Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Monday, August 31, 2009

India needs leaders at many levels

Sam Pitroda chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission, believes the United States' model of a liberal arts education is applicable in the revamping of higher education in India and that such a model is very much in the works.

He noted during a conference on Higher Education Policies in India, China and the United States, "We recognised early that too much focus on engineering and medical education has created a situation in India where liberal arts really did not get the kind of attention it deserved."

Pitroda said, "A good liberal arts education is important to produce leaders. India has now begun to recognizse that we need not only world class engineering education, we also need world-class liberal arts education."

"And, we agreed that the model we have in (University of) Chicago or Harvard is a model that we need to look at, but it needs to be Indianised -- it has to be of a local context," he said.

Later, in an interview with, Pitroda elaborated, "Liberal arts is very critical to provide long-term leadership since there is a vacuum of leadership at many levels in India."

Thus, he said it's imperative to have such an education in the higher education curricula "whether it's understanding of psychology, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, economics -- all these subjects that really have not gotten the kind of attention they deserve in India."

"You just can't produce leaders by just producing mathematicians and scientists and engineers and doctors," he argued, and reiterated, "India needs leaders at many, many levels. We need leaders all over. We need leaders in education, leaders in science, leaders in industry, leaders in NGOs, leaders in government, leaders at district level, leaders at state level, leaders for youth."

Consequently, Pitroda said, "Liberal arts is very important for that kind of effort in our producing effective leadership in India, which is sorely lacking."

He also assailed the naysayers who were skeptical about partnerships with foreign institutions in terms of alleviating India's standard of higher education and asserted that their fears and concerns, about contamination of Indian ethos by Western concepts, were highly misplaced.

"There is always the fear in the beginning whenever these things happen -- whenever you open new systems there are all kinds of fears. But the point is, we need to open our systems systematically in a manner which is in the long run beneficial to India," he said.

Pitroda argued, "We can't have a closed system if we are going to be a major global player -- education has also got to be opened up. It has got to be opened up in a manner which is suitable to us."

He also pooh-poohed the growing concern among alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management that American universities and colleges, which have been setting up shop in India, are luring the top faculty at IITs and IIMs with better compensation, thus diluting the quality of education in these premier institutions.

These alumni have also said the fact there has been no review of the compensation system for faculty at the IITs and IIMs was compounding the problem. The bureaucracy in India, they argued, did not want compensation for the faculty to be greater than their own, leading to this impasse.

Thus, they have called for some deregulation so that there can be a revamping of this system.Pitroda told, "It is already happening. The professors are well compensated now. If you look at our Knowledge Commission portal, you'll fund that all of these things have been addressed and it is happening slowly but surely -- the pay scale of professors in India today is pretty good compared to what it used to be not even three years ago."

Pitroda said, "One of the most important things we did recently is pass the bill for Right to Education, which is the most prominent bill and nobody even noticed it. It's the first Right to Education Bill in the history of India."

"And, we are also doing a bill on higher education and these will incorporate a lot of the reforms we have called for in the Knowledge Commission regarding a lot of the things you referred to and it's already in the works," he added.


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

Mentor a Social Entrepreneur with Dasra Social-Impact

Dasra is launching a new, and exceptional cohort of social entrepreneurs, who are part of Dasra Social-Impact, in October. It’s a year-long program enabling social entrepreneurs, to sustainably scale their organizations, thereby dramatically accelerating and increasing their impact on some of the most marginalized communities in India.

They may be running social businesses, NGOs or hybrid organizations, but all of them need financial and strategic mentorship to create a strong business plan to access more funding and scale their activities.

This guidance is vital and I think you have valuable expertise and experience which would contribute an enormous amount to their professional development.

Some examples of the organizations taking part this year are Mann Deshi, a hybrid organization providing loans and business education to poor, illiterate rural women; Mirakle Couriers, a social business employing deaf adults as couriers and RIVER; an NGO which creates truly innovative curriculums and materials to help teachers who have large, mixed grade classes, with exceptional results.

This is an opportunity to apply your experience and business acumen,while meeting and learning from those who have incredible stories and innovative solutions to fighting poverty. Not only is it different from anything you may have done before, it’s also unique – no other program in India enables you to contribute in this way.

Alongside residential workshops, you will help them build:
• a solid business plan
• a tactical execution plan
• a clarified vision towards long-term growth and sustainability
• an improved understanding of financing options
• an expanded network of relevant contacts.

Dasra-Social Impact is looking for mentors who can commit to two days in Mumbai in the weeks of October 25th 2009, February 15th and May 31st 2010 with online and phone communication fortnightly.

Mentors are also required with specific skills in finance, HR,communications, project management, fundraising or industry experience.

We generally need mentors in Mumbai but also these locations: Pune, Satara (MH), Kolhapur (MH),Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mandapalle (AP), Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jammu, Kutch.

Your skills will directly help them realize their vision.

If you feel you might not have the time to commit this year, please pass it onto to someone who may be interested.

Ms Zuhura Plummer
Fern Mansion, 1st Floor, 29 St Francis AvenueNext to Khar Subway, Santa Cruz (W) Mumbai 400 054T +91 22 3240 3453
M +91 98 19 46 82 93

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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Hub Taster Invitation

The Hub Taster
15th- 20th of September, 2009

The invitation
Come experience The Hub! Use the Hub Taster week to work free of charge out of The Hub. We will provide work spaces, wireless internet,stimulating conversations, interesting people to speak with and of course lots of chai!

Who can come?
Anyone interested in working alongside or meeting people with ideas and passion for social change.You could be a musician, changemaker, journalist,accountant, entrepreneur – all you need to bring is a laptop and enthusiasm to connect with like minded people.

How to book?
Just turn up on any day during the Hub Taster week or call us on 022 3222 0475

Where is The Hub?
4th Floor Candelar Building 26 St John Baptist Road Bandra (W), Mumbai 400 050,India.
Landmark - Above Dilshad Beauty Salon

What is the Hub?
The Hub is a one of its kind in Asia a collaborative space for people with ideas and passion for social change to work out of, meet, connect, learn and grow. The Hub is an initiative of UnLtd India, a foundation supporting start up social entrepreneurs in India.
To find out more mail us at or call on 022 3222 0475

“Joining The Hub is a key milestone for a
start up organisation like ours. It gives us
inspiration and networking opportunities
to reach out to many like minded people.”
- Sailesh Mishra, Silver Innings

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CHIEF OF PARTY required by project funded by USAID – India


Location: Bangalore

Samastha is a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support project which is being implemented in 12 districts in Karnataka and five districts in coastal Andhra Pradesh. The main goal of the project is to reduce the transmission and mitigate the impact of HIV in selected districts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with a focus on rural areas. The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). University of Manitoba (UoM) is the prime grant recipient for this project and the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) is its lead implementation partner in India. The project began in October 2006, with a five-year duration.

As the leading agency in the partnership, UoM serves as Samastha’s overall technical advisor. Samastha also receives technical backing from Engender Health (EH) on issues relating to improvement in the quality of care/support — including care of OVCs — and on collaboration in HIV-TB service delivery, and from Population Services International (PSI) on strategic communication and the social marketing of condoms. Assistance for systems strengthening, care/support and capacity building for healthcare providers is provided by Swasti, Snehadaan and St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, respectively. Work at the field level is carried out in collaboration with CBOs and NGOs. This consortium project works in collaboration with NACO, the State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) of both states and the District AIDS Prevention and Control Units (DAPCUs), with the objective of strengthening healthcare delivery systems & ensuring that best practices in HIV/AIDS prevention and care are developed to influence national and state programmes.

