Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sign Online Petition to STOP Elder Abuse

To mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15th June 2008, Silver Innings has taken the responsibility to address the issue of Elder Abuse by various programmes and this On Line Petition is one of the medium to create Awareness and Petition the Central and State Government and the Society at Large with the problem and recommendation.

This Petition is part of one month programme during June 2008 (1st June to 30th June) and a Initiative of Silver Innings, a organisation dedicated for Senior Citizens and their family members And promoted by INPEA (International Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse), Indian Chapter; The Family Welfare Agency, Mumbai, ARDSI (Alzheimer’s Related Disorder Society of India), Mumbai Chapter, Society for Serving Seniors, Hyderabad, Shree Manav Seva Sangh, Mumbai, and AISCCON (All India Senior Citizens' Confederation).

We request you to sign this Online Petition and help us to STOP Elder AbuseClick on the link or copy paste this link on the Address bar:

Last date to sign this petition is 13th June 2008, so hurry and the sign the Petition. This petition will be presented to government on 14th June 2008.

Ask your friends, colleagues and family members and to sign this Petition and help us to STOP ELDER ABUSE.

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Silver Innings calling all Senior Citizens online

From blogging to social networking, a group of nine youngsters are hoping to give the elderly a virtual hangout zone

The computer and the Internet are not usually associated with senior citizens, but a group of young professionals has decided to use the Internet to highlight the plight of the elderly in the city.

Using e-interactive mediums and social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook, the group — which calls itself ‘Silver Innings Foundation’ — and comprises nine members from different walks of life, is attempting to bridge the ever-increasing divide between the youth and the elderly.

They recently launched a one-stop information portal, but are now looking at other tools to bring the various issues that senior citizens face to the fore.
And judging by the web traffic that Sliver Innings has been getting since its launch, it looks like this young group of entrepreneurs is on the right track. According to Sailesh Mishra, the foundation’s founder president, more than 150 people have joined the organisation as volunteers; of these, 40 per cent are youngsters. The group has also written to computer companies in the hope of initiating schemes like ‘1 laptop, 1 senior citizen’ to make technology more accessible to everyone.

Blog space Buoyed by their initial success, Silver Innings is planning to set up an exclusive blogspace where senior citizens can discuss important issues and the problems they are facing.

The foundation’s creative head, Bhavesh Chheda, says, “We are presently analysing the Internet usage patterns among senior citizens across the country. In Mumbai, for instance, 15 per cent of the senior citizens are net savvy. The numbers are even more in cities like Hyderabad.”

And in starting the blog, Silver Innings is hoping that senior citizens will be able to interact with each other and share their problems. Gerontologist Amruta Lovekar, who works as the group’s honorary secretary, says, “Loneliness is among the key issues concerning senior citizens in this busy urban society.”

According to Chheda, the plan is to use the blogspace to encourage more dialogue and interaction among senior citizens. Another advantage is that it provides space for the youth to interact with their elders. “The blogspace will be open to the younger lot,” he says. They also plan to launch an NGO dedicated solely to elderly citizens and their family members.

The people behind the initiativeNot a single founding member of Silver Innnings is a senior citizen. The average age of the core group of nine members, says Mishra, is 39 years, with the youngest being 26 years.

They say that the passion to work for their elders and their expertise in different, but specific fields is the common thread which binds them together. “Many of us were working individually to sensitise people towards the issues that senior citizens face. We instantly connected and decided to work together when we met last month,” says Mishra.

The first thing they did was float a virtual space online, which served as a single-point destination for senior citizens. “We have put up information on helplines, old age homes, and police station numbers. We also address issues like ageism, Alzheimer’s, dementia care management and memory loss, which affect a number of senior citizens. Information on how to make a will is also put on our site,” says Mishra.

The issues the elderly faceAccording to Lovekar, unlike in developed countries, ageism comes as a shock to many senior citizens as Indian families are not trained to deal with it. Senior citizens do not know how to adjust to the urban ways adopted by their children, while children do not know how to take care of their parents and grandparents.

This triggers a lack of dialogue, which manifests in various forms of abuse ranging from physical to psychological.

According to Mishra, the idea of an urban nuclear family is yet to be completely understood. The virtual NGO organises home-care services and counselling sessions to reach out to senior citizens facing either physical or mental abuse. Lovekar strongly believes that society needs to stop stereotyping ageism.

She asks, “Should a senior citizen not attend a party if he/she feels like it just because of their age? “Many of these problems are internalised by the senior citizens themselves.”

By Sandeep Ashar

Source: DNA Wednesday, May 28, 2008

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

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dementia will strike down million people

Almost a million people in England will have dementia within a generation and the bill for dealing with the disease will rise to £35bn a year, a major new study reveals.

The document, drawn up by experts in ageing and health for the King's Fund think-tank, highlights the huge practical and financial challenges posed to the NHS, social services and the government by the brain and body-wasting conditions collectively known as dementia.

With care of someone with the illness costing £25,472 per year on average, the organisation's mental health expenditure review predicts that by 2026 the total care bill for those with the disease will increase 135 per cent from £14.8bn to £34.8bn. That may well prove to be an underestimate, though, say the authors who predict the number of sufferers will soar by more than 60 per cent from 582,827 to 937,636.

Health ministers are finalising the government's first national dementia strategy, which is intended to counter criticism that the disease is given far too low a priority, and that support services are inadequate. An initial draft is due to go out to public consultation within weeks. The strategy will focus on raising awareness, improving early diagnosis and intervention, and providing better services for those affected and their carers.

Almost two-thirds of dementia sufferers have Alzheimer's disease. Andrew Ketteringham, head of external affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'The projected growth in people with dementia is huge. Our own research has shown that by 2025 more than a million people in the UK will have the disease, so it will touch the lives of every one of us because every family in the country will have someone with dementia.

'People think that dementia is about losing your memory, but it actually takes your whole life away. It removes every ability you have to function. It progressively destroys your whole life. People end up not being able to walk, talk or eat.'

The society predicted last year that 1,735,087 people in the UK would have dementia by 2051. Numbers are increasing sharply, mainly because of the UK's ageing population. But mounting evidence also suggests that lifestyle-related conditions, such as obesity and physical inactivity, increase someone's chances of developing dementia.

The King's Fund report is the work of Martin Knapp, a professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, and Dr Paul McCrone, a health economist at King's College London. Sir Derek Wanless, the former chairman of Natwest Bank who carried out two in-depth reviews of the NHS's future for Gordon Brown, chaired its steering group.

They recommend that health professionals, especially family doctors, should urgently improve their systems for early detection of the disease so that treatment can start. Dementia campaigners say that only one in three people with the condition are actually diagnosed, which causes confusion among them and their relatives about what is wrong with them and problems ensuring they get appropriate treatment.

The report also urges drugs companies to keep up their efforts to develop cost-effective treatments that will help people remain independent as long as possible. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence has been criticised for advising that Alzheimer's drugs are given only to those in the 'moderate' phase of the disease and not to those in the early stages, even though they may help slow its progress in some patients.

Giving disease-modifying drugs to more people aged 65-84 could be cost-effective because that would save around £2.4bn in care costs, the report states. A Department of Health spokesman said that early diagnosis of dementia could be very difficult.

The King's Fund report also says that England will not experience a significant rise in functional mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders by 2026. That contradicts widespread concern that the pressures of modern living, such as job stress and family breakdown, will lead to more of such problems.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis will this week launch a £500,000, government-funded Alzheimer's Society campaign, called Worried About Your Memory?, urging anyone who is concerned that they are having memory problems to visit their GP to undergo a check-up and get treatment before any dementia they have worsens.


WHEN WILL INDIA and other countries WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

McCanns back Facebook scheme

The parents of four-year-old Madeleine McCann are backing a scheme to trace missing children using the social networking websites Facebook and Bebo.

Kate and Gerry McCann have welcomed the initiative by charity Missing People, which will mean Facebook users can view details of missing youngsters on their own page.

In a statement the couple said: "We strongly support and encourage this new initiative to use Facebook to increase awareness of missing children.

"Using the power of social media in this way will undoubtedly capture the attention - and hopefully the help - of a younger population who are a hugely valuable and resourceful group.

