#India -2- child norm to Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children #WTFnews #Coercion #illegal #health

Cap benefits, limit families, suggests panel

Call To Dilute Govt Commitments To Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children Draws Fire

Nitin Sethi TNN , Jan 24, 2012

New Delhi: Should maternity benefits and nutritional support to children under government schemes be restricted to only the first two children to “encourage stabilization of population”? Raising a storm among activists, the parliamentary standing committee has recommended so while assessing the National Food Security Bill. The recommendation has been objected to by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also (NCPCR).

The other recommendations of the standing committee diluting the existing commitments of the government to provide nutritional security to children, flowing out from various Supreme Court orders, has also drawn criticism from the civil society and the commission. In its report, the standing committee said: “The committee recommends that the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 shall be admissible up to the birth of second child only to encourage stabilization of population.” It also recommended that pregnant women should be eligible for the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 per month after three months into pregnancy and not for six months as is norm now.
Reacting strongly to the proposals, NCPCR said, “The commission is stunned to see that its submissions to the standing committee on critical issues of children’s food and nutritional security have not found place in the report.” It said, “The universal and unconditional maternal entitlements enabling exclusive breast-feeding to babies for the first six months of life that was provided for in the NFSB is now withdrawn. On the contrary, the committee imposed the two-child norm denying entitlements to the third born and higher order of babies to encourage stabilization of population.”
The standing committee report notes that the recommendation to use regulation of nutritional support for population stabilization was made by Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
The commission has criticized the recommendations, saying, “The committee has ignored the importance of exclusive breast-feeding of babies for the first six months of life which is the vital and indispensable factor for survival and growth of children. In would only perpetuate child mortality and malnutrition in the country. This is unjust and violates the fundamental right to equality.”
The Right to Food campaign, too, has criticized the recommendation denying the nutritional support to children, “It is now widely recognised that such disincentives do not contribute to population stabilisation and only violate the rights of women and children. India’s fertility rate has been steadily declining and anyway approaching the level of population stabilisation.” The campaign added, “It is shocking to learn that the committee obliterated legal guarantees to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and anganwadis on grounds of programmatic and operational gaps in the scheme. This undermines the Supreme Court orders and the advise of hundreds of experts and campaigns that wrote to the Committee on the importance of universalising the ICDS services.”
Oddly, it was on the advice of the Union ministry for women and child development that the standing committee decided to keep ICDS out of the list of legal entitlements under the bill. The ministry told the committee, “The scheme is confronted with programmatic and operational gaps which would need to be addressed first.”



Mr “Money doesn’t grow on trees” spends Rs 7721 per head on dinner #Manmohansingh


image, courtesy -pagall patrakar at fakingnews.com

By Shankkar Aiyar

30th September 2012 , new indian express

History, they say, repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. In India’s political economy, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the tragedy from farce. Last Friday, the Prime Minister told the nation that money doesn’t grow on trees. This Saturday, the nation woke up to a new chapter in Manmohanomics. The country has been informed—thanks to an RTI query by Hissar-based Ramesh Verma—that the government spent Rs 28.95 lakh on the third anniversary celebrations of UPA II.

In a country where anyone earning Rs 22 per day (in rural India) is ineligible to be poor, the government spent Rs 7,721 per person on a dinner. By its own calculation that amount would have paid for a family’s annual consumption of cooking gas. The Prime Minister also said that the UPA has “been voted to office twice to protect the interests of the aam aadmi” but that didn’t stop the splurging of Rs 14 lakh on just the tent for the event. Isn’t it incumbent on a government that caps the number of cylinders per family—ostensibly to bring down subsidies and deficit —to observe a cap on what is a justifiable level of expenditure! Indeed, in keeping with the government’s inability to budget expenditure, of the 603 invited to the event, only 375 came.

The question that begs to be asked is not what the UPA II was celebrating but whether the UPA can choose to celebrate given the state of the economy. The question being asked is how did the economy reach where it has and who will be held accountable for this mess. This Friday, the Committee on Roadmap for Fiscal Consolidation submitted its report to the Ministry of Finance. The committee, led by the brilliant Vijay Kelkar, has minced no words in its assessment. More importantly, unlike most sarkari committees, it has eschewed the need for political correctness.

In its opening sentence, the report has declared that “the Indian economy is presently poised on the edge of a fiscal precipice”. It observes that fiscal deficit is likely to be 6.1 per cent, that current account deficit currently at 4.2 per cent could worsen and “sovereign credit downgrade and flight of foreign capital” are likely unless corrective steps are taken. The committee has warned against the classic “do-nothing approach” and emphasised that “growth slowdown is inefficient, inequitable, and potentially politically destabilising”.

The genesis of the crisis stems from profligacy and pathetic budget management. It is true that mandarins and ministers in the past have got away with numerical calisthenics. The budget of 2012-13 presented in March though takes the cake. Fudge is probably the most charitable description for what has been presented to the nation. Budget 2012-13 underestimates expenditure, borrowings and subsidies and overestimates revenues and growth.

Pranab Mukