Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kolkata slumdwellers break down the walls that divide

AMRI Hospital disaster

It was business as usual in Panchanantala slum in South Kolkata that afternoon. Men were at work, some hawking fruit or sawing pieces of wood, others grabbing a siesta before returning to work. Women busied themselves washing utensils or clothes in front of their home while children shouted with laughter, disappearing through the maze of crowded lanes crisscrossing the rows of shanties. Teenage girls dressed in printed gowns went about their daily chores, barely casting a glance at strangers like us wading through the garbage and puddles of water, a little lost and unsure. The routine ordinariness in Panchanantala  concealed the fact that less than 34 hours ago, these very same people had sprung into action to create history of sorts: men, women and children had emerged from their shanties and rushed, spontaneously risking their own lives, to rescue patients trapped in a high-rise hospital building engulfed in poisonous smoke.     

December 9 dawned ominously upon the city with more than 90 people suffocating to death in a hi-tech hospital, the worst tragedy in a medical institution in the country. When in the wee hours of Friday, two women in the slum smelt smoke and were alerted by the screams for help from patients of the hospital overlooking the slum, they immediately raised an alarm. It was a little past 2 am, but within minutes young boys and middle-aged men from the slum rushed to the gates of the Advanced Medical Research Institute (AMRI), a well-known hospital in south Calcutta, to help rescue operations, only to be rudely turned away by the hospital security guards who bolted the gates to prevent their entry.  “We implored  the guards that there was a fire and patients were crying for help. They said they were taking care of the situation and demanded that we leave,” said Bappa Das, a class X student in the local school. 

Undeterred, the men cut through the barbed wire and made a hole with shovels in the 10-feet-high brick wall surrounding the hospital and separating it from the slum. Even as a blanket of thick smoke engulfed the annex of AMRI where serious patients in special care units and orthopaedic cases were housed, the men constructed crude bamboo ladders to climb the high walls and women made ropes of their saris and dupattas to aid the effort. Two hours later, at 4 am, the fire brigade arrived with manual ladders and no breathing apparatus. But even before the fire brigade and the police could get into the act of rescuing patients from the top floors of the hospital, the slumdwellers had scampered to the top floor on bamboo poles, water pipes and wooden ladders rushed from the slum, and braved the blinding smoke to drag out patients who were gasping for breath. In the din and chaos of darkness enveloped by the poisonous gas and screaming patients, groups of slumdwellers joined by the fire brigade, police and some hospital staff realised the worst-affected were the patients on the fourth floor, surrounded by monitors and drips and innumerable medical equipment. “We could see all around us the evidence of patients who had dragged themselves to the windows and shattered the glass panes in order to breathe and escape death, but had failed,” said Bappa.  

Many patients survived the trauma and were rushed to nearby hospitals, others were not so lucky. Among the dead were two young nurses from Kerala who made valiant efforts to save their patients while two young boys of Panchanantala’s rescue team are still battling for life in a city hospital.  Senior officials both from the police and fire departments have acknowledged the role played by the locals in saving the lives of many AMRI patients. “They were with us throughout the day, evacuating the patients and reaching the hospital gates long before us,” admitted a senior police officer of the local Lake thana.  “They were tremendous. Simply tremendous.”

It was the local slumdwellers, against whom the high walls of the hospital were built, who proved to be the saviours, the Good Samaritans, that fateful morning. Gurupada Mandal, a mason, was watching Vidya Balan gyrating in The Dirty Picture promos on TV when we met him on Saturday afternoon sitting on a bed that covered the matchbox-sized room. Hiding his annoyance at being disturbed, he did not understand why he should be interviewed for what he thought was an ordinary act. “My wife woke me up and urged me to go and help patients who were screaming for help. Without thinking I ran and called my neighbour. Together, we took a shovel to break a hole in the wall.  Since I am a mason I have bamboo poles and with some rope we tied them together and made a ladder to climb the hospital building,” said Mandal in a matter-of-fact tone.

Read in Detail:

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

India , 53 million-plus cities vs 355 million-plus districts

The regular release of data by the Census of India is slowly building up the picture of human development and social sector gaps over the last decade. When read together with the large body of field and social science study on national and state experiences with development routes, the insights that Census 2011 provides can be a powerful tool for planning and public participation. New data on urban and rural populations, gender ratios on literacy and in the 0-6-years population bands are already providing early indicators of leading and lagging districts, building up a detailed picture of how each of the country's 640 districts is faring.

Data from early and provisional Census 2011 releases has led to comparisons of urban size, the speed of urbanisation that has taken place in the leading economic clusters of India, and has prompted forecasts about the size of India's economy based on the trend of continuing population growth in existing and new urban centres. This, however, is only a part of the Census 2011 picture. The numbers are provisional and their verification is a slow process, to culminate in the district-level handbooks which will contain the primary census abstracts for every panchayat and block in India.

With the data releases coming during the final stages of the consultation rounds for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17), the census has the potential to inform and guide the policymaking process, provided of course the correct inferences are drawn from what is available. 

The vast numbers which characterise the Indian census have led to a focus thus far on the immense scale of demographic movement in the country, which can be seen in the increase, from 2001, in the urban population from 286.1 million to 377.1 million, in the rapid addition to the already large group of towns in India, from 5,161 in 2001 to 7,935 in 2011 -- an astonishing addition which has meant the transformation, at the rough rate of five a week for 10 years running, of 2,774 settlements into towns, however loosely the term 'town' is used.

Less impressive numerically but very significant economically is the increase, in the last 10 years, in the number of urban agglomerations. For the census, an urban agglomeration is a continuous urban spread comprising one or more towns and their adjoining outgrowths. These have increased in number from 384 in 2001 to 475 in 2011 and are 91 chaotic, new, barely-municipal reminders that the flow of people from rural tehsils to urban wards has strengthened even further in the last decade. The central government sees much good in this transformation, and foregrounds the economic benefits of this change by employing a one-way lens. What happens when such a lens is used to assess such a change can be seen in the 'Approach Paper to the 12th Five-Year Plan', finalised by the Planning Commission of India in August 2011 and released in September. "It is well-known," says the Approach Paper, "that agglomeration and densification of economic activities (and habitations) in urban conglomerations stimulates economic efficiencies and provides more opportunities for earning livelihoods. Possibilities for entrepreneurship and employment increase when urban concentration takes place, in contrast to the dispersed and less diverse economic possibilities in rural areas."