"We would urge the millions of Facebook users around the world to keep looking and to do what they can to help bring these children home."

Missing People has set up an application for Facebook users to download, which will mean information on current appeals will be displayed on their homepage.

The charity is also joining Bebo's "Be Cause", an internet site which gives information for young people about charities and campaign groups, to publicise its 24-hour Runaway Helpline.
It hopes to access millions of internet users in its quest to find thousands of youngsters who go missing each year.

Missing People Chief Executive Paul Tuohy said: "If every Facebook user downloaded our BT-powered application, millions of people internationally could see an appeal that could help us to reunite a family."


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

Rhino poaching is getting worse in India

If reports are to be believed, the Rhinoceros might soon become extinct in India, with the poaching of the vulnerable animal getting worse in the country.

According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), poachers are hitting hard on rhinos in Indian national parks as three of them were killed in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, and two in Kaziranga in the last week of April.

No later than April 28, a calf and his mother were poached again in Kaziranga National Park. In 2007, 16 rhinos were killed and four more till February this year.

Rhinos in Nepal are also victims as one was killed a week back, making the total of poached one-horned rhino rise to six specimens since January.

Until recently, an average of five to ten rhinos were killed each year, but a rise in the number has been recorded recently.

The situation of the Indian rhinos remains precarious as global market pressures continue to push the demand for their horns currently valued at about 37,000 US dollars per kilo in international market.

The recent incidents suggest that poachers are taking advantage of gaps in enforcement efforts at the field level. They are becoming bolder, shooting animals in the vicinity of park camps and villages, suggesting again that the profits from this illegal trade are high enough to take such risks.

Poachers are coming from areas outside Assam.

“The criminal cartels poaching rhinos and trading in their horns have become more organized as an international crime syndicate,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, WWF-International Species Programme Director.

“An organized effort must be launched to stop the poaching, and attack the trade at its rootsthe organized smuggling networks taking the horns across the border to end markets, in China and elsewhere in Asia,” she added.

To ensure the safety of the Rhinos in Assam, WWF, on behalf of the larger conservation community, urges the government of Assam to rise to the open defiance shown by organized criminal gangs and put in place a set of measures.

According to Dr Sujoy Banerjee, WWF India Director of Species Conservation, “The Central Government must organize a meeting immediately between the state enforcement agencies of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and West Bengal, and NGOs working in the region to devise a response to the problem of interstate traffic of rhino horns.”

“It should also pledge additional support to the state of Assam to counter this crisis,” he added.


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

Sunday, May 25, 2008

OWSA training on web hosting

OneWorld South Asia (OWSA) is organising a training programme on Local Language Web Hosting and Communication with Ek Duniya from June 23 - 26, 2008 in New Delhi.

The programme is primarily targeted to grassroots and intermediary level civil society organisations, and is intended to enable them to build their own dynamic websites in local languages for communicating and campaigning on developmental issues.

OWSA is committed to connecting communities and empowering people through the effective and judicious application of ICTs. We believe that these tools can be harnessed to facilitate the achievement of development objectives.

Under the Ek Duniya initiative, the organisation is building the capacities of grassroots organisations to create online platforms so that local voices are heard at global forums and communities are enriched by the availability of appropriate and timely content. Till date, OWSA has created over 100 dynamic websites.

Ek Duniya Web Solutions uses an open source content management system and facilitates creation and regular updating of local language websites without much technical knowledge, and using a simple web interface.

Nominations are invited from two persons, who would like to expand the communications possibilities of their organisation and the communities they work with.

Pre-requisites Basic pre-requisites include a working knowledge of the following:
• Programmes and projects of the organisation
• Computer operations and word processing
• Content creation in English / desired local language

Venue OneWorld South Asia C-5 Qutab Institutional Area New Delhi 110016. Tel: +91-11-41689000 (Nirnay / Geetha* *113) Fax: +91-11-41689001

The training will begin at 9.30 am on June 23, 2008 and end at 5 pm on June 26, 2008 (see agenda attached below).

Participants are to bear their own cost for travel and accommodation.

For any further information, contact: Nirnay and Geetha OneWorld South Asia C 5 Qutab Institutional Area New Delhi 110 016. India Tel: +91-11-41689000 (Extn: 113) Fax: +91-11-4168900

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

Indian Youth climate summit

Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) invites applications from all concerned citizens between the age group of 18 - 30 years, for the Delhi Youth Summit on Climate (DYSoC - 2008).

IYCN is a coalition uniting young Indians and youth-oriented organisations who are concerned about climate change.

The two-day event will take place at Teen Murti Bhawan, New Delhi on May 28-29, 2008 and will bring together youth from different parts of the city and different backgrounds - to discuss, debate, share concerns and find innovative solutions to the pressing problems faced by Delhi and to shape a vision towards securing and safe-guarding our common future.

The four topics of discussion will be:
• Waste
• Water
• Energy & Transport
• Urban Planning

The summit is also a measure for capacity building in the city, for a cleaner, greener city. The event will conclude with a white paper or the "Delhi Youth Charter on Climate", that would be presented to the Chief Minister, Environment Secretary and all decision-making bodies in Delhi.

Event Organisers & Partners • IYCNUNESCOTeen Murti BhawanDelhi GreensLEAD IndiaFountain of Development Research & Action (FODRA)YP Foundation

To register,please contact: Kartikeya Singh Event Coordinator Indian Youth Climate Network Ph: +91-9999-00- 88-07 E-mail: Govind Singh IYCN, Delhi Greens Ph: 98111-477-54

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

Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
The Center for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN/ISDR) are pleased to invite you to the Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance which will be held on October 19-22, 2008 at the Dusit Hotel, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines. The theme of the congress is "Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

"Women and environment experts have raised concern over the absence of women in the discourse and debate on climate change and disaster risk reduction, both of which are global mainstream issues that are currently impacting the entire world. The involvement of women in areas of environmental management and governance should not be perceived as an afterthought. Women's roles are of considerable importance in the promotion of environmental ethics.

The current imperative is for women to understand the phenomenon of climate change and disaster risk reduction and their impacts and implications at the individual, household, community and national levels. Studies show that women have a definite information deficit on climate politics, climate protection, and preparedness through disaster risk reduction. Only with this information can women take their proper, significant and strategic role in the issues of climate change and disaster risk reduction.

Invited to this congress are parliamentarians, decision - makers in national governments, environment organizations, youth leaders and media practitioners, funding/ donor agencies/ organizations (Female and male participants are welcome.)

The Congress will have the following objectives:
Overall Purpose: To provide a forum for legislators and decision-makers in national governments and leaders at all levels in formulating gender-responsive legislation and programs related to gender in climate change and disaster risk reduction.
Specific Objectives:
a) to understand the phenomenon of climate change, its impacts, and its implications and study the appropriate risk reduction strategy;
b) to review and examine the gender aspects in climate change and disaster risk reduction and formulate appropriate actions to address these;
c) to define the roles women can play in addressing the impacts of climate change and disaster risk reduction programs and policies at the global, national and sub-national levels; and
d) to identify and define the action agenda for parliamentarians, policy advocates, and women leaders to support global and national actions to adapt gender responsive legislation and programs related to gender in climate change and disaster risk reduction.

Congress Proceedings:
The discussion on gender in climate and disaster risk reduction change will be organized around identifying the challenges to action as well as defining the appropriate responses to effectively address the impacts of climate change and disaster risk reduction.

Inputs to the discussion will be collected and organized around: 1) geographic location and 2) types of actions: i.e. preparedness, risk reduction: building community resilience; adaptation; and mitigation. Cross cutting these discussions will be the identification of technologies in aid of responding to climate change and preparedness thru disaster risk reduction.

The focus of the discussions will revolve around defining and elaborating actions (i.e. preparedness, disaster risk reduction, adaptation, and mitigation) to cope with climate change and its impacts and preparedness and disaster risk reduction.

Preparedness and disaster risk reduction is about building individual and community capacities to position themselves and their communities so that the likelihood of climate change-induced disasters is reduced; the intensity or adverse impacts of disasters are cushioned and that inhabitants are able to respond promptly, expeditiously and effectively. Adaptation entails actions that moderate harm, or exploit benefits, of climate change. Mitigation entails actions that minimizes or cushions the adverse impacts of climate change.

