, pollution, women empowerment, child protection issues, environment, natural disaster management, trauma relief, etc.

All social service sectors are intrinsically connected to the environment - for example slum rehabilitation with water and sanitation, anti-corruption with environmental governance, rural development with organic farming, education with environmental ethics, to name just a few linkages. With the correlation between development and environment, the entire program has been designed to be extremely interactive, engaging and hands on, with ample opportunity for contribution of ideas from delegates across the nation from varied fields.This Summit shall magnetize all the Individual NGO Spirits towards a Nationalized Task Force of Interdependence
& Partnerships ---‘A Concerted Contribution for A Better Environment’.

Sangam will take place from January 31st- 2nd February 2008, at The Art of Living International Centre, Bangalore. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the world-renowned humanitarian, spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living, will inaugurate the Summit in presence of the representatives from United Nations
Millennium Campaign Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India and other key dignitaries.

The following are the Key note speakers at the summit:

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Founder of the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values, which work to revive human values,promote global peace and guide comprehensive service and development endeavors.

Dr. Rajendra.K.Pachauri : Dr. R.K.Pachauri,recently conferred the 2007 Noble Peace Prize for his work as the chairman of the Intergovernmental panel on Climate change, is also the Director-General for Tata Energy adn Resources Institute.

Dr. Ashok Khosla: Dr. Khosla is a former Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. He was awarded the 2002 Sasakawa Enviroment Prize and has been names in the UNEP's Global 500 Roll of Honor.

Sunderlal Bahuguna: Shri Bahuguna is a noted environmentalist who has fought for the preservation of the Himalayas and also the leader of the famous Chipko movement.

Dr. Vandana Shiva: Physicist, feminist, philosopher of science,writer and science policy advocate.

Kartikeya V Sarabhai : Founder-Director of the Center for Environment Education, an Ahmadabad -based institute that is nationally supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, as a center for Excellence in environmental education.

The Delegate Registration Fee of Rs. 5000 (Rs Five Thousand Only) covers the conference fee and material and also the accommodation and food at the Art of Living International Centre, Bangalore.

Payment by Demand Draft in favor of “International Association for Human Values” Payable at New Delhi.

Stalls at the conference Venue can also be booked for display, sale and promotion of your work.

Delegate Registration and Stall Booking closes on the 31sth of December 2007.

We shall be very grateful for your participation and look forward to hearing from you soon in the positive.

Contact for registration and more deatils:
Reshma Kurup
Art of Living Foundation

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Amnesty condemns attack on farmers in Nandigram

Amnesty International is concerned at reports of an upsurge in political violence since November 6 in Nandigram, eastern Midnapore (West Bengal), which has led to at least nine deaths, more than 15 persons injured and the displacement of hundreds of local inhabitants.

Amnesty International is particularly concerned at reports that state officials may have been complicit in attacks on farmers belonging to the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC, Anti Displacement Committee), an organization formed in late 2006 to protest against their possible displacement due to planned construction of a industrial project in the area.

Human rights organizations have reported that violence erupted on November 6 as armed supporters of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) fired several rounds at local farmers belonging to the BUPC.

The state police reportedly failed to take action against the armed men, and also to fulfil their duty to protect the local population. The firing was followed by retaliatory attacks by armed supporters of the BUPC.

Over the last year, as violence has escalated between CPI-M which leads the ruling Left Front coalition in West Bengal and farmers linked to the BUPC, at least 25 persons have been killed and more than 100 injured. At least 20 women have reportedly been sexually assaulted during the violence, with at least 2,000 people displaced from their homes.

The majority of the displaced are living in makeshift camps, unable to return to their homes for fear of being caught up in the violence.

Violence was sparked in January 2007 after sustained protests from local farming communities because they feared that the industrial project would lead to their mass displacement.

In March 2007, 14 persons, mostly local residents were killed when police and armed men, widely believed to be affiliated with the CPI-M, opened fire on demonstrators. After the incident, the state government has said it would relocate the project, but outbreaks of political violence have continued.

Amnesty International remains concerned that, following the deaths of several persons in Nandigram in January and in March 2007, the Government of West Bengal failed to order impartial inquiries in to the killings.

Additionally, the organization is further concerned that the state government successfully petitioned the Kolkata High Court to stay the investigation, ordered earlier by the court, to be carried out by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), into the March violence.

Amnesty International believes that the continuing unrest in Nandigram has been aggravated by the failure to effectively investigate and to prosecute those individuals believed responsible for violence incidents that have resulted in the death of at least 25 persons over the last year.

Amnesty International calls on the Government of West Bengal to:

Pave the way for an impartial and independent inquiry into the Nandigram violence during the past year;

Promptly make the findings public and to bring to justice those believed to be responsible for the violence in proceedings that meet international standards of fair trial and do not impose the death penalty;

Ensure that all state officials, including police personnel, who are suspected of being responsible for human rights violations, including excessive use of force, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are brought to justice in proceedings that meet international standards of fair trial and do not impose the death penalty;

Ensure the safe return of all displaced communities to Nandigram and neighbouring areas.


The Nandigram industrial project, requiring at least 4,000 hectares of land to establish a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), was to be jointly developed as a chemical hub by the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation and the Indonesia-based Salem group of companies.

The Government of West Bengal is to announce an alternate location for the project.

The West Bengal state government plans to set up at least six other major industrial projects, including SEZs, in the state, necessitating the acquiring of at least 10,000 hectares of land.

In a bid to boost national economic growth, India has been promoting SEZs across the country. The policy of acquiring and for such industrial projects continues to spark protests from local communities fearing land displacement and threats to their sustainable livelihood.

Source: Amnesty International

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Not a single penny spent on social welfare in Indian capital

Documents accessed by Hindustan Times show that the Social Welfare Department has failed to spend even a single penny on several schemes in the first seven months of this year, leading to all round failure in providing relief to vulnerable sections of society.

The department has funds to provide scholarship to 800 disabled persons a year. In the first seven months of the financial year, however, no one has actually got the benefit.

The disabled unfriendly bureaucracy of the state government has another disgrace to its name. It has to give unemployment allowance to 2,380 disabled persons but has failed to identify even a single person so far.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the government schemes have failed to reach the intended beneficiaries. The department is supposed to provide financial assistance to 3,750 widows but again has failed to give a single assistance. The department has to set up 10 juvenile shelter homes but seven months have lapsed in the year and none has been set up so far.

There are several other areas where the Social Welfare Department has failed miserably. A primary school for the deaf is to be built at Nehru Vihar.

The status report shows that so far, the work has not been initiated and no money has been spent at all. The other schemes where no money has been spent and no work done, despite a financial sanction, include development programme for the mentally retarded and national programme for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.

A halfway home was supposed to be built for the improved mental patients, discharged from IHBAS at Shahdara. The work is still to be initiated. The development of Tahirpur leprosy complex and development of Sewa Kuteer complex for the visually challenged too faced a roadblock.

Old age homes for which Rs 4.5 crore has been sanctioned remains unutilised. The list with the HT shows there are a large number of schemes in which not even a single penny has been spent in the financial year.

“In about four remaining months of the financial year, officials will hurry to spend the money and will come up with ill-conceived schemes and give dole to those who do not need assistance at all. It’s a dismal picture,” said a senior official, who did not wish to be named.

When contacted, Social Welfare Minister Yoganand Shastri said responsibility would be fixed, if laxity was found on the part of the officials in implementing the schemes of the government. “We would ensure that in the remaining months, the schemes conceptualised by the government gets implemented,” said Shastri.

Source: Hindustan Times

By Amitabh Shukla

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

India Needs Her Small Farmers

India is a land of small farmers, with 650 million of her 1 billion people living on the land and 80 per cent farmers owning less than 2 ha of land. In other words, the land provides livelihood security for 65 per cent of the people, and the small farmers provide food security for 1 billion.

Policies driven by corporate globalisation are pushing farmers off the land, and peasants out of agriculture. This is not a natural evolutionary process. It is a violent and imposed process. The 150,000 farmers suicides are one aspect of this violence. The killing of dozens of peasants in Nandigram who were resisting land acquisition for a Special Economic Zone is another aspect of the violence involved in the forced uprooting of India's small farmers.

Citizens have been outraged and shocked by both dimensions of the violence against the providers of our food. Yet the government is putting the policies of uprooting the peasantry on fast forward. The Prime Minister, the Agriculture Minister, the Head of the Planning Commission have all made statements that are in effect a declaration of a war against the small farmers, treating two-thirds of India's population as disposable.

On 26th March 2007, while addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh stated, " As I said recently in Parliament, we have to recognize that in a country like ours, where the average size of landholding is small, there are limitations to what you can do to improve agricultural productivity." (Pioneer, 27/03/07)

This is a false assumption, as Navdanya's work over two decades has shown. Infact, it is the small biodiverse farm, which has higher productivity than large industrial farms. Large farmers and industrial farming has serious limitations on increasing agricultural productivity.

Productivity is output per unit input. Biological productivity is output per unit acre. Small biodiverse farms have higher productivity than monocultures, which are a necessary aspect of industrial agriculture based on external inputs. Higher biological productivity translates into higher incomes for small farmers. In Rajasthan, monocultures of Pearl Millet gave Rs. 2480 of net profit per acre, whereas a biodiverse farm of Pearl Millet Moth Bean Sesame gave Rs. 12045, a difference of nearly Rs. 10,000 per acre. In Uttaranchal, a monoculture of paddy gave Rs. 6720 per acre, whereas a biodiverse farm gave Rs 24,600 per acre, a difference of Rs. 16,000. In Sikkim, a monoculture farm of maize gave Rs. 4950 per acre while a mixed farm of maize, radish, Lahi saag and peas gave Rs. 11,700. Navdanya's rice and wheat farmers have doubled the production of rice and wheat by using indigenous seeds and organic methods. Jhumba rice in Uttaranchal has 176 quintal per ha of biomass production compared to 96 quintal per ha of Kasturi, a high yielding rice variety. The paddy yields are 104 and 56 quintal per ha respectively.

Farmers in West Uttar Pradesh have got 62.5 quintal per ha using a native wheat variety 308 for organic production compared to 50 quintal per ha for chemically produced wheat.

Small farmers have tremendous scope for increasing productivity because the natural capital - the soil, the water, the biodiversity, can be enhanced through conservation and rejuvenation. On large farms, natural resources are exploited and depleted. The soil looses fertility through chemical fertilizers; it is compacted by heavy machinery. Water is over exploited since chemical farming needs ten times more water than ecological farming. Biodiversity is eroded since industrial scale farming can only be practised as a monoculture. And energy use is intensified, contributing to global warming. The small farms of India have the highest potential for increasing productivity. There are scientific reasons for this. A small farmer can intensify biodiversity and the higher the biodiversity, the higher the productivity and stability and sustainability of agriculture. A large farm has to intensify external inputs such agrichemicals and fossil fuels, which lower the productivity, and lead to non-sustainability and economic and ecological vulnerability. When the industrial model of high external inputs is imposed on small farmers, the result is debt and suicides. The industrial model of farming is at the root of farmers' suicides. Yet, the disease is being offered as a cure.

Small biodiverse farms based on internal inputs are in fact the only promise for increasing agricultural productivity, whether productivity is defined in terms of biological productivity or in terms of financial returns, or in terms of energy. Large industrial farms use ten times more energy than they produce as food, most of the energy goes to pollute the atmosphere and destabilize the climate. The present Prime Minister needs to remember the words of an earlier Prime Minister of India, Choudhary Charan Singh who had said,

"Agriculture being a life process, in actual practise, under given conditions, yields per acre decline as the size of the farm increases (in other words, as the application of human labour and supervision per acre decreases). The above results are well nigh universal; output per acre of investment is higher on small farms than on large farms. Thus, if a crowded, capital-scarce country like India has a choice between a single 100 acre farm and forty 2.5 acre farms, the capital cost to the national economy will be less if a country chooses the small farms."

Yet, every government institution, which should be looking after the welfare of the country and the welfare of small farmers, is launching an assault on the peasantry. The Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, whose job is to look after farmers' and provide them livelihood security has stated that farmers' need to be "weaned" off the land.

And the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia has talked of "the feasibility of large corporate ownership of farmland" (Economic Times, 28/03/07)

The peasants of Singur and Nandigram, Paradip and Kalinga Nagar, have declared loudly and consistently that they intend to farm their land. The future defined by the majority of small farmers of India is in terms of their land sovereignty and food sovereignty. India needs her small farmers because her freedom is in their hands. Wherever the totally inappropriate model of industrial corporate agriculture has been applied, farmers are in distress, the soil has been destroyed, and the water has been over exploited and polluted. And wherever the government has pushed rural communities off the land for industrialization, it has had to use violence and has created zones where Naxalism is viewed as the only alternative.

A food secure and peaceful India is in the hands of her small farmers. Without small farmers, India will be a food insecure, violent and undemocratic society.

The Congress came to power because the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) had neglected demands of the small farmers. The Congress lost two regional elections because of the crisis in food and agriculture the government is creating in order to benefit its friends in the corporate world - the Monsanto's and Cargills, the ITC's and Levers, the Reliance's and Wal-Mart's.

In 2009, India will have its general elections. If the anti-farmer, pro-corporate policies continue to be pushed by the Prime Minister, the Agriculture Minister, the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, the Congress will have to pay a heavy price.

By Vandana Shiva


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Climate Change Threatens The Fight To End Poverty

The former United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, brought about a remarkable consensus among world leaders to establish the Millennium Development Goals and for the world to meet these by 2015. But, as Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-moon, told about 80 heads of state and government in September, it is now clear that climate change threatens the achievement of these goals, so vital to the wellbeing of human society and the elimination of widespread poverty.
Why is global action urgent and necessary to meet the challenge of climate change? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that warming of the climate is unequivocal; further, that average northern hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely higher than for any other 50-year period in the past 500 years and likely the highest in at least the past 1300 years.

The panel has also determined that most of the observed increase in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

But climate change is not taking place in a smooth, linear fashion. For instance, the frequency of heavy precipitation events has increased over most land areas and so also the duration and intensity of droughts, particularly in the tropics and subtropics.

Climate change is likely to add to several stresses that already exist in the poorest regions of the world and affect the ability of societies in these regions to pursue sustainable livelihoods.

By 2020 between 75 million and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to an increase in water stress due to climate change in Africa. Coupled with increased demand, this will adversely affect livelihoods and exacerbate water-related problems.

Another sector likely to be affected adversely in some of the poorest regions of the world is agriculture. It has been assessed that agricultural production in many African countries and regions would be severely compromised by climate variability and change.

The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential - particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas - are expected to decrease. In some countries yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020.

Another serious impact of climate change is the melting of glaciers all over the world, and this has serious implications for South Asia and parts of China. Glacial melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding and rock avalanches from destabilised slopes and affect water resources downstream within the next two to three decades, due to decreased river flow as the glaciers recede.

Water availability is projected to be affected in Central, South, East and South-East Asia. Given the fact that population growth and increasing demand resulting from higher standards of living would require larger quantities of water, the impact of climate change could adversely affect more than a billion people in respect of water availability in Asia by the 2050s.

Climate change and its impacts in the most vulnerable regions require a careful evaluation of humanitarian assistance across the globe. Increased resources will be required for adaptation to climate change.

This undoubtedly would be a far better approach for the global community to pursue than to provide emergency assistance in the event of catastrophes and extreme events.

There are equity dimensions to climate change that also deserve attention. While adaptation is inevitable and urgent, the increase in emissions of greenhouse gases, if not mitigated by the developed nations, will lead to much higher temperatures and much more serious impacts. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that strategies involving both adaptation and mitigation are pursued.

The cost of mitigation, as assessed by the climate change panel, is very modest in relation to the cost of impacts across the world. If mitigation is not implemented, then income and wealth disparities between nations will increase, and the existence of poverty on a large scale, which should be ethically unacceptable, could pose a threat to global security and stability.

The possibility of large numbers of people becoming environmental refugees is not only a humanitarian problem of serious proportions but also has the potential for social disruption that needs to be avoided.

Stringent mitigation needs to be undertaken immediately, and existing technologies and methods are available for this. Adaptation to climate change, particularly involving the poorest communities in the world, assumes urgency.

In view of the new knowledge provided by the panel, the world needs to take climate change as a serious problem that needs a humanitarian approach.

By Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was the joint winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and director-general of the Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi.

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Stop Domestic Violence Now!

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is a historic step towards a gender sensitive law in India. However, the big question remains, how is it different from other existing laws of the land? Why is this law unique? Most importantly, what are the benefits an aggrieved person can get from this law?

Before the passing of this act, any effort to make a new law for women always faced tough resistance from patriarchal and religious leaders. Needless to say, the process of creating this piece of legislation has gone through the same struggle. However, once enacted, this law provides a historical opportunity to make a path towards gender just laws for all the women of India irrespective of their faith.

The Protection of women from domestic violence act 2005, is unique and different from other existing laws. Some of the salient features are mentioned below:
(1) It provides a civil remedy to the aggrieved person/s. This means that the law does not solely rely on a criminal procedure of guilty and punishment. Niti Saxena of the Association for the Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) has more to add, ‘also as a civil law it is more survivor driven, unlike criminal law which revolves around state, police and prosecution. Because of the lack of civil remedy options, forced victims took shelter under criminal law, which was not adequate in certain circumstances.’

(2) Experience shows that for the criminal procedure, the aggrieved person has to face immediate exit from the shared household. Also sometimes, the criminal law becomes insufficient to deal with the different and complex forms of violence. Niti also strongly agreed. She said ‘This is the first time under this law that domestic violence and domestic relations have been defined viz. recognition of violence faced by women in natal home and within a marriage like situation. The act also provides for the right to reside in “shared household” which goes beyond “matrimonial household” thus covering mothers and sisters too.’

(3) Its uniqueness can be understood from the provision of the act to provide immediate and emergency relief to victims. The law also designated a new post named as Protection Officer. A protection officer has very crucial role to play in providing relief and justice to the victim. A stop violence order can be issued in form of protection order with the intention of providing safe and secure space for the survivor.

(4) It can be used as a deterrent to the abusive person. The law makes strict provision to stop the abuser to repeat his/her act. It gives an opportunity to males of the household to think over their behavior and change the attitude towards the female members of the family.

(5) As mentioned above, being a civil law, the intention of it is to provide relief and support to the survivor and not to penalize the perpetrator. The law does not necessarily intend to arrest a person for the act of domestic violence. It forces the respondent i.e. the perpetrator to comply with the orders passed by magistrate in favor of the victim (see below for the details). However if the perpetrator continues to commit violence or does not comply with the order (or aggrieved person continues to feel threatened), such violation is seen as a criminal offence under the law and the perpetrator can be arrested. On the non compliance, he can also be given a punishment of a one year jail sentence or a fine of Rs. 20,000.

In keeping with ground reality wherein the legal system and processes have been inaccessible to most of the women, Niti points out, this law has been conceptualized to be more survivor oriented with simple provisions to ensure immediate relief. According to the Act, anyone who has a reason to believe that an act of domestic violence has been, or is being or is likely to have been committed may give information to the PO. The complaint can be from the aggrieved person or anyone on behalf of her. It can also be filed by a doctor who may be treating the victim/s. According to the Act, an aggrieved person can file a complaint to (a) a protection officer, who is appointed by the government under the provision of this law (b) directly to the judge designated for the DV cases (c) directly to the police and (d) or through the service providers. A victim can choose either of these options.

But the big question remains, what are the reliefs an aggrieved person can get? These provisions are dealt in length under article 18 to 22 of the act. These provisions are-
(A)Protection orders- Article 18 of the law states, a magistrate can pass a protection order and prohibit the respondent from-
-committing any act of domestic violence.
-entering the place of employment of the aggrieved person or, if the person aggrieved is a child, her school or any other place.
-attempting to communicate in any form.
-operating to bank lockers or bank accounts.
- causing violence to the dependents or persons who offer assistance to the aggrieved person.

( (B)Residence orders- Under article 19, the magistrate can pass a residence order-
-restraining the respondent from dispossessing or in any other manner disturbing the possession of the aggrieved person from the shared household.
-restraining the respondent or any of his relatives from entering any portion the shared household.
-directing the respondent to remove himself from the shared household.
-directing the respondent to secure same level of alternate accommodation to the aggrieved person as enjoyed by her in the share household or to pay the rent for the same.

(C)Monetary relief- The magistrate may direct the respondent to pay monetary relief to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person. It includes-
-loss of earnings.
-medical expenses.
-loss caused due to the destruction, damage or removal of any property from the control of the aggrieved person.
-maintenance for her and her children.

(D) Custody orders- Magistrate may grant temporary custody of any child or children to the aggrieved person.

(E) Compensation order- Uniqueness of this act may be see in this provision. Under this act, magistrate may pass an order directing the respondent to pay compensations and damages for the injuries, including mental torture and emotional distress caused by the act of domestic violence.

The last but not least point is, an aggrieved woman can also file a complaint against the relatives of her husband/male partner including the female relatives. These provisions are much more elaborate in the law itself. Evidently, provisions are made to safeguard and provide essentials for a violence free life of the aggrieved person. In addition to the provision of this act, the aggrieved person can also file a complaint under other criminal laws that already exist.

By Nasiruddin Haider Khan, a Hindi language journalist, got HPI fellowship for working on the rights of the Muslim Women. He also writes a blog in Hindi.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Gujarat Muslims: The Way Ahead

Many a voice have emerged from a small section of Muslim community which is arguing that Muslims should unilaterally forgive the pain they suffered during the carnage of 2002. This section says that we should draw from the reality of Gujarat where the religious and other community leaders have refused to apologize for the crimes committed in the name of Ram. Also that the state apparatus is so communalized that chances of getting justice are bleak, and how long a community can live in such a state of pity and victim hood, it affects their self respect and dignity. This section does see that civil rights groups are fighting for the rights of Muslim minority against odds, irrespective of their religion.

One can appreciate the personal magnanimity of those who personally suffered serious losses due to violence against them, like Mrs. Gladys Stains who personally forgave the killers of her husband and children. Jesus and Gandhi urged the people to put another cheek forward when slapped on one. One has to see the difference between personal magnanimity and the political assault of a section of people to victimize the weak. One has to see that the communal violence is not just violence against person but is also a part of political agenda of some. The crimes against a person can not be forgiven in law, as justice is the basis of tranquility and peace in society. The question is, can such a position of individual/ individuals to forgive the crimes against them be acceptable to major sections of victims in Gujarat? Many a religious teaching do emphasize on forgiveness. Are such things applicable to the situation of those facing Gujarat Muslims?

There are many a precedents where the culprits have been forgiven. South Africa was the major experiment, where truth and reconciliation commission undertook a massive exercise in this direction. The starting point there was that the culprits confessed to their crimes. Reconciliation followed. Personally putting forward another cheek when someone slaps is based on the basic human understanding that the one slapping you has a potential for reforming, will have remorse of his actions and will feel apologetic about what he has done.

In Gujarat the things are very different. The communalization of society was going on from many decades. The demonization of Muslim minority went unhindered for a long time, and violence was used as a method of polarizing communities. Later Dalits, Adivasis were co-opted to unleash on the Muslim community by clever social engineering. The truth of this has been reconfirmed by Tehelka expose (Novemember 2007). Modi used the pretext of Godhra to unleash the genocide. The state machinery is totally communalized, no rehabilitation, no justice for victims, and there is a deliberate marginalization of Muslims to the status of second class citizens! Today in Gujarat not only are communities polarized, the partitions between communities are becoming worse and deeper by the day. No body is asking forgiveness as the criminals, Modi downwards, believe, that what they did was for their religion, was right, and was needed to teach ?them? (Muslims) a lesson. There is also an un-spelt understanding that they will anyway be protected by the mighty arm of the Hindu Rashtra of Gujarat. So whom are you going to forgive?

The problem is essentially that of violation of democratic rights and civil liberties. Problem is that Gandhi?s Gujarat has been manipulated to become Godse-Modi?s Gujarat. Modi, the mass murderer, is hero for large sections. He is acquiring a halo around him duly helped by a section of media. The alternative pole, the one of Congress is more interested in electoral arithmetic and so far has been behaving as B team of RSS combine. The defense of democracy and forthright stand for secular values has been put on the backburner.

One can understand the painful sigh of a section of Muslims, some of whom may be thinking on these lines. This section, seems to have accepted and internalized the second class status and seem to be willing to be on the bent knees to live in this Hindu Rashtra, where Indian constitution is present by its absence. Can there bee peace without justice? Can there be dignity and self respect if the injustice is inbuilt into the social system and is institutionalized to the core?

Are the civil rights groups working just for minority community? The work of civil rights groups is more a defense of democratic rights and civil liberties than just a defense of rights of this or that religious group. It is more a question of defending our constitution and not just the rights of minorities. Can we call it a democratic society if a large section has to reconcile its status as the one of a second class citizen? RSS combine is celebrating this relegation of minority rights, as now more and more villages of Gujarat are putting the hoarding of Welcome to so and so village Hindu Rahtra of Gujarat?.

While totally empathizing with this section of Muslims one has to turn the criticism to the larger democratic polity. What have we done to our democracy? How is the status of democracy judged? One of the parameters is to see as to how safe and secure the minorities are. At another level the acceptance of such position of Muslims is a sign of total surrender of democracy to the religious fascism, which is on ascendance more so in Gujarat. And this intimidation of minorities is just the beginning. As we witnessed in Germany, the same thing is being played here in the slow motion. Jews were the first target, followed by communists, trade unionists and later sections of Christian minorities. Here in India the order planned by RSS combine is Muslims, Christians, Secularists and other weaker sections of society, in that order.

When Gujarat is facing elections and many forecasters are talking of Modi's return, the time has come to put all our energies to save democracy there. The time that we get over the diffidence, that Modi is too clever to be defeated, that the polarization has gone too far to be repaired. These may be part of the deliberate propaganda of the well oiled machine which organized Gujarat pogrom. We need to reassert that there is no substitute for democracy. The treatment of ills of democracy is more democracy and more democracy. National integration means that we have the overarching national, Indian community in which any injustice to one is the injustice to all. Any undermining of the rights of one section tantamount to erosion of the values of our freedom movement and the principles as given in our Constitution, which these communal elements do not hold by.

Even today the chasm between the religious communities can be bridged by broadening the awareness about our syncretic traditions, Bhakti and Sufi. There is an urgent need to remind people that Hindus and Muslims have lived together for centuries. What has been propagated is opposite of this that there is a centuries old fight between Hindus and Muslims. Even today there is a need to remind people every where that freedom movement was the movement in which all communities participated equally. We need to remember that Hinduism of Gandhi and Islam of Maulana Abul Kalam unites people while Hinduism of Godse-Modi-RSS and Islam of Jinnah-Muslim League-Taliban divide the people.

It is never too late to counter the negativity injected by communal forces and bring back the humane values ingrained in our plural history to ensure that the process of remorse, reconciliation and justice comes to the fore, and Muslims feel as much at home as any one else. That a section of our society is made to think that one sided forgiveness is the only way out just shows that our system is deeply infected and needs to be cleansed by the spirit of Indian ness. And that's where all the conscientious and aware citizens believing in democracy have to stick together, for getting justice for all and to soothe the wounds of those thinking of unsolicited, unilateral forgiveness.

By Ram Puniyani


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Barbarism On The Rise – Civilization On The Wane

Democracy has become an empty word that the world leaders kick around like an inflated balloon when it serves their interests. What is of importance to the Corporatocracy that is running the planet is very much the opposite of democracy. What the leaders are depending on for the continuation of the current misrule of the world is centralized power and dumbed-down, apathetic and poverty-stricken masses who pose no danger to the status quo.

Democracy doesn't promote the interests of the ruling plutocrats. Their goal is to concentrate all the money and power in the tiny elite that hold the strings of the dancing puppets who are politicians. Government and business are all one and the same. Or different parts of the same monster. Some hold the strings of power, others do the kicking and dancing.

What is the difference between a totalitarian state which controls all the means of production and one where the owners of the means of production control the state? A different brand of totalitarianism but the contempt for the people could not be more deadly.

To make the control game possible, the people have to be drugged, muzzled and rendered powerless. Also, the means of running the show have to be deprived of all transparency. Propaganda, biased or filtered media news coverage, violent punishment of 'disobedient' individuals, all clouded in a web of secrecy – these are the tools for running this show of the most flagrant in-egalitarian state of the world that has ever existed. The former lords of money empires pale in comparison to the multi-billionaires of today's distorted world.

Laws have to be ignored or annulled. People who might possibly become a threat to the puppeteers have to be rendered harmless. By any means possible. There are no more any legal limits to what can be done to individuals who are arbitrarily declared to be terrorists or aiding and abetting the 'enemy'. Since international and national laws have become irrelevant, it is no more a big deal to get rid of undesirable persons.

There is also a general tendency to destroy what are considered superfluous masses of people through calculated starvation, wars and well planned genocide. Added to this, there is a carefully staged neglect of the lower classes – with more and more of the so-called middle classes falling into the category of the working poor.

Instead of individual nations taking care of their own interests – economy, education, health care and the general running of business – we now have transnational powers, both political/financial (WTO, IMF, the World Bank) and the big corporations, who see to the piling up of the wealth of the planet in the hands of a very limited number of plutocrats. Those are the soulless robots who hold the strings of power and who make decisions like so many machines. They decide which people are destined for extinction and which ones can in some way be useful for the money and power machines.

The current dehumanizing process may have started in the U.S. but other nations are following suit. Money is what counts. People are expendables. So there is less and less concern for the rights and the well-being of the people. Use them as slaves, but make sure they are left ignorant and docile, easy to bend to the needs of the powerful.

Europe is slavishly following in the steps of the Empire in the West, and so is Russia. Concentration of power in the executive, which is a Siamese twin of the Big Corporations, is an essential step in the direction of making people powerless pawns. The legislators and the judges are easily bought up by the corporations and so we have a powerless Congress, a symbolic Parliament, a docile Reichtag, a voiceless Duma.

There is fierce competition for the diminishing hydrocarbon resources of the world and the war is on for the domination of the strategic areas where the essential riches of the planet are concentrated.

Europe is fiercely hanging on to the coattails of the U.S., not risking getting left out when the wealth is divvied up. However, China and India will be ever more powerful competitors to the West as far as the limited existing resources are concerned. And all over the world, the urge for producing agro-fuel – at any cost – is raging. If fields used to grow needed food have to be converted to the growing of agro-fuel crops, so be it.

