Pioneer of Women Studies Vina Mazumdar- A Personal Tribute #Feminist


Vina Mazumdar

Vol – XLVIII No. 25, June 22, 2013 | C P Sujaya , EPW

A recollection of the varied contributions of Vina Mazumdar (1927-2013), one of the pioneers of both the women’s movement as well as women’s studies in India.

C P Sujaya (cpsujaya@gmail.com) is a retired IAS offi cer from the Himachal Pradesh cadre who worked as joint secretary in the Ministry of Women and Children from 1985 to 1989. She is Vice President of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi.

My story starts, somewhat incongruously, with the inevitable struggle of an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer to get a “good” posting in the Government of India. One needs the pull and push of godfathers and godmothers, especially for postings considered cushy or prestigious (the two words have different connotations).

So, when I decided to opt for the normal five-year tenure in the Government of India, away from my home cadre of Himachal Pradesh, I was aware of these facts of life but did not visualise how difficult it would be. However, I found an unexpected ally in a non-governmental organisation (NGO), who introduced me to Bunker Roy, who in turn became a conduit in my search.

When I was finally informed that I had been posted as joint secretary in the Department of Social Welfare (as it was then called), my heart did sink a bit. “Social Welfare” or “Welfare” postings were not really popular with the bureaucracy, but after sternly telling myself that beggars could not be choosers, I trotted off to Shastri Bhavan in early 1985.

Bunker Roy had apparently done his bit in spreading the word. I came to know this when one day, soon after I joined in Shastri Bhavan, R P Khosla, the secretary of the ministry, called me to his room. There were two women sitting there with him and one of them, who was puffing away on her cigarette, turned around, looked me up and down and said in a very matter-of-fact tone, “Ah, there you are” – as if she knew me (or knew of me) and was expecting me. I was completely mystified. Coming from the boon docks, I had never heard of Vina Mazumdar, or of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS). Nor had I heard, except very vaguely, about the women’s movement.

The rest, I would say, is my history. I found a new vocation, a new interest, a new awareness, both of the world around me and of myself. Over the four years I spent in Shastri Bhavan, I discovered “gender”, with all its connotations. Vina-di, as she was widely known, was the guiding light, the reason why I felt myself so involved in this “not so important ministry”, why I began to understood a dictum “the personal is the political”. (All this was in spite of a solicitous junior (male) colleague warning me of the pitfalls of engaging with “women’s groups” – he graphically described how every divorce that took place would be followed by celebrations organised by such groups.)

Towards Equality

But what I started to feel was that I had a whole new world to explore, uncover and understand. I had not heard of the Committee on the Status of Women, or of Towards Equality (TE). It was just a report or a book, left on my table in the office, meant for “reading” because it related to the ministry (there were many of these). But the presence of, and my frequent meetings with Vina-di and her persona made TE come alive. This report became my first and primary textbook in Shastri Bhavan, enriched, with running anecdotes provided by one of my personal assistants in the office, S C Bhattacharya, who, coincidentally, had earlier worked as her stenographer when she was dictating the final report of TE. Bhattacharya remembered, especially, the high speed and the high quality of her dictation, which he said, was the best training-learning experience he had received in his career of stenography. I still have with me this old printed copy of TE (first edition), now dog-eared, torn and frayed. In turn, Bhattacharya told Vina Mazumdar that the new joint secretary seemed to be obsessed with TE and had issued instructions that she should not be disturbed in office with too many sundry visitors since “she had to make up for a lot of lost time”. In turn, Vina-di repeated this quote back to me, with some delight.

Vina Mazumdar took me under her wing. I learnt about the International Women’s Year (1975), the International Women’s Decade (1976-85), went through the reports of the Mexico (1975) and the Copenhagen (1980) Conferences on Women, and prepared the ground in Shastri Bhavan for the next (third) upcoming International Conference on Women scheduled for mid-year 1985 in Nairobi. My advantage was that the presence of Vina Mazumdar and her colleagues from CWDS made each of these earlier events come alive, because they, as the representatives of the women’s movement, were actively in pursuit of the implementation of the recommendations made earlier at these conclaves and they made me feel personally involved as well. This would not have happened if the UN reports of Mexico, Copenhagen, etc, were to just “officially” land on my table for me to read, which is what normally happens within the government departments and ministries. It would then have become a duty, sometimes even a chore, for bureaucrats to plough through these “weighty” tomes. (I would probably have told one of my juniors to prepare a “short” summary.) Personal involvement is rare in such a scenario, just official duty.

Education as Empowerment

One day she asked me to go with her to the room of the education secretary, Anil Bordia; a new National Policy on Education was on the anvil. One of Vina-di’s highest priorities related to education, to women’s education, and how it was visualised and implemented. She used to repeat to us a Sanskrit sloka, sa vidya ya vimuktaye – education is that which liberates – (this was long before Freire!). Anil Bordia was planning to arrange a workshop on the proposed “New Education Policy” (NEP) and, of course, wanted Vina Mazumdar’s help, especially for drafting the section on women’s education.