In all of these actions, special attention will be given to defining how women and gender could be mainstreamed. In other words, the Congress should define how women can be given the social space to participate, influence, and benefit from global and local responses to climate change.

The registration fee for the four day congress is One thousand five hundred fifty US Dollars (US$ 1,550.) per person for twin room sharing accommodations (two persons in one room) and one thousand nine hundred fifty US Dollars (US$ 1,950.) per person for single room accommodations (one person in one room).

The training will be held on Oct 19-22, 2008. However, the participants will be requested to be in Manila the day before, October 18, 2008 and leave Manila only on October 23, 2008. The overnight hotel accommodation on October 18, 2008 is already included in the fee. Participants will be billeted in the Dusit Hotel, the venue of the congress and hotels near the Dusit Hotel, accessible within walking distance. Room accommodations in the Dusit Hotel, the venue of the Congress will be on a first come - first served basis.

Importance of the CongressToday, on the average, one person out of nineteen in a developing country will be hit by a climate disaster, compared to 1 out of 1,500 in an OECD country. Climate change creates life time traps: in Niger, a child born during a drought is 72 percent more likely to be stunted than a child born during a normal season.

We hope that your organization can send participants to the Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance. The Theme of "Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction" is the first time this will be discussed in a forum whose objective is to formulate gender responsive legislation and policies for national governments and parliaments.

We truly hope that the environment organizations will find this forum a good opportunity to advocate gender and climate change policies and programs through gender responsive legislation to the women parliamentarians, decision makers, the youth leaders, media and the funding agencies/organizations. Let us join hands in promoting gender responsive governance through transformative leadership and citizenship. We are looking forward to your participation.

Please download the full information sheet and registration form for this Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance from our website,

Very truly yours,
(signed)Jung-sook KIM (Ed.D.)PresidentCenter for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP)Secretariat:Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP)

YSTAPHIL Building, 4227-4229 Tomas Claudio Street ParaƱaque City, Metro Manila, PhilippinesTel. (632) 8516934 (632) 8516954; Tele Fax: Mobile Phone +639184596603 E-mail:;

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

RTI Bachao, Pendency Hatao

The RTI Act is beginning to take the shape of a great Citizen's campaign;- empowering Citizens to monitor and get accountability from their Government. Maharashtra State had about 25000 RTI applications in 2004 when the State act was in operation. After the National Act came, over one lac applications were made in 2006. The State PIOs received over 3 lac applications in 2007, and this puts Maharashtra leading the nation in RTI usage. At this rate the number of RTI applications is likely to touch the figure of over 10 lac applications by 2009.

The final adjudication for all RTI matters is with the Information Commission. This is now becoming a bottleneck since over 16000 second appeals and complaints are pending with them. They are presently clearing appeals of 2006, and if this continues the Citizen will have to wait over two years to get a decision from the Commission, effectively subverting this timebound Act.

The State Information Commissioner responsible for Pune division, Shri V. V. Kuvalekar has responded to this crisis with an innovative method to correct this situation and deliver the RTI act to the Citizens. He will share the details of this initiative at K.C. Law College on Wednesday, 28th May.

The program is being organized by K.C. Law College. I will introduce the topic and highlight the perils faced by RTI by the mounting pendencies at the Information Commissions.

In this context the experiment by Mr. Kuvalekar is very significant and needs to be highlighted and supported. He will also commit to a norm for disposing second appeals. Mr. Kuvalekar will be showing a short film to explain his methodology. He has also consented to answer queries on his innovation and the State of RTI to members of media and Citizens.

It will be a very significant event for the Right to Information movement and is open to all Citizens and members of media.

Title: RTI Bachao – Pendency Ghatao - Information Commissioner of Pune innovates.
Venue- K.C.Law College, Ist floor ,near Churchgate Station.
Time: 5.00pm to 7.00pm.
Date: Wenesday 28th May, 2008Mr. Kuvalekar is former editor of Sakal, apart from being a celebrated writer of scripts and lyrics in Marathi movies. He will speak in Marathi.

Shailesh Gandhi

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

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bamboo water

When all attempts at alerting government to the water scarcity in Orissa’s Malkangiri district failed, a group of tribal women turned to an ingenious traditional solution – using bamboo poles to transfer water from a stream to their village Kamala Hentala has seen two sides of the world.

She used to live in a village that was displaced by the Machhakund dam project in Orissa’s Malkangiri district. There she had plenty of water. Then she was moved to a new location where she was promised fresh avenues of earning a living - all of which have eluded her. It’s an alien world for Kamala, and she is confronted with a myriad problems. The place she now lives in ranks among the 10 most underdeveloped districts in India, as assessed by the Planning Commission.

Government apathy
Until recently, Kamala had a lot of hope in the government. But with nothing ever changing in Mahupadar village, she and a group of women from the village decided to take their lives in their own hands, at least as far as solving their water problems was concerned.

Mahupadar village was not on the revenue map when Kamala and her fellow villagers decided to settle there after a long search in the jungles for a place to live. They received no compensation by the government that displaced them; they were simply left to fend for themselves. Mahupadar now has got revenue status but is still devoid of any basic amenities.

There is no proper road to the village, no hospital, no school, and no electricity. Ironically, the reservoir that displaced Kamala provides electricity to urban-dwellers and the elite. “We are still fighting for patta (land right deeds) of the lands we have settled on,” says Balaram Hentala, the head of this tribal village inhabited by primitive tribes like the Paraja, Rana, Gadra, Bhumij, etc.

Haunted by the fear of radical groups in the area and exploitation by outsiders, these simple villagers who earlier practised only shifting cultivation and forest food-gathering now faced a new threat in their new location - acute water scarcity. Each day, women and men negotiated over 2 km of rocky terrain to reach a stream to collect water.

“During the four summer months, we faced the worst problems,” says Kamala. Ratnakar Das, a local journalist, describes the scene: “Women holding pots and utensils walking along the hilly terrain, and the men following them with bows and arrows, as escorts.” “Our men had requested the nearby villagers and local political leaders for help. But nothing happened,” says Kamala who then decided to take the lead and change the fate of the villagers forever. “We convened a meeting of the women of five villages -- Mahupadar, Khilaguda, Balichuan, Kamadi, and Bandaguda, which face similar problems.” All wanted water, because collecting water took up most of their time.

Charting their own course

The women decided to bypass an apathetic government and devise a way to bring water from the stream to the villages. They decided to fall back on a well-known local technique. “We thought of bringing water from the stream to our villages through bamboo pipes,” says Gurubari Khila, a woman leader from Khilaguda village.

Over a hundred women from the five villages embarked on a project to cut, polish and join bamboo pipes that would transport water from the stream to the villages. The plan was successful. Soon, water began to flow to the villages through the pipes and the arduous trudge up the hill stopped. During summer, however, the bamboo pipes could not supply enough water to the villages, even though the stream had sufficient water flowing in it.

The women then began on the second phase of their project. They collected dry wood from the forests, cut the pieces into two equal halves and carved them into the shape of a boat. After joining the logs together, they were able to divert all the water from the stream to the villages. They built tanks in the villages to collect the water, and then transported it to their homes using bamboo pipes.

“These women have worked wonders, even without our help,” says Balaram. The simple yet effective plan is now benefiting around 800 tribal people in this remote area of India. There is now enough water in the villages not only for domestic use but also to grow millets and vegetables. Encouraged by this, the women have formed a self-help group and are trying to take up other issues.

“We will now form a pressure group and ask the government to help us set up schools and hospitals and get electricity to our villages,” says a happy Kamala. Let’s hope the government takes notice of such local initiatives and realises that big dams will not lift places like Malkangiri up in the development rankings unless the lives and economic conditions of the region’s tribals improve.

By Ranjan K Panda, an Orissa-based researcher and writer.


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

French pension strike sparks numbers battle

During previous transport strikes, the congestion on Parisian streets has often forced those on bikes onto the pavements.

Thursday's day of action brought few such problems for this two-wheeled commuter.
There was chaos and confusion at one road junction, but it was caused by a malfunctioning traffic light.

The French capital did experience disruption, but it was relatively light. Many people anticipated it, and either stayed at home or staggered their travel plans.

