BMC – Keep Off Privatising Education #mustread


Vol – XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013 | Anand Teltumbde,EPW

Today it is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools, tomorrow it may be the resolution of all the other municipalities of the country.

I am grateful to Simantini Dhuru and Prachi Salve for sharing data which they obtained under the Right to Information Act, as also the Mumbai Shikshan Kampanikaran Virodhi Abhiyan, which is fi ghting against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools.

Neo-liberal policies have not delivered on any of their promises. Indeed, they have aggravated India’s age-old problems of inequality, unemployment, caste and communalism, to name a few. Yet, the ruling classes hold them up as a proven panacea. A key neo-liberal policy thrust is the release of services, traditionally provided by the state, to private capital. The state, in turn, uses its might against those who feel the heat of this transformation. The public utilities and infrastructure are now largely in private hands, and the state has turned its attention to education, the most critical instrument in the social transformation of any society. The process has been underway in higher education and now the rulers have begun to deva­state school education, particularly for the downtrodden strata. A decision taken at the beginning of this year by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to hand over its schools to private parties, this within the framework of the much-flaunted public-private partnership (PPP) model, is a case in point.

Auctioning the BMC Schools

BMC, the richest municipal corporation in India, provides free education to nearly 4,00,000 children enrolled in around 1,174 schools with 11,500 teachers imparting education in eight mediums. Besides, BMC runs 18 schools for the mentally challenged and 55 Mumbai Public Schools offering education in English medium. The BMC spends around 8% to 9% of its income on education; its planned spend this year is Rs 2,342 crore, 65% more than the previous year. Its expense per student at Rs 36,750 for its schools is among the highest in the country. The number of students attending BMC schools has been falling over the years. It fell from 4,20,440 in 2007-08 to 3,85,657 in 2011-12. It is the poorest of the very poor who send their children to BMC schools. Even the
so-called class IV employees, for example, sweepers and helpers working in BMC schools, do not send their children to these schools. Mumbai, the so-called “Urbs Prima of India”, the first city of India, accounting for more than 33% of the nation’s tax collection and the highest per capita income of Rs 65,361 in the country, more than twice the country’s average of Rs 29,382, has more than four million people earning less than Rs 20 a day. It is these people mainly belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SCs/STs), Other Backward Classes, Muslims and Christians who send their children to BMC schools.

On 23 January this year, the BMC, without consulting the parents of these children or the teachers in these schools, the major stakeholders, decided to auction its schools to private bidders under the euphemism of PPP, admittedly based on studies by the World Bank and Depart­ment for International Development (DFID). This is the first time in the country that a constitutional entity has decided to renounce its constitutional obligation and hand over its schools to private parties. Nonetheless, it had a nice sounding objective of giving an opportunity to poor children to get higher quality education with the support of organisations that had a record of “excellent work” in the educational field, charitable trusts and private companies.

The schools are to be auctioned to well-established corporate houses that would enter into memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with entities that have been recognised for their work in the “technical or educational field”. The process would be managed under the existing MoU bet­ween the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and BMC for conducting the “School Enhancement Programme” (initiated by UNICEF and McKinsey & Company since 2009, and having non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Akanksha, Aseema and Nandi Foundation on board). Neither the BMC provided any reasons for its failure to impart quality education nor did it provide any justification for its assumption that the private partner, with dubious credentials, will accomplish what it could not despite being experienced for more than 125 years. It has not even taken contrary evidence available through its own experience of the running of one of its schools by an NGO into account. For instance, a school run by Akanksha, important enough to be on the Board of the School Enhancement Programme, in the Cotton Green area of Mumbai, was found to have only one qualified teacher to teach the classes from one to eight. It basically drew its teachers from its Teach India Project, under which employees of companies took a sabbatical of a kind to teach in schools.

Private Profits at Public Cost

The PPP as a concept is not new but as a model serving the object of privatisation without public resistance it is to be attri­buted to the genius of neo-liberals. It only requires the state to rehearse its concern for the development of the down­trodden and plead lack of resources and failure to attain productive efficiency. The main selling proposition beyond the paucity
of resources is that the private sector
is intrinsically efficient. PPP has been pop­ular with rulers all over the world as it facilitates the transfer of huge public resources to private hands with contractual sieves that leak significant benefits to them. PPP has become a default vehicle for most infrastructural projects in recent years. In India, the PPP first appeared in the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)/National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1999. The NDA government had formed a committee in the office of Prime Minister Atal Bihari ­Vajpayee to apply the PPP model in various fields. Later, this committee was transfer­red to the Planning Commission. In 2004, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power, the same committee continued to function and submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In September 2007, Manmohan Singh, while presiding over a meeting of the Planning Com­mission, declared that initiatives at all levels of education shall be through PPP. Since then, in the Eleventh and Twelfth Five-Year Plans, there has been a rush of corporate houses, NGOs and religious organisations to grab public assets in the educational system.

The charity of the state in favour of private players includes grant of lands either free or at hugely subsidised rates, grants for building infrastructure, subsidised provision of electricity, water and bus service, exemption in income tax, payments of fees of students belonging to the SC/ST category, huge opportunities for outsourcing, etc. There is no evidence yet of any expertise being marshalled by the private players to whom huge public assets are devolved. The value of the BMC’s 11,500 schools, for instance, could easily run into thousands of crores of rupees.