Her imprint is still there in this section of the policy document. Part IV of the 1986 policy, enshrined the title “Education for Women’s Equality”, starting with these memorable sentences:

Education will be used as an agent of basic change in the status of women…In order to neutralise the accumulated distortions of the past…the National Education system will play a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women…foster the development of new values through redesigned curricula, textbooks, the training and orientation of teachers, decision-makers and administrators, and the active involvement of educational institutions. This will be an act of faith and social engineering…The National Education System will play a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women.

It was the first time that the word “empowerment” entered the vocabulary of a government policy document and it was Vina-di’s achievement. I remember that in the official discussions which I attended many eyebrows were raised. Sadly, it has now been debased and trivialised by overuse in all sorts of other contexts, but the original sheen has still not disappeared from my mind.

When this concept of education as a means of empowering women entered government policy, it did not lie dormant, with no practical expression or manifestation. Vina Mazumdar strongly believed that government policies are to be “implemented” and not to be kept as showpieces. The initiation of the Mahila Samakhya programmes in 1988 for rural, poor women (especially scheduled caste and scheduled tribe women) by the education ministry was a direct result of this theme of women’s empowerment in the NEP. It was an unconventional programme, raised eyebrows for its apparent breaking of protocols and government’s “rules of business”. Mahila Samakhya is not a programme which taught the women only the ABCs; it mobilised and organised the poorest women of the locality and village into groups and taught them, what can be termed, “life-skills” using unorthodox teaching-learning methods, so that they developed the ability to fight their own battles and thus become empowered women.

Women and Children

Notwithstanding her priority to the building of a strong women’s movement in the country, Vina-di did not separate or split issues relating to women and those relating to the child. Many feminists – especially radical feminists from the west – looked at the processes of motherhood as patriarchal ploys of diverting women’s attention from their autonomy and their individuality; child-care and child-rearing was seen as a burden that prevented women from an “outside” life, relegating her to the “inside”. In India, the early women’s movements of the 1970s followed this reasoning, by and large. If women and children were clubbed as a dyad by the State, this was more for administrative and management reasons, whereas the Indian’s women’s movements of that time were largely anchored by women and focused on women. Childcare, maternity and maternal health, the population issue, etc, were extremely important issues for the movement, but they were seen from the point of view of women and not that of the child. Vina Mazumdar, however, showed far-reaching and exceptional sensitivity towards the need to visualise the mother and the child in the same frame, but as independent persona, each having separate identities, both of which had to be cared for.

A decade after TE, in 1985 the book titled, Who Cares? A Study of Child Care Facilities for Low Income Working Women in India, written my Mina Swaminathan and published by the CWDS with the feminist publishing house Kali for Women came out. Vina-di wrote the preface, in which she mentioned the connections between TE and the presence of childcare facilities as an important support service for women. The book was written and published with the approval of the executive committee of CWDS, even while Mina made it abundantly clear that she was doing so from the perspective of child needs, not from that of women. CWDS fully supported her in this. In her preface, Vina-di recalled Mina’s own contribution to the setting up of CWDS in 1980.

There was genuine partnership in such efforts between those who worked for the women’s cause and those who worked for the child’s cause. It was not a bifurcated interest or interests. Vina-di had much to contribute to this broader vision of the existential relationship of the mother and the child through her encouragement of those who were looking at children’s needs. Mina acknowledges that it was Vina Mazumdar who initiated the study and supported its completion with utmost interest. In the first chapter of the book, Mina points to the increasing recognition that women and children need to be seen together and the needs of families to be considered as a whole, that facilities for children of working women can no longer be seen in isolation from the need for child development and education, nor could children’s programmes be seen in isolation from the changing position of women and families. The two, she says, should converge and be placed in the larger framework of social and economic change and development. Both Mina and Vina Mazumdar always prioritised the childcare needs of poor and vulnerable women.

Similarly, when Razia Ismail, after retirement from UNICEF, put all her energies into the formation and running of the Indian Alliance for Child Rights, Vina Mazumdar presented the first annual lecture on the girl child in 2001.

Academic Activist

Academia and action came together for Vina-di. She did not see any fault line or divergence between them. She was the architect of the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) programme of women’s studies, under which for the first time the focus was shifted from middle-class preoccupations to those of the socially and economically deprived. ICSSR commissioned studies on unorganised women workers in the coir, cashew and other industries. She was instrumental in pushing the idea of creating the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS), which she presented during a conference at the SNDT University under the then Vice Chancellor Madhuri Shah. After the memorandum of association was finalised and passed, elections were held to pick the executive committee to conduct the IAWS conferences.