Obviously all U.S. politicians who subscribe to the supremacy of the Empire are loyal to the idea of an indefinite occupation of Iraq. They are even blindly willing to go along with expanding our influence in the Great Middle East, attacking and occupying other neighboring sovereign countries, running the risk of causing a complete collapse of the entire region. And all the while, Israel, the U.S. 51st State, is doing its utmost to aid the American ambition of destabilizing and ultimately conquering the region.

In all of this desperate grabbing of power and resources, the fate of the people is of no importance whatsoever, nor is there any concern for the environment and the possibility of a continuation of life on our planet.

The whole idea of setting the world aflame for the unipolar domination of the most precious resources seems totally senseless since, at the same time, the planet is thoughtlessly being destroyed and made unlivable for future generations in the name of short-term profits.

What is going on in the world at this time is utter self-destruction and it is looking less and less credible that the U.S. Empire, which is leading the destruction, will ever come to its senses and reverse the trend.

There may still be a chance that the world can be ecologically, financially and socially saved. But where is the Gandhi, where is the Martin Luther King, where are the men and women with hearts and brains who are willing to step up and lead the world back to sanity?

By Siv O’Neall , an columnist, based in France. She can be reached at

Source :

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.


Suggestions for a National water grid for transferring water from water rich regions to water-deficit areas have been made from time to time. Two proposals, put forth earlier in the seventies which attracted considerable attention, are National Water Grid by Dr. K. L. Rao and Garland Canal by Captain Dastur. These proposals were not pursued further by the Government as they were not techno-economically feasible.

The Ministry of Water Resources (erstwhile Ministry of Irrigation) and Central Water Commission formulated a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for Water Resources Development in 1980. The NPP comprises of two components viz. i) Peninsular Rivers Development and ii) Himalayan Rivers Development and envisages construction of storages on various river systems along with interlinking canal systems to transfer water from water surplus areas to water deficit regions. National Water Development Agency (NWDA) was set up in 1982 to study the feasibility of Interbasin water transfer proposals and give a concrete shape to NPP.

Based on various studies NWDA has identified 30 links( 16 Peninsular & 14 Himalayan) for preparation of Feasibility Reports (FRs). Out of these, FRs of 14 links under Peninsular Component & 2 links (Indian portion) under Himalayan Component have already been completed. Further, NWDA has also taken up the work of preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for one priority link under Peninsular Component namely Ken-Betwa Link.

The implementation of inter-linking of rivers in the country depends upon the consensus and cooperation of the concerned States and agreements with the neighbouring countries. One of the links namely, Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal has been envisaged under NPP to provide irrigation in the water deficit/arid areas of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in Chambal basin. The FR of this link had been completed in 2004. The States of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have also agreed in principle for the preparation of DPR of this link.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Water Resources, Shri Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav in response to a question by Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi in the Rajya Sabha today.

27th Nov 2007


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Adivasi's Still Given Inhuman Treatment

She stepped out of her safe cover in a protest march, to get her birth rights. Alas! The lady didn't know that she would be the prey of humiliation and distress even in the fast progressing 21st century. Read about the most humiliating incident of the human world of the year that took place in Guwahati, where a tribal woman was stripped and assaulted on the streets by the local residents.

The incident took place on 24th November 2007, during a clash between local residents and tribal protesters belonging to the All Adivasi Students Association (AASA), in which one person was killed and more than 230 injured. As the mob violence spread like wild fire over to various city localities, a group of youths stripped a young Adivasi woman in full public gaze.They later kicked and punched her private parts with a naughty grin of winning over a helpless woman. She ran terrorized like a scared chic to find some help from somebody only to realize, that she was getting beaten by every man on the streets. The photographs of the helpless woman running naked for her life were splashed in local newspapers, and every news channel evoking a nationwide debate about the police inaction.

Later, when the tribal woman had lost all hopes on something called humanity some people took off their shirts and helped her cover herself, before arranging a vehicle to ferry her to the nearest police station. Just to end the story with a note that there is still a ray of hope.

After three successive day police framed charges ranging from rape to molestation on the three youths involved in the act among which two of them were postgraduates. The Chief Minister of Assam announced a financial assistance of Rs 100,000 to the woman. However what would the charges and the money mean to the girl who lost all that she owned in the mid heat of gruesome protest? Has anybody thought about the physical and the mental agony she is going through? Can that be replaced with few years of punishment to the molesters or a handful of priced papers?

How can men who have gather postgraduate degrees act like macho kings on a woman who sometimes takes her hand to either cover her blissful assets and sometime to protect her private parts? Isn't the act a sure cry against human rights?

The Adivasis or tribals of Assam are descendants of those brought from central India by the British more than a century ago to work in the tea gardens as indentured labour. They are now demanding recognition as a "Scheduled Tribe" which would bring them benefits in education and employment.

Whether they would ever get their demands is a debatable question, and the answer is known only by the authorities who own the ruling seat. However after the inhuman and barbaric incident, our land has proved that some people still lack moral values. Where do we rank ourselves still? Back in the cave man's age? Wake up world.... there is lots to fight for?

By Sharon Supriya


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HIV/AIDS in India and World Bank response

State of the Epidemic

The Government of India estimates that in 2006, about 2.45 million Indians were living with HIV (1.75 - 3.15 million) with an adult prevalence rate of 0.41%. India’s highly heterogeneous epidemic is largely concentrated in six states — in the industrialized south and west, and in the north-eastern tip. On average, HIV prevalence in those states is 4–5 times higher than in the other Indian states. HIV prevalence is highest in the Mumbai-Karnataka corridor, the Nagpur area of Maharashtra, the Nammakkal district of Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Manipur and Nagaland.

The Indian epidemic continues to be concentrated in populations with high risk behavior characterized by unprotected paid sex, anal sex, and injecting drug use with contaminated injecting equipment. Several high risk groups have high HIV prevalence, and sexual networks are wide and inter-digitating. According to India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the bulk of HIV infections in India occur during unprotected heterosexual intercourse. Consequently, and as the epidemic has matured, women account for a growing proportion of people living with HIV (38 percent in 2005), especially in rural areas. The low rate of multiple partner concurrent sexual relationships among the wider community seem to have, so far, protected the larger body of people with 99 percent of the adult Indian population being HIV negative. However, although overall prevalence remains low, even relatively minor increases in HIV infection rates in a country of more than one billion people could translate into large numbers of people becoming infected.

Recent data suggests there are signs of a decline in HIV prevalence among sex workers in areas where focused interventions have been implemented, particularly in the southern states although overall prevalence levels among this group continues to be high. Data also indicate that there is a slow decrease in HIV prevalence among the general population in southern states. Although more analysis is required, this probably means that the number of people becoming newly infected with HIV is decreasing. This decrease is more perceptible in states such as Tamil Nadu where the intensity of HIV prevention efforts has been high.

Risk Factors

Several factors put India in danger of experiencing rapid spread of HIV if effective prevention and control measures are not scaled up throughout the country. These risk factors include:

Unsafe Sex and Low Condom Use: In India, sexual transmission is responsible for 84 percent of reported HIV cases and HIV prevalence is high among sex workers (both male and female) and their clients. In Mumbai and Pune, for example, 54 percent and 49 percent of sex workers, respectively, were found to be HIV-positive (NACO, 2005). A large proportion of women with HIV appear to have acquired the virus from regular partners who were infected during paid sex. HIV prevention efforts targeted at sex workers are being implemented in India. However, the context of sex work is complex and enforcement of outdated laws often act as a barrier against effective HIV prevention and treatment efforts. Indeed, condom use is limited especially when commercial encounters take place in ‘risky’ locations with low police tolerance for this activity. In addition, interventions tend to primarily target brothel-based sex workers, who represent a minority of sex workers. HIV information and awareness among sex workers appears to be low, especially among those working in the streets. Some prevention programs run by sex workers’ cooperatives —in Sonagachi, Kolkata, for example—have encouraged safe paid sex practices and have been associated with lower HIV prevalence (Kumar, 1998; Jana et al., 1998).

Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM): Relatively little is known about the role of sex between men in India’s HIV epidemic, but the few studies that have examined this subject have found that a significant proportion of men in India do have sex with other men. In two states where data have been collected, HIV prevalence of 6.8 percent and 9.6 percent were found among MSM in Chennai and Mumbai, respectively (NACO, 2004). More recently, HIV prevalence of 12 percent was found among MSM seeking voluntary counseling and testing services in Mumbai, and 18 percent prevalence was found at 10 clinics in Andhra Pradesh. In some areas, a substantial proportion of MSM also sell sex. Poor knowledge of HIV has been found in groups of MSM. The extent and effectiveness of India’s efforts to increase safe sex practices between MSM (and their other sex partners) will play a significant role in determining the scale and development of India’s HIV epidemic.

Injecting Drug Use (IDU): Injecting drug use is the main risk factor for HIV infection in the north-east (especially in the states of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland), and features increasingly in the epidemics of major cities elsewhere, including in Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi (MAP, 2005; NACO, 2005). Using shared injecting drug equipment is the main risk factor for HIV infection in the north-east, and features increasingly in the epidemics of cities in other states. Products injected include legal pharmaceuticals (e.g. buprenorphine, pentazocine and diazepam), in addition to heroin. Current interventions targeting IDU tend to be inconsistent, and too small and infrequent to yield demonstrable results. Harm reduction programs need to be extended and expanded as a matter of urgency in those parts of India with serious drug injecting-related HIV epidemics.

Migration and Mobility: Migration for work takes people away from the social environment of their families and community. This can lead to an increased likelihood to engage in risky behavior. Concerted efforts are needed to address the vulnerabilities of the large migrant population. Furthermore, a high proportion of female sex workers in India are mobile. The mobility of sex workers is likely a major factor contributing to HIV transmission by connecting high-risk sexual networks.

Low Status of Women: Infection rates have been on the increase among women and infants in some states as the epidemic spreads through bridging population groups. As in many other countries, unequal power relations and the low status of women, as expressed by limited access to human, financial, and economic assets, weakens the ability of women to protect themselves and negotiate safer sex both within and outside of marriage, thereby increasing their vulnerability.

Widespread Stigma: Stigma towards people living with HIV is widespread. The misconception that AIDS only affects men who have sex with men, sex workers, and injecting drug users strengthens and perpetuates existing discrimination. The most affected groups, often marginalized, have little or no access to legal protection of their basic human rights. Addressing the issue of human rights violations and creating an enabling environment that increases knowledge and encourages behavior change are thus extremely important to the fight against AIDS.
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National Response to HIV/AIDS

Government: Shortly after reporting the first AIDS case in 1986, the Government of India established a National AIDS Control Program (NACP) which was managed by a small unit within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The program’s principal activity was then limited to monitoring HIV infection rates among risk populations in select urban areas.

In 1991, the scope of NACP was expanded to focus on blood safety, prevention among high-risk populations, raising awareness in the general population, and improving surveillance. A semi-autonomous body, the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), was established under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to implement this program. This “first phase” of the National AIDS Control Program lasted from 1992 -1999. It focused on initiating a national commitment, increasing awareness and addressing blood safety. It achieved some of its objectives, notably increased awareness. Professional blood donations were banned by law. Screening of donated blood became almost universal by the end of this phase. However, performance across states remained variable. By 1999, the program had also established a decentralized mechanism to facilitate effective state-level responses, although substantial variation continued to exist in the level of commitment and capacity among states. Whereas states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Manipur demonstrated a strong response and high level of political commitment, many other states, such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, have yet to reach these levels.

The second phase of the NACP began in 1999 and ended in March 2006. Under this phase, India continued to expand the program at the state level. Greater emphasis was placed on targeted interventions for high-risk groups, preventive interventions among the general population, and involvement of NGOs and other sectors and line departments, such as education, transport and police. Capacity and accountability at the state level continues to be a major issue and has required sustained support. Interventions need to be scaled up to cover a higher percentage of the population, and monitoring and evaluation need further strengthening. In order to induce a sense of urgency, the classification of states has focused on the vulnerability of states, with states being classified as high and moderate prevalence (on the basis of HIV prevalence among high risk and general population groups) and high and moderate vulnerability (on the basis of demographic characteristics of the population).

While the government’s response has been scaled up markedly over the last decade, major challenges remain in raising the overall effectiveness of state-level programs, expanding the participation of other sectors, and increasing safe behavior and reducing stigma associated with HIV-positive people among the population.

Preparations for the third phase of the NACP included a comprehensive consultative process including state specific and nationwide consultations with Indian national stakeholders such as PLWHA networks, local and international NGOs, experts and practitioners of HIV control initiatives, as well as international development partners. The transition from NACP I, to NACP 2 and now NACP 3 is one of a gradually more comprehensive response. While for NACP I the main focus was on safe blood and general prevention, NACP 2 established the State AIDS Control Societies and started working with NGOs. Now with NACP 3, Government will build further on these partnerships with civil society organizations but also work towards greater active involvement of the target groups themselves in the program. There will be greater integration of the medical response to the epidemic e.g. through provision of ART, STI services, and treatment of opportunistic infections through the National Rural Health Mission. The surveillance system of the NACP was also greatly improved over the course of the first and second phase and will be further enhanced under the third phase.

Non-Governmental and Community Based Organizations (NGOs & CBOs): There are numerous NGOs and CBOs working on HIV/AIDS issues in India at the local, state, and national levels. Projects include targeted interventions with high risk groups; direct care of people living with HIV; general awareness campaigns; and care for children orphaned by AIDS. Funding for non-government and community-based groups comes from a variety of sources: the federal or state governments of India, international donors, and local contributions.

Donors: India receives technical assistance and funding from a variety of UN partners and bilateral donors. Bilateral donors such as USAID, CIDA, and DFID have been involved since the early 1990s at the state level in a number of states. USAID has committed more than US$70 million since 1992, CIDA US$11 million, and DFID close to US$200 million. The number of major financers and the amount of funding available has increased significantly in the last year. Since 2004, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged US$200 million, and the Global Fund has approved US$54 million for HIV/AIDS for projects in rounds two, three and four. DFID (GBP 107 million) is providing pooled financing together with the Bank (US$ 250 million) in overall support to India’s HIV/AIDS program NACP 3. Other donors include the Clinton Foundation, various UN agencies, DANIDA, SIDA, and the European Union.

Issues and Challenges: Priority Areas

Limited Capacity: There are institutional constraints, both structural and managerial, to scale up at the national and state levels. It is critical that these factors be addressed as the program expands its response to the epidemic. NACO will need to change in its role and responsibilities to provide the leadership and direction for a stronger multi-sector response for the next phase in India’s fight against HIV/AIDS; while the states will need to provide implementation capacity to put a robust program into place. The capacity to mount a strong program is weakest in some of the poorest and most populated states with significant vulnerability to the epidemic. There is a need for tailored capacity-building activities and attention to performance-based financing approaches. In addition, the program also experiences high turnover of state level project directors, resulting in limited continuity and variability in performance across states.

Donor Coordination: There are over 32 large donor agencies working with NACO in different states and on different programs apart from many more who support NGOs in states. Each donor comes with its own mandate and requirements, as well as areas of focus. The transaction cost to the government as a result of attending to the various demands of the donors is huge. There is a need for better coordinating mechanisms among the donors and clear leadership by the Government to reduce the transaction costs.

Use of Data for Decision Making: There remains a need for greater use of data for decision making, including program data and epidemiological data. A lot of data that is being generated is not adequately used for managing the program or informing policies and priorities. Results-based management and linking incentives to the use of data should be explored.

Stigma and Discrimination: Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and those considered to be at high risk remain entrenched. Stigma and denial undermine efforts to increase the coverage of effective interventions among high risk groups such as men having sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users. Harassment by police and ostracism by family and community drives the epidemic underground and decreases the reach and effectiveness of prevention efforts. Though there is significant increase in awareness due to efforts by the government, there is much room for improvement.

Low Awareness in Rural Areas: The results from the 2005 BBC World Service Trust KAP survey (17 states, 22,800 respondants) showed 89 percent of the urban population and 82 percent of the rural population had heard of HIV/AIDS. However, sentinel site behavioral surveillance (2001) showed that although there was high basic awareness levels (82.4 percent in males and 70 percent in females), rural women demonstrated very low rates of awareness in Bihar (21.5 percent), Gujarat (25 percent), and Uttar Pradesh (27.6 percent). New approaches need to be tried to reach rural communities with information about HIV/AIDS, safe sex and how to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS.

World Bank Response

In 1991, the Government of India and the World Bank expanded their collaboration on infectious disease control programs and by 1992 the first National AIDS Control Project was launched with a World Bank credit of US$84 million. The project helped the government to broaden prevention efforts and to establish institutions and procedures necessary to curb the spread of HIV. Building upon lessons learned from the first project, India requested World Bank financing for a follow-on project. With a World Bank credit of US$191 million, the Second National HIV/AIDS Control Project was started. The use of State AIDS Societies to speed the distribution of funds at the state level helped increase the pace of implementation. Most recently, the Bank worked closely with the Government of India and other donors on the preparation of the third National HIV/AIDS Control Project (US$250 million) which was signed in July, 2007. NACP 3 will focus on coordinating all donor and NGO activities within the scope of the country’s program on AIDS control - in consonance with the Three Ones. It proposes higher coverage of groups with high risk behavior (NACP 2 covered 10-60% of groups with high risk behavior, NACP 3 envisages to cover 80% of the high risk groups). NACP 3 also clearly differentiates activities that must be delivered through general health services and places responsibility on those relevant government health programs. It will also further support CBOs to deliver about half of all interventions targeting high risk groups.

The Bank has undertaken analytical work to strengthen the national response, including an analysis of the full array of costs and consequences likely to result from several plausible government policy options regarding funding for anti-retroviral therapy (ART). The Bank has also carried out sector work on the economic consequences of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on India. In April, 2007, the Bank, together with UNODC, AusAID and SIDA, sponsored an inter-country consultation on preventing HIV among injecting drug users.

Source :,,contentMDK:20288516~menuPK:568874~pagePK:34004173~piPK:34003707~theSitePK:496967,00.html?

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

India’s Disability Awareness Week Website Launched

Diversity & Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC) is happy to announce the launch of National Disability Awareness Week (DAW) and the Disability Awareness Week Website to create awareness on the issue of disability in the corporate sector, to commemorate the World Disability Day 2007!

3rd December, World Disability Day (WDD), proclaimed by the United Nations, is to celebrate and acknowledge the experience and capabilities of people with disabilities. The theme for the World Disability Day this year, as announced by the United Nations, is ‘Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities’

We would like to appeal to all corporates to observe Disability Awareness Week from 3rd – 8th December, to create awareness amongst their employees on disability and to make their workplace more inclusive!

There are 100 million people with disabilities in India, majority of whose talents remain untapped due to physical and mental barriers that exist in the society. Let’s use the World Disability Day as an occasion to LEARN, to get INVOLVED and to TAKE ACTION to promote inclusion in our workplace.

Disability Awareness Week Website (, provides information and significance of WDD; information on the common theme; activities that corporates can do during the Week; downloadable awareness & promotional materials; checklists, online Awareness / Training Module, etc.! Sign up at to get regular notification regarding the various updates during the Disability Awareness Week (DAW).

The interested Companies will be provided with necessary information and support from DEOC to conduct awareness activities. The companies can also upload their events for the DAW. We see this as a common platform for creating awareness and for sharing experiences.

Please share this appeal with all the companies that you are working with and encorage them to observe Disability Awareness Week. Also, please do share this with other contacts of yours (DPOs, NGOs, people with disabilities, etc.) for further dissemination.

For any further information / queries please contact the undersigned at 98805 83277 / 080 – 23217588.

We look forward to your active participation in creating an inclusive world that offers equal space for all of us to achieve our potential and that which celebrates diversity.

Warm regards,

Rama Chari
Diversity & Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC)

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.



The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is a unique large scale effort undertaken by citizens of India each year to understand and to help in improving the status of elementary education in the country.

The ASER 2007 team appeals to individuals, organizations, institutions, and businesses to join this national effort to create this year’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). YOU CAN:
• Participate in the survey

• Support the effort with funds

• Spread awareness about ASER


India has almost 200 million children (age group 6 to 14) living in over 1 million habitations. As a country one of our major goals in this decade to ensure that all these children are enrolled in school, attending regularly and learning. Government of India has launched Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan - a massive nation-wide program to ensure that this happens by 2010. To support this ambitious plan, since 2004, every Indian citizen also pays a 2% education cess.

As citizens of India, every year. it is important that we “take stock” and assess how far we have come and how far we still have to go in order to reach the 2010 goals. ASER – the Annual Status of Education Report is the nation-wide effort by citizens to take stock of the situation and plan ahead.


ASER is the largest and uniquely participative household survey on elementary education in India ever done by people outside the government. It is facilitated by Pratham and is executed by local groups in each district. ASER is funded by contributions from institutions and individuals. In 2006, ASER reached over 700,000 children in 15,000 villages in 556 rural districts in India. More than 25,000 volunteers from NGOs, colleges and universities, youth and women groups participated in this effort. Since 2005, each year, the entire ASER effort from start to finish takes only 100 days.


The national picture ……..

Are all children (6-14) in school ?

Very high percentage (93.2%) of children (age 6 to 14) are enrolled in school.

But amongst girls (age 11 -14 ), several states have between 10% to 20% girls out of school.

Are all children (6-14) able to read ?

In Std I, almost half of all children are unable to read alphabets.

In Std III, almost half of all children are unable to read Std I level text.

In Std V, almost half of all children are unable to read Std II level text.

Are all children (6-14) able to do basic arithmetic?

In Std I & II, almost half of all children are unable to recognize numbers.

In Std III & IV, almost half of all children are unable to subtract (with borrowing).

In Std V, almost half of all children are unable to divide (3 digits by 1 digit).


ASER is an annual effort. It will go on until December 2010 – the deadline for achieving quality universal elementary education as declared by Government of India. As in past years, the attempt in 2007 will be to cover all rural districts in the country. This year, we will look at the following aspects of learning: basic reading and comprehension, basic arithmetic and ability to read and understand easy English. In ASER 2007, like in 2005, we will visit government schools. In the school we will observe things like mid day meal, school infrastructure, student and teacher attendance and availability of teaching and learning materials.


Over the last two years, ASER has created major national policy impact by bringing the issue of basic learning in the centre of discussions on elementary education. The national release, in Delhi in both years was done by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, and was followed by many meetings at state and district levels across the country with government officials and citizens’ groups to discuss the ASER 2006 findings and debate the next steps. There has been considerable media coverage too.

ASER has become an important policy input at the national level. It is referred to in the Planning Commission’s Approach Paper to the 11th Five Year Plan 2007-12. ASER 2006 report was also presented to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.With the release of ASER 2006, Pratham launched the ‘Read India Campaign’. It is a people’s initiative to ensure improvement in basic learning and arithmetic levels of all children in the age group of 6 to 14. In each state, the campaign will be implemented in a phased manner by working with governments. The campaign also seeks to involves volunteers in each village.