Private education has been around in the country for years but whatever islands of quality education that exist have all been in the public sector. The overwhelming presence of private institutions could not produce a single institution to match the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Jawaharlal Nehru University or the University of Delhi. In the neo-liberal din, it is not even admitted that until the early 1970s, quality education was associated with only government institutions. It is only with the advent of increasing competition in politics that the academic autonomy of the schools was breached and they became subservient to the political bosses. These very BMC schools were famed for quality education and have produced scores of illustrious people. J B G Tilak of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, after analysing the plan for setting up 2,500 model schools in the PPP mode under the Eleventh Plan, has rightly concluded that notwithstanding the claim that PPP is not privatisation and the promotion of the profit motive, the plan will surely promote the opposite – privatisation and a high degree of commercialisation, albeit with a difference, namely, with the utilisation of public funds (The Hindu, 24 May 2010).

No Tradable Service

The neo-liberal juggernaut has reduced what were once public services into trad­able commodities. It sees education as a tradable service to transform raw youth into wage labour as a feedstock for its ­capitalist machine. But pedagogy is too hallowed to be treated as such. Universally, education is regarded as an instrument of social change. Our founding fathers saw education as an equaliser and sought to include it among the fundamental rights in the Constitution. Unfortunately they could not do so and education remained confined to the area of Directive Principles (not legally binding on the state). Nonetheless, they had stipulated a time limit of 10 years to accomplish education for all children up to the age of 14. Our rulers however disregarded it until they were shaken up by the Supreme Court judgment in the Unnikrishnan case in 1993 treating education as a part of the fundamental right to life vide Article 21. But the so-called right to education they passed in 2009 is only trickery; it violates the spirit of the Constitution by excluding the most vulnerable children between 0 and 6 years and legitimises the multi­layered educational system. Rather, in view of the alarming degree of malnutrition of pregnant women, the state should be obligated to provide healthcare so that no child is born with an inborn handicap.

The first Education Commission (1964-66), the Kothari Commission, had obser­ved that realisation of the country’s aspirations involves changes in the knowledge, skills, interests and values of the people as a whole. This is basic to every programme of social and economic betterment of which India stands in need. It made a profound observation: “If this change on a grand scale is to be achieved without violent revolution (and even then it would still be necessary), there is one instrument, and one instrument only that can be used, Education.” It envisaged free and compulsory education through a common neighbourhood school system for all children following in the spirit of the Constitution. Even if this simple dictum had been heeded by the rulers, many of India’s evils would have been overcome. I will argue that if the state had ensured that no child is born with the handicap of malnutrition and every child received the same education, there would not have been the need for reservation and thereby the constitutional castes.

Today it is BMC; tomorrow it will be the entire country. We must say a firm no to the privatisation of education.

 

Mumbai – Why this Hypocrisy? #slumdemolitions


 

The demolitions in Ali talao, Kharodi, Malvani. Malad W. P north ward

The background

The informal settlement with about 300 households gets its name from Ali talao (a pond) situated next to the basti. Ali talao basti has been in existence for more than 6 years now. Epitome of how any post-2005 basti will be like; it has people from all corners of the country, Tamils, UP walas, Bihars, Marathis and other migrants who flock to the city in a bid to survive our country’s rural deprivation. Situated in one of the most underdeveloped wards of Mumbai– P north; it was only recently that the settlement obtained some sort of services in the form of electricity. But compared to the rosy picture painted of Mumbai, and its imminent World-classness, this settlement was still without water and other basic services. The settlement stood on public land (NDZ) as per the 1991 Development Plan (DP), and has been now demolished 6 times in its short span of six years, and once it was burned, allegedly by the authorities themselves.

The demolition and the current crisis

There were no demolition notices, only threat orders and summoning from the police station thus raising apprehension of an impending demolition. Kharodi Ali talao was razed – again – on 20th May 2013. With about 1000 souls living in open tents, Ali talao now looks like refugee camp. The demolitions violated many principles as laid out in the UN Principles and Guidelines on Evictions and Displacement. (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/ForcedEvictions.aspx). They now are under constant threat from the police who have put barricades around the site and are warning them from reoccupying the land. The families- like in the earlier instances- were not ready to move from the demolition site. To counter this, yesterday morning, the police rounded up more than 100 people (including children) from the settlement and held them hostage in the police station till late night- threatening with violence and adverse consequences if they do not vacate their demolished homes. In the night, 19 people were officially arrested and detained for the night and were produced in the court today morning; the arrested included 13 women. Some now have been released on a hefty bail of Rs 10,000, and 4 women belonging to the minority community face being jailed as they do not have such a large sum to pay-off. Perfect example of how our law and order system is employed to punish and incarcerate the poorest of the poor struggling to make their ends meet.