Samastha offers:
HIV prevention services directed at individuals who are most at risk in rural Karnataka
HIV prevention services for the general community in rural Karnataka, with a special focus on at-risk youth and other vulnerable groups
Community-based care/support and treatment services in both rural and urban areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
Capacity building and strengthening of healthcare delivery systems in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
Advocacy at all levels to create an enabling environment and mitigate the impact of the HIV epidemic
Data gathering in project areas and ongoing monitoring/ evaluation of project outcomes
Consolidation of learnings by drawing on best practices from other projects and networking with partners

Reason to Hire
The University of Manitoba seeks to hire a Chief of Party (COP), Project Samastha; as the outgoing COP is moving on to another role. The incumbent will be responsible to provide leadership support to the design, implementation & management of this multi-stakeholder consortium project, to accomplish the mission of delivering a comprehensive programme that will provide HIV and AIDS prevention, care/support and treatment programmes and services to vulnerable and affected populations in Karnataka & AP. The project is coming to the end of its third year and the incumbent will be expected to take on the challenge of leveraging on existing programmes & best practices in HIV/AIDS prevention that have been developed so far; to influence national and state programmes.

Key Roles and Responsibilities
Developing and finalizing all aspects of project design, implementation and evaluation, in conjunction with key technical staff of the University of Manitoba, KHPT and other partners.
Developing implementation plans, annual action plans and budgets.
Recruiting and supervising project staff.
Providing technical support to project implementation activities.
Managing contracts with implementing partners, including non-government organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs).
Providing technical support to staff and to implementing partner NGOs and CBOs.
Monitoring and evaluating project outputs and reporting on results, including providing reports as required for USAID/PEPFAR.
Liaising with USAID/PEPFAR and its staff in India as required.
Preparing and approving project narrative and financial reports.
Working very closely with the states (Karnataka and AP) AIDS control programmes and NACO, and providing technical assistance as required.

Qualifications and Skills Specification
Minimum 10 years of experience, with the ability to provide strategic leadership oversight to the design, management & implementation of complex multi-stakeholder engagement projects/programmes.
Experience of working on public health (technical knowledge), and on HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes is desirable.
Leadership & ability to manage high caliber/high performing teams.
Excellent relationship management skills; with the ability to network & build sustainable partnerships with multiple stakeholders (NGOs, CBO’s, donors, government); especially demonstrated skills & ability to work in partnership with government agencies.
·Very strong written & verbal communication skills in English.

Third Sector Partners, a leading senior management and board search firm in the Not for Profit sector has been retained by The University of Manitoba/KHPT to hire a Chief of Party (COP), Project Samastha . Interested candidates can send in their CVs along with three references and a covernote to or contact 022-24371068/1194.

Last date for submission of applications is 15th September 2009.

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

Friday, August 21, 2009

Retired teachers, traders may make it to banks' business correspondents list

Kiranawalas, petrol pump owners and retired teachers may soon be able to function as business correspondents for banks. The move forms part of the Reserve Bank of India’s attempt to bring more of rural India in the organised credit fold. Apart from these constituents, RBI has proposed to expand the definition of business correspondent to include small saving schemes and insurance company agents too.

BCs are allowed to function as banking agents in areas devoid of bank branches. Besides enabling opening of accounts for new customers, BCs are permitted to undertake activities such as disbursal of small value credit, recovery of dues, collection of small-value deposits, sale of micro insurance, mutual funds, pension products and other third-party products, and receipt and delivery of small-value remittances/ other payment instruments.

A report by the banking regulator has also suggested that public call office (PCO) operators, self-help groups linked to banks and select non-banking finance companies could also be included under the definition of BC. These are some of the suggestions on the BC model made by a working group headed by RBI’s chief general manager Vijaya Bhaskar.

The report has dwelt on the long-term feasibility of BCs, suggesting that banks will have to relook the compensation structure of such functionaries. The report says that BCs help banks in taking their low-value, high-volume transactions out of the branch premises and to that extent there is a potential saving in costs. These savings could be passed on to the BCs. Further, it says, banks should consider bearing the initial set-up cost of the BCs and support them in the initial stages. Lenders may also need to bear the costs relating to transit insurance of the cash handled by BCs.

While making the recommendations, RBI has noted that the BC model will play a very important role for banks in achieving financial inclusion. Studies have indicated that nearly 70% of India’s population do not have bank accounts.

The working group has also noted that BCs should be used not only for opening and servicing no-frills accounts, but also for the full range of financial activities. At present, NGOs and MFIs set up under the Societies/ Trust Acts, Section 25 companies, post office and retired bank employees, former servicemen and government employees are among those eligible to become BCs.


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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fundraising & Communications Training Programme for NGO and CSR in Mumbai

SPJIMR center for DOCC presents


Fundraising & Communications Training

For ‘Not For Profits’ And CSR Organisation With
Real Practitioners And
Successful Fundraising Experts


9th & 10th October 2009 at

SPJIMR, Mumbai

Organised by

Silver Innings

• Want to begin a social venture?
• Want to learn the latest tools & techniques?
• Ready to raise money for your NGO?
• Wondering what the fundraising science is about?

Fundraising is not about going out with a begging bowl but about, planning, conceptualizing and working with a long term strategy. To involve citizens with the cause and not just asking them for money.

To find out more, Register and attend this workshop NOW and learn the art and science of fundraising.

The Meaning Of Fundraising
Creating A Winning Strategy
Ethics Of Fundraising
Legalities In Fundraising
Inspiring Support And Not Just Asking For Money
Direct Mail Appeals
Planning Small Local Fundraising Events
How To Write Winning Proposals
Raising Funds From The Government
Partnerships With Corporate
How To Plan And Start A Social Venture On A Shoestring
Planning Communications

Workshop Features:
• Globally Experienced Hands On Fundraisers.
• Explores Fundamentals, Specialised Developments & Fundraising Training.
• Tangible Outcomes: Make Plans That Work!
• As A First All Participants Shall Be Given Handholding And Out Of The Box Ideas To Create Their Own Strategies By The Gurus

Who should attend?
This workshop is designed to support Fundraisers, CSR Heads, Social Communications professionals, NGO Directors, Brand Managers, Event managers & others who are inclined towards organizing fundraising events & functionaries of NGOs from Maharashtra & Mumbai.

Why to attend?
Real Time Learning For Planning & Executing Events With 360-degree Solutions, From Specialist Gurus Who Have Hands On Experience Plus Theoretical & Practical Knowledge. This Shall Also Be A Good Forum To Build Relationships With The Gurus And People From Various Sectors, Share Ideas And Forge Alliances To Plan Fundraising Events & Campaigns As Joint Ventures. To Top It As A First (No Other Workshop Has Ever Done This Before In India Or Overseas), All Fundraisers & Delegates From Ngo’s Shall Be Given Handholding & Assistance By Icongo For Developing A Successful Fundraising Strategy .

How to Register:
3500/- INR Non Residential (inclusive of lunches, refreshments and materials) . There is a 500/- rupee early bird discount until 31st August 2009.

We offer a special registration fee to NGOs sending two or more staff members as this is the best way to ensure that you can take these tools and implement them in your NGO!

Venue Address:
Centre for Development of Corporate Citizenship, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan's S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Munshi Nagar, Dadabhai Road, Andheri West, Mumbai 400058 .Tel: 61460316,
Email: ,Website:

Fee Collection Center:
Payment to be made in name of “Silver Innings”
Contact Address:
Silver Innings , C/o: The Hub, 4th Floor, Candelar Building, 26 St John Baptist Road, Near Mount Mary Steps, Next to Smokin Joes Pizza shop, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050

Contact for Registration (Silver Innings):
Ms. Hemshikha Gupta - 09987104233, Email:
Mr. Sailesh Mishra - 09819819145 Email:

Contact Persons from iCONGO :
Ms Snigdha Narain: 09711773625 email:
Mr. Hunar Brar:

Please send the filled-in form along with the payment to:
Silver Innings, C/o The Hub, 4th Floor, Candelar Building, 26 St John Baptist Road, Near Mount Mary Steps, Next to Smokin Joes Pizza shop, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050

Note: Last date for registration is 20th Sep 2009.
There will be no refund of registration fees in event of cancellation by the participant.

Note: Revenues Generated From This Workshop Shall Be
Utilised For Cause Campaigning And Creating Care And Dignity
For The Senior Citizens Of India

Shibani Ghosh’s
interest lay in making Documentaries and she and her team started a Film Production house called Ranima films. Her first film Sadak Chaap on street children of Bombay won her the best film award at MIFF ( Mumbai International Film Festival). Sahas premiered at the Women's NGO conclave in China and was subsequently telecast on Doordarshan and on BBC and ZDF Television. Ever since Ranima Films has worked on films for NGO’s, the UN, Corporations , CSR & HR films.

Rtn.Wg.Cdr(Retd)SS Roychoudhury
A well known name in the development sector as a professional fundraiser for the last 18 yrs. He has served as country heads, Resource Mobilization for national level charities like Help Age India, GCCI, Deepalaya & as senior Manager, Technology Development of Development Alternatives.

Bosco Fernandes
Possessing over 20-years’ experience in NGO-activities, FMCG-Sales, Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising. Achieved outstanding credentials on the NGO-scenario, providing funding solutions and back-up, developing strategic alliances with Corporate Houses, networking & generating wide-canvas exposure for reaching-out to Below Poverty Line sections of society with extensive benefits.

Prof.Nirja Mattoo
Center for DOCC is at present being spearheaded by Ms .Nirja Mattoo, who brings with her an invaluable experience of more then 25 years in the field of development, voluntary action and corporate citizenship's. Ms Nirja Mattoo was one of the seventeen nominees out of 80 nominations received from all over the world, to make it to the final round of the ASPEN Faculty Awards held in New York in 2005 and 2008.

Jeroninio Almeida
With over 14 yrs of experience in Business Sector, Jerry founded iCONGO and drives the movement to encourage social justice & citizen action through the people sector, as the chief volunteer & has been conducting weekend training programs (pro bono) for various NGOs over the past 5 years to encourage practical, ethical and credible fundraising to develop a long term ecosystem for the sector. Jerry also speaks at various high profile forums in India and overseas on CSR, Corporate Governance, Retail, Brand management, HR, Social & Corporate Communications, Cause Related Marketing, Media and Event management.

About iCONGO:
Over the past 8 years the founders of iCONGO have been training and mentoring various NGO leaders and fundraisers for creating fundraising strategies and also handholding them for implementation (some feedback is appended below). We at iCONGO teach on the basic foundation that “fundraising is not just about MONEY, HONEY!!” (as is misunderstood by most in India). It is about developing a credible ecosystem to involve people for the cause. In fact, most matured fundraising countries term fundraising as DEVELOMENT and fundraisers are called DEVELOPMENT PROFESSIONALS, because PEOPLE IN FUNDRAISING are NOBLE PROFESSIONALS who DEVELOP a community movement for addressing any cause.

Earlier this year we founded iCODEVGURUKUL and under its aegis we conducted the first specialist mentoring for development workshop on “Planning , selling and managing fundraising events”. The Unique proposition was that for the first time it was “Practical fundraising gyan by specialist gurus for creating supporter involvement” and not just gyan by people who don’t have hands on experience or people from overseas who do not understand the Indian ecosystem which is very different from the US or European matured fundraising ecosystem.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's S.P.Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR) one of the top ten B-schools in the country. They have been proactive in participating in activities of relevance to the Indian society beyond MBA and similar programs. The Centre for Development of Corporate Citizenship (DOCC) is one such pedagogic initiative.

About Silver Innings:
Silver Innings is a Social Entrepreneur organization working towards creating Elder Friendly World where Ageing becomes a Positive and Rewarding Experience.Silver Inning Foundation is part of this group which is an NGO working with Elderly. Through its proactive approach and dedicated leadership of Sailesh Mishra , Silver Innings won 'Karamveer' National Award 2008 and is partially supported by Unltd India.

It was so refreshing to have such an out of the box presentation after having
attended so many mundane and systematic workshops. I really mean it I had
attended so many of them!1. It was very innovative, 2. It made us think
differently, 3. I liked the concept of “getting to feel for the cause, actually getting attached to the cause and not merely funding! Just like that without knowing the work”. This helps in gaining partners for future not necessarily MONEY! Anjali Chaudhry, Advocacy Coordinator

This is brilliant. Just the stuff one needs. Meena Vaidyanathan, Head, External Communications, HCL Technologies Ltd.

Dear Jerry, Thank you so very much for taking the session on events at Bhavan. The participants were really so happy with the session.
Rati, Regional Director- South Asia, The Resource Alliance

Hi Jerry, Thank you for the session that you conducted on the 27th. It threw light on different aspects of event planning and management and was very enriching. Our participants enjoyed every moment of it and left greatly enthused. We look forward to having you again with us.
Rajshri Sen, Regional Program Officer (South Asia), The Resource Alliance

We have received wonderful feedback from the students and the audience on
your presentation and it kept them mesmerized throughout. It was our privilege to have you as a speaker of your stature.
Rajarshi Ray, President - Net Impact club, Indian school of Business (ISB)

The presentation was simple and spoke of methods that need implementation.
Kalpana, DVAF

We all enjoyed and participated your session. Now we came to know instead of taking lot of responsibilities there is the need to make CITIZENS -Socially Responsible. I would love to share your valuable ideas again.
Rakesh Kumar, R

Need more workshops just like this one? Content is good and thought provoking.
Helen V. Sheila, Rural Integrated Development Agency (RIDA)

I gained a lot from this workshop. The aim is fulfilled. The external
sessions were very good and the knowledge forum was exciting.
Shivika Garg AIESEC

It was a good experience. A new understand of the concept of
fundraising from the other side. Rishi Gupta, Plan India

A very positive impact on all of us…a new perception to the ideas.
Anurag Nirbhaya, Muskan.

Enjoyed the session. How about the follow-up say Phase II to help us
know how to find right sponsors etc. Nazia Yusuf, SN Lifestyle rejeveture

Today’s workshop was a learning processes, helped me organise my
thoughts, I go back enriched and hope to work in more organised
manner.Sudha Murgai, GM Projects & Events,Cancer Patients Aid Association.

The partner NGOs were impressed a lot on your presentation which
enabled us to get lots of input, feedback and new initiatives on Fund
Raising Strategies / Resource Mobilization which would help us to
adopt new strategies in the field of development. K.Joji, General Secretary, DVAF

This session was very fruitful and I understood the global scenario
better. It was evaluative and effective. Associating with ICONGO is
necessary in order to network well for our projects and programmes.
V. Isaac, RAPID (Rural Action for Promoting Integrated Development)

An educative presentation. C. Krupa Rao, HELPS (Health Education Leadership Promoting Society)

iCONGO : Programme Facilitators

SPJIMR: Academic Partners

Silver Innings: Organiser

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

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Swine Flu Tests Privatised Health Care in India

While the swine flu pandemic has not hit India too hard, it has sorely tested the country’s ailing health delivery system and its plans to remedy the situation through ‘private-public partnerships.’

Much of the drama is playing out in the western Indian city of Pune where the death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl, on Aug. 3, following misdiagnosis at a private hospital where she was being treated, has led to charges in the media that the government was not doing enough contain the spread of the A(H1N1) virus.

Health authorities reacted to the death of the schoolgirl, Reeda Shaikh, by asking people who develop flu-like symptoms to report to designated government facilities for testing. That quickly resulted in panic and chaos with public facilities being swamped by people with flu-like symptoms.

In Pune, which now accounts for 12 of the 21 deaths reported since the first case surfaced on May 13, there was frenzied buying of face masks and antivirals, with large numbers of people seen queuing up to catch flights out of the city.

Confusion continued to reign in Pune regarding testing and treatment at private facilities, with the government reversing its initial order and several private hospitals defensively refusing to attend to patients suspected to be suffering from swine flu.

What happened in Pune tended to be replicated across several of India’s cities - the sense of panic and confusion as well as shortages of antivirals like ‘Tamiflu,’ spread by terse reportage on India’s numerous television channels.

It was not long before the government began to be accused of creating artificial shortages of antivirals by restricting the sales of Tamiflu and playing into the hands of the manufacturers of generic drugs and testing kits.

"It should have been obvious to the government that a few designated facilities would not be able to cope with the demand for tests and treatment," said Amit Das Gupta at the Delhi Science Forum, a non-profit public interest organisation that is engaged in issues related to science and technology. "Even in the U.S. those sick with the virus are being asked to stay at home unless they need special care."

"To put the number of deaths and infected patients being reported in perspective, it would be well to remember that some 36,000 people die in the U.S. alone every year due to ordinary influenza and related complications. As far as India is concerned it is well established that 42 percent of all deaths in this country are caused by communicable diseases," Das Gupta said.

Das Gupta also dismissed the government’s claim to have contained the spread of the disease through surveillance. "Effective surveillance depends on the existence of well-developed public health delivery systems, and in India these are in disarray as a result of shrinking budgets for public health spending," Das Gupta told IPS.

India currently spends less than one percent of its GDP on public sector healthcare, forcing the majority of people to take recourse in private medical care. Leading public health experts have for years been warning that the allocation is woefully inadequate, and Jeffrey Sachs, chair of the international advisory panel of India’s National Rural Health Mission, has suggested that the figure should be raised to around five percent of GDP.

In such a scenario the capacity of the government to intervene effectively when faced with a rapidly spreading virus like the A(H1N1) is severely limited. Experts believe that more than the precautions the government has taken - such as screening airport arrivals - India’s sub-tropical conditions may have put the brakes on the virus.

"It would have been best to let the epidemic run its natural course. Of course, extra precautions may need to be taken as winter approaches when the northern temperate areas of the country could become more vulnerable," Das Gupta said.

On Jun. 11, the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the pandemic alert level for swine flu to ‘Phase 6,’ indicating that community level outbreaks were occurring in different parts of the world. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO, then admitted that it was not possible to contain or reverse the spread of the virus.

However, it was not until this week that authorities in India admitted that it was more important to contain the panic rather than the virus, which, in any case, has manifested itself as being not too different in symptoms and virulence from ordinary seasonal flu viruses.

"As the virus spreads it will slowly create immunity among people and the number of new cases will start to drop," R.K. Srivastava, India’s director general of health services, said Thursday.

But the government’s failings were exposed by a group of independent public health specialists at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University through a note, calling for "greater clarity in the management of and treatment of A(H1N1) so that the public is informed regarding the aetiology, treatment and management of swine flu."

"The hysteria created by the media and the knee-jerk reaction from the ministry of health and family welfare are not conducive to rational and well- informed management of the situation," said the note signed by Dr. Mohan Rao, Prof. Rama Baru, Dr. Rajib Dasgupta, Prof. Sanghmitra Acharya, Prof. K.R. Nayar, Prof. Ramila Bisht and Dr. Ritu Priya.

The JNU experts said that treatment should continue to be limited to designated public hospitals and that the government needs to set out guidelines regarding the stage at which presumptive cases, and not just laboratory confirmed cases, will be treated with specific antivirals.

Equally, they said, there was no need for the government to open up testing and treatment in the private sector, especially when the situation was ripe for unnecessary - and expensive - testing for swine flu and unnecessary over- diagnosis and treatment. "This will not only lead to resistance to the only drugs we have but widespread exploitation of people wrongly diagnosed to have swine flu," the experts said.

As for the government’s plans to seek partnerships with the private sector, India’s biggest private facility - the multi-billion dollar Apollo Hospital in the national capital - simply refused to obey a government directive for private hospitals to help out on the grounds that treating swine flu cases could put other patients at risk of cross-infections.

In a press release Apollo Hospital said: "We cannot put our patients, many of whom are immune-compromised, at risk by exposing them to the infections. We are therefore not in a position to provide facilities for H1N1 flu screening, sample collection and inpatient treatment in our campus for fear of cross- infection."


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

Indian property developers cater to the masses with low-cost housing

LAST month ten-year-old Azharuddin Ismail was woken in the middle of the night by the sound of bulldozers. As policemen beat him with a bamboo stick to shoo him and his family away, his home in Mumbai’s slums was swiftly demolished. Azhar, a celebrity since appearing in the film “Slumdog Millionaire”, has since been given a new home by the filmmakers. But other residents were not so fortunate.

India’s cities need at least 25m more homes, according to report from McKinsey, a consultancy, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce. In Mumbai, the commercial capital, more than 8m people now live in shantytowns, often paying substantial rent for the privilege. But buying a home of their own is way out of reach for most of them: a 70-square-metre flat in the centre of the city costs $500,000 or so.

Matheran Realty is one of several firms that think they have a solution: ultra-low-cost housing. In Karjat, 90km east of Mumbai, Matheran Realty is in the process of building 15,000 flats with prices starting at just 210,000 rupees ($4,500) for 19-square-metre units. Tata, the firm that makes the $2,500 “Nano” car, is building 1,300 basic units at Boisar, about 100km north of the city, and may add more. Priced at 390,000-670,000 rupees each, they are already oversubscribed. Other firms are planning similar developments elsewhere in India.

The cost is being kept low chiefly because the flats are being built outside big cities, where land is much cheaper. Owners are expected to commute. The units are also very small and spartan. The simplest consist of a single room with a sink in the corner and a toilet behind a partition. They are in buildings of no more than three storeys, so there is no need for expensive structural works. Instead of bricks, lightweight moulded concrete blocks are used for the walls. The concrete is often made with foam, fly-ash or other waste materials to make it lighter as well as cheaper. There are no lifts and just one staircase per block. All this means that the homes can be built very quickly and with unskilled labour.

The developers say the potential for very cheap housing in India is huge. Many of those living in slums today are employed as drivers, factory workers or tailors, with incomes of around 90,000 rupees a year—easily enough to afford a flat which costs 200,000-400,000 rupees. According to Ashish Karamchandani of Monitor Group, another consulting firm, India has 23m urban families with incomes of 60,000-130,000 rupees a year. Including rural areas, Tata Housing sees an even larger market of 180m households earning between 90,000 and 200,000 rupees.

Until very recently one of the biggest hurdles was finance. Banks were unwilling to lend money to people without credit histories or proof of permanent residence. But two government-owned banks—the National Housing Bank and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development—have agreed to provide funds to finance companies so that they can offer mortgages to such buyers. To reduce risk, buyers must put down at least a quarter of the purchase price and employers must confirm their income. Borrowers are then charged little more interest than those with an established credit history.

Lenders and developers are convinced that they have struck gold. Who would have guessed that the combination of subprime loans and a building boom would have become attractive again so soon?


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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Now, fund-raising for charity goes mobile

Realising that raising money for charity will only get tougher in the present economic environment, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) has decided to harness the ever-increasing mobile users in India. For Iskcon, this will help them sustain the inflow of donations for its mid-day meals programme.

Iskcon along with Atom Technologies has introduced a mobile interactive voice response system (IVRS) module that will enable individual donors to zip cash donations over the mobile phone, using their credit cards.

Technology will make fund-raising easier, asserts Shri Radha Krishna Das, MD, Iskcon Food Relief Foundation, who is keen to roll out the IVRS mode of payment to all 16 Iskcon centres across India. At present, the IVRS mode has been launched for Iskcon’s Mumbai centre.

Through the IVRS mode, Iskcon is targeting the Gen Y (a term applied to those born between 1981 and 1995), who are comfortable paying for downloads, movies and music electronically and most of whom have mobile phones.

Mobile payment solutions provider Atom Technologies’ director Dewang Neralla is confident that mobile-giving has the ability to match, or even outperform, online donations. He says, “Iskcon, which raised an estimated Rs 8 crore for its mid-day meal scheme through both online and offline channels, could well look to raise an equal amount from mobile donations.”