The 53 million-plus cities vs 355 million-plus districts

The urban-centric bias of the Government of India and its principal ministries and agencies has influenced national policy for the last two Plan periods, and is a tendency that will continue for at least the duration of the 12th Plan and possibly beyond, for as long as the fixation with high annual economic growth rate continues. Yet, if there are 53 cities whose populations are a million residents and more, and these are considered essential for the stimulation of economic efficiencies, then there are 355 districts whose rural populations are a million residents and more, whose agricultural outputs and surpluses not only provide them livelihoods, but feed the favoured residents of 53 million-plus cities and of 7,935 towns.

That is why it is worth examining, in greater detail, these rural districts and the people who inhabit them, insofar as the small data sets released by the Census of India 2011 will allow. The first indication that measures of the rural population describe an India quite different, in movement and settlement, from the force that shapes towns and cities is seen in the composition of the top of the list. There are no familiar metropolitan names here, no powerful centres of commerce and influence which are so commonly found in contemporary reportage of the Indian condition. Of the 30 districts with the most rural populations, there are 8 in West Bengal, 8 in Bihar, 8 in Uttar Pradesh, 2 in Andhra Pradesh, 3 in Maharashtra and 1 in Karnataka. Of the top five West Bengal has 4 -- South 24 Parganas (6.06 million), Murshidabad (5.69 million), Paschim Medinipur (5.22 million), Barddhaman (4.64 million) and Bihar's Purba Champaran ranks fifth (4.68 million).

These districts and their rural residents describe India's dependence on its diverse agricultural systems, its natural resources, its stock of traditional knowledge. The list of the top 10 districts with the highest rural populations is completed with Purba Medinipur (West Bengal), Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh), Madhubani (Bihar), Muzaffarpur (Bihar) and North 24 Parganas (West Bengal). The 30 districts with the largest rural populations have between 3.43 and 6.06 million residents in each. Their historicity as the locus of population density in the subcontinent -- as recorded in the early census reports from the late-19th century onwards, and described in lyrical detail in the Census of 1911 -- has been overtaken by the market that the 53 million-plus cities represent, and the reckless pampering of urban growth at the expense of rural resilience. There ought not to have been a battle for financial resources between the 160.5 million residents of the million-plus cities, and the 693.9 million rural residents of the million-plus districts -- but that is the bias with which the 12th Plan will approach both constituencies of Indians.

Odious as the urban flavour to national planning is, rural transformation and conurbation has been a feature of demographic change in India for well over a century. One hundred years ago exactly, the report of the Census of India 1911 attempted to encompass the dimensions of such change. "With the spread of railways and the general improvement in means of communication, the smaller towns are growing in importance as distributing centres, but the process is a slow one and comparatively little progress in this direction has yet been made," said the section on 'Area, Population and Density' in Volume I of this landmark census. "The small market town so common in Europe and America is rarely found in India. Nor as a rule do the smaller Indian towns possess the other amenities associated with urban life in Europe, such as a better class of schools and public institutions of various kinds."

The challenge of gender ratios and density in rural districts

Having dealt with one basis for comparison, the 1911 report then provided a sociological overview of the transformation of the time: "It is true that a new type of town is springing up in the neighbourhood of important railway stations with stores and provision shops and a considerable coolie population, and that these in many cases have not yet reached the prescribed standard of population. But the total number of such places is still small, and their exclusion has had no material effect on the statistics." Then too, the 1911 Census thought fit to remind the administration of the variety of administrative divisions in what was British India, which included Baluchistan, Burma and the subcontinent that spanned these two provinces. "There are great local variations in density. In nearly two-thirds of the districts and states the number of persons to the square mile is less than 200, and in about a quarter it ranges from 200 to 500. The units with less than 100 persons to the square mile cover two-fifths of the total area but contain only one-eleventh of the population, while those with more than 500, though their area is only one-eleventh of the whole, contain one-third of the population."

One hundred years ago, an aspect of the changing demographies of British India which exercised the census officials of the time was the ratio between females and males in cities and towns. It remains a concern, a century later, although more widespread now and not confined to urban settlements, as is explained briefly anon. "As usual in Indian towns females are in marked defect," the 1911 report remarked on Bengal. "Their proportion is highest in the minor towns which are often merely overgrown villages; it is much smaller in the main centres of trade and industry, and smallest of all in Calcutta, where only one person in three is a female." Nor did Bombay prove different, for the 1911 report observed: "As in the other large cities of India females are in a great minority, there being only 530 to every thousand males. This proportion is the smallest yet recorded. In 1881 it was 661; it fell to 586 at the next census owing to the immigration of males to meet the rapidly growing demand for labour, and again rose to 617 in 1901, when plague had driven out more of the temporary settlers than of the permanent residents."

While not as severe as the ratios of that era, the gender ratios for the rural populations of districts in 2011 will, as more data is released by the Census authorities and as the verification cycles for the smaller administration units are completed, help explain the movement of labour, the patterns of migration (with which they will be read) and no doubt support the studies on the feminisation of agriculture we are witness to in India. The 2011 data show that in 122 districts, the female to male ratio of the rural population is 1 or more (the range is 1.00 to 1.18). Of the 30 districts which have the highest female to male ratios of the rural population, there are 11 in Kerala, 7 in Uttarakhand, 4 in Orissa, 2 in Maharashtra and one each in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. Thereafter, in 112 districts the female to male ratios of the rural population are less than 0.90 (the range is 0.90 to 0.67). The district with the lowest ratio is Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), followed by Chandigarh, South Delhi, North District (Sikkim), Dibang Valley and West Kameng (both Arunachal Pradesh RP), Kargil (Jammu and Kashmir), Daman, Nicobars and Anjaw (Arunachal Pradesh).

Carrying with it the potential to cause a demographic imbalance whose full import, a generation from today, we can only surmise is the gender ratio of the population between 0-6 years, that is, the children of these districts. There are 34 districts in which, amongst the rural population, the numbers of children between 0 and 6 years are 500,000 and above. That all these districts are in either Bihar (15) or in Uttar Pradesh (14) or West Bengal (5) is another outcome, over the decades since the early-20th century, of the population patterns observed in the final 50 years of colonial India. The 2011 data has shown that whether in the 34 districts with 0-6 year populations of 0.5 million, or in the top 10% of all districts (640), the rural population that is between 0-6 years old is about 90% of the district's total child population in that category.