The Existing Land Use (ELU) survey and the ‘cleansed’ Development Plan (2014-34)

Ali talao residents in the last couple of months have given countless letters to the BMC to include them in the Development Plan revision process. They were happy that their settlement was mapped on the Existing Land Use (ELU) survey, which they considered as the first step to legalization! But unfortunately, the state is now on a demolition drive as if to correct the ELU where some informal settlements were mapped. It seems that rather than being obliged to offer a solution to the marginalized communities mapped in the ELU survey, it is using the same ELU to locate and demolish them using the draconian 1995 January cut-off date. This method of cleansing and planning is detrimental to this city, when about 25 lakh or about 20% of the city lives in informal settlements that have emerged after 1995. And we know that it impossible to rid the city of its 20% citizenry. But then we all are astonished on why some communities are selected and erased of the planning process.

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By- Aravind Unni, YUVA,

 

Mumbai- Call HELPLINE 022-24131212 for any Mental Health Issue


100 calls a day, mental health helpline a hit

Bhavika Jain, TNN May 23, 2013,

MUMBAI: Life in fast-paced Mumbai seems to be taking a toll on its citizens. In just four days after the BMC launched its mental health helpline on May 14, as many as 352 calls were received. Currently, the 24-hour helpline is receiving between 85 and 100 calls a day.

According to the initial data, one-third of the calls to the helpline was from people above the age of 50 and they had issues like depression and irritability. The second highest number of calls was from those aged between 30 and 40 , who were facing anxiety and work-related stress.

Experts say the sheer number of calls on the helpline shows that the mental health of the people in the city is falling. People are looking for a medium to vent their thoughts and this helpline aims to do just that.

Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said the response has been overwhelming. The BMC will have to eventually increase the number of lines connected to the helpline, she said. “We have appointed three counsellors to work in three shifts. We have also instructed them that in case there is a very difficult case, they should suggest to the caller that he/she should take an appointment in KEM Hospital’s psychiatry outpatient department so that he/she can be given a personal counselling session,”said Mhaiskar. She said they are not insisting that the callers give out their names and personal details.

The helpline, launched by the mayor, will be operated by KEM Hospital’s psychiatric department. To call the helpline, dial: 022-24131212.

 

Demolitions and the English press


Slum demolitions don’t attract press coverage; building demolitions do. Because buildings, not slums, are where people like us live. Where does this empathy go when slums are being demolished, asks JYOTI PUNWANI Pix: Medha fasts
Posted/Updated Thursday, May 16 15:12:21, 2013
HERE’S LOOKING AT US
Jyoti  Punwani
Slum demolitions don’t attract press coverage; building demolitions do. Because buildings, not slums, are where people like us – English journalists and our readers — live.
That’s understandable, even if one may not agree with the logic. But what’s difficult to understand is the blanket coverage given by Mumbai’s English press to the proposed demolition of 91 flats in an upscale part of town,which was scheduled to take place in the first week of May. From April 27, when it was reported that the residents had received notices from the Municipal Corporation, till May 3, the day after the Supreme Court gave them a five month reprieve, the main English papers carried at least one story everyday. The DNA and The Times of India devoted an entire page to the proposed demolition on one occasion, with the coverage extending to two full pages in The Times on May 1.
In principle, the demolition of these flats involved the core issue of slum demolitions – the right to shelter, even if that shelter is unauthorized. The residents had bought the flats and moved in knowing fully well that the buildings did not have the required Occupation Certificate (OC). Prolonged litigation over 14 years right up to the Supreme Court had finally resulted in a refusal in February this year to legalize them.Two months later, the BMC sent them notices to vacate, giving them just 48 hours’ notice.
For the residents, it must have been like the heavens had fallen – and that’s the way the English press projected it. Where will we go, our children have grown up here, we have aged parents, these flats our are life’s savings, why did the BMC take taxes from us all these years…these were the questions – very valid ones too – the residents were quoted as asking. Pen-portraits of some of them were carried with pictures of their old and ailing family members.
 They ran to the High Court for a reprieve. Rebuffed, they approached the Supreme Court, with renowned lawyer Fali Nariman arguing that they had the right to shelter. The day their case was to be heard in the Supreme Court, was also the day the demolition was to begin. Almost every paper carried a blow by blow account of the day – the tension till the2pm Supreme Court hearing, the demolition men arriving in vans, the havans and pujas, then the jubilation when the verdict came in.The reporters were euphoric too.Until then, the reporters had succeeded,through theirchoice of words (“eviction’’ was equated with “hardship’’), and quotes (“We are dying here everyday’’) to make us feel their pain.
Where does this empathy go when slums are being demolished? The emotions are the same; the questions raised by slum dwellers also the same. The only difference is that slum dwellers live illegally on public land, whereas these residents lived illegally on private land. But public land is the only shelter the urban poor can afford. They too pay for everything. They pay high deposits, and they pay more for water than we living in buildings do, having to buy it at market rates. Yes, some do get electricity illegally, but they have to pay the slumlord for that.
Like the BMC in the Campa Cola case, the authorities don’t act when a slum comes up. They move in to demolish only when it’s a full-blown settlement, often, after a generation has grown up there. And most slum families are joint families, so there’s no dearth of old and ailing family members who have to suffer the violence of the bulldozer.
Like the Campa Cola buildings, slums are also demolished at short notice, and at any time. It may be pouring or blazingly hot or windy and cold, exams may be on – none of this affects the demolition men. Alternate accommodation is rarely provided to slum-dwellers, mostly, they are left on the road. Babies have died after demolitions due to exposure to the elements. But in the Campa Cola case,  the BMC’s counsel himself told the Supreme Court, which wanted to give only a three-month reprieve,to extend it because August would be the peak of the monsoon!
Fears of having to live far away were voiced by the Campa Cola residents. But in the case of slum dwellers, if at all alternate accommodation is provided, it’s inevitably miles away, on the outskirts of Mumbai, in buildings constructed so close to each other they must surely be violating safety rules.
All this rarely gets into the papers these days. There was a time it did. Why are reporters not being sent now to do these stories?
 In March, Medha Patkar went on an indefinite fast against demolitions in a 60-year-old slum in Golibar, a suburban slum sprawl. This slum has seen repeated attempts over the last five years to destroy it. Every time, the residents have resisted, and Medha has intervened. In 2011 too, she had fasted till the CM intervened. In January this year, the slum dwellers forced the state government to set up an inquiry into six slum redevelopment projects, including this one. But even before the inquiry could be completed, the bulldozers moved in. This time, it took nine days before the CM deigned to intervene.
Thanks to Medha and the slum dwellers’ resistance, this slum is now well-known to the Mumbai press. Medha has provided enough evidence of fraud against the developer, Shivalik Ventures.  Criminal cases have been filed against them. They have violated court orders to rehabilitate slum dwellers and give them written agreements for new homes, before demolishing the existing ones.
 Given all this, why didn’t Medha’s fast against the illegal demolitions get half the coverage the Campa Cola residents did?
One reason could be that a second fast at the same venue for the same cause doesn’t make news. But her first fast hadn’t either!
Medha’s fast was covered in bits and pieces without any reporting from the site in Mumbai’s English press. Delhi-based Tehelka was the only one to do a report from the ground. That, and one brief report in The Times by Linah BAliga, which was upfront about the builder’s illegalities, was the only ones that merited attention.
This time, there was something really newsworthy about the demolition of this much-demolished slum. A day before the scheduled demolition, Union Minister for Housing Ajay Maken wrote to the Maharashtra CM asking him to ensure it didn’t take place. But neither the letter, nor the Maharashtra CM’s indifference to it, was highlighted by the English press, despite Medha’s team sending out a copy of it.
Is the main reason for the English press’ apathy towards slum demolitions the belief that slum demolitions are passé?That they are just meant to happen, given their illegal existence? And there’s nothing new to say anyway?
On the other hand, building residents being dishoused is news. “I am now down with my ayah,’’ one resident was quoted as saying; “She’s bringing food for me now,’’ said another. The residents even called those living in a nearby slum to boost their numbers as they stood guard at the entrance of their compound, refusing to let the demolition crew in. The reporters had reams of space, but none of them asked the residents what they felt after their own experience, about slum demolitions. What if their ayahs who were being so supportive in their time of crisis, were to be evicted overnight? They did quote one resident grumbling that the BMC was treating them like “slumlords’’ (surely he meant slum-dwellers? Slum lords are never touched), while a BMC official was quoted as saying they weren’t going to just go in and start demolishing the way they did with slums. Indeed.
But newsworthiness doesn’t explain the empathy shown towards these illegal residents. Except the Indian Express, the other papers didn’t think it important to explain why the Supreme Court had turned down the residents’ plea to regularize their flats in February. Despite being educated, the Supreme Court had observed, these residents had moved in to their flats, knowing they were not authorized.
Some of the residents, fearing the worst, did check out alternate accommodation. But said one resident to the Indian Express: “My children will not be able to stay in any other premises.’’ This too was considered worthy of reporting!
By Demolition day, the illegal residents had constructed an extra gate, andbarricaded their entrance with their cars, so that the BMC men could not enter. This was reported without comment; neither were the BMC officials asked about this obstruction to their work. What if slum dwellers did the same when they faced demolition?In 2011, the Golibar slum women, led by Medha Patkar, hadfaced the demolition squad and the police, waving the national flag and singing the national anthem. The police had dragged them into vans, cordoned off the slum, prevented the media from entering and gone in with the Slum Rehabilitation officials to arrest activists and terrorizethe slum dwellers.
Outside the barricaded Campa Cola compound, the BMC crew twiddled their thumbs for six hours till the Supreme Court verdict came. But in the Golibar slum, the demolition squad razed 70 homes in clear violation of both Union government and court orders.
At every stage, the coverage of the demolition of the Campa Cola apartments cried out for comparisons with the continuous demolitions of slums taking place in Mumbai. Alas, the Mumbai press never made that comparison.

 

Mumbai – Demolition of a dream house


Alok Deshpande , The Hindu, may 1,2013

_
Campa Cola residents on protest against demolition notice (Source:- Facebook Community ‘Save Campa Cola Compound’)
Mumbai is rapidly becoming a place for chosen few. Chosen, on the basis of money.
The rich, famous and self-proclaimed law abiding citizens of Mumbai were first shocked and then laughed at the misery of families of 75 innocent lives that were lost in a tragic building collapse in Mumbra, near Mumbai, last month.

“How ignorant can one be? Buggers should’ve checked whether the building is authorized or not. Illiterate people, I tell you,” said one of my friends on Facebook chat. He sent laughing smiley (:D) at the end of the chat.