The charm of mobile giving is its reach. Nationwide, there are an estimated 129 million television households, including 73 million cable and more than 15 million direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers, according to a Ficci-KPMG report. Also, there are an estimated 50 million internet-connected households. By contrast, there are 390 million mobile subscribers (in March) across the country.

Neralla asserts, “India’s mobile population is a huge universe for charities, especially for the smaller players who struggle for donations.” He reckons that mobile donors may contribute smaller sums, averaging between Rs 100 and Rs 200, but the volumes are bound to be much larger than any other form of donations. While nonprofits relied on a smaller number of donors making large gifts in the past, the new paradigm is appealing to a vast number of smaller donors.

Atom Technologies has also joined hands with two other NGOs — GiveIndia & CPAA. GiveIndia will be adopting atom’s IVR-based payment option, whereas CPAA will be going in for a mobile-based payment solution where donors can donate via text messages. Nonprofits could also send targeted messages to their donor base to update them on the progress made with fund-raising or on cause objectives.

For Iskcon, the IVR mobile payment facility would help in reaching a wider and untapped audience who can choose to donate any amount as per their convenience. Iskcon’s Das articulates that an IVR-based system can help with the non-profit organisation’s communication with the donor by cutting through the media clutter.

Last year, American Red Cross managed to attract an estimated Rs 9.65 million in pledges for its disaster relief funds through mobile payments.

Another reason to cheer for mobile-giving is the falling minimum amount of donations from individual donors. “Contributors might be unwilling to pony up more after allocating funds to larger charities with more marketing muscle. That’s where the mobile can play a constructive role for smaller nonprofits,” concludes Narella.


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



LOCATION: Ahmedabad


The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) is a non-denominational, non-political, non-government organization. The Aga Khan Development Network’s rural development efforts started in the early 1980s when the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) was established in Gujarat. Rural development programmes seek to contribute to rural poverty reduction through community involvement and empowerment that leads to the efficient management and improved productivity of natural resources. Today, over 100,000 beneficiaries across 900 villages in three states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar) have organised themselves into more than 4000 village-level institutions.

The Aga Khan Rural Support Program is looking to hire their General Manager - West. The key responsibilities in this role will be as follows:
• Provide programmatic and institutional leadership to the present livelihood enhancement programme in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
• Liaise with donors and senior government officers, and interact with field staff and community members.
• Budget management and revenue generation.
• Actively engage in developing systems and indicators to partially withdraw from existing areas of work and move towards sectors which engage new information technology processes and systems.
• Capacity building of the team and prepare older team members towards new challenges and new geographical areas.
• Village distribution and setting up of processes for natural resources management.
• Integration of all programmes and projects of AKRSP.


Must Haves:
• Post graduation in Rural Management/ Natural Resource Management / Social Sciences from a reputed national level institute.
• Minimum 8 years of experience out of which minimum 4 years in a senior management or leadership position.
• Strong program implementation and management skills including strategic planning and work plan development with a strong focus on maintaining quality across project milestones.
• Confident communicator, with the ability to dialogue on complex issues with senior team members.
• Efficient at multitasking with field orientation.
• Skilled at interacting and developing relationships with a wide range of stakeholders.
• Willing to travel and maintain a very flexible working pattern.
• Strong commitment to ongoing personal development.
• Secular orientation and non-discriminating on any basis.

• Proficiency in English with a working knowledge of Gujarati/ Hindi.

COMPENSATION DETAILS: Commensurate with experience and qualifications.

Third Sector Partners, a leading CxO and board search firm in the Not for Profit sector has been retained by Aga Khan Rural Support Program for this search. Interested candidates can send in their CVs along with three references and a cover note to, or Contact us at: +91 22 6660 3558/6660 3559.

Only short listed candidates would be contacted. Last date for receiving applications is 28th August 2009.

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Important resource for Alternative Media

AlterNet is a project of the Independent Media Institute, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to strengthening and supporting independent and alternative journalism

openDemocracy is an online global magazine of politics and culture, and a source for the media for analysis, debate and discussion of global affairs

The Independent Media Center is a network of collectively run media outlets that aims to present radical, accurate accounts of the truth to counter the versions presented by the corporate media

Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders, an international news website devoted to press freedom, works to ensure the right of all people to be informed and to this end, fights to reduce the use of censorship and the use of laws that restrict press freedom


Sarai, a programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies/CSDS is a space for research, practice and conversation about contemporary media and urban issues

India Media-Watch Institute
The India Media-Watch Institute (IMWI) is an international media watch group that seeks balance, fairness, accuracy, and diversity in the English language media's reporting of events and the analyses of issues pertaining to India

South Asia Citizens Web
The SACW is an independent space on the internet to promote the exchange of information between and about citizens initiatives from South Asia and its diasporic communities

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

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Be a Social Entrepreneur,be a Changemaker

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.

Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.

Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field. They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else.

Each social entrepreneur presents ideas that are user-friendly, understandable, ethical, and engage widespread support in order to maximize the number of local people that will stand up, seize their idea, and implement with it. In other words, every leading social entrepreneur is a mass recruiter of local changemakers—a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything.

Over the past two decades, the citizen sector has discovered what the business sector learned long ago: There is nothing as powerful as a new idea in the hands of a first-class entrepreneur.

Why "Social" Entrepreneur?

Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better. While a business entrepreneur might create entirely new industries, a social entrepreneur comes up with new solutions to social problems and then implements them on a large scale.

Historical Examples of Leading Social Entrepreneurs:

* Susan B. Anthony (U.S.): Fought for Women's Rights in the United States, including the right to control property and helped spearhead adoption of the 19th amendment.
* Vinoba Bhave (India): Founder and leader of the Land Gift Movement, he caused the redistribution of more than 7,000,000 acres of land to aid India's untouchables and landless.
* Dr. Maria Montessori (Italy): Developed the Montessori approach to early childhood education.
* Florence Nightingale (U.K.): Founder of modern nursing, she established the first school for nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions.
* Margaret Sanger (U.S.): Founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she led the movement for family planning efforts around the world.
* John Muir (U.S.): Naturalist and conservationist, he established the National Park System and helped found The Sierra Club.
* Jean Monnet (France): Responsible for the reconstruction of the French economy following World War II, including the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The ECSC and the European Common Market were direct precursors of the European Union.


So What are you waiting for ,make your impact,be a leader,make a change you want,world is waiting for you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mizoram's unwanted citizens

Forty-five-year-old Tajirung Reang, who was once a happy resident of Bhangmun, a picturesque hilltop hamlet in western Mizoram, is now a refugee in her own land.

One winter night 12 years ago, hundreds of Mizo youth armed with machetes, and a group of Mizoram armed police, attacked her village, torching houses, killing people, raping women.

“They broke into my house, raped me and hacked my husband to death. They threatened us with dire consequences if we did not leave our village,” Tajirung says with tears in her eyes. “The young men and members of the armed forces looted our chickens and pigs and the grain that we had stored. The orgy continued for a fortnight.”

When the family went to lodge a complaint with the police at Kawrthah police station in Mamit district, she says, the officer in charge advised them to leave Mizoram, saying they could be attacked again. “I fled my village with my family that night, with hundreds of neighbours, and took shelter in the jungles of north Tripura district. We got relief material from the Tripura government around five to seven days later.”

Recalling that night of horror, October 15, 1997, A Sawibunga, advisor to the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), told visiting journalists that Mizo youth and members of the Mizoram armed police attacked 44 villages in Aizawl and Mamit districts, torching houses, looting cash, belongings and domestic animals.

Nine villagers were shot dead and an unspecified number of women raped and molested on that fateful night. Zonunsanga Meska, a resident of Bhangmun village in Mamit district, witnessed his wife and daughter being raped before his very eyes.