From its inception, the IAWS has been an organisation for both scholars and activists, and as Maithreyi Krishnaraj points out, it has rejected the separate categorisation of these two conventional groups. Devaki Jain says that it has redefined the scholar as an activist and the activist as an intellectual. When the Mahila Samakhya programme was started, the women of the sanghas (i e, the village women) said that “they wanted time to think” according to Srilatha Batliwala, who started the programme in Karnataka. In each of the IAWS conferences, both scholars and activists participated and still do. As Maithreyi Krishnaraj points out, this was a special feature of the IAWS unlike other discipline-based bodies.

Over 600 women attended the first conference and Vina-di’s efforts to get the presence of the members of the women’s wing of political parties brought in Mrinal Gore, Ahalya Rangnekar, Manju Gandhi, Sarojini Varadappan, Sister Mary Braganza, Pramila Dandavate, etc. Vina-di’s attempt was to build a federation across all parties. Though this idea failed, the women’s movement always had the presence of women members of political parties and this was largely due to Vina Mazumdar’s vision. She had created a forum of “seven sisters” which is still remembered with nostalgia.

The Responsibility of Democracy

Vina-di’s insistence on conducting formal, planned elections for selection of office-bearers of women’s organisations is another unique aspect of her faith in democratic values. It is also a tribute to her insistence on formal procedures being consistently followed, perhaps due to her own collegiate experiences. Besides the IAWS (which came into being later), the CWDS, started in 1980, has regularly conducted formal elections for their office-bearers. This formal electoral procedure is not followed by most NGOs and other social organisations where informal procedures such as election by consensus, show of hands or voice vote are the usual modes.

Vina-di has an anecdote that related to one of her many trips to Bankura (West Bengal) where CWDS was working with tribal women. She used to tell us this incident quite often; it had obviously made a deep impression on her. Lotika Sarkar was with her on this trip to Bankura. Lotikadi had just finished speaking to the tribal women of the area (unlettered and poor) telling them and making them understand – as she was asked to – about their rights relating to all aspects of their lives. Her intention was to make the women acquainted with the issue of women’s rights, how they are not powerless creatures but strong beings because they had rights as per the Constitution of India. The women heard her talk with rapt attention. After the talk was over, one of the tribal women (I forget her name) put up her hand and put a question to Lotika Sarkar,

It is wonderful that you have come here from Delhi and told us, unlettered women, about all our rights, about what we can do with these rights. It has made us feel strong; our shoulders are now straight and broad after listening to your talk. Now, tell us what our responsibilities are.

I think Vina-di remembered this small incident all her life because it reinforced her belief in the strength of women, especially of poor women. The women’s movements have always fought against the “welfare” approach to women, against the tendency to see women as powerless, needing protection rather than empowerment.

Vina-di led a multidimensional life, with multifarious interests, as her biography Memories of a Rolling Stone has depicted. To those of us who knew her closely, she will always remain a lasting influence, because she has touched our lives with such strength. It would not be an exaggeration for me to say that my life as an IAS officer took a complete U-turn after knowing her, working with and listening to her, interacting to her and most of all, learning from her.

 

#India – Even LPG cash transfer faces #Aadhaar problem #UID


Pranav Nambiar P Thursday, May 30, 2013 , FE
New Delhi : In the 20 districts selected for the first phase of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme roll-out starting June 1, not even one out of five households is in a position to benefit from the scheme right now, an FE investigation shows. In these 20 districts — deemed to be the most Aadhaar-ready — with an estimated 76 lakh households, only 56% have their LPG connections linked to an Aadhaar number. And hardly a third of these households with Aadhaar-linked LPG accounts have bank accounts seeded with Aadhaar cards. Considering that such a dismal situation persists even in these districts selected for the initial phase of DBT roll-out primarily on the basis of their high Aadhaar penetration (80%), it is clear that the scheme’s expansion to the more unprepared and less accessible parts of the country is easier said than done.
The country has a total of 14 crore households with LPG connections, going by the records of oil marketing companies. The government’s hope is that pan-India roll-out of DBT for LPG subsidy disbursal would help trim its subsidy burden on this fuel by an annual R10,000 crore. The DBT scheme, meant to to cover the government’s annual bills on subsidy and entitlements like pension and scholarships by cutting leakages, is expected to come handy for the fiscal consolidation drive.
Government officials in the know told FE for every 100 households on an average in these 20 districts, some 80 have an Aadhaar card, of which around 56 have LPG connections seeded to their Aadhaar card and just 19 bank accounts seeded with Aadhaar cards. Owing to these low levels of linkage, a grace period of three months has been given to people in these districts to link Aadhaar cards with both LPG and bank accounts. During this period, they would continue to get the entitled number of LPG cylinders at subsidised prices.
This effectively means a deferment of the DBT roll-out. After this grace period, all customers who have not completed the necessary formalities will have to buy LPG cylinders at market price (that is, sans any subsidy), till they complete the same and be able to access DBT benefit.
Among the 20 districts covered under the first phase of DBT, two – Mysore in Karnataka and Mandi in Himachal – will start the scheme out from July 1, due to bye-elections. Of the remaining 18, those with the lowest bank linkages include SBS Nagar in Punjab, Diu in Daman and Diu as well as Una in Himachal Pradesh, which has less than 10% Aadhaar linkages to bank accounts. LPG linkages in these regions are higher at around 40-50%.
On the other hand, some districts like Mysore in Karnataka, Pathanamthitta in Kerala, and East Goa in Goa have about 30-40% of bank accounts linked to Aadhaar. LPG linkages to Aadhaar cards are also relatively higher in these districts ranging between 50-75%.
Under the DBT scheme, LPG consumers will get about Rs 4,500 per annum in cash from the government in their bank accounts as subsidy. They will have to buy LPG cylinders at the market price of Rs 901.50 (per 14.2-kg). The supply of subsidised LPG cylinder has been capped at nine cylinders per year for a consumer.
Banks have also been somewhat tardy in reaching out to the intended beneficiaries as they expect individuals to take up the onus in getting bank accounts and LPG connections seeded with Aadhaar, an official added. “Nevertheless,we have now launched extensive awareness campaigns across different formats like print, television and radio. We are also distributing pamphlets about the benefits of the programme and have kept drop boxes at LPG distributors for submitting bank account details,” the official said. He added that some people, particularly sections of the upper middle class and high net worth individuals might even be showing lack of interest in availing themselves of the DBT benefit.
A government official from Tumkur district in Karnataka said the reason for the low bank account linkages is that some people are worried about sharing bank account details in case it might be misused. In Tumkur, out of a targeted 3.20 lakh households, only about 18% bank accounts and 55% LPG connections are linked to Aadhaar.
An official in Maharashtra’s Wardha district said in many cases, people do not have bank accounts. This has slowed down the process of linking bank accounts with Aadhaar cards. Out of 2.01 lakh households, 66% have LPG and 38% bank accounts seeded to Aadhaar.
An official in Kerala’s Wayanad district said there has been a slight improvement in the seeding levels as the June 1 kick-off date approaches. They are hoping the three-month moratorium along with enhanced SMS and call centre campaigns will push a much larger number of people to join the scheme. Out of the 1.4 lakh households in Wayanad, around 95,000 have LPG linkages to Aadhaar and 35,000 bank linkages with Aadhaar.
The government has not finalised the dates for the subsequent phases of rolling out the LPG DBT scheme to other districts. “We will watch and learn from these 20 districts before finalisng our next phase,” said a government official close to the development. At present, there are about 145 million LPG connections in the country.
To avail of the subsidy, customers without a bank account must open an account by submitting Aadhaar details to the bank branch or LPG distributors. Similarly, customers can link their LPG connections to Aadhaar cards by submitting details to the LPG distributors. As per the DBT scheme, Aadhaar-linked domestic LPG consumers will get an advance in their bank accounts as soon as they book the first subsidised cylinder even before delivery.

 

 

Half of India’s dalit population lives in 4 states- UP, West Bengal, Bihar and TN


 

B Sivakumar, TNN | May 2, 2013, 06.14 AM IST
CHENNAI: Four states account for nearly half of the country’s dalit population, reveals the 2011 census. Uttar Pradesh stands first with 20.5% of the total scheduled caste (SC) population, followed by West Bengal with 10.7%, says the data released by the Union census directorate on Tuesday. Bihar with 8.2% and Tamil Nadu with 7.2 % come third and fourth. Dalits form around 16.6% of India’s population.

The 2011 census recorded nearly 20.14 crore people belonging to various scheduled castes in the country. As per the 2001 census, the number was 16.66 crore. The dalit population showed a decadal growth of 20.8%, whereas India’s population grew 17.7% during the same period. “Though there is an increase in the population of dalits in the country, many states with a considerable number of dalits don’t have any legislation to protect the interests of the community. Dalit empowerment is very poor in many states,” said former Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) MLA D Ravikumar.

Many scheduled caste families don’t own land or any other property, said Ravikumar. “Many dalits are landless and efforts to empower them by giving free land have not been successful in Tamil Nadu. Unlike Punjab, which has a considerable number of dalits as industrialists, here there is hardly any industrialist from our community,” the leader of the dalit party said.

There are around 9.79 crore women among the total SC population, and the sex ratio works out to 946 females per 1000 males. Nagaland, Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar islands have no scheduled castes among their population. Though UP has the largest chunk of the total SC population, Punjab has the largest share of dalits in its population at 31.9%. Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal follow Punjab with 25.2% and 23.5%. In Tamil Nadu, dalits account for about 18% of the population.

The state budget should also allocate funds for creation of assets for dalits, said Ravikumar. “Instead of distributing freebies, the state governments can set aside a portion of the total allocation for dalits. In many cases, funds are being diverted and dalits lose whatever is due to them,” he said. The states with considerable number of dalits in their population must pass a separate legislation on the lines of Andhra Pradesh, which has passed the SC/ST Sub Plan Act, said a dalit activist.

 

National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) as a sub-mission under the National Health Mission (NHM)


PIB PRESS RELEASE

The Union Cabinet gave its approval to launch a National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) as a new sub-mission under the over-arching National Health Mission (NHM). Under the Scheme the following proposals have been approved :

1.        One Urban Primary Health Centre (U-PHC) for every fifty to sixty thousand population.

2.        One Urban Community Health Centre (U-CHC) for five to six U-PHCs in big cities.

3.        One Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANM) for 10,000 population.

4.        One Accredited Social Health Activist ASHA (community link worker) for 200 to 500 households.

The estimated cost of NUHM for 5 years period is Rs.22,507 crore with the Central Government share of Rs.16,955 crore. Centre-State funding pattern will be 75:25 except for North Eastern states and other special category states of Jammu and  Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand for whom the funding pattern will be 90:10.

The scheme will focus on primary health care needs of the urban poor. This Mission will be implemented in 779 cities and towns with more than 50,000 population and cover about 7.75 crore people.

The interventions under the sub-mission will result in

·         Reduction in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)

·         Reduction in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)

·          Universal access to reproductive health care

·         Convergence of all health related interventions.

The existing institutional mechanism and management systems created and functioning under NRHM will be strengthened to meet the needs of NUHM. Citywise implementation plans will be prepared based on baseline survey and felt need. Urban local bodies will be fully involved in implementation of the scheme.

NUHM aims to improve the health status of the urban population in general, particularly the poor and other disadvantaged sections by facilitating equitable access to quality health care, through a revamped primary public health care system, targeted outreach services and involvement of the community and urban local bodies.

Background

The Union Cabinet in its meeting held in April 2012 has already approved the continuation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the other sub-mission under NHM till 31.3.2017.

 

One lakh fine imposed on Shimla Shopkeeper


IANSIANS – Fri 26 Apr, 2013 

 

Shimla, April 26 (IANS) A sweetmeat seller was fined Rs.one lakh, the highest ever penalty in the state, by a designated officer for selling sweets that failed to comply with the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, an official said Friday.

Shimla Municipal Corporation health official Omesh Bharti fined the shopkeeper Thursday, after the samples of the sweets seized from his shop were found to be adulterated.

Government sources said the state government had recently delegated powers to all health officers under the food safety act to impose fines on vendors if food samples failed to meet standards set by law.

 

#India- Status of the Law which regulates medical profession and the issues #IMA


By- Sunil Nandraj
Firstly it is necessary to note that the framing of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation Act, 2010 (CEA 2010) was
necessitated since there has been practically no regulation for private clinical establishments in the country. This has been due to the
opposition by certain sections of the medical profession and owners of clinical establishments for any kind of accountability or transparency.
Many state governments were not able to push for enacting legislation regulating private clinical establishments. In Maharashtra, the Bombay  Medico- Friends- Circle group which took the lead 15 years back by filing a PIL in the Bombay High court, not much progress has been achieved in the State. In  the above context it was felt that having a central act, would put pressure on those state governments that do not have any legislation to  adopt a central act and those States to modify their outdated & deficient existing acts regulating private providers. This seems to have been  achieved to an extent.

In August 2010, the Parliament of India passed the ‘Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010’, which came into force in  March 2012. Through the CEA 2010, all private and public (excluding the armed forces) medical facilities (called clinical establishments),  which cover all systems of medicine, laboratories & diagnostic centres and single doctor establishments, need to be registered. It is  applicable in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh and all Union Territories. The States that have adopted this  act are Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand. Maharashtra and other states are keen on adopting the CEA 2010. The central  government is keen on pushing the State governments to adopt the central Act. Kerala & Tamil Nadu are keen on having their own Act in line  with the CEA 2010. In Punjab and Gujarat, there is massive opposition for adopting or enacting similar legislations. Among the States & UTs  the CEA 2010 is applicable and adopted the progress has been slow due to various reasons. In Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim the offline  registration of clinical establishments is in progress. In the other States and UTs the governments are in the process of notifying the State / UT councils, the District Registration Authorities and the Rules under section 54 of the act. The National Informatics Centre has developed a web-based software for the implementation of the CEA 2010. (http://clinicalestablishments.nic.in/). The copies of the Act, Rules are  available on this site.

The National Council, through multi stakeholder participation and a consultative process is presently in the process of  categorization and classification of clinical establishments, determination of minimum standards, information to be collected from clinical  establishments, determining the rates and charges to be charged among other aspects.