He perhaps didn’t know that, these slum dwellers were purposely told to move inside building, to avoid demolition from civic body. It’s a win-win situation for both builder and a slum dweller. The former gets his construction legalized on humanitarian ground and the latter gets a ‘pukka’ house.

A few weeks after the Mumbra incident, came one of the ‘never heard before’ and ‘never seen before’ housing tragedies (?) of Mumbai. (The media which is usually not bothered about the demolition drives in slums, found its ‘news peg’ among the rich and upper middle class victims of Campa Cola Compound. But that we will save for later discussion.)

Following the Supreme Court verdict, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) slapped the notice of demolition on 35 floors of seven buildings of upper middle class, upmarket locality. The demolition means that 140 families will have no roof from May 2. As you must have predicted, none of them is illiterate or ignorant or poor.

They were not given water connection for past 25 years by BMC, mainly because the structures were unauthorized and that was enough for them to know that builder has cheated on them. Yet, they continued to live in those unauthorized buildings for 25 years. Ignorant, aren’t they? My friend on Facebook, please answer.

When I went for one of the press conferences arranged by these 140 families at the Campa Cola Compound, I was (and still I am) sympathetic to them. (Yeah, despite being a reporter. I do have my opinions). Then I heard one lady shouting. “Do you think we are slum dwellers? How can they throw us out like them?”

Them, I thought. Them?

Why do you think you are different? Don’t you understand that you too were as cheated and fooled by builder as those homeless families by some other builder, when he convinced them to construct slums on open plot? Just to claim that land under Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, few years later. You both wanted a house. The only difference was your class. You managed a house on 17th floor, while the homeless managed a slum besides a dumping ground. Neither his slum’s nor your flat’s plans were approved by authorities. You are no different than him. Remember that! You are all the victims of land sharks, corrupt system and the nexus between builder-authorities and politicians.

Buying a house has become almost impossible in Mumbai, for someone from middle and lower middle class background. A 2 BHK (they don’t construct 1 BHK anymore, it seems) flat will cost you, more than a crore. You need either the money or high ranked contacts. Majority of us have neither of this. (Just some extra information from unverified sources -A woman who purchased flat in a scam tainted Adarsh CHS in Mumbai, was given a loan worth Rs 80 lakh by a respected bank. Well, her salary was less than Rs 20,000. How did she manage that? Interesting, isn’t it?)

After all everyone dreams about a house. Builders, politicians and authorities have used the situation wonderfully in their favour and have kept the housing prices away from the common man’s range. It is the desperation of people that is forcing them to live in worst of the conditions, many a time in unauthorized buildings.

Mumbai is rapidly becoming a place for chosen few. Chosen, on the basis of money.

After the incident in Mumbra, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) took a decision to demolish ‘dangerous’ and ‘unauthorised’ buildings. All the political parties in the state, except for Mahrashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), called for a bandh. “It will make people homeless and they are not guilty,” they said.

You are right! But don’t you think you should have also asked for action against builders and officials who constructed these unauthorized structures? Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena, who had supported the bandh, did not bother to utter a single word against the builders. So obliged they are to the builders, it seems, for reasons best known to them.

Mumbai’s Golibar slum redevelopment is also one of the examples of utter disrespect to law by builders. Forged documents, threats, hooliganism and even an alleged kidnapping, tells the sad story of legitimate slum dwellers here. Alleged involvement of big politicians in the redevelopment has forced ‘independent’ media houses ignore the misery of these people. Then there are examples of Sion-Koliwada redevelopment, Ganpat Patil nagar redevelopment and the list goes on. The builder lobby has gained upper hand everywhere with the help of police, politicians and officials.

So, my dear lady from ‘n’th unauthorized floor, my humble request to you is, don’t say you are different, just because you are rich. You both are the victims. Criticise the system, which has put you in this condition, not the slum dweller.

 

#Mumbai- Protest against Corporatization of Municipal Schools @March 16


india calcutta bookstore

 

Corporatization of Municipal Schools – Disaster for Students, Parents and Teachers!

 

Cancel the decision of handing over education of 4 lakh municipal students

 

to Private organizations, NGOs and Companies!

 

Join the Protest on 16th March 2013!

 

In the guise of improving quality, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken a decision on 23 January 2013, to hand over all of it’s 1174 schools to private organizations and companies under a ‘Public Private Partnership’ scheme of ‘School Adoption’.

 

The Mumbai Municipal Act and the constitution mandate that the responsibility of Primary education lies with the Municipal Corporation. However the BMC is washing its hands away from the responsibility of primary education. This is only a beginning of privatization of education and soon all other Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, Zilha Parishads will abandon their responsibility for education.

 

The state and central governments provide funds to the Municipal Corporation for education, the BMC levies additional Education Cess to meet the expenses for education. However even the basic facilities are not provided in BMC schools; enough number of teachers and supporting staff are also not appointed; teachers are burdened with non-academic work. As a result of this the schools, which once nurtured good students and a promised a bright future for the Mumbai city, are dying now.

 

The builders and profiteering private institutions will capture the lands of BMC schools, similar to what happened with the Cotton mills in 1982.

 

Due to this policy of ‘school adoption’ the NGOs run by Indian and Foreign Multinationals will decide what our children should study, how they should study and who should teach them.

 

Institutions like IITs and Central schools have a good quality and they have been established by the Government itself. So if the BMC/government decides, they can improve the condition of BMC schools also. Instead of that they are degrading the schools further.