It is insights such as this that Dr C Chandramouli, Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, presaged in his introduction to the first provisional paper on the 2011 Census: “It provides valuable information for planning and formulation of policies by the government and is also used widely by national and international agencies, scholars, business persons, industrialists, and many more. In addition, the Census provides a basic frame for conduct of other surveys in the country. Any informed decisionmaking that is based on empirical data is dependent on the Census.”

What does the 0-6-years age-group data tell us?

When taken together with the 355 districts whose rural populations are all a million and above, the implications of such a concentration of the 0-6-year-old population in talukas and tehsils (more than those in town wards) become manifold. An immediate rendering of this concentration will take place in the health sector for it is there that imbalances in public expenditure and budget have been most severe. The Government of India has time and again claimed that the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12) has sought to raise the share of public expenditure on health (both central and in the states) from less than 1% of GDP in 2006-07 to 2% and then 3%. For this, the National Rural Health Mission (launched in 2005) was intended to strengthen healthcare infrastructure in rural areas, provide more sub-centres, better staff and equip primary health and community health centres.

Census 2011 will, over the months to come, indicate the degree to which these lofty aims -- often held up as evidence of the government's commitment to social equity -- have been met. To do this, the ratios will be layered between study outputs that bring out the insights of correlating large demographic data sets -- district health services, the national family health survey, planned rounds of the National Sample Survey and, despite the defensible criticism levelled against it, the 2011 BPL survey. Within this dauntingly complex data framework will need to be placed the Plan targets relating to infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, total fertility rate, under-nutrition among children, anaemia among women and girls, provision of clean drinking water for all, and raising child gender ratio for the age-group of 0-6.

Where do the 640 districts and their rural populations lie on a simple child gender ratio scale? Ranked by female to male ratio within the 0-6 years category of population, the top 10% of all districts (that is, 64 districts) register a gender ratio of at least 0.97 and up to 1.01. The districts with the 20 most favourable female to male ratios for the 0-6 population are Dakshin Bastar Dantewada, Bastar, Bijapur, Koriya, Rajnandgaon, Narayanpur and Korba (all Chhattisgarh); Tawang, Papum Pare and East Siang (all Arunachal Pradesh); Nabarangapur and Malkangiri (Orissa); Lahaul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh), Nawada (Bihar), Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh), Mamit (Mizoram), Pashchimi Singhbhum (Jharkhand), Tinsukia (Assam), South Andaman, and West Garo Hills (Meghalaya). Among the top 10% of districts with gender ratios for the 0-6 age group that are favourable to females, Chhattisgarh has 14 while Orissa, Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have 6 each. These are considered, by their states and by the central government's ministries and departments, to be 'backward' districts, tribal in character, lacking in infrastructure and below par in economic development (discounting for this index the proclivity of the state to steal natural resources in the commons, the better to convert it to GDP with). Yet the residents of these districts have proven, as the 2011 data so emphatically shows, that they practice an equality that is far closer to that enunciated in our Constitution than is to be found in the ranks of the million-plus cities.

Even so, the picture at the other end of the scale is a worrisome one. Within the 0-6 years category of the rural population of districts, there are 154 districts whose female to male ratio is less than 0.90, ie 9 girls or less for every 10 boys. In this large set of districts with unfavourable gender ratios amongst the rural population category of 0-6 years, the range of this ratio drops to 0.70 (the average gender ratio for this group of districts being 850 girls to 1,000 boys). There are 24 districts in UP in this set (out of the state's 71 districts), 20 districts each in Punjab and Haryana (out of their totals of 20 and 21 respectively), 18 each in Rajasthan and Maharashtra (out of 33 and 35 respectively) and 14 in Jammu & Kashmir (out of 22).

What effect has this imbalanced ratio, so common in the rural populations of districts, on literacy and education? Census 2011 has told us so far that there are 55 districts in which the rural literacy rate is 74% or higher -- this is the national effective literacy rate (for the population that is seven years old and above) which is a figure derived from rural and urban, male and female literacy rates. The literacy rates in these 55 districts are for all persons, female and male together. They range from 74% to 89%. All 14 of Kerala's districts are among the 55, there are 7 districts from Maharashtra, 5 from Tamil Nadu, and 4 each from Mizoram, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh. The top 10 districts in this set are all from Kerala save one, East Delhi. But these 55 districts have returned literacy rates that will form the basis of study and analysis in the years to come, they are outnumbered, by a factor of more than 11 to 1, by districts whose rural populations lie under the 74% national mark, and this too will serve as an early indicator, continually updated, of the commitment of the Indian state to its implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act of 2009, and of the results of the first 10 years of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

Literacy rates, education gaps, too few teachers

Since its inception in 2001-02 the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has been treated by the Government of India and the states as the main vehicle for providing elementary education to all children in the 6-14 age-group. Its outcome -- this is how the annual and Plan period results of India's 'flagship' national programmes are now described -- is the universalisation of elementary education. The Right to Education Act (RTE) of 2009 gives all children the fundamental right to demand eight years of quality elementary education. For the planners in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the effective enforcement of this right requires what they like to call 'alignment' with the vision, strategies and norms of the SSA. In so doing, they immediately run into a thicket of problems for, to begin with, there are half-a-million vacancies of teachers in the country, another half-million teachers are required to meet the RTE norms on pupil-teacher ratios, and moreover 0.6 million teachers in the public school system are untrained.

This is the creaking administrative set-up against which the total literacy rates of the 585 districts whose rural populations are under the 74% mark must be viewed. Of these, 209 districts have literacy rates for their rural populations which are between 50% and 60%. This set of districts includes 33 from Uttar Pradesh, 30 from Madhya Pradesh, 20 from Bihar, 18 from Jharkhand, 17 from Rajasthan, 13 each from Assam and Andhra Pradesh, and 9 from Karnataka. And finally, there are 95 districts whose literacy rates of the rural population are under 50%. This set of districts at the bottom of the table includes 17 from Bihar, 14 from Rajasthan, 9 each from Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, 7 from Madhya Pradesh and 6 each from Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh. The districts of Yadgir (Karnataka), Purnia (Bihar), Shrawasti (Uttar Pradesh), Pakur (Jharkhand), Malkangiri, Rayagada, Nabarangapur, Koraput (all Orissa), Tirap (Arunchal Pradesh), Barwani, Jhabua, Alirajpur (all Madhya Pradesh), and Narayanpur, Bijapur and Dakshin Bastar Dantewada (all Chhattisgarh) are the 15 districts at the very base of the table with literacy rates of the rural population at under 40%.

Over 11 Planning periods there have been some cumulative gains in a few sectors. Today, in rural areas, seven major flagship programmes are being administered, with less overall coordination between them than is looked for – a contrast against the ease with which the central government's major ministries collaborate on advancing the cause of the urban elite -- but which nonetheless have given us evidence that their combined impact has improved the conditions of some.

The seven programmes are: the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NFRLM), Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and Total Sanitation Campaign (TSP), the Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWDP), Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), and rural electrification which includes separation of agricultural feeders and includes also the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY). For the local administrator these present a bewildering array of reporting obligations. A hundred years ago, such an administrator’s lot was aptly described by J Chartres Molony, Superintendent of Census 1911 in (the then) Madras: "The Village Officer, source of all Indian information, is the recorder of his village, and it well may be that amid the toils of keeping accounts and collecting 'mamuls', he pays scant heed to what he and his friends consider the idle curiosity of an eccentric sirkar."

Census 2011 also informs both the incumbent ‘sirkar’ and us that there are 22 districts in which literacy rates for the rural female population are above 74% (all 14 of Kerala's districts are included). However, it is in the next 10% range of literacy rates -- 74% to 64% -- that gains since the 2001 census must be protected and this set includes 82 districts. It is a widely dispersed set, comprising districts from 21 states and union territories. There are 11 from Maharashtra (including Sangli, Bhandara and Gondiya), 9 from Punjab (including Kapurthala, Gurdaspur and Sahibzada), 7 from Orissa (including Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Bhadrak), 7 also from Himachal Pradesh (including Una, Kangra and Solan), 6 from Tamil Nadu (including Thoothukkudi and Nagapattinam) and 5 from Gujarat (including Navsari and Mahesana).

Bright spots in the rural female literacy story

The Office of the Registrar General of India, which administers the Census, has cautioned that all the data releases so far are still provisional figures. However, the implications are now plain to see, and give rise to a set of socio-economic questions which demographic and field research over the 12th Plan Period (2012-17) will enlarge and expand upon. Is there for example a correlation between districts whose rural populations have unfavourable female to male gender ratios and districts in which female literacy ratios are low? Comparing the bottom 100 districts under both conditions shows that there are only 12 districts in which both conditions are present (5 in Uttar Pradesh, 2 in Rajasthan, and 2 in Jammu & Kashmir).

Most encouraging is that there are 40 districts in which the ratio of the number of literate females to literate males (this is a different ratio from literacy rate), is 0.90 or better, ie there are 900 or more literate females to 1,000 literate males. In this set are all Kerala's 14 districts but also 13 districts from the Northeast (from Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland). The remainder are from island Union Territories, from the southern states (3 from Karnataka, 2 from Andhra Pradesh and one each from Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry), from hill states (2 from Uttarakhand, 2 from Himachal Pradesh) and one from Maharashtra. It is these districts that provide abundant reason for the allocation of a minimum 6% of GDP allocation for education -- a long-standing commitment -- which must begin to be fulfilled in the 2012-17 Plan period.

How will the Government of India consider these early indicators from Census 2011? How will India's civil society and the great breadth of organisations -- voluntary groups, people's movements, rural foundations and the like -- which have been delivering development 'outcomes', year after year, without the benefit of budgetary support but motivated by the plain fact that inequity still exists, how will this group see these indicators?

The Government of India revels in presenting contradiction as a substitute for careful, evidence-based and inter-generational planning. When downward trends -- such as those seen in female illiteracy and in the gender ratios of the 0-6 age-group -- have been slow over the last 25 years, there is a need to set long-term objectives that are not tied to the end of the next available Plan period, but which use a Plan direction to help achieve them. In this, the Approach Paper to the 12th Five-Year Plan has failed quite signally, because its authors have not drawn the only possible conclusions from the Census 2011 data presented till date. Yet others have done so, notably India's civil society and its more responsive group of academics. Hence the abundance of contradictions in all major documents -- the Approach Paper being the most important, annual Economic Surveys being another type -- which seek to reassure one section while in fact underwriting the ambitions of another.

The import of the 16 percentage point difference

So we see that a state which must ensure provision of Right to Education to every child up to the age of 14 years, because it is constitutionally bound to do so, complains in the planning phase itself that scarce resources constrain it from carrying out its duties and therefore advises its citizens that measures like public-private partnership (PPP) should be resorted to. How will such cunning better the lives and present culturally relevant opportunities for the rural populations in the remaining 591 districts which are under the 0.90 ratio for literate females to literate males? What will the emphasis on vocational training (for the urban job pools) instead of people's empowerment mean for the rural populations in 403 districts where this ratio is less than 0.75 -- which means the number of literate rural females is under three-fourths the number of literate males -- and in 69 of these districts it is even under 0.60 (25 in Rajasthan, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, 9 in Madhya Pradesh, 6 in Jammu and Kashmir)?

In the 631 districts with rural populations, the average difference between the literacy rates of females and males is 16 percentage points. What this means is illustrated by the districts of Pudukkottai (in Tamil Nadu, literacy rates 75.0% for males and 59.1% for females), Yavatmal (in Maharashtra, literacy rates 76.4% for males and 60.4% for females), Jharsuguda (in Orissa, literacy rates 74.4% for males and 58.4% for females), Hardwar (in Uttarakhand, literacy rates 65.9% for males and 49.8% for females), Raisen (in Madhya Pradesh, literacy rates 68.0% for males and 51.9% for females) and Vadodara (in Gujarat, literacy rates 69.2% for males and 53.1% for females). In these six the difference between female and male literacy rates is an average of 16 percentage points.

Rather than understand the underlying causes for rural populations in districts as varied as these to continue to experience an utterly unacceptable difference in literacy rates between women and men, the Government of India insists that "India's urban agenda must get much more attention" (Approach Paper to the 12th Five-Year Plan). Ignoring the evidence of continued neglect of rural populations, and ignoring too the lessons to be learnt from measured and reported gains in some rural districts, the current government and its advisory apparatus is focusing on India's increasing urbanisation as the only habitat that must be planned for. This approach to development -- which flies in the face of the hard evidence of substantial and persistent inequities presented by Census 2011 -- is dangerously uni-dimensional. It sees only that economic growth and urban market development are valid objectives for an India whose peoples have, for the 15th Census running (since 1872, the seventh since Independence), been enumerated with impartial care and implicit faith in our democratic institutions.

Infochange News & Features, November 2011

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is a girl child really welcome in an Indian family?

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan gave birth to a baby girl bringing unending joy to her family and fans. However, a recent international research shows that sex selective abortion is conducted in wealthy families across India, not so much in poorer homes. An overview :

Notice this: When it’s a baby boy, hardly anyone bothers to add any more description. When it’s a baby girl, an adjective is often added, almost to justify her coming into this world. For example —“she is beautiful”, ``she is really cute’’ and so on.

In fact, internationally acclaimed author Tasleema Nasreen’s Tweets reflect the attitude towards the female child. She had tweeted “I love Aishwarya Rai. But when I said ‘I wish she would give birth to a baby girl’, people asked me, ‘Why do you hate Aishwarya?’” She tweeted once more: “Why do you think if I say it should be a female baby, is not a healthy baby? ...but her having a daughter can encourage millions of couples not to kill their unborn female babies.”

I remember when I delivered my daughter, our first child, my husband was ecstatic. However, when he began calling up his friends, he was consoled…”oh. It’s very lucky to have the first daughter, she is Laxmi …” “doesn’t matter, there is always a next time” “Ohhh, so are you disappointed?”

It’s tragic that thousands of girls have been and are being snuffed out even before they are born and thousands immediately after birth. The result: a lop-sided girl-boy ratio, tilting towards the male fraternity.

What’s even more horrendous is the recent international research report which states that sex selective abortions occur more in affluent families of India than in poorer homes. A fact narrated to me by a leading gynaecologist of Pune who stated, “Poor parents cannot afford the test; middle-class parents normally have just one child and they do not mind whether it’s a girl or boy but it is the rich patients who indulge in sex selective abortions.”

Lancet, the reputed international medical journal which published the research report conducted by Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR), issued a press release recently stating the research shows that “…in Indian families in which the first child has been a girl, more and more parents are aborting their second child if prenatal testing shows it to be a girl, so they can ensure at least one child in their family will be a boy. These declines in girl to boy ratios are larger in better-educated and in richer households than in illiterate and poorer households, and now imply that most people in India live in states where selective abortion of girls is common.”

Lancet’s press release also stated: “...the 2011 Indian census revealed about 7•1 million fewer girls than boys aged 0-6 years, a notable increase in the gap of 6 million fewer girls recorded in the 2001 census and 4•2 million fewer girls recorded in the 1991 census. In this study, the authors analysed census data to determine absolute numbers of selective abortions and examined over 250,000 births from national surveys to estimate differences in the girl-boy ratio for second births in families in which the first-born child had been a girl.”

The study found that “girl-boy ratio fell from 906 girls per 1000 boys in 1990 to 836 in 2005; an annual decline of 0•52%. Declines were much greater in mothers with 10 or more years of education than in mothers with no education, and in wealthier households compared with poorer households. But if the first child had been a boy, there was no fall in the girl-boy ratio for the second child over the study period, strongly suggesting that families, particularly those that are more wealthy and educated, are selectively aborting girls if their firstborn child is also a girl.”

After adjusting for excess mortality rates in girls, the researchers observed that “number of selective abortions of girls rose from 0-2 million in the 1980s, to 1•2-4•1 million in the 1990s, and to 3.1-6 million in the 2000s. Each 1% decline in child sex ratio at ages 0-6 years implied between 1•2 and 3•6 million more selective abortions of girls. Selective abortions of girls are estimated at between 4 and 12 million over the three decades from 1980 to 2010.

The authors point out that the between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, more than twice the number of Indian districts (local administrative areas) showed declines in the child sex ratio compared to districts with no change or increases. They also point out that, the Indian government implemented a Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act in 1996 to prevent the misuse of techniques for the purpose of prenatal sex determination leading to selective abortion of girls. Yet they add it is unlikely that this Act has been effective nationally.

Isn’t this a national shame?

For the full article in Lancet, see:


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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shrin Juwaley: ‘Treat us as equals’

 It was on May 28, 1998 when life took a sudden turn for Shirin Juwaley, an acid attack victim. Juwaley was only 24 when her husband threw acid on her face, chest and arms and fled abroad. She was left with severe facial disfigurement and has undergone numerous surgeries since then. Scared and skeptical to face the world with her disfigured face, Juwaley refused to come out of her shell until one day she realised that she was wasting her life in this manner. “I decided to live life my way,” said Juwaley. Juwaley went on to start a non-profit organisation called Palash foundation, three months ago, which deals with issues of psychosocial rehabilitation and livelihoods for people with disfigurement.

On Wednesday, at Bonobo, a restobar in Bandra (W), people who faced discrimination because they were visually different came together and shared their personal experiences. The event called ‘Tweet Up night’ was organised by Palash foundation in association with mad o wot, a hair salon in Bandra.


Chetan Chavan, one of the speakers said, “At a very young age, some white spots started developing all over my body. Initially people thought that it was leprosy and I was shunned by society. My parents took me to various doctors, babas who claimed cure for all problems, etcetera. But the problem persisted. They were trying hard to change me so that I would fit into what is perceived as ‘normal’.” Chavan acknowledges that he did not face discrimination from his peers while interacting with them but, “when it came to sharing food from the same plate, people refused to do so.” It was at the time of getting married that he was hit hard by the discrimination. “I have white spots on my body and hand but not on my face. So, sometime people do not realise that I have a skin condition. But, I decided to hide nothing from the other party. People would approach me with a proposal but would turn away when they were told about my problem,” said Chavan who works in a private company and lives in Dadar. Abigal Vaz (33) from Vakola too faced a similar situation like Chavan. The reason being, Vaz was born without legs. “I walk with the help of two Jaipur feet but I am fully capable of independently carrying out my daily chores. In my 20s I too dreamt of having a family but everybody rejected me. Hence, I decided to look for somebody who would be like me so that I did not feel inferior in front of him,” said Vaz, who found her husband on a matrimonial site. Vaz’s husband lost one of his legs to polio when he was one-year-old. Since then Vaz has been living a happy married life and has a normal child.