The salient features of the CEA 2010 are that there would be digital registry of all types of Clinical Establishments at National, State &
District level. All information provided by the clinical establishment would be available in the public domain. It would assist government in  obtaining data from clinical establishments required for public health interventions including outbreak and disaster management among  others. The provisional registration would be through self declaration, without any inspection. Permanent registration would be undertaken  after categorization and determination of minimum standards within two years from the date of notification. Every clinical establishment  needs to provide treatment “within the staff and facilities available” to stabilize the emergency medical condition of any individual brought to  such establishment. Details of charges, facilities available should be prominently displayed at a conspicuous place by each establishment. Clinical Establishments shall charge the rates for procedures and services with in the range of rates determined by the Central Government  from time to time in consultation with the State Governments.Compliance to Standard Treatment guidelines as may be issued by  Central/State Govt. to be ensured by CEs.
There has been opposition and resistance from private providers, owners and the IMA for any efforts to adopt the CEA 2010 or enact similar  legislations. Some of the concerns raised by them include:

The Act will lead to “license and inspector raj”; it is anti-people and curtails  freedom of medical practice, and the penalties are harsh. Another reservation expressed is that the Act makes it obligatory for clinical  establishments to provide treatment and stabilise patients who is brought in an “emergency medical condition. The standards prescribed are  harsh and would lead to closure of single doctor clinics and small medical establishments and this will raise the costs of treatment for the  general public.

The apprehensions and reservations voiced by them are unfounded and not based on clear reading of the provisions of the Act.

Firstly it  needs to be stated that the registration of establishments is a process of applying to the District Registration Authority by providing details  either by post, online or in-person. There is no inspection and the grant of registration to the establishment is time bound, so that no  application remains unattended. There are provisions for appeal before the State /UT Council of Clinical Establishments. Regarding penalties  the act has consciously not kept any provision for imprisonment, only monetary penalties, as the intention is to seek compliance with the  provisions rather than taking punitive action. W ith regard to Standards being harsh it needs to be noted that presently there are no standards  prescribed. As mentioned earlier the National Council is presently in the process of categorization of different types of clinical establishments  and determining uniform minimum standards. It is ironic that IMA, which is represented in the National Council should make statements that  the standards are harsh.

IMA along with the Quality Council of India has been engaged by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to
survey existing standards in clinical establishments in states where it is applicable. IMA would need to support its argument that minimum  standards would lead to closure of clinical establishment and increase costs with evidence. The premise of the Act is that there are few  clinical establishments that operate using standards of care, guidelines and protocols and monitoring of these in the country is deficient.
IMA’s refusal to accept this is contrary to the interests of patient care and public health. The IMA’s reservation that the medical profession is  already governed by number of Acts through multiple regulating bodies is baseless. The CEA 2010 was passed by the parliament on the  request of many state governments that did not have legislation for clinical establishments. The provisions of the Act, which mandates that  every clinic must provide basic emergency care, is being opposed by the IMA. It is well known that private hospitals and clinics do not admit  accident victims who require critical emergency care because it can lead to a medico-legal case, or the patient or their families will be unable  to pay for the treatment costs or are uninsured. This malaise is widely prevalent.

Taking note of this, the Supreme Court of India as long back  as 1989 passed a ruling [Parmanand Katara v. Union of India AIR 1989 SC 2039] that made it obligatory for all practitioners to provide  emergency medical care. The Act reemphasizes the judgment. It states: clinical establishment shall undertake to provide within the staff and facilities available such medical examination and treatment as may be required to stabilise the emergency medical condition of any individual who comes or is brought to such clinical establishment.

Further there are concerns being voiced that concerned stakeholders (including consumer groups) have not been represented in the various bodies of the CEA 2010. It needs to be noted that the CEA 2010 has 3 institutional mechanisms ie: The National Council, State / UT council and the District Registration Authority and in each of the bodies there is representation from consumer groups and professional medical association or bodies.
The CEA 2010 is not a perfect act, it has many problems and issues that have not been covered. However one needs to remember that when  enacting an act there are various pressures from various stakeholders. Secondly is there a perfect legislation that meets the needs of all  interested stakeholders involved and finally do we keep debating and discussing and wait for a perfect legislation. It is crucial that the clinical  establishments in the country are accountable and transparent which would greatly improve the quality of health care in our country.
Regulating the private clinical establishments is a long struggle and we have miles to go…….

The author has worked in FRCH, CEHAT, WHO and presently on a sabbatical and advisor to the MOHFW, GOI on regulation of
Clinical Establishments, however  he writing this note in his  personal capacity. (email sunil.nandraj@gmail.com)

 

In Narendra Modi’s Gujarat- Cries of caste discrimination reverberate


 Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact #mustread

TNN | Apr 14, 2013, 02.24 AM IST

AHMEDABAD: “We are not allowed to get our hair cut at the barber’s shop in our village even if we are ready to pay a few rupees more. If the barber agrees to cut our hair, he is beaten black and blue by the upper caste people of the village,” said BhupatZala, a resident of Badarkha village near Dholka.