Today, Tajirung lives in an evacuee camp at Naisinghpara in the Kanchanapur sub-division of north Tripura district bordering Mizoram. She is not alone: 37,000 people displaced in the ethnic clashes live in six makeshift camps. The camps are made from bamboo and straw collected from the surrounding forests. Families of five to seven huddle in a single room. Life is miserable: “We shiver in winter, and sweat in summer. There is no electricity in the camp,” says an inmate.

The Mizoram government has apparently agreed to take back 35,000 Bru/Reang refugees sheltered in the camps. The decision was taken at a meeting in Aizawl, on April 31, 2009, between representatives of the Mizoram government, headed by Chief Minister Lalthanhawla, and members of the MBDPF. (A Congress government headed by Lalthanhawla came to power in the state defeating a coalition of the Mizo National Front (MNF)-BJP, headed by Zoramthanaga, in the last assembly elections held simultaneously with the recent general elections.)

Despite this decision, Bru leaders remain sceptical.

“Unless the repatriation starts we are not sure whether we are returning, and we doubt whether the government will abide by all the conditions of the agreement. After all, the government is run by Mizos who treat us like tuikook, meaning ‘insects of water’,” said one refugee leader who preferred to remain anonymous.

According to the president of the Mizo Bru Refugee Committee (MBRC), Bruno Mesha, the trouble started when the Brus (as the Reangs are known) demanded an autonomous district council (ADC), under the sixth schedule, to protect and safeguard their language, culture and ethnic identity. Mesha argues that if the Lais, Maras and Chakmas living in Mizoram are able to enjoy the benefits of tribal district councils, why shouldn’t the Brus? Why should the Brus, who constitute a substantial number and have a distinct culture and ethnic identity, not be recognised? The Mizoram government has ruled out the possibility of a tribal council for the Brus claiming it will lead to the state’s division.

Mesha claims that the names of a number of Reangs were struck off the voter lists before the assembly elections of May 2009 to prove that the Reangs were not original inhabitants of Mizoram.

Meanwhile, conditions in the refugee camps are pathetic. Inmates suffer malnutrition and diseases like malaria and gastroenteritis, says the doctor in charge of the Naisinghpara health camp organised by the Tripura government. These two illnesses have claimed the lives of at least 200 people this year. Another doctor at the camp said 250 patients were being treated every day, although the situation is now under control.

Camp residents also have acute drinking water problems as only four of the 13 tubewells function properly at the Naisinghpara camp where more than 17,000 refugees have taken shelter. “Before the monsoon, all natural sources of potable water like streams and wells at the foot of the hills dry up. Our children are forced to climb down 2-3 km to dig pits in the stream beds to collect water. They then trek up the steep hills with their water containers. It is not an easy task,” says an old camp inmate.

“This is a tough time for us because no edible forest produce is available now except for some wild potato tubers,” she says, adding, “the amount of ration and subsistence allowance we get from the central government is not enough”.

According to the sub-divisional magistrate of Kanchanpur, one adult is allotted 600 grams of rice and Rs 5 per day; minors get half this amount. Clothes are distributed to everyone once a year. He says he is unaware of any malnutrition deaths at the camps.

When 40 huts were destroyed in a recent fire, the government promised Rs 16,000 to the victims. But nothing has been paid so far. When asked about sanitation and bathroom and toilet facilities, a lot of eyebrows went up. “We bathe in cherras (rivulets), and the open forest is our toilet,” the inmates said.

Although there has been a huge baby boom in the camps, newborn children face an uncertain future. “The kids do not go to school because there is no school in the camps. An NGO, Banavasi Kalyan Ashram, runs a few small schools where some students study.”

Elvis Chorkhy, President, MBDPF, explains that the state government had engaged around 72 teachers from among the camp residents. They are being paid a salary of Rs 1,000 per month, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme. But there is no school building, so the school cannot run!

Inhabitants of the area, who are members of the state’s backward tribes, many of them Reangs, are at loggerheads with the displaced Brus over livelihood. “They get rice and cash from the government, but they still collect forest produce, cut trees for fuel, kill wild animals like snakes, wild fowl, rabbits, etc, and do not allow us to earn our livelihood from the forests,” says Subal Debarma, a local resident.

The repatriation of displaced people hangs in the balance as successive governments have given no clear assurances of taking them back and resettling them properly in Mizoram. The state’s former Chief Minister Zoramthanga has said on several occasions that only 16,000 of the refugees are from Mizoram and that they will be rehabilitated if they are willing to return.

Refugee leaders say, however, that everyone at the camps, except newborn babies, belongs to Mizoram and that they all have official proof in the form of citizenship certificates, bank passbooks, ration cards and birth certificates. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has also stated that the refugees are from Mizoram and that the Mizo government should take them all back.

At a high-level meeting in New Delhi to discuss the refugee problem, it was decided that 16,000 refugees would return by October 30, 2000. This decision followed a directive by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the Mizoram government to take back the displaced people. The NHRC also instructed the Centre to play an active role in arranging the repatriation of the Brus. Nothing has happened since.

The Mizoram chief minister says repatriation will begin only after it is clear that the returnees belong to Mizoram. All displaced people will have to produce documents like ration cards, voter ID cards, birth certificates, citizenship certificates, etc. NGOs will be engaged to help in the identification process. It has been decided that Rs 30,000 per family will be provided as housing assistance, Rs 50,000 in cash grants, and one year’s ration after repatriation. Also that special development projects will be launched in Mamit, Kolashib, Lunglei and Aizawl districts in Mizoram.

But, says Chorkhy, sites for the repatriation are still to be decided; the chief minister asserts that they must be carefully selected and boundary walls built to properly mark them out.

Chorkhy adds that two extremist outfits -- the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) and the Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM) had come ‘over ground’, following the signing of an agreement with the government five years ago. But even they were not repatriated properly.

By Jayanta K Bhattacharya is a journalist based in Tripura.


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

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Rich started having more childrens

It was once a rule of demography that people have fewer children as their countries get richer. That rule no longer holds true.

ONE of the paradoxes of human biology is that the rich world has fewer children than the poor world. In most species, improved circumstances are expected to increase reproductive effort, not reduce it, yet as economic development gets going, country after country has experienced what is known as the demographic transition: fertility (defined as the number of children borne by a woman over her lifetime) drops from around eight to near one and a half. That number is so small that even with the reduced child mortality which usually accompanies development it cannot possibly sustain the population.

This reproductive collapse is particularly worrying because it comes in combination with an increase in life expectancy which suggests that, by the middle of the century, not only will populations in the most developed countries have shrunk (unless they are propped up by historically huge levels of immigration) but also that the number of retired individuals supported by each person of working age will increase significantly. If Mikko Myrskyla of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues are correct, though, things might not be quite as bad as that. A study they have just published in Nature suggests that as development continues, the demographic transition goes into reverse.

Dr Myrskyla looked at the world as it was in 1975 and as it is now (or, at least, as it was in 2005). He compared two things. One was the total fertility rate (the number of children that would be born to a woman in a particular country over the course of her life if she experienced the age-specific fertility rates observed in that country during the calendar year in question). The other was the human development index for that country. The HDI, a measure used by the United Nations, has three components: life expectancy; average income per person; and level of education. Its maximum possible value is one.
Curiouser and curiouser

Back in the 1970s, no country got anywhere near one. Of the 107 places the researchers looked at, the best was Canada, with an HDI of 0.89. By 2005, however, things had improved markedly. Two dozen of what were now 240 countries had HDIs above nine—and something else remarkable had happened. Back in 1975, a graph plotting fertility rate against the HDI fell as the HDI rose. By 2005, though, the line had a kink in it. Above an HDI of 0.9 or so, it turned up, producing what is known in the jargon as a “J-shaped” curve (even though it is the mirror image of a letter J). As the chart shows, in many countries with really high levels of development (around 0.95) fertility rates are now approaching two children per woman. There are exceptions, notably Canada and Japan, but the trend is clear.