 

Today Mumbai Municipal Corporation provides education in 8 Indian Languages to 4 lakh students through 11000 teachers. NGOs provide substandard education of English by promising English medium education. This type of education is stunting the growth of language skills and independent thinking among students.  This is an attack on the future of our country, on the Dalits, Working class and Minorities.

 

If we do not get up today, tomorrow it may be too late. No NGO or private organization running for profit can provide free, compulsory and good quality education to all the children. That can be done only by a publicly funded, pro-people education system. So today the people of Maharashtra need to wake up and wage a struggle to strike down this decision. The only alternative to today’s unequal, discriminatory education system is a K.G. to P.G. publicly funded Common School System based on Neighbourhood schools. So do join us in the demonstrations on 16th of March 2013, at 12:30 pm at Azad Maidan!

 

Demands

 

  • Cancel the privatization of BMC schools
  • BMC must provide Free, Compulsory and Equal quality education to all children upto 12th standard.

 

Yours,

 

All participating organizations, parties in Mumbai

 

Aapli Mumbai, AISA, Indian Social Movement, India Against Corruption, AIRSO, AISF, Kokanastha Dalit Mahila Sanghatana, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Janata Dal (Secular), Jaitapur Anuprakalp Virodhi Samitee, TDF, Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha, Phule Ambedkar Rashtriya Vidyarthi Sanghatana, Bhareep Bahujan Mahasangh, Communist Party of India, Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Sangh, Maagasavargeey Vidyarthi-Paalak Adhikar Sangharsha Samitee, Mumbai Municipal Kamgaar Sangh, Mumbai Municipal Kaamgar Karmacharee Purogamee Union, Mumbai Electric Employees Union, Muktiyaan Loksanskrutik Sanghatanaa, Yusuf Meherally Center, Yuva Biradaree, Replublican Panther, Rashtra Seva Dal, Vidyarthee Bharatee, Shikshan Vyaapaareekaran Virodhi Manch, Shikshan Bajareekaran Virodhi Manch, Samaan Shikshan Mulabhoot Adhikar Samitee(Mumbai), Samaan Shikshan Mulabhoot Adhikaar Samitee(Bhivandi), CPI(ML, Liberation), CPI(ML, Red Flag), Yuva Bharat, Samaajvadee Janparishad, Sant Rohidas Vichar Manch

 

Mumbai Shikshan Kampanikaran Virodhi Abhiyaan

 

With

 

All India Forum for Right to Education

 

Yusuf Meherali Center, D-15, Ganesh Prasad, Naushir Bharucha Marg, Grant Road(W), Mumbai 400007. Phone: 23870097 Email: yusufmeherally@gmail.com

 

 

 

#India – Film debut at 92 #Sundayreading


Mirror tracks the making of the first 15-minute documentary on Mumbai‘s landmark Dadar Parsi Colony

Reema Gehi
Posted On Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 10:23:27 AM
Joshi envisioned an agiary within the neighbourhood so that its Parsi residents wouldn’t have to tread too far to offer their prayers
Dogwalker Rohinton Unwalla with chicken-loving boxer Max and actor Boman Irani‘s Golden Retriever Laila
BPP Trustee and architect Jimmy Mistry is interviewed by Anand Kulkarni (in white), while sound engineer Rohan Puntambekar and cinematographer Kuldeep Mamania look on

Max and Rohinton Unwalla see no reason for public display of affection to be tagged as nuisance. In one quick swoop, love meets devotion when Max’s candy tongue flutters across Unwalla’s face, before finally enveloping his nose as the two take a breather after their morning walk on the steps of Building no. 782 at Dadar Parsi Colony.

Unwalla, better known around the lanes that wrap the iconic Five Gardens as Ronny Uncle, meets Max, the boxer, Maxie the Lhasa and Laila the Golden Retriever each morning at 7 am after a quick brun-maska-chai breakfast with his old colleagues from Godrej.

Since he retired in 1999, the 65-year-old has become an indispensable cog in the wheel of this neighbourhood’s survival, walking the residents’ pets and shacking up with them in his ground floor flat when their owners are on holiday.

Ronny Uncle has made it to the star credits of a 15-minute documentary, the first to trace the 92-year-old story of Dadar Parsi Colony, directed by Anand Kulkarni.

The young filmmaker plans to release it on March 21 which the community celebrates as Navroze or new year. It is late evening; the sun threatening to shut shop any minute.

We are on a terrace overlooking half the metropolis. The trinity of writerdirector- editor Kulkarni, cinematographer Kuldeep Mamania and sound engineer Rohan Puntambekar are ready for their first shot of the day.

Architect and trustee of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat Jimmy Mistry, who until now has only corresponded with Kulkarni over email, is expected to arrive at his palatial residence Della Towers — the only 22-storey building in a cluster of 250 buildings in the Maharashtriandominated middle-class neighbourhood of Dadar that houses 10,000 members of the Zoroastrian faith, making it the largest Zoroastrian enclave in the world.

The colony was conceived in 1921 by a young civil engineer named Mancherji Joshi, and inaugurated by celebrated merchantphilantropist Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy.