The same problem is faced by dalits in Bhat, Kashindera, Ranoda and several other villages of Dholka district. “The dalits are not allowed to have tea in hotels in the vicinity of these villages and they are also not allowed to enter the temples built for the ‘upper classes’ of the society.”

Tales of discrimination tore through the tag of ‘developed’ state as hundreds of members of the dalit community poured on to the streets of the city to raise voice against injustice meted out to them on the eve of 123rd birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar. Thousands of people from 16 states of India and 18 districts of Gujarat participated in the dalit rally organized by Navsarjan and Jan Vikas.

The rally started from Aanand Ashram in Sarkhej and ended at Sanskar Kendra, Paldi. Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, Mallika Sarabhai, the former Chairman of UGC Sukhdeo Thorat, member of planning commission Dr Sayeeda Hameed, founder of Hamal Panchayat Baba Adhav remained present in the rally to support dalit rights. The cultural groups from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh performed special art of drum beating in the rally.

People from different states who arrived in the city to stand for dalit rights unanimously said that untouchability still prevails countrywide. Suresh Kumar, a member of Dalit Foundation, Himachal Pradesh, said, “The dalits of Santoshgarh village of Himachal Pradesh are till date not allowed passing from the streets where Brahmins and Rajputs reside. If a dalit touches the house of an upper class man, he is beaten cruelly. A small boy who mistakenly entered a temple built for upper class communities was beaten to death.” The dalits who came to participate in the rally from Himachal Pradesh also agreed that the police and legal system do not support or protect them.

In Rajasthan, Mamgilal Meghwal’s 30 bigha land was seized by the upper class people. His land was allotted to him on three different names Magga, Mangiya and Mamgilal which is a common tradition in dalits. Taking benefit from that, his land was seized. “Even after submitting identity proofs provided by Gram Panchayat and Jilla Panchayat, I was denied. I registered a complaint against them and also filed a court case, but no actions were taken by the authorities,” said Mamgilal.

Anju Saha, a student from Manjali village of Uttarakhand, said, “Dalit ladies are not allowed to cook food in our village school. If they touch it, the Brahmin and Rajput kids won’t eat it. These upper class students don’t sit with the dalit students. We are even asked to leave seats empty in the busses.”

Ray of hope

This proves that the problem of untouchability is ubiquitous in India. However, Satara district of Maharashtra and Karmabhoomi of Dr B R Ambedkar has a different story. According to Chandrakant More and Ujjavala Bhandare from Satara, even though the district is dominated by upper class people, no need has emerged to fight for dalit rights in recent years.

 

#India- Shut all mines in tribal areas


DNA Special

Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013, 3:00 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Tribal minister shoots letter to 9 guvs seeking cancellation of leases.

Union tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo has asked governors of nine states to invoke their special powers to revoke lease agreements and MoUs signed between state governments and corporates to extract mineral wealth in tribal areas.

Pointing out that power lobbies were disregarding land regulations, he castigated the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh government. The union minister, who is also from Andhra Pradesh, said the higher echelons of power in the state were themselves trying to brazenly distort not only the law but also  constitutional safeguards against the interests of tribal and other forest-dwellers.

In an identical letter written on April 4 to the governors of Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, the minister even linked indiscriminate mining activities to national security by propelling the Left Wing extremism.

He even went to the extent castigating his own government saying the insensitivity to the plight and problems of this entire population is the greatest challenge the nation is facing at present.

“The main threat today is the mining in Schedule V areas which has shaken the confidence and faith of the people in the region in our democratic system.”

He has reminded governors that Article 244 of the Constitution vests not only independent legislative authority on them but also allows them to restrict any law of parliament or state legislature from its implementation to a scheduled area in their states to protect rights of tribes and marginalised sections.

“The governor may repeal or amend any Act of parliament or of the legislature or any existing law which is for the time being applicable to the area in question, when good governance or peace is distributed due to issues related either with land or money lending,” writes the minister.

He further told governors that they are not bound by the aid and advice by the council of ministers under these circumstances.

The minister further urged the governors to use their executive powers and revoke lease agreements which are proving a threat to peace and good governance in these areas.

“I would like to emphasise the fact that the leases and MoUs are mere arrangement s/agreements between two parties and are not exactmetns of either assembly of parliament,” he said.

#India- Don’t allow armymen to take over under #AFSPA #Vermacommission #Vaw


Don’t allow Armymen to take cover under AFSPA, says Verma

SMRITI KAK RAMACHANDRAN, The Hindu

Former Chief Justice of India, Justice J.S. Verma, flanked by Justice (retd.) Leila Seth, the former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court (left) and Gopal Subramaniam, former Solicitor- General of India, addresses the media after submitting a report to suggest tougher laws for crimes against women, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: V. Sudershan
The HinduFormer Chief Justice of India, Justice J.S. Verma, flanked by Justice (retd.) Leila Seth, the former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court (left) and Gopal Subramaniam, former Solicitor- General of India, addresses the media after submitting a report to suggest tougher laws for crimes against women, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: V. Sudershan

“Personnel guilty of sexual offences in conflict areas should be tried under ordinary criminal law”

The Justice J.S. Verma Committee, set up to suggest amendments to laws relating to crimes against women, has recommended review of the continuance of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in the context of extending legal protection to women in conflict areas.