This result is both important and unexplained. Its importance lies in the change of assumptions that policymakers will have to put into their models of the future. The nadir of fertility appears to be 1.3 children per woman. Not every country drops that low before making the turn, but if those that do were to stay there, they would need to import immigrants equivalent to 1.5% of their population every year, for those populations merely to remain static. With the best will in the world, absorbing that many migrants would be tricky. Dr Myrskyla’s data, however, suggest the ultimate outcome of development may not be a collapsing population at all but, rather, the environmentalist’s nirvana of uncoerced zero population growth.

Why this change has come about, and why the demographic transition happens in the first place, are matters of debate. There are lots of social explanations of why fertility rates fall as countries become richer. The increasing ability of women in the developed world to control their own reproductive output is one, as is the related phenomenon of women entering the workplace in large numbers. The increasing cost of raising children in a society with more material abundance plays a part. So does the substitution of nationalised social-security systems for the support of offspring in old age. Falling rates of child mortality are also significant. Conversely, Dr Myrskyla speculates that the introduction of female-friendly employment policies in the most developed countries allows women to have the best of both worlds, and that this may contribute to the uptick.

No doubt all these social explanations are true as far as they go, but they do not address the deeper question of why people’s psychology should have evolved in a way that makes them want fewer children when they can afford more. There is a possible biological explanation, though. This is that there are, broadly speaking, two ways of reproducing.

One way is to churn out offspring in large numbers, turn them out into an uncaring world, and hope that one or two of them make it. The other is to have but a few progeny and to dote on them, ensuring that they grow up with every possible advantage for the ensuing struggle with their peers for mates and resources. The former is characteristic of species that live in unstable environments and the latter of species whose circumstances are predictable.

Viewed in comparison with most animals, humans are at the predictable-environment and doting-parent end of the scale, but from a human perspective those in less developed countries are further from it than those in rich ones. One interpretation of the demographic transition, then, is that the abundance which accompanies development initially enhances the instinct to lavish care and attention on a few offspring. Only when the environment becomes super-propitious can parents afford more children without compromising those they already have—and only then, as Dr Myrskyla has now elucidated, does the birth-rate start to rise again.

How far the process will continue, and whether it will spread to holdouts like Japan and Canada, remains to be seen. Indeed, the whole exercise is a warning of the risks of extrapolating the future from present trends. But, on present trends, things do, indeed, look hopeful.


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

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

White Paper 2009: Global action by the UK government to help make a fair, safe and sustainable world

We live in an increasingly interdependent world. We have made great strides over the past decade in tackling global poverty and suffering.

But despite this progress, the developing world is facing its most profound challenge in a generation. The worst global downturn in 60 years threatens to put 90 million into poverty. Climate change and conflict threaten the lives of the poor.

The UK’s new White Paper on International Development, Building our Common Future , argues that rather than turn away when things get tough we need to redouble our efforts. Development is not only morally right, but it is in our shared interest.

So using new approaches, new partnerships, and working through the international system, we will help the poorest countries confront global challenges and build a fairer, safer and more sustainable world for all people.

Our common challenge

Never before have people from so many countries been connected in so many ways. We depend on one another. Our futures are tied together.

Big challenges

Our world faces the most profound challenges in a generation.

* 1.4 billion people live in poverty and the global downturn means many are at risk of staying poor.
* Too many people are trapped in poverty and endangered by war and instability.
* Climate change, mostly caused by developed countries like the UK, threatens the lives of poor people and ourselves.

Shared problems

Problems faced by poor countries affect all of us, including the UK:

* Prosperity. Britain's fastest growing export markets are in poor countries. The economic downturn, weak financial regulation and unfair trade affect us all.
* Security. Poor government and social exclusion can be a source of conflict, and threaten peace and security around the world.
* Climate. Climate change will force many people to leave their homes. The UK summer floods in 2007 cost the country around £3 billion

Read detail White Paper here:

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

Too young to marry

Too many teenage girls are getting married in Bangladesh today, say health specialists.

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) State of the World’s Children 2009 report, more than 64 percent of girls marry before they are 18.

But with early marriage comes early pregnancy. One-third of teenage girls aged 15 to 19 are mothers or pregnant in Bangladesh today, with adolescent mothers more likely to suffer birth complications than adult women, the British Medical Journal reports.

Teenage mothers are twice as likely as older mothers to die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications, with mothers younger than 14 facing the greatest risks.

In fact, research shows that the risk of maternal mortality could be five times higher for mothers aged 10 to 14 than for those aged 20 to 24, while babies born to mothers younger than 14 were 50 percent more likely to die than babies born to mothers older than 20.

Teenage mothers are more likely to suffer from obstructed delivery and other severe childbirth- and pregnancy-related complications, say health experts.

This results in higher morbidity and mortality for them and their children, according to the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) 2007, released in March 2009.

A third of women are either pregnant or mothers by age 20, and this proportion is not declining, the report observed.

The BDHS 2007 shows that the median age at marriage for women is 16.4 years, against 16.0 in the previous DHS (2004), but still 18 months below the legal minimum age, indicating that laws or policies alone do not guarantee implementation. The legal age is 21 for boys and 18 for girls.

Parents encourage early marriage out of fear that the dowry price will increase as their daughter ages. Young girls are often regarded as an economic burden to their families; marrying them off at a very early age is seen as reducing that burden.

It is also a way to ensure that their daughters are “protected” from sexual abuse or illicit sexual contact, and making them financially more secure.

But with early marriage, many girls drop out of school. Studies show that girls who marry as adolescents attain lower schooling levels, have lower social status in their husband’s families, report less reproductive control, and suffer higher rates of maternal mortality and domestic violence.

Moreover, early marriage extends a woman’s reproductive span, thereby contributing to larger family sizes, especially in the absence of contraception.

According to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases and Research, Bangladesh, these individual outcomes suggest larger social consequences, including higher population growth, higher rates of maternal mortality and a higher number of orphans.

Raising awareness

To counteract this, several NGOs are working to raise awareness of the risks of early marriage.

In February, a conference of social workers and women in Dhaka underlined that 70 percent of girls in Bangladesh were forced into marriage while still in their teens.

“The burden breaks the health of young mothers. Many die at delivery, or at least suffer untold health problems. The major casualty is the education of teenage girls. It denies them the awareness they need for taking the decision that affects their life most - marriage,” according to one of the papers presented.

“The young brides, lacking education, become the malnourished mothers of undernourished children and little else,” Rahela Rahmatullah, an anti-child marriage activist, told IRIN.

Working in 45 of the country’s 481 sub-districts, Rahmatullah’s volunteers seek out cases of child marriage in local communities and discuss the problems facing the underage mother with the young mother and her family.

“We persuade and train her to tell her story to adolescent girls and their families. We organise courtyard meetings where the trained mother describes the problems she faces as an adolescent wife or mother and advises others not to accept any marriage proposal before they are at least 20,” she said.

But in most cases, the issue is not so simple.

“In most rural families girls are never consulted on their marriage. The parents and the family seniors choose the groom, fix the date and manage the wedding ceremony. Seeking a girl’s consent on marriage is still considered a taboo in most families,” Rahmatullah said.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Refere cases to TV Show: Aap Ki Kachehri-Kiran Ke Saath

The TV show - Aap Ki Kachehri-Kiran Ke Saath , needs your support to get cases from NGOs to refer them to Aap Ki Kachehri, the shoot-schedule is coming near i.e. on 25th August 2009.

The show is going to be on air from 5th August 2009 at 8pm on Starplus .

Contact details are as follows:

Ashwini Jadhav

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

Urban Poverty On Rise In Jammu And Kashmir: Micro-Finance Institutes A Solution

Over the past two decades, unrest in Jammu and Kashmir has affected the valley people, especially the urban poor, either by displacing them from their livelihoods or leaving them without any. Their poverty levels are aggravating and seek an urgent but long-term solution. Although some organizations have started working for the development of the area, there is ample scope for microfinance institutions to help the urban poor.