Another inspirational story was of Parinaz Mubaraki’s (26) who is visually impaired. Born with a genetic defect, Mubaraki slowly started losing her vision when she was a child and lost her vision completely seven years ago.

“I don’t look like a blind person due to the fact that I wasn’t born completely blind. Sometimes people do not believe me when I tell them that I can’t see,” said Mubaraki, her voice choked with emotion. She recalls an incident during a stage performance at Bonobo. “It was an impromptu dance performance where we were performing with our belly dance teacher. We were unprepared so, we had to follow our teacher and repeat those steps. Since I couldn’t see, I kept doing my own thing and everybody was laughing. After the dance troupe left, I kept performing on the stage and the audience was wondering if there was something wrong with me. Finally, my teacher had to intervene and I got off the stage. I could hear the audience roaring with laughter because most of them did not realise that I was blind,” said Mubaraki, who works as a radio jockey.
Insulted by her friends and teachers in school, who did not take to her kindly, Mubaraki had started to lose hope until she met students from The Hellen Keller Institute for Deaf and Deafblind. Said Mubaraki, “I met students from the institute and I thought that if people who couldn’t see and hear were doing so well in their life, then I should be grateful that I can at least hear. I started attending counselling sessions and looking out for opportunities.”


While most of the speakers claimed that they are hardly bothered by what other people think about them, often they feel awkward in public places when people gawk at them. “I have people staring at me everyday. Some of them even come near me to look at my face closely. But, they refuse to shake hands with me. What do I do?” said Juwaley.

Mubaraki says that when people misbehave, she tells herself, “It isn’t my disability, it is their stupidity and that is why they are laughing at me. Members of the audience too agreed with the speakers. One of them suggested that people alone couldn’t be blamed for the way they behave. “They have been attuned to think in a certain manner. For larger acceptance of people who are visually different, changes have to be made at the grassroot level itself.”


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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Donate to Silver Inning Foundation :Make a Difference to our Elders

Donate to Silver Inning Foundation :Save Tax and Make a Difference to our Elders

If you feel we have done justice to the cause of Senior Citizens and made difference to life of our Elders and if you would like to support our effort to work with our Elders, please donate to the ‘Silver Inning Foundation’ to help us expand our network and for our outreach programme/services to our Elders.

Donation Options:

1) People outside India: can pay in Foreign Currency by your Credit Card, Debit Card to Pay Pal account TO: ‘ Sailesh Mishra’

2) People in India: can pay by Cheque /Demand Draft / Bankers Cheque: in favour of ‘Silver Inning Foundation’ accompanied by a covering letter with your Name, Postal Address, Contact No., Email and PAN Number to Correspondence Address : Silver Inning Foundation, C/o. Sailesh Mishra, ARENA III, Flat - 801/802, Poonam Garden, Mira Road -East, Mumbai. India – 401107. You can also send your query to: or call us at: 09987104233 (Monday to Friday only).

3) People in India can also Pay by Bank Transfer / NEFT to below account:

Bank Account detail: Account Number: 018010100538299
Account Name: Silver Inning Foundation
Account Type: Saving A/C
Bank address: AXIS Bank Ltd., Nandnandan Bhavan, Sodawala Lane, Borivali (West) ,Mumbai, India – 400092
IFS Code: UTIB0000018

Donations to Silver Inning Foundation are eligible for tax benefits under Sec. 80G of the Income-Tax Act 1961 (50% tax exemption) to people of India.

Silver Inning Foundation is registered NOT FOR PROFIT (NGO) under the:

1) Societies Registration Act of 1860 vide registration number: 1300/2008/GBBSD dated 14/07/2008.
2) The Bombay Public Trusts Act 1950 vide registration number: F- 36344 Mumbai dated 8/12/2008.
3) Reg.No. U/s, 80-G from the Income Tax: DIT(E)/MC/80-G/1696/2010-11 dt. 6/5/2010 effective 17.02.2010.

To uphold and secure the rights of elderly and actively work towards improving their quality of life by networking, advocating and researching elderly issues and providing a wide range of services according to their needs

1. To advocate and create awareness of elderly rights and issues at micro and macro level.
2. To address basic needs of the elderly (aged 50yrs +) and their family members.
3. To provide and create innovative programmes and services for the elderly that enable them to reintegrate back into society with dignity.
4. To promote research and development on issues related to elderly.
5. To develop and implement training of professionals and para-professionals in Gerontology, Geriatrics and Geriatric Care Management.

Being relatively new entry to ageing sector working since April 2008, we are confident that with your support and blessings we will accomplish in 2011 and beyond.

With our dedication, passion and with help of our networking partners we are trying to make a measurable, meaningful, and sustainable impact on the life of our Elders around the globe.

Together we at Silver Inning Foundation are working towards our Vision of creating Elder Friendly World where Ageing becomes a Positive and Rewarding Experience.


Silver Innings - Blog for Senior Citizens: DONATION: Donate to Silver Inning Foundation :Save Tax and Make a Difference to our Elders If you feel we have done justice to the cause of Senior Citizens

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

KARMAYUGA- ‘The Right every Wrong Generation’ Campaign launched to ignite the ‘Volunteer’ spirit among citizens

No Individual, Institution or Organization, not even the UN or any government  can Change the World but if every citizen practices her / his fundamental duties & Individual Social Responsibility,  then maybe collectively we could make the world a more egalitarian, just, humane & responsible society. Each of us can right a wrong and thus together as ONE we can RIGHT every WRONG.  ‘KARMAYUGA- The Right Every Wrong Generation’, a nationwide campaign has been launched by iCONGO and CtrlS on 12thOct’11, from Mumbai, with the core objective of bringing together and recognizing citizen volunteers/uncommon and unsung heroes , who through their focused action, are trying to lead the society towards a better tomorrow.

This initiative salutes and showcases the extra ordinary and inspiring work done by ordinary mortals, to Right a Wrong that they see around them. To be a part of the “Karmayuga Campaign” one need not join an NGO or campaign, nor give any money, clothes and newspapers to charity. All that one needs to do is do small simple acts with big commitment & involvement” to address wrongs in the society. The person can post his story on the official Karmayuga website , so that more people can follow his/her example and the tipping point reached, wherein everyone gets together to RIGHT every WRONG.