Kulkarni, who has spent every day of the last three months roaming its leafy bylanes was struck by the thought of capturing it on film whole researching a movie on the contribution of Mumbai’s Parsis.

Zareen Engineer was one of the first residents Kulkarni would meet, and later realise was Mancherji Joshi’s granddaughter.

“Anand excitedly asked me all sorts of questions about how it all started,” laughs Engineer, at her spacious home overlooking the Five Gardens. “It’s possible that I have repeated that story a 100 times, but I didn’t mind sharing it once more for the film.”

Sooni Davar, her elder sister, who has dropped in for a yoga session, says the legacy has built it own odd fallacy. “Because he built the colony, they think we must be millionaires. He was a middle-class man, and died one. He paid his rent faithfully until the end.”

A different colonisation

It was the early 1920s, and Joshi was a civil engineer posted with the Improvement Trust (equivalent of the BMC). Parsi pockets of Fort and Grant Road were undergoing redevelopment, leading to widespread displacement.

Joshi discussed his plan for a piece of land in the suburbs to build homes for the underprivileged and middle-class residents.

Architect Mervanji Framji Surveyor and civil engineer Jehangir Engineer helped Joshi plan the colony.

With funds from wealthy members of the community and the Bombay Parsi Panchayat, a plot was purchased in Dadar. “But before the buildings, he created 14 gardens in the colony, which we work hard to maintain,” says Engineer, founder of the Mancherji Edulji Joshi Residents’ Association.

“Those who say sparrows and parrots have left in the city, should visit the colony,” she says with pride about the green lung that houses trees as old as 80 years.

The wide roads that wind through the area — Lady Jehangir Road, Jam-e- Jamshed Road and Dinshaw Master Road — have all been named after philanthropists who helped fund them.

Engineer says Joshi envisioned a gymkhana, the Dadar Madrasa, a library, the Palamkote hall to host religious ceremonies and an agiary, all within the neighbourhood. It was dedication enough for the residents to create the casket of his statue that’s now a city landmark, while he was alive. All these feature in Kulkarni’s film.

The support staff

Rana Chakraborty
When the 250-building colony was conceived, it had no fence, just a simple rule — no building could stand higher than two storeys 

Kulkarni scripted the film while spending his Sundays at the Gymkhana. “Everyone seems to know everyone. They keep waving at each other.” The three-member team says they wouldn’t have managed to complete a film that’s cost them Rs 4 lakh without the help of random pedestrians like those at the Five Gardens, who asked if they could help, and Hemal Ghoshal, resident and secretary of Mount Pleasant building, who offered her home to store equipment.

Shernaaz Engineer, the editor of Jame- Jamshed, a weekly community newspaper, put in an announcement, requesting old residents to share print and video footage they may have.

“That worked,” says Kulkarni, “We even had a 48-year-old Parsi lady call in to check if she could ‘act’!” It’s possibly this camaraderie that businesswoman and philanthropist Padma Shri Anu Aga refers to in the film, when she says of the neighbourhood she grew up in: “There’s scope for lasting friendships because of the way the colony and structure was built.”

When Joshi conceived the colony, it had no fence, just a simple rule – no building could stand higher than two storeys, and a 15-feet open space between buildings was mandatory.

Saving the Oasis

It’s this very oasis that the residents are battling to save. The residents’ association has opposed the BMC’s plan to build a concrete-granite gazebo inside a children’s park, which they believe will reduce the Grade II B heritage garden’s size and mar the greenery.

It was by the time that Kulkarni was into the third draft of the script that he learnt of the residents’ tenacious fight with the builder lobby that’s keen to modernise the area through the redevelopment model that pertains to old cessed properties in the island city. “I feel part of their voice and struggle. I hope the film makes a difference.”

►►►  Because he built the colony, they think we must be millionaires. He was a middle-class man, and died one, paying the rent faithfully until the end

–  Sooni Davar (on grandfather Mancherji Joshi) with sister Zareen Engineer

 

#Mumbai- SevenHills wants to treat ‘Bachchans’, not poor: BMC #patientrights


Rosy Sequeira TNN

Mumbai:The BMC on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that SevenHills Healthcare Private Limited (SHHPL) wants to treat “only the Bachchans” and not poor and needy at its super-specialty hospital in Marol. Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan had given birth to a baby girl at the hospital.

BMC advocates Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and Shardul Singh said this while opposing a fresh plea by SHHPL for an NOC to change its bank mortgage. In September 2011, SHHPL had challenged BMC notices to vacate the land allotted to it to run the super-specialty hospital in a public-private partnership.
SHHPL’s counsel Venkatesh Dhond urged the HC for urgent relief in shifting the mortgage to other banks, saying mounting arrears had nearly made the hospital a non-performing asset.
The division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and K K Tated pointed out that following the November 2011 HC order, the BMC has granted an NOC. To which Dhond replied the NOC is more of an objection that has dissuaded bankers from granting funds. The judges said if SHHPL is not happy with the NOC, it should take out appropriate proceedings and not file a fresh plea claiming the same relief.
Dhond urged the HC to direct the BMC to grant an occupation certificate for the hospital. Kumbhakoni said there are conditions in the intimation of disapproval that SHHPL has to first comply with. The matter will be heard after three weeks.