The metro ran almost as usual. Suburban trains were fewer than usual but the service was still operating.

The problems were worse in other cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg and Marseille - where dockers angry at privatisation plans joined demonstrators protesting against the government's pension reforms.

The state railway company SNCF said slightly more than half of trains - and two out of three high-speed TGVs - were running. For the second time, a law guaranteeing a minimum service during strikes was in effect.

Show of unity
But this protest was not about bringing France to a standstill. It was about mobilising opinion against the government. For the unions, what mattered was not how many trains were cancelled, but how many bodies they could get out to join protest rallies.

You can't just ask people to work longer, while on the other hand companies don't want to employ older workers Paul Quinio, Liberation

The "war of figures", as one radio station put it, was declared. The government estimated that 15.6% of civil servants had gone on strike by midday - compared to 41.3% during last week's day of action.

The large CGT union - which had said that it would be "disappointing" if fewer than half a million people went onto the streets - calculated that 700,000 had turned out.

It said 70,000 joined the main demo in Paris - only 28,000, said the police. The union said 25,000 turned out in Bordeaux - only 8,000 according to the authorities. In Marseille, the number of protesters was 60,000, according to the unions, rather more than the official estimate of 8,200.

"The ball is in the government's court," said the CGT leader Bernard Thibault. But France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon has batted it away.

The central issue - raising the number of years worked from 40 to 41 to get a full pension - had been "settled" in the pension reforms of 2003, he said.

Other unions, such as the moderate CFDT, have accepted the change in principle.
But they argue that the government has failed to fulfil its part of the bargain - to do more to help older workers.

Gaining momentum
France wants people to stay in work longer and contribute more to their pension plans. But for years the country has been promoting and practising the exact opposite.

Fewer than four in 10 55-64 year-olds are in work in France, well below the EU average of almost 45%. Their relatively short working life makes it almost impossible to earn a full pension.
Some commentators blame all sides for embracing a culture of early retirement.

"The government was OK with that, the unions were OK and the workers as well," says Paul Quinio, political editor for the newspaper Liberation.

"Now you can't just ask people to work longer, while on the other hand companies don't want to employ older workers - there's a contradiction," he added.

France has seen several other protests over the past week, an indication that opposition to President Sarkozy's overall reform programme might be gaining momentum.

Students and teachers rallied against job cuts. Dockers have blocked ports over privatisation plans. Fishermen protesting over high fuel prices tossed flares at riot police in Paris.

Other scenes in the French capital have been more peaceful. A few hundred yards from the French National Assembly, a group of middle-aged men were playing petanque among the trees, blissfully unaware of the riot vans not far away.

Some are already retired, like no doubt the white-haired fisherman whose sudden catch up at the Ourcq canal drew a round of applause from a group of students. A boat went past slowly, the small party on the deck enjoying the spring sunshine.

The government would have more people of a similar age remain in work for longer to fund their pensions. But in a country where leisure is valued so highly, perhaps it is not surprising that encouraging older employees to embrace the work ethic is proving to be a difficult message to sell.


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

Terrorism: A Political Cancer

The blasts in Jaipur (13th May 2008), have once againbrought to fore the grim reality of global and localpolitical scenario. In a short span of time close tohundred innocent lives were lost. What washeartwarming was the calm with which the societyhandled this grim tragedy. The amity with which thepost blast situation was handled certainly needsmillion respectful salutes.

But political parties are what they are, takingadvantage of such tragedies to bake their politicalbreads. The BJP leadership was quick enough to saythat the blasts are taking place as the centralgovernment is weak, the withdrawal of POTA has givenrise to a situation where terrorists can make merry.Most such criticism is aimed at scoring browniepoints, forgetting that during BJP led NDA regime withPOTA in operation, the attacks on Parliament, Red fortand many other acts of terror were very much there.Despite Advani's lie that he did not know aboutforeign minister accompanying the terrorists toKandhar, there were acts of terror a plenty when hewas the Home/deputy prime minister and was trying tocultivate the image of an iron man. Also the argumentthat BJP ruled states with glorious strength are freefrom terrorist acts also comes to a naught with thistragedy.

Petty political thinking apart, the world today isgripped by this insane phenomenon, which like a cancerhas spread over a period of last two decades. Theanalogy of cancer for terrorism is very apt as manyfeatures of this are matching with the behavior ofcancer in human body. Cancer has multiple etiologies(causative factors) and same is true of terrorism.First, it is due to the indoctrination of minds, likeAl Qaeda by CIA sponsored madrassas in Pakistan. TheAl Qaeda was used as a proxy for American army tofight against Russian army in Afghanistan. Here theindoctrination of Muslim youth was done through thesyllabus developed in Washington. The goal of coursewas control over oil wells in the region. They didthese insane activities in the name of religion.Presumably for the glory of their religion! Similarlythe indoctrinated Bajrang Dal workers, who died whilemaking bombs in Nanded April 2006, also wereindoctrinated in the RSS ideology prepared to lay downtheir life presumably for their religion.

The second major cause of terrorism is a spontaneousresponse to injustices done to a group of people,generally in places where the democratic norms arecompromised. Recently (December 2007) the acts ofterror done by Adivasi National Liberation frontresulting in blast in the Guwahati Rajdhani expressexemplifies this. This blast was in the wake of groupof Adivasis being beaten and their female companionbeing molested. This was the triggering point for theacts of terror being done by that group. Similarly theMumbai blasts in 1993 and in 2002 were in theaftermath of Mumbai riots and Gujarat carnage afterwhich some Muslims played in the hands of elements outto do such acts as a revenge, in the name of theirreligion. They forget that no religion worth itsspirituality teaches to kill the innocents. Here thefeeling of frustration, the feeling of taking revengeis paramount in the minds of these terrorists.The third major factor leading to acts of terrorrelate to the injustices done in the name ofnationalism, the suppression of ethnic, regionalaspirations, Khalisthani, Kashmir, North East (ULFAetc...) LTTE and Irish Republican army fall in thiscategory.

Cancer in the human body spreads by multiplemechanisms, physical extension, and through bloodvessels etc. The one spreading through blood andgetting lodged at a site distant from the original oneis called Secondary metastasis. Al Qaeda was theprimary cancer and what we witness at many otherplaces is either secondary metastasis of that or isbeing done by those who have ulterior politicalmotives. In current times this is the major type ofterrorism and is the one where the indoctrinationdesigned by US administration and propagated by USmedia disguised its lust for oil resources. Theindoctrinated mind is the most lethal weapon in theWorld. It then becomes supra national and is beyondthe realm of usual controls. The goal of US was topolitically control oil zones through concoctedpretexts, leading to attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.And these were projected as a part of clash ofcivilizations. Here the propaganda is that thebackward Islamic civilization is the threat to theWorld so attack Afghanistan on the pretext of catchinghold of Osama bin Laden or attack on Iraq on thepretext of saving the sovereignty of Sheikh of Kuwait,to defend the world from weapons of mass destructionhidden by Saddam Hussain. This surely is one of thebiggest hoaxes of contemporary history.

Imperialism, the domination of poor countries by themore powerful ones', has assumed different languagesduring last several centuries. Initially when theBritain, Portugal and France etc. went on to coloniesthe World for their material gains, they projectedthis exploitation of colonies as the 'Whit man'sburden to civilize the barbarians'. Then came the erawhen national liberation movements were beingundertaken by different colonies, many of which wereinfluenced by socialist ideas. This period of historywas dominated by two superpowers, US and Russia. USled camp tried to retain its hegemony on colonies oras a continuation, adopted policies to exploit thesecolonies through other economic mechanisms. To preventthe colonies becoming economically autonomous,imperialists tried to hegemonies global politics andthe language used by them was, 'defense of freedom anddemocracy'! With demise of socialist states thelanguage being used is the one related tocivilization, 'the threat of Islam'.