On the occasion Mr. Jeroninio Almeida, Founder-iCONGO said, “All our SIMPLE ACTIONS can make a BIG DIFFERENCE in bringing about a change in our world. We believe that a selfless citizen action can spark a mass movement where all citizens work “Together as One to Right every Wrong”.  The Matchbox symbolizes the idea of “Igniting Citizen Action”. He further added, “Our mission in a nutshell is to encourage social justice through citizen action. We believe that if citizens start doing small, simple actions in our own space and time, then one day we will see that big difference in real sense and this shall benefit our future generations. Probably the most powerful healing for all socio-political evils is the creation of more and more citizen heroes”. He appeals to all citizens to. Act NOW; DO SOMETHING to Right a WRONG around you and Belong to Karmayuga- The RIGHT every WRONG generation.
Present at the event Ms. Gul Panag, Founder, Social Outreach and Accreditation Programme (SOAP) said, “The Karmayuga Campaign is in its true meaning ‘Voluntary’ and to be a part of it each one has to become Anna Hazare themselves and to motivate people to help each other  in the real world.It is the most ethical concept ever put down to work. According to one’s own capabilities and discretion, volunteers are expected to work in their desired area of interest in their own way.”

Mr. P Sridhar Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director, CtrlS, shared his thoughts “Being India’s largest and only certified tier IV data center, we have always been led by an inherent drive to deliver technological innovations that build a sustainable eco system, thereby making this world a better place to live in. We’re proud to say CtrlS Mumbai; with a PUE of 1.4 is the most energy efficient datacenter in India. From implementing eco-friendly practices in our workplaces, to following tier IV standards of operation, or delivering excellence through our philosophy of ‘Total Ownership’, we believe sustainable solutions are the stepping stones for a secure tomorrow. We are in the business of protecting data with full confidentiality and have partnered Karmayuga to create more protectors for our planet and people.

We are delighted to say that partnering with iCONGO, has brought us another step closer to building healthier ecosystem. Every company today must have a holistic CSR policy that encourages employees to get involved in social issues. This will push the organization towards better efficiency and profitability.

The entire movement is powered by Ctrls – iCONGO Karmaveer Puraskaar- Global awards for Social Justice and Citizen Action, initiated by iCONGO 6 years back. Through KVP, iCONGO has been felicitating and highlighting the work done by citizens who have gone beyond their usual business and have readily Lead the Change in the society through selfless actions. Karmaveer awardees are fondly referred to as Noble Laureates and many of them have gone on and joined national committees and planning commissions as core members and had also served as ambassadors of global movements.”

“Belong to Karmayuga- The RIGHT every WRONG Generation – this is an opportunity to be a part of a social movement” says Rakhi Sarkar, Country Director – VSO India. We usually talk about our rights but as citizens of this country we have responsibilities as well. By becoming a part of Karmyuga it will be an excellent opportunity for citizens to engage and address the problems of social and economic inequity that surrounds them. Volunteering is a powerful instrument to promote inclusive development through active civic engagement.   Be a “Karmyugi” – this is an opportunity to be a part of a social movement and make a difference – your efforts do matter and can improve the prospects of people, communities and Indian society as a whole Rakhi added.

The top 20 stories will be awarded CtrlS- iCONGO Karmaveer Chakra, a medallion for proactive voluntary actions to Be The Change, instituted with the UN. . All people/ children/ youth who participate shall be awarded the “CtrlS- iCONGO KARMAVEER- THE RIGHT every WRONG Generation Certificate” for being the change and for promoting Social Justice through her/ his action.

The movement conceptualized & initiated by iCONGO (International Confederation of NGOs and VSO India) the world’s leading independent international development organization that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. The campaign is emphatically supported by renowned personalities including Mr. P Sridhar Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director of CtrlS, the largest tier iv datacenter in South Asia, and social activist and actress Gul Panag, (Founder of the volunteering movement SOAP).

Those Present at this event were Jeroninio Almeida , Gul Pang, P Sridhar Reddy , Abha Singh , Sailesh Mishra , Vincent Nazareth and Vandana Shah.

Many organizations, NGOs, Corporates, Academic Institutions and Media Houses, have joined hands with the Karmayuga Campaign as Initiative Partners to spread the message. The Initiative partners include-  UNV ( United Nations Volunteers), SOAP, RTF, RTI Nation, Goa Forgiving, The Image India Institute, World Comics Trust, GOD, SOIL, Skill share International, Silver Innings, Masoom, HFI, Samarthanam, OLPC, THF, Olives Bar and Kitchen, Dialogue India, Good Shepherd’s Home.

A co-branded Chakra has been created with each Initiative partner to felicitate their partners and supporters.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Corruption in India is endemic because like charity corruption begins at home too

Corruption first creeps in slowly and quietly into individual brains. If we look back upon our childhood days, we would know how we—or our siblings and friends—snatched from others whatever we liked, no matter who the rightful owner was. A loving and caring elder always stepped in and quietened those he could, but helplessly gave in to the more stubborn who would not stop crying until his whims were met. That was how the first software of corruption was embedded into our personal systems. We grew up with an obsession of whims and preconceived notions that gradually took command of our behaviour.

Today we have reached a stage when nothing attracts us more than figures and statistics.We all feel greedy to have more—whatever, whenever, wherever and however! After all, when you have more than your neighbour, you earn his envy. 'Life is no good unless I have an edge over others'—we seem to think even when we have enough to lead a normal life. Accumulation of assets gives us an expanse to gloat over with a sense of triumph in a world that is racing to grab more. Of course, far from being sinful, honest pursuit to earn and create more resources in life is a highly-desirable activity and ultimately it benefits society. What is harmful and dangerous for society is acquisition of resources and privileges through dishonest pursuit and machinations. Spread of such a culture vitiates the atmosphere and promotes unfair competition, rivalry and crime.