BMC refuses safai karamchari study leave for TISS course #WTFnews


Sukanya Shantha : Mumbai, Sat Feb 09 2013, , IE
FP

For nearly a year, Sunil Yadav has been trying to take study leave from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where he works as a safai karamchari, to complete his Masters at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It was only through RTI that he got to know the reason for the delay. A “safai karamchari is not qualified to avail the leave”, as what he will learn is not connected to his duties, the RTI reply told him, a stipulation that is incidentally missing from the BMC rule book.

The first person from his family to have gone to college, the 33-year-old has been working as a conservancy worker with the BMC. It was on his third attempt that he managed to get enrolled into TISS’s Masters (Globalisation and Labour) course of two years.

When Yadav’s applications for a study leave received no reply, his course mates swung into action and sought a reply under the RTI seeking the definition of the term “employee” and asking who were eligible for a study sabbatical. In a reply in Marathi, the Public Information Officer of the D Ward of BMC said, “an academic course which is connected with his duty as a corporation employee or is in public interest then the employee may be permitted to attend such a course or a study tour. However, taking this into account, a conservancy worker is not entitled to such study leave.”

Recently, Yadav, who holds a double Masters degree and diploma in social work, was shortlisted for a student exchange programme at the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg. But the recommendation can be processed only after BMC agrees to allow him to travel to South Africa and to continue with his education.

The BMC has even overlooked orders by the National Commission of Safai Karamcharis to expedite Yadav’s application. “Denying/any delay in grant of study leave… may lead to refusal of admission by TISS,” reads the Commission’s letter to the BMC, which had on two occasions sought action taken report.

Calling the BMC’s reply a product of highly casteist mentality, chairperson of the commission Kamlaben Gujjar said, “It is unconstitutional to deny anyone a right to study. Officers of higher grades can any way educate themselves, it is the Class IV employees who need support and affirmative atmosphere to grow.”

While Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohun Adhtani was not available for a comment, BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunthe said he could’t reply. “I have not seen the reply and hence it will not be appropriate to comment on it.”

Conservancy workers, who predominantly come from the Scheduled Castes, have a very low literacy rate. Given the nature of work and lack of any civic measures, life expectancy is very low.

Yadav has been working at night and attending lectures during the day to complete his studies. He is now in his second semester. “I have worked for over seven years with the BMC. In the past nine months I tried several times to find out why I have not been granted leave. But no one cared to respond. Now I understand. The system wants a safai karamchari to remain one forever.”

 

#India- #Aadhaar Roundup: Ration Cards, Govt Salaries, Passport, Direct Cash Transfer & More #UID


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

By  on Jan 11th, 2013  | medianama.com

 

Mandatory Aadhaar?

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) employees have not received their salary for the month of December 2012 due to lack of UID card. The salary was stopped as per instructions from municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte and additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar. BMC had asked their staffers to get the aadhar card back in 2011. However, BMC has now given them an extension of two months to get the UID card and have paid their salary for the month of December 2012. Read more.

– The revenue department experimented with mandating UID number or an enrollment slip for availing any of the 20 services offered by the revenue department. Read more.

– The Bombay High Court has suggested to the state government to consider linking ration cards with Aadhaar cards to tackle the menace of bogus and duplicate ration cards. Read more.

– The Ministry of External Affairs has advised all Passport Issuing Authorities to accept Aadhaar letter as Proof of Address and Photo identity. The ministry hopes this will makes passport documentation less cumbersome. Read more.

Reliability Issues

– Strangely, people are receiving Aadhaar cards for a second time, despite already having received them earlier: fourteen branch post offices in Garladinne mandal have received a bunch of Aadhaar cards second time. Read more.

– The exercise to collect Biometric details including photograph, fingerprints and iris scan  for the UID and National Population Register (NPR) began in Uttar Pradesh. Read more.

– Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI)’s Aadhaar program will use Iris Scan along along with a finger print scan for authentication. There’s a risk of deterioration of beneficiaries’ fingerprint quality over the years, using iris scan and fingerprint scan will ensure accuracy. Read more.

Direct Cash Transfer

– About 2,000 beneficiaries were transferred an amount of Rs 35 lakh (Rs 3.5 million) on the Aadhaar platform on day 1 of implementing direct cash transfer. The program is aimed at covering 200,000 beneficiaries. Read more.

– CPI(M) has questioned the legality of the government’s cash transfer scheme, saying the law on which the program is based has not yet been passed by Parliament. Read more.

– Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh’s interview where he raises a question on why non-UPA and opposition-ruled states such as Bihar, West Bengal, UP, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, where poverty is very high, were excluded from the first phase of direct (cash) benefit transfer (DBT) scheme which was launched on January 1. Read more.

– Activists were skeptical of the government’s rush to link these cash transfers to Aadhar. They are of the opinion that linking of these schemes can cause huge disruption, not to speak of exclusion, of those who do not have Aadhaar numbers. Read more.

– The Government of India launched direct cash transfer in three districts of Rajasthan with the number of selected welfare schemes being scaled down from the original 26 to merely seven. Read more.

*

– The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will set a toll free helpline, which will be operational from January 13, 2012 to address queries on the Aadhaar scheme. The helpline will be linked to data centers the UIDAI’s data centres at Greater Noida and Bangalore.. Read more.

 

 

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