The difference in the current times is that since areligion and a religious community are demonized andtargeted the impact becomes much more deep andretrogressive in the cultural arena. It startspolarizing the communities along religious lines. Thisclash of civilizations theory is operative worldwide.In India the problem is further compounded due to therise of communal politics, politics around issues ofreligious identity, which has changed the language ofsocial discourse and has worsened the situationfurther. So far, communal violence has been polarizingthe nation along the lines of religious communities.Now due to this propaganda Islam and Muslims have beenlinked to this phenomenon, and the Muslims all overthe world and more so in India have been uniformlydemonized. The result is that the acts of terrorismare projected, investigated and propagated in a biasedway, totally conforming to the global and localpropaganda about Islam and Muslims. The attitude ofsemi-communalized state machinery and communal partiesfurther polarizes the society.

While these acts of terror are acting as the divisivefactor, in a way they are playing the same type ofrole which communal violence has played so far,polarizing the communities. Despite the fact thatcommunities are responding with amity, somewhere deepdown the demonization of minorities is worsening. Theinvestigation pattern so far has been to link the actsof terror to the Pakistan based groups, now BanglaDesh based groups. The main pattern has been thearrest of huge number of innocent youth. The socialhysteria against them has been so bad that sometimeslawyers, in violation of their professional ethicrefuse to take up their cases. In such cases, thedictum that one is innocent till proved guilty, hasbeen put upside down or it is asserted that if someonebelongs to the wrong religious community he has to bea terrorist! In this scenario the fatwa of Deobandthat violence against innocents is un Islamic hasgiven a very powerful message to the society. Themultiple seminars being held, to say that Islam andMuslims have nothing to do with terrorism are good butare restricted to the Muslim audience and not able toachieve the desired result. These messages have to betaken far and wide, involving all religiouscommunities.

Some social groups and communal parties are subtlyintensifying these misplaced perceptions and weakeningthe nation. It is time that while improving ourinvestigation methods we need to desist frompoliticizing and communalizing these tragic events.The seeds of this cancer were sowed by the globalsuper power so just being shortsighted to blame theneighboring country and the religious community iscounter productive. There is a need to cultivate amityand trust and that's possible if we see thatessentially it the secondary metastasis of the AlQaeda clones, very difficult to control by superficialmeans. Better intelligence, better policing and adeeper understanding of the phenomenon will go a longway to overcome this suffering of the country.

By By Ram Puniyani


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

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NGO activism in Orissa: Boon or bane?

Orissa is the land of NGOs. The presence of a large number of NGOs should ideally lead to greater awareness about public causes and significant reduction in government's burden as far as organising campaigns on issues of general importance is concerned.

But the NGOs in the state have been a mixed blessing at best. Their intervention in several instances has been so aggressive that it can be compared with activism of the political kind. There have been allegations that these voluntary sector members have been inciting people to take to the streets, organise
dharnas and demonstrations to achieve their objectives instead of engaging in productive social work.

This aspect as come into sharp focus following the industrialisation drive launched by the State government. The behaviour of some of these NGOs creates the impression that industry by its very nature is anti-people. Whereever a new industry comes up trouble erupts with NGOs taking up cudgels on behalf of the people either in the name of protecting environment or saving people from alleged exploitation by the government and private entrepreneurs.

There is no denying that industrialisation should not be allowed at the cost of environment and the livelihood of people, but raising the bogey by displacement and destruction of environment every time the proposal for a new industry comes up is not fair either. The agitation against some of the projects have continued for too long for the comfort of the government and the industry without benefiting the people involved, too, in any manner.

The agitation against an alumina project in Rayagada has been going on for the last several years. It has also turned violent in phases with at least two people losing their lives in police firing. Some of the biggest names in the voluntary sector have lent their support to the movement which, though, has failed to prevent the project from coming up.

But the agitation has no doubt slowed down the progress of the project with the locals unable to reap its fruits. The fact is that even among the tribals, whose champion the NGO leaders claim themselves to be, the majority wants the industry to come up because it promises to change of face of the area by ushering in an era of prosperity.

Agitations of this kind were alien to these tribals but they appear to have been brainwashed. The voluntary sector leaders keep egging them on. It is not the industry but NGO activism which is responsible for Orissa's tribesfolk losing their innocence. Unfortunately what the tribals fail to realise is that when violence erupts, it is not the NGO leaders but they who lose their lives and sustain injuries.

Almost in the same manner, the intervention of the voluntary sector has led to a war like situation in faraway Koraput where battle lines have been drawn between the local cashew growers and the Cashew Development Corporation.

Only a few months ago, the NGO-inspired men and women in several villages of the district were not putting up blockades to prevent the entry of leaseholders authorised by the Corporation to reap the crop. The villagers, the majority of them without any pattas to support their claim, claimed that the crop belonged to them as the land had once belonged to their ancestors. This is what they had been told.

Thanks to NGO activism many more flashpoints may be emerging in the state soon. However, while this neither helps the state nor its people, it also reflects badly on the voluntary sector as a whole.


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

Food for the poor from President of India

An adherent to unpretentious living, President Pratibha Patil does not believe in extravagance or wastage. And at a time when the country’s poor are fighting a losing battle against inflation, the President is keen to make the best use of everything produced in her kitchen garden.

Her own needs being frugal and with simple meals the order of the day, banquets and State visits are the only occasions when master chefs lay out an a la carte menu. The President, however, wants to provide nutritious food to the underprivileged children for whom getting even two square meals a day is sometimes a luxury.

“Ms. Patil is very particular that nothing is wasted. She has instructed her staff to ensure that anything that is not consumed in the kitchen is sent to institutions for the needy,” says a Rashtrapati Bhavan official.

While a small portion of the produce from the kitchen garden — fruits and seasonal vegetables — are set aside for consumption of the First Family, the rest is given to schools run for the visually challenged.

“As and when the produce is ready, it is taken to the institutions for the visually handicapped. Recently Rashtrapati Bhavan packed 33 kg of spinach and cabbage, 30 kg of green mango and 75 kg of onion for the students of five blind schools in the city,” the official revealed.

Spread over five acres, the kitchen garden is divided into sections — each earmarked for growing different types of fruits and vegetables. The practice of sharing this produce with the underprivileged has been followed over the years without a break.

“There are several types of fruits that are grown, from mangoes to kinnu and lemons. All seasonal vegetables, from okra to pumpkins, a variety of cabbages, turnips, broccoli and onions are also grown.

When the produce is ripe and ready it is packed and sent to institutions for the needy. The practice has almost become a part of the several traditions followed at Rashtrapati Bhavan,” said the official.


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

'Charity Research' comes of age as donors look for results

Back in 2006, an international funding agency was shocked when it found out that the $100,000 it paid to an NGO’s handicraft project for providing employment to underprivileged women was not used for the intended purpose. On the face of it, there was nothing suspicious about the project — delivery system, quantification of benefit, business plan — everything looked perfect on paper.

But somewhere, somebody sounded the alarm and the donors roped in management consultants Ernst & Young to dig out the truth from the interiors of Haryana, where the project was being executed. The E&Y investigation revealed that no project was taken up and whenever a team from the donor agency came for inspection, the NGO just created a perfect dummy set-up to avoid any suspicion.

Since then, the business of ‘charity research’ has steadily gained ground in India. Today, consultants like E&Y, KPMG and Copal Partners help international and domestic donors audit NGO credentials, right from background checks, legal presence & compliance, bandwidth to handle projects and credibility with money and communities they supposedly intend to serve.

India is still far from the rest of the world in policing the mushrooming charity organisations across the country. India does not have an NGO-rating system and lacks charity-profiling agencies like Intelligent Giving in the UK and Charity Navigator in the US. But the growing number of donors have started looking for results.

“Companies and individuals want to be very sure before they put in their money,” says KPMG executive director, India business, Vikas Vasal who also looks after the international aid and development services. “That’s why we carry out a full-fledged check right from legal presence to compliance to an NGOs capability of carrying out projects,” he adds.

With the market for charity already over $1 billion and the rush amongst businesses to present a corporate social responsibility (CSR) compliant image, the market for offering charity research is opening up in India, chiefly because of demand from international donors. “As of now there are few organisations in India offering such advisory services but the demand is growing very fast. Those who do quality work will be able to tap this market well,” says Copal Partners CEO Rishi Khosla.

Copal Partners already has 10 clients.

For instance, in January, Gurgaon-based Copal Partners, an offshore global financial analytics entered into a joint charity research partnership with UK charity organisation National Philanthropy Capital (NPC) to provide information and advice on charities in developing countries.

E&Y India partner, fraud investigation & dispute services, Navita Srikant, however, feels the donors are not as proactive as they should be: “People wait till they get into trouble. They don’t need to wait for incidents to happen to correct things. Its imperative for organisations and companies to know what they are getting into.” E&Y is adding about eight clients every year for its forensic funding business.

KPMG, which boasts of around 25 clients for its charity research business, has added the last 15 in the last couple of years itself. Companies mindful of the productivity of their CSR spends, and egged on by increasing media reports exposing the shallowness of many NGOs are feeding this relatively new practice for players like E&Y and KPMG.


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

Silver Innings: Website for Elders 2nd Update

Silver Innings 2nd Update : 15thth May 2008

Dear Friends,
It's our pleasure to bring to you the 2nd update of your website Silver Innings. Below are new articles recently posted on various sections. To read more you need to visit particular menu on the website .Hope you enjoy this and send us your feedback at .

We also invite articles of interest, inspiring short stories, jokes, reviews, etc. Please note publication is sole decision of web master and as per rules laid down by Silver Innings.


Worldwide, the emphasis of efforts aimed at helping older people is shifting. It is moving away from a welfare approach to a development approach that makes the elderly active participants in programs to help them live less poverty stricken, healthier and more socially supported lives.

HelpAge International targets 2005-2010
This paper sets out HelpAge International's ambitions for 2005-2010. It is organised in eight 'themes' to provide a structure for HelpAge International to organise and monitor its work.

Ageing in India in the 21st Century: A Research Agenda is a country-specific report with special focus on priority areas and methodological issues.

List of MP's in Rajya Sabha above 60 years

Successful Ageing
With age comes happiness
The study also found that baby boomers are not as content as other generations, African Americans are less happy than whites, men are less happy than women, happiness can rise and fall between eras, and that, with age the differences narrow.

What is successful ageing and who should define it?
A forward looking policy for older age would be a programme to promote successful ageing from middle age onwards, rather than simply aiming to support elderly people with chronic conditions.

Health/ Fitness

Arthritis - Info-Sheet for Seniors
There are many forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form and the most frequent joint disorder in seniors. It is also one of the major reasons why seniors limit their activities.

Joint pain should be controlled not ignored
Many of us assume that joint pain is a normal part of aging and therefore, the pain is likely here to stay. Nothing could be further from the truth, say medical professionals, especially with the advancement in treatment options that include exercise, foods, and alternative dietary supplements.

Are Your Loved one's Memory Lapses Merely Awkward? Or Are They More Serious?
For the first time ever, your mother forgot your birthday. Back from a recent vacation, your father can't recall what sites he visited.

Hard to achieve retirement peace and quiet
Apart from health issues, isn't anxiety supposed to diminish after retirement? Well, perhaps it does, or maybe it merely shifts focus.

Dementia & Alzheimer's
8 Ways to Preserve Family Memories While You Can if Your Parent Has Alzheimer's
An often-overlooked reality of Alzheimer's is that your parent's memories and knowledge of family history will eventually disappear along with her personality. Fortunately this doesn't happen instantly.

End-Stage Dementia Patients Deserve Palliative Care
"We must act now to stop people with dementia from suffering from protracted, potentially uncomfortable and undignified deaths" says Jan Draper, Professor of Nursing for The Open University, UK.

Alzheimer's Disease: Tips for Maintaining a Normal Life
Living with Alzheimer's disease is a challenge for anyone.


Nutritional Recommendations For Seniors
Numerous benefits of a healthy diet and proper nutrition include: increased mental acuteness; resistance to illness and disease; higher energy levels; a more robust immune system; faster recuperation times, and; better management of chronic health problems.

Transportation Options for Older Adults
Have you ever thought about what would happen if the transportation you use is no longer an option? How would you continue to maintain your independence so that you could continue with your daily routines?

When making a move might improve your lifeAs people age, and especially if they have chronic health conditions, at some point they're likely to find that their current home no longer suits their lifestyle or their needs.

We humans are always waiting for something to happen in our life and then we decide to make ourselves feel happy. Happiness is a state of mind which we can choose to have all the time. By Dr.Swaati Dhawan.


Plan &Act
You've reached age 60, but are you financially ready to retire in the next 2 to 6 years? If not, you are not alone. A growing number of people will work well beyond retirement age, not because they want to, but because they have to in order to meet living expenses.

Elder Law:

Age Related Policies: A Global Review on Age Discrimination LegislationAge discrimination is an important issue for older people as it can result in unequal treatment or service.

This is International Team Project – India: Northwestern University School of Law, USA, Spring 2008.Also see comments of Sailesh Mishra, Founder of Silver Innings

Parents and Grandparents
Facing Loneliness As You Get Older
Human beings are social by nature--they thrive on meaningful social interactions with others.

Parent Connection
When it comes to contentment we have a lot to learn from seniors. As I was growing up in a rural community, spending time with grandparents was a greater blessing than I then realized.

With one elderly in every twelve, India is poised to become the second largest hub of seniors in the world. By Gerontologist Amruta Lovekar, Silver Innings Team

Eyes Banks in Mumbai

Organisation working for Elderly in Asia – Pacific

Hobbies and Activities

Live & Learn
As a matter of personality and lifestyle, I never do what I'm told. So far, so good. I'm sure I'll screw it up one of these days.

Thanks for giving your valuable time, see you soon with next update.

Team Silver Innings

Did you join Silver Innings, Ask your friends to Join – its Free:

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

Monday, May 19, 2008

ATM cards for Delhi’s homeless

The story of Nirmal Kumar Dega is one of despair and very little hope. Lying prone under the lone fan in a huge room at Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA), a rights-based organisation funded by ActionAid that runs shelters for the homeless in Delhi, Dega’s fatigue is evident. His lanky frame is clothed in a brown kurta-pyjama, his hair is dishevelled, his teeth stained yellow with tobacco.

Dega was 14 when he ran away, with friends, from his home in Deshnukh, Bikaner, carrying his father’s briefcase containing Rs 20,000. He wanted to see Delhi and all the exciting places that had been described to him. But at Kanpur his friends deserted him when he was fast asleep, absconding with his briefcase. The train got him to Delhi.

Penniless, frightened and with nowhere to go, Dega camped out on the city’s pavements. Hunger drove him to find work in a dhaba, where he scrubbed huge utensilsfrom morning until night, for two meals and a paltry sum of money. Each month his desire to return home was overshadowed by the guilt of having run away with a small family fortune and breaking the trust of his loved ones. One day, he decided he would never return.

Eight years of slavery went by until a companion got him a rickshaw to ply and took him to an AAA shelter. That gave him his first semblance of the family he had left behind, creating small ripples of change in his otherwise stagnant life.

People like Dega make up 150,000 of the homeless who live the unmapped, invisible, brittle lives of the disempowered. As forgotten people they cling fiercely to life in the callous city. As Delhi undergoes an intense makeover for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the number of homeless people continues to rise with slums being demolished to make way for parks, shopping malls, the Metro, and new roads. There have been very few attempts to rehabilitate the urban poor; although some have been given alternative sites these are way outside the city limits, making travel costs impossibly high.

“The homeless have a right to shelter, right to life, right to livelihood. The State is accountable to everyone. Those who migrate from the villages are already in a very fragile condition. Living on the streets only leaves them more vulnerable to disease and abuse,” says Paramjeet Kaur, director of AAA.

Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan was set up eight years ago with the aim of ensuring that the poor get their most basic human rights. Today, it runs permanent shelters for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in Sadar, Pahargunj, Purani Dilli, Chandni Chowk, Jhandewalan and Nandnagri, accommodating roughly 800 people throughout the year.

Paramjeet admits that they can never cover all the homeless people in the city. “Not everyone can afford to pay Rs 6 as daily charges of living in the shelter,” says Dev Kumar, supervisor at the Fatehpuri shelter near Purani Dilli railway station. “At present all the shelters are for men only; the government closed down the only shelter at Yamuna Pushta for women as the place is wanted as a warehouse for the civic centre that is being built for the Commonwealth Games. Women and girls are the most vulnerable. We tried our best to rehabilitate them with some NGOs but many are back on the streets living extremely exploited lives.”

The AAA team has divided Delhi into five zones. Every month they hold five panchayats where the homeless congregate to talk about their lives and needs. This year, AAA held its fifth mahapanchayat.

Working closely with Paramjeet, Sanjay Kumar has spearheaded a number of programmes for AAA as its coordinator. He says: “Initially, when we began holding the homeless panchayats, people were reluctant to be a part of them. They had lived so long on the fringes of social conscience that they had stopped believing that anything could be done to better their lives. But we insisted that we were not going anywhere.

“Gradually they began talking about their biggest stumbling block -- identification. No identification meant they could not get permanent government jobs or access any government schemes. They were also vulnerable to being exploited by the street mafia and the police. In democratic India it’s painful to see so many homeless die without even an identity, and cremated as unclaimed. We also realised how important identity was to individuals as it gave them a sense of pride and acceptance in society.”

AAA decided to make the issue of identification its first task, in 2003, working through 42 street points across Delhi. After several awareness programmes, the organisation came up with Abhiyan Saathi identity cards. “That was a turning point,” recalls Sanjay, as the AAA team met the election commissioner (EC) with a petition of ensuring the homeless their voting rights. “The EC was very sensitive. They designed a Form 6, and 1,000 people filled it in. And so, 200 homeless people became a part of the public that voted the Manmohan Singh government to power.”

AAA also came to realise that homeless people were often excluded from savings schemes. Sanjay says: “The RBI guidelines make financial provision for weaker sections of society, but this does not include the homeless.”

Determined to break new ground, Sanjay met officials of the Union Bank of India and explained to them the need to extend reliable savings schemes to homeless people in order to enable them to deposit their daily earnings. With theft and exploitation rampant on the streets, most homeless people do not even attempt to save for a time when they can no longer work manually. As talks between Union Bank and AAA progressed, Ramanathan, Banking Secretary, GoI, visited the shelters and met the inmates.

Meanwhile, Fino Foundation agreed to pitch in with ATM cards made especially for the homeless. Each card is printed on biometric lines using individual fingerprints to cater to the illiterate. This also means that even if the card is stolen or lost, the finder cannot withdraw money unless his fingerprint exactly matches that recorded on the card.

“An agent from the bank comes to the shelter, and people can withdraw or deposit their money. By 4 pm all transactions cease and the machine is fed into the main server of Union Bank,” says Sanjay, explaining how the system works. “Our target for this year is to open up 10,000 accounts. The scheme started on February 1, 2008. Biometric cards take time to be made, that is why only around 600 accounts have been opened so far.”

At the Fatehpuri shelter, Dega grins and holds his ATM card up in front of his face. His pride is evident. Two years ago when he fell sick his friends advised him to start saving for a time when he could no longer work so hard. Like them, he began depositing a portion of his daily earnings with the local rajaiwala (person who does business in bedding). “I earn anything between Rs 100 and Rs 150 a day. Of this I have to pay a daily rent of Rs 35 to the rickshaw owner, besides paying for food. I am able to save at least Rs 50 -- this I give to the rajaiwala. But there have been cases of people being cheated of their savings, in this kind of arrangement. Keeping the money in a bank is foolproof; our money is safe. Saving has now become a nasha (intoxication). It makes me believe, for the first time, that my future is not so bad.”

Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan
Lane 4, Shakarpur
Delhi 110 092
Tel: 91-11-22022440

By Madhu Gurung


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

Billion Tree campaign expands target to 7 billion

The Billion Tree campaign, spearheaded by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Agroforestry Centre and begun in 2006, has facilitated the planting of 2 billion trees worldwide, double its original target.

Emboldened by this success, the campaign now plans to increase the target to 7 billion trees. That is, one tree per person, by the 2009 Climate Convention Meeting.

In the 18 months of its existence, the initiative, which is under the patronage of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Kenyan Green Belt Movement founder Professor Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert II of Monaco, has broken every target set and has catalysed tree planting in 155 countries. Under the campaign, people, communities, business and industry, civil society organisations and governments are encouraged to enter tree planting pledges online.

According to the organisers, tree planting is one of the most cost-effective ways to address climate change. Trees and forests play a vital role in regulating the climate since they absorb carbon dioxide. Deforestation, in turn, accounts for over 20% of the carbon dioxide humans generate, rivalling emissions from other sources. Trees also provide livelihood options to poor communities and are crucial for soil fertility, water and biodiversity conservation.

The campaign has “opened the door, especially for the rural poor, to benefit from the valuable products and services the trees provide,” said Dennis Garrity, director general of the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre. “Smallholder farmers could also benefit from the rapidly growing global carbon market by planting and nurturing trees.”

Heads of State, including the presidents of Indonesia, the Maldives, Mexico, Turkey and Turkmenistan as well as businesses, cities, faith, youth and community groups have enthusiastically taken part. Individuals account for over half of all participants.

In a single day in Uttar Pradesh, India, 10.5 million trees were planted.

35 million young people in Turkey have been mobilised to plant trees.

500,000 schoolchildren in sub-Saharan Africa and the United Kingdom have become engaged.

Africa is the leading region, with over half of all tree plantings. Regional and national governments organised massive plantings, with Ethiopia leading the count at 700 million, followed by Turkey (400 million), Mexico (250 million), and Kenya (100 million).

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has planted 60 million trees in 35 countries to improve food security. This assumes significance as the United Nations calls for resolute action to end the global food crisis which affects an estimated 73 million people in 80 countries around the world.

The private sector too has done its bit, accounting for almost 6% of all trees planted. Multinational corporations including Bayer, Toyota, Yves Rocher, Accor Group of Hotels and Tesco Lotus supported the campaign, as did hundreds of medium and small-sized enterprises around the world.


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

Ray of hope for coalfield slum kids

Government schemes are virtually unheard of in the coalfield slums. But here, 130 children get education, thanks to an NGO.

It was the “call of humanity” that gave birth to Manav, an organisation working to uplift underprivileged children in the slums of the coalfield. These children now have school uniform and go to school with a satchel slung across their shoulders. They would not have been able to read had it not been for Manav.

The NGO, formed 11 months ago, is made up of five teachers and a couple of bank employees. The children, between five and eight years, are taught in two centres.

Manav’s greatest achievement is bringing girls from conservative Muslim families to the school. More than 60 per cent of the 80 children at its centre in Chauthaikulhi are Muslims. At the other centre in Bokapahari, 50 children have registered.

“The urge to study is quite strong in the children of the helpless parents. This helped us to get them here to educate them. We are following the CBSE board of primary education and have appointed three teachers at Chauthaikulhi and two at Bokapahari,” said Kamlesh Prasad Singh, the secretary of Manav.

Here, even parents follow their children to the centre to learn different means to earn their livelihood.

“I feel excited to come to school everyday and don’t want to miss any class,” said Raju, a seven-year-old son of a daily wager.

During summer, classes start from 6am and continue till 9am. In winter, the centre functions 7am to 10am.

Singh, who is also the principal of Indian School of Learning at Bhagabandh, is trying to arrange for funds.

“We are arranging money from our friends but we also need government support,” said the organisation’s treasurer H.P. Thakur.


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

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The young and questioning

Young Turks were less visible in the House than older MPs. But they asked many more questions.

Indian Express has been tracking the daily presence and activity of ‘young turks’ in Parliament. In Lok Sabha, of the 536 sitting MPs, 90 MPs are below 45 years, the number for Rajya Sabha is 11 out of 239 MPs. We summarise the activity of this cohort during the Budget Session that concluded yesterday, based on data available from the Parliament website. The analysis excludes all ministers (58 including 5 young MPs in Lok Sabha, and 22 in Rajya Sabha), the presiding officers and their deputies.

Of the 28 days in the Budget Session, attendance record of Lok Sabha MPs is available for the first 21 days. Data for Rajya Sabha is not yet available. The average attendance of young MPs was 62 per cent. This is lower than the 70 per cent attendance rate of those above 45 years of age.

Five young MPs — Ajaya Kumar, K.S. Manoj, Tushar Chaudhary, Virchandra Paswan and Jyotirmoyee Sikdar — had attended all days; the MP with the lowest attendance (one day) was Govinda Ahuja (yes, the actor).

The first hour of Parliament is devoted to questions. During the session, a total of 10,856 questions were asked — an average of 15.6 per MP. Young MPs averaged 20.5 questions, well above the 14.8 average for older MPs. The three figure mark was crossed by five — Jay Panda, Asaddudin Owaisi, Kishanbhai Patel, Sugrib Singh and Supriya Sule.

Parliament spends a significant amount of time on debates. While the party leadership nominates MPs for certain debates (such as legislative debates), individual MPs may raise issues (for example, during Zero Hour) without any direction from the party. The participation of younger MPs (1.8 debate per MP) was significantly lower than that of older MPs (2.6). This pattern held true for both debates in which participants were nominated by the party (1.3 for younger MPs vs 1.7 for older ones) and where MPs were free to participate (0.5 vs 0.8). Only two young MPs clocked double figures for debates — K.S. Manoj and Kiren Rijiju.

By M.R. Madhavan


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

Youth convention on AIDS

Indian Committee of Youth Organisations (ICYO) is organising the National Youth Convention in partnership with UNICEF and other youth organisations in India from May 28-30, 2008 in Bangalore.

The purpose of this convention is to create a platform for young voices to fight against HIV and AIDS and take up issues that affect youth in the country.

Indian Committee of Youth Organisations (ICYO) is a non-profit network committed to develop areas of mutual cooperation and understanding among different youth voluntary agencies, groups and clubs and individuals functioning in India and South Asia.

The program is being organised in association with organisations such as ICYO (Indian Committee of Youth Organisations), New Delhi, CARDTS, Bangalore, CYDA Pune and other youth organisations and networks across India.

The convention will bring together over 400 youth from different parts of the country to re-emphasise the importance of youth and community mobilisation and explore and bring about a greater understanding of roles and responsibilities of youth in society: how youth can be a strong force for change, both internal (Self) and external (community); how youth can link with other members of society; mobilising youth for action in the community; services and information needs of youth with a special focus on HIV and AIDS.

This will be done through plenary, panel discussions and skill workshops and exhibitions.

The groups/ organisations from India can nominate the 3-4 persons between 18 to 24 years to join this programme.

The participants have to reach Bangalore on May 27, 2008 while the departure is on May 31, 2008.

The organisers will take care of the logistics, food, accommodation and transportation costs.

The travel expenses to and fro Bangalore shall be born by participating organisations.

Interested organisations have to send their details to



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

Poor literacy affects health in Pakistan

Outside a small pharmacy in the dusty capital of Pakistan’s vast southwestern Balochistan Province, Zaitoon Bibi, 25, clutches two bottles of medicine. “One is for the cough and one is for fever. I hope I can remember which is which,” she says, looking worried.

Zaitoon’s two children, girls aged four and two, have been suffering from fever for over a week. “I was finally able to persuade my husband they needed medicine,” she said.

Like thousands of other women across Pakistan, Zaitoon finds her inability to read a significant handicap in her daily life. The lettering on the bottle makes no sense to her and she must depend on help from neighbours to read the instructions on dosage.

However, in the low-income shanty town where Zaitoon and her husband, a labourer, live, literate neighbours are not easy to find.

Millions illiterate

According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), literacy still stands at only 50 percent in Pakistan.

In Balochistan, the least developed province, levels slump to 36 percent. Only 27 percent of women in the province, according to the government’s National Economic Survey of 2007, are literate, compared to a national average of around 45 percent, according to official data.

UNESCO's representative in Pakistan, Arshad Saeed Khan, said there were about 55 million illiterate people in Pakistan, and as a result “it risked failing to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”.

Literacy levels in Pakistan are today among the lowest in South Asia, with only Bangladesh and Nepal lagging slightly behind.

Impact on daily lives

The impact this has on lives is profound. “We now depend on our son, eight, to read. It is he who told us that he had read in the newspaper that tuberculosis was curable, and it was only then that we took my 14-year-old daughter to a clinic,” said Rehmatullah Khan, 50, the illiterate father of six.

“Now I know being able to read is important. If my son had not read that message, my daughter may have been dead,” he said.

It is not only in Balochistan that problems associated with illiteracy abound. The Punjab, the most populous province, has a literacy rate of 52 percent.

“The illiteracy issue becomes quite problematic. When neither the husband nor wife can read, they find it difficult to use birth control tablets effectively, or keep track of vaccination schedules for their children,” said Nasreen Akhtar, a “lady health worker” based in the town of Gujranwala, about 150km north of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab.

Others said the issue of literacy, apart from affecting employment and access to information, had a bigger impact.

“Education gives people dignity and self-respect. It empowers them in many ways,” said I. A. Rehman, chief executive of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Less spending

A key factor in the failure to push up literacy rates is the fact that Pakistan allocates just around 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to education, experts said. UNESCO recommended an increase in this to at least 4 percent and has also said legislation for free secondary education, as a fundamental right, was urgently needed.

For many health workers, social activists and indeed people in general, the links between illiteracy, sickness and suffering are irrefutable.

“When parents, especially mothers, can read even a little, the basic health needs of families - from post-natal care, to breastfeeding, to seeking medical attention when someone is sick - are much better taken care of,” said Akhtar.

In areas like Balochistan, or parts of the North West Frontier Province where literacy is only just over the 20 percent mark, these difficulties are especially acute.


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


A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee,the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

"If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken
up,leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal

for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and were eyeing each other's cups.

Now if life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn't change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it."

So, don't let the cups drive you... enjoy the coffee instead.

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


NAMI INDIA invites you and all connected with the People for a social cause:

National Schizophrenia Awareness Day : 24th May

Nalanda Times Foundation

Date: Sst 24th May 2008

Time: 10-1pm

Talk on Schizophrenia
Experience Sharing by survivors
Exhibition of paintings by survivors.

Please be there to show your solidarity with those struggling with the illness.

Akila Maheshwari

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

Old People and their Role as described in VEDAS

In the Vedas the old age is the golden (50 to 75 years) and diamond periods (75 to 100 years) of one’s life. The truthful, trustworthy and independent old people of yore speculated thought and observed the various social and physical phenomenon around them. They found greatest ideas of eternal value in the form of Aryankas, (simple laws for the old people) Rta - the cosmic laws of Nature for mankind. Their aim was perhaps to create concord in society and contributed through their metaphysics, philosophy and even physical sciences and scientific temper for the welfare of mankind.

Vedic description of Old age:

Atharva Veda XIV 1-31 and XIV-2-64 and 71 mentions that young couples should live full length of life together with their children and grand children. Normal age of a person is mentioned as 100 years for those who follow dharma (path of righteousness) and Rta- the eternal laws of Nature. Yajur Veda 3-63 says persons who follow Dharma and Rta can live up to 300 years i.e triya ayusham (triple life). Atharva Veda XI-1-19 say that learned and mighty persons of all divine professions (varna) should expand to great grand father/mother and should be able to say “I am the 15th of it”.

Since Ramayana and Mahabharata are Vedas retold, the Grand Old Man of Mahabharata viz. Bhisham Pitamah who was Commander- in- Chief of Kaurva’s Army at the age of about 270 years was perhaps the 15th of the generation and was killed in the great Mahabharata War as he supported the non divine Kaurvas.

Vedic Prayer and Role for Old People
In the Veda there is prayer for Old people “O God: allot us work to further your Design and Purpose” Rig Veda 1-124-1, 1-46-6 and 4-33-11 mention the purpose of human life is social welfare and help God in the maintenance of His grand wondrous Design. Thee Old people should aim at providing permanent truths and value systems to the young people by avoiding toxic emotion of resentment, regret, ego and change such feelings through Vivek (discernment) and tranquillity to love, duty, compassion and forgiveness.

Since many scriptures and Upanishads confirm the highest mediation is study of Vedas and Bhagavad-Gita says highest virtue is spread of Vedic knowledge, Old people can at least spread the Vedic economics based on dharma and artha, Ramrajya (Vedic concept of righteous state/government) and harmonised divine, spiritual and material Vedic knowledge. We can all jointly assist God in the maintenance of Grand Design by avoiding all kind of social, moral and physical pollution.

By "Prem Sabhlok" in SSS Global Group

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