The quest to excel, however, has different meanings for different people. The fear of being left behind in the race forces us to ignore the fundamentals of life in this fiercely-competitive environment. We find parents boasting of their kids getting as high as 99% marks. Teenagers attend school, tuitions and coaching for competitive examinations with no time for societal chores, nature watch, hobbies, games, outdoor adventures and so on. Care is taken to enrol into those tutorials where the student's teacher has commercial interest. The aim is clear: to get highest possible marks, no matter how. And so we know why teachers perform perfunctorily in classroom teaching, but do their most in 'tuition' sessions out of school. Every year, we also witness how question papers are secretly fished out and sold for hefty amounts a few days prior to the date of the examination. And the malaise is no longer confined to Boards alone, it has now become a high-paying furtive business eating into the country's most prestigious competitive examinations like JEE and other UPSC-controlled or institutionally-conducted examinations. And yet, universities and colleges too joined the mad race to rake in students who are in the highest slot of the cut-off percentage set as high as 98% and, in some cases, 100%. Is the percentage of marks obtained by students the only measure of their worthiness for the institution, society and the nation? Who would look for the more vital attributes in personalities the country and society need like aptitude, vision, character, disposition towards social/national issues and so on?

Read More : Corruption in India is endemic because like charity corruption begins at home too - Moneylife Personal Finance site and magazine

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Citizen Journalism (CJ) , Exclusively 3 days course for Senior Citizens at Mumbai

The JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism announces a new module of its Citizen Journalism programme from September 30 to October 2, 2011 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday)  -- this time exclusively for senior citizens. Individuals aged 60 years and above are eligible to apply.

Silver Inning Foundation promotes this unique programme for Senior Citizens for the empowerment of silver citizens across the country, to harness the wisdom and experience of senior citizens towards a deeper participation in our democracy.

The course is designed as an extended weekend programme stretching over three days. Specialists from areas connected with the content of this course, professionals and domain experts would be conducting the training and information exchange programme.

Increasingly, the citizen is being asked to contribute to the news gathering process, either through write ups, pictures, video or information. Moreover, there are issues which need to be reported about. Be it environment, transport or water conservation. Often, it could be something as critical as an inadequacy we notice in the state's performance.
But how does one go about it. How does one gather facts? How do one verify these facts? If one needs to seek information, does one know how to avail of the Right to Information (RTI) process? What are the basic laws which one is governed by, or which one sees being violated time and again, and against which one can raise a voice? Does one know the basic traffic and civic laws and redressal mechanisms, the penal code and basic constitutional rights. Does one know the process of seeking redressal? How do the courts in India function? Can I be heard there and how?
This and much more could be the reasons a citizen should avail this programme.

This module has been tailored exclusively for individuals of/above 60 years of age. No formal qualification needed. You need to have a basic understanding of reading and writing.

Course Contents
Some of the key areas covered in the course include Citizen Journalism backgrounder and how it is practiced globally, basics of reporting, news gathering, presenting the story through words and pictures, ethics including accuracy and fairness, laws including slander and privacy, introduction to Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code, civic laws and use of technology in Citizen Journalism.

Reporting by Citizen Journalists will be put on a portal dedicated to citizen journalism called

Any senior citizen interested in becoming a citizen journalist. Basic language skills in any Indian language or English needed.

St. Andrew's College, Bandra (W), Mumbai.

September 30 - October 2, 2011. (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Rs. 1250/-inclusive of reading material, food on all three days,and a certificate of participation. Senior citizens keen on registering in groups of five and above can avail of a further discount of Rs. 250/- per participant.

To register:
1. Download and fill out the soft copy of the registration form , click here :
2. Mail the form as an attachment to
3. Send a draft or cheque of the requisite fee amount favouring "JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism" to:
JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism
104 Sanjay Appa Chambers, 83 Guru Hargobindraiji Marg,
AG Link Road, Andheri (E), Mumbai 400093.

Lavanya Varadrajan: 022-40155197 / +91-98207 87949  /  +91-98209 85853 

Programme Directors
Shishir Joshi and Aloke Thakore

Shishir Joshi was till recently the Group Editorial Director of the Mid-Day group of publications, which includes Mid-Day (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune), Sunday Mid-Day, Gujarati Mid-Day and Inquilab. Prior to Mid-Day, Joshi was with the TV Today group, where he was executive editor. He has also been editorial consultant for the Sahara group, helping set up TV channels across India as well as recruiting and training professionals for them. Prior to that he was with NDTV as its sole business news correspondent based out of Mumbai. He has worked with, written for Reuters and AFP and has contributed to UK based ITN-Channel 4 News and has been the South Asia Representative of Peter Arnett's Broadcast News Network (BNN TV). A law graduate, he is a Chevening Scholar. He is the co-founder of Journalism Mentor.

Aloke Thakore is a journalist, researcher and teacher. He has worked in print and television. At various times he has reported, written columns, authored academic articles, anchored programmes, taught at university and colleges, and coached in news rooms. He has also helped launched newspapers and magazines both as editorial and management consultant. He counts many journalists and media professionals among his students and trainees. A Media Leadership Fellow of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, he has a Ph.D. in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an AM in International Relations from the University of Chicago, an MS in Journalism from the University of Kansas. His first degree is from Calcutta University. He is the co-founder of Journalism Mentor.

Citizen Journalism with its variants in Public Journalism or Civic Journalism acquired the accoutrements of a movement in the early 2000s, particularly in the United States. But the origins of Citizen Journalism are as old as journalism, when pamphlets and reports were issued by citizens. Some of the most powerful pieces of journalistic writing can be traced back to individual initiatives of citizens as reporters not reporters as professionals.
The need for citizens as journalists and for citizen journalists has been increasingly felt as media companies with their business and professional news gathering models do not necessarily commit enough resources to covering issues that beset a democracy such as ours or do not have any incentive to cover problems from a wide swathe of society. But not covering these problems and issues does not wish away the reality. And that is precisely where citizen journalists can reclaim the conversation. It needs to be remembered that the freedom of the press in India is an extension of the freedom of expression given to each citizen.

JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism believes that India needs vigorous citizen journalism since it is well nigh impossible, for various reasons, for the news media organizations to cover all issues that need to be brought into the public eye. Hence, we have launched a Citizen Journalism initiative, which will both train citizen journalists and also provide them with a forum where they report.

JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism
104, Sanjay Appa Chambers,
First Floor, Plot No 82,
Guru Hargobindraiji Marg,
A. G. Link Road, Andheri (E),
Mumbai – 400 093
Phone Nos:             +91-22-4015 5384       / 197


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