Read India campaign will follow a set time table so that by March 2009, the goals of the campaign can be achieved.


On average, the cost of visiting one village, is Rs 500. The entire cost of doing ASER in

one district is Rs 30,000 (or $750). We welcome support for one or more villages, as well as for one or more districts. ASER will be in the field between September 2007 to November 2007. ASER timetables are available in each state.

Cheques/Demand drafts for ASER to be drawn in favor of

“Pratham Mumbai Education Initiative”


Phone: 011-2671-6083/84


Address :

Pratham Resource Centre

A 1/7 Safdarjang Enclave, New Delhi 110029

ASER 2005 & ASER 2006 REPORTS in full detail are available on







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Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

"Kids for Sight" Campaign, Inspiring Other Kids To Pay It Forward

Nyan and Lehka Pendyala, ages9 and 7, launched a kid-inspired and kid-driven campaign on World Sight Day, Oct. 11th, to increase awareness of unnecessary childhood blindness. Their ultimate goal is to raise $260,000 for a specialized pediatric eye care unit and training center in India, a project underway by ORBIS International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. To make their target, the siblings are counting on other kids around the world to join their “Kids for Sight” campaign and come up with creative ways to help save the sight of children whose vision is threatened by treatable or preventable eye diseases.

"‘In Sanskirt, my name means ‘eyes’ and ‘vision.’ I want to help blind children see their family and friends,” said Nyan Pendyala. After he decided to forego gifts for his eighth birthday and request that donations go to ORBIS, his sister, Lehka, also stepped in to help. Her name means "line" and "writing" in Sanskrit. She noted, “If you can't see, you're going to have a hard time learning to read and write.”

Next generation of sight savers

Nyan and Lehka live in the United States and attend Hampton’s Central Elementary School in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. They officially kicked-off their “Kids for Sight” campaign in their respective classrooms on World Sight Day, which fell this year on Thursday, October 11th.

World Sight Day is a day set aside by the World Health Organization and member organizations of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative that calls attention to the plight of 28 million people around the world who are needlessly blind. Of particular concern are the 1.4 million blind children, three-quarters of whom live in the poorest regions of Africa and Asia. The majority of the blind could have their vision restored, or blindness prevented altogether, if only they had access to appropriate eye care and timely medical interventions.

Before their campaign officially launched, Nyan and Lehka had already raised over $10,000 by sharing information and collecting donations online at their “Kids for Sight” webpage:

Inspired by the Pendyala siblings, Luke and Emma Dias, ages 9 and 5, from Madison, Wisconsin, are making coasters in support of the “Kids for Sight” campaign and selling them from a make-shift driveway stand. Watching the Dias kids, neighbor Jacob Thomack, age 5, jumped in to help. To date, the Madison team has contributed $152 to the campaign with their sight set on donating more.

“The concept in the movie ‘Pay it Forward’ is happening before our very eyes,” said Nyan and Lehka’s father, Krishna Pendyala. “Once people got to know what they were doing, they started giving generously or began their own projects to help ORBIS save sight, even without Nyan and Lehka asking!”

Eye care for India’s children

The kids have selected an ORBIS pediatric eye care project in India as the beneficiary of their fundraising efforts. India, where the Pendyala family is from originally, is home to almost a fifth of the world’s blind children and suffers from a severe lack of eye care professionals trained to treat children.

ORBIS will use the $260,000 contribution to support the Pediatric Ophthalmology Learning and Training Center at Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai, where work is underway to train medical professionals in the early identification and treatment of pediatric eye diseases and to organize outreach camps in rural areas to screen children for low vision and other visual disorders. The funds will also help further research studies in the field of eye care and rehabilitation, especially as it relates to children, as well as support public awareness initiatives on the prevention of childhood blindness.

“What Nyan and Lehka are doing for ORBIS is magnificent,” said Geoffrey Holland, executive director of ORBIS International. “At such a young age, their display of compassion is an inspiration to all of us. Their efforts will make it possible for so many children who are unnecessarily blind in India to see their parents perhaps for the first time.”

Nyan and Lehka are also helping their teachers with classroom activities focused on eye health and blindness prevention. The siblings hope to teach their classmates how to protect their own eyesight, as well as explain ways they can help children living in poor countries far away gain access to quality eye care. To download the free educational resources produced by ORBIS and its global sponsor Alcon, visit

About ORBIS International

ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS volunteers and staff have restored the vision and transformed the lives of more than 4.4 million people in 85 countries. At the same time, ORBIS has been building local capacity to provide eye care in those countries by training more than 154,000 eye care professionals aboard the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital and in local hospitals in developing countries. Long-term national blindness prevention programs also take place in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. To learn more about ORBIS, visit


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Delhi-based NGO NIRNAY to open a Call Centre

NIRNAY, a Delhi-based NGO that provides a learning shelter to under privileged women and children, is coming up with a call centre in an effort to educate people on how they can be of help to those in need. The call centre, which is expected to be operational by December beginning, will aim to raise funds for the education of over 110 people who are currently enrolled in various tutorial and vocational programmes at NIRNAY.

Besides donating money, donors will also have an option of taking the responsibility of sponsoring a child’s education. According to Mrs. Rachna Kapoor, Founding Director of NIRNAY, “This call centre will not only work towards getting maximum possible donations for the NGO but will also keep the donors updated on the progress of the kid they sponsor.” Sponsoring a child’s education will be regarded as adoption. The method of adoption will be only through cash payment which can be done monthly, quarterly or annually depending on the donor’s convenience. This money will be spent on providing learning material and food for children as well as the equipment required to provide vocational training to the women.

At present NIRNAY is conducting Mathematics Tuition, English Language Training as well as vocational courses such as tailoring, embroidery and child care. It also gives tuition and home work assistant to school going children. The organization, which started operations on July 2, 2007 under the leadership of Mrs. Rachna Kapoor, aims to help women become self-reliant and support children from the slums to study and realize their real potential.

NIRNAY’s endeavor is to improve the human condition and make this a better world to live in. According to Mrs. Kapoor, “'NIRNAY provides the right to education to all; irrespective of caste, creed or gender. It also follows the principles of basic education as per the Gandhian philosophy which says that education is not restricted to reading and writing but also to learn how to live.”

NIRNAY, as the name suggests, is a resolution. It is a resolution to work for the welfare and upliftment of the underprivileged men, women, children and society as a whole. In our busy lives, one does not have time to stop and reflect at the plight of the street urchin, who gives up his years at school and loses innocence. In order to become an earning member, these children are deprived of basic education and other skills which would help them secure a better future.

NIRNAY, an NGO working under Sant-Laj Memorial Education Society, is an attempt to empower the neglected sections of society to lead a better life. The organization’s vision is to provide a LEARNING SHELTER FOR THE CHOSEN ONES. This organization, which started operations on July 2, 2007 under the leadership of Mrs. Rachna Kapoor, aims to help women become self-reliant and support children from the slums to study and realize their real potential.

NIRNAY’s endeavor is to improve the human condition and make this a better world to live in. According to Mrs. Kapoor, “'NIRNAY provides the right to education to all; irrespective of caste, creed or gender. It also follows the principles of basic education as per the Gandhian philosophy which says that education is not restricted to reading and writing but also to learn how to live.”

NIRNAY is a strong resolve to work for the upliftment of the underprivileged women and children. It is a sad situation that women are bereft of all rights in a nation like ours, which boasts of great heritage and culture. NIRNAY takes a pledge to help such underprivileged women to make themselves self sufficient; providing them with skills such as tailoring and beauty education.

NIRNAY promises to educate children from a very tender age. It also aims to create opportunities for unemployed youth (by teaching young men carpentry, automobile and mechanic work, electrical work, plumbing work etc), motivate children to continue education and help them to get admission in good schools. The organization also gives tuition and home work assistant to school going children.

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.