According to a BPL survey of Jammu and Kashmir by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics (DES), over 2.21 lakh people fall under below urban poverty level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. And in the district Srinagar alone, there are over 73,262 BPL population, according to DES mid-year estimates (2007-08).

The fact was that there are many organizations that are focusing on the rural parts of the state but somehow the urban areas are missing from their developmental plans. While the skilled ones manage to get employed anyhow, it was the large majority of the unskilled people who are forced to work in the unorganized sector. Many of them live in urban areas with low and unsustainable income.

Here, microfinance could play an important role in poverty alleviation. Since majority of the urban population who fall below the poverty line (BPL) have no access to basic financial services, there is always the need to create opportunities for city dwellers to augment their income and to assist them through soft and hassle-free loans.

Recently a news report in a local daily mentioned how the state has been diverting developmental funds to secure their vote banks in rural areas. It stated that under Indira Awas Yojana — the biggest housing scheme in the country aimed at providing shelter to homeless people living below the poverty line in rural areas — Rs. 25,500 in plain areas and Rs. 27,500 in hilly areas was given to beneficiaries under the previous government.

The report also alleges that most of them were workers from different political parties.

Not many organizations in the valley, either local or international, appear to be keen to focus on the urban poor. There is an existing trend, especially among the NGOs, to view poverty as purely a rural problem. Very often urban regions are sidelined by them as more ‘developed’ spaces.

Over the years, Jammu and Kashmir has seen considerable increase in urban poverty. In Srinagar, majority of the people manage their livelihood solely depending on the service sector. But owing to many reasons, the latest of them being the global economic melt down, the service sector is providing far less opportunities and forcing many to shift to the primary sector (agriculture) for their economic survival. But they don’t have the resources either – particularly land – at their disposal. Finally, they continue struggling in the declining service sector.

Another visible trend in the valley is the increasing urbanization. With the rural population continuing to arrive in the city, it is putting strain on limited resources available and triggering the urban poverty further. As a result, there are many parts of the city – particularly in the downtown areas – where every second house suffers due to unemployment, under-employment and lack of resources. To substantiate their meager income — which amounts to no more than US$1 a day — most of these households have retained their joint family structures.

Setting up a microfinance institution, which can focus on the urban poor and would identify the needy persons who have a positive bent of mind to work for themselves and for the society at large, will go a long way in helping alleviate urban poverty.

The other issue that needs to be highlighted is the gender aspect. This relates to improving the access and availability of basic amenities, and also addressing such external concerns like shelter space, transport and overall security level of the poor women, so as to enhance their standards of living and to facilitate their participation in the urban market.

This should not mean dividing the rural and urban populace, but of locating poverty beyond the conventional notions, in a wider framework. If such steps are not taken, there is a great possibility that this divide will increase and have serious repercussions in near future. To avoid such a situation the issue of urban poverty needs to be tackled seriously.

By Bilal Hussain ,a Master's degree in Finance and Control from the University of Kashmir.


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

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lights off for India's night schools?

Ganesh Kuban was forced to drop out of school when he was 10 after his father died. He has been supporting his family ever since by fixing scooters at a roadside mechanic's shop in central Mumbai.

But when the shutters come down at his workplace every Monday, the slim 19-year-old joins other young mechanics, hotel and restaurant boys, couriers and maids for three hours of evening classes.

"I want to become an engineer," he said.

Ganesh's night school is one of about 210 in Mumbai, a city that attracts hundreds of thousands of poor Indian migrants each year with the promise of jobs and money.

The schools were originally established at the turn of the 20th century for children from southern India who were sent to the city to work in restaurants.

Children of migrant workers from across India are on the roll call today, attending classes as they fight to survive in Mumbai's slums and crumbling tenement blocks.

Students are aged between 14 and 21, and have often dropped out of formal education to provide for themselves or their families.

But their one decent chance of escaping from a life of low pay now appears to be under threat.

"Night schools are a must but without good funding they're doomed,"
said K.S. Panse, from the Night School Headmasters Association.

The schools, mainly owned and operated by religious organisations or community groups, operate six nights a week, typically in classrooms at state day schools, and have long relied on goodwill to survive.

Most teachers have already spent the day at the blackboard before the young workers squeeze themselves behind the battered wooden desks for their evening studies.

Charities and individuals make one-off donations of cash or equipment to help students work towards their state secondary school examinations.

"The government is only giving a meagre amount of funding," said Panse, who has been a teacher for 60 years. "They're only paying the teachers' salaries but that's not the only requirement. We need chalk, dusters, notebooks, so many things. The future is bad," he added.

One local non-governmental organisation is hoping to put night schools on a more secure footing by lobbying civic authorities for more cash and support.

"These schools have existed for more than 100 years and the problems that existed 100 years back still exist, and will continue if we don't do something about it," said Nikita Ketkar, chief executive of the charity Masoom.

The charity already works in Ganesh's school in the working-class district of Parel and another in nearby Worli.

While the state government provides a total of 50,000 rupees (987 dollars) a month for teachers' salaries at both schools, Masoom provides everything else, from textbooks to paper and other essentials.

Ultimately it hopes to support five schools by 2011, with a view to the state government eventually taking over.

According to the United Nations children's fund UNICEF, 20% of Indian children aged 6-14 do not attend school.

Half of all girls and nearly one-third of boys do not enrol in secondary school. The country also has 12.6 million child labourers, the highest number in the world.

Ketkar said the night schools are a lifeline for youngsters who have been forced into the world of work too soon.

"If they were not engaged for those three hours, they would be there in the slums indulging in vices. It could be drugs, it could be drinking, it could be smoking, it could be something anti-social because of peer pressure," the former civil servant added.

The headmaster of the Maratha Mandir Night School in Worli, P.S. Kadam, is in no doubt about the benefits of a formal education- at whatever time of day.

He talks proudly about successful former students who have gone on to become top ranking police officers, lawyers and even government ministers.

Panse, a night school headmaster for 25 years, also knows their importance and says they desperately need more money.

"The students are bright and they want the future to be bright," he said.

For Ganesh, who currently earns 250 to 300 rupees a day, night school offers a glimmer of hope in a difficult world.

"I want to move upwards, earn more, have a better life, a better home and living conditions for my family,"
he said.


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

Private airlines strike

The maid who works in my house was telling me that things are becoming very expensive. She told me that the rice she got for Rs.8/- per Kg. in 2005 had become Rs.18/- per Kg. now. I have not seen my personal expenses going up in that proportion. In 2005 February the round trip from Mumbai to Delhi had cost me Rs.14,000/- for an economy class air ticket. Now I am able to undertake the same trip for about Rs.8000/-. Thus, whereas rice and other essential food items have gone up by a huge proportion, the cost of air travel has gone down substantially. I had thought this was the result of the magic brought about by the Economies and Vision of invincible private enterprise which had changed the entire scenario of air travel in the Country. Coupled with this was the fact that our Airports are becoming better since have also been handed over to the efficient private sector.

The private airlines are now saying that they are losing money and the Government must bail them out. And who is paying for the losses? It appears most of the Money for paying the loss is made available by not paying for the aviation fuel supplied by the public sector oil companies. The Airlines have threatened to go on strike, and the signs are that the Government will capitulate since the Nation would otherwise suffer. It is ironical that Private Enterprise first declares its great efficiency and reduces prices to 50% and if it does not make money arm-twists the Governments to help them. It may be that the Airlines have created great capacities which can only be sustained at very low prices. They are now demanding that the Nation must reduce taxes so that they can become profitable. The Government should allow the Airlines to take care of themselves, and go on a strike if they wish. A monopoly in the skies may help Air India’s bottomline. If it is Heads private enterprise wins, tails and people lose.

By Shailesh Gandhi

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