“There is an imminent need to review the continuance of the AFSPA and AFSPA-like legal protocols in internal conflict areas as soon as possible,” it said. “This is necessary for determining the propriety of resorting to this legislation in the area(s) concerned.”

In its report submitted to the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday, committee member Gopal Subramaniam said going by the testimonies of the people from Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and the North-East, it was evident that there was a pressing need to try armed forces personnel guilty of sexual offences in conflict areas under the ordinary criminal law.

Taking cognisance of the complaints and reports of sexual assaults on women by men in uniform and the civil society’s demand for repeal of the AFSPA, the committee recommend an immediate resolution of “jurisdictional issues.” Simple procedural protocols must be put in place to avoid situations where the police refuse to register cases against paramilitary personnel.

It cited the Supreme Court’s recent observation that security forces should not be able to take cover under the AFSPA in cases of rape and sexual assault. “Systematic or isolated sexual violence, in the process of Internal Security duties, is being legitimised by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is in force in large parts of our country,” the committee said.

Stressing that women in conflict areas were entitled to all the security and dignity that was afforded to citizens in any other part of the country, the committee recommended bringing sexual violence against women by members of the armed forces or uniformed personnel under the purview of ordinary criminal law; taking special care to ensure the safety of women who are complainants and witnesses in cases of sexual assault by the armed forced; and setting up special commissioners for women’s safety and security in all areas of conflict in the country.

The commissioners must be vested with adequate powers to monitor and initiate action and initiate criminal prosecution. Care must be taken to ensure the safety and security of women detainees in police stations, and women at army or paramilitary check points. “This should be a subject under the regular monitoring of the special commissioners mentioned earlier,” the committee said.

It also recommended strict adherence to laws related to detention of women during specified hours of the day. It said measures to ensure their security and dignity would not only go a long way in providing women in conflict areas their rightful entitlements, but also restore their confidence in the administration.

 

#India- Failure of governance root cause of crimes against women: #Vermacommittee #Vaw


NEW DELHI, January 23, 2013

PTI

Justice J.S. Verma committee, set up to recommend measures to improve laws dealing with sexual offences, has received around 80,000 suggestions and wrapped up its work within 29 days.

He said the failure of governance was the root cause of crimes against women. He also said it was “equally shocking” that there was total apathy of everyone who had a duty to perform.

“We have submitted the report in 29 days. When I offered to do the work within 30 days, I did not realise the magnitude of the work,” Justice Verma told a press conference after submitting his voluminous report to the Home Ministry.

Justice Verma, the head of the three-member panel, was approached by the Central government for the task on December 23. The other members of the panel are former Himachal Pradesh Chief Justice Leila Seth and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam.

Highlights of Verma Committee report

Imminnent need to review AFSPA in conflict areas

Sexual offences by armed forces and uniformed men in conflict areas should be brought under ordinary criminal law

Recommends appointment of Special Commissioners with adequate powers to redress complaints of sexual violence against women in conflict areas

Ambiguity over the control of Delhi Police should be cleared

Delhi gang rape case shows the failures of traffic regulations, maintenance of law and order and dealing of sexual assault cases

Every district magistrate should prepare census of missing children

Police action on peaceful Delhi protesters scarred Indian democracy

‘All suggestions considered’

He said the report may be known after him but it is the outcome of suggestions from people within India and outside the country.

“We received 80,000 suggestions,” he said adding all of them were read and considered before finalising the report.

On how he decided on a time frame for finalising the report, Justice Verma said when a senior Cabinet Minister approached him on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he asked him when is the next session of Parliament.

“The Minister told me that the (Budget) session will start on February 21. There were two months. So I decided lets do it in 30 days. If we are able to do it in half the time available, then the government with its might and resources should also act fast,” he said.

He complimented the youth for the mature response.

“Youth has taught us what we, the older generation, were not aware of. I was struck by the peaceful manner in which the protests were carried out…the youth rose to the occasion,” he said.

‘Shocked to see Home Secretary praising Commissioner’

Justice Verma castigated Home Secretary R. K. Singh for his praise of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape incident, saying he was shocked to hear this when an apology was expected.

“The Commissioner of Police was given a pat on his back by no less than a person holding the post of Home Secretary. I was shocked to see that,” Justice Verma said.

He said the least he would have done was to seek an apology for the failure of the duty to protect citizens and “instead of that (what did we see)“.

Mr. Singh had praised Delhi Police during a press interaction days after the December 16 incident when the force arrested six men allegedly involved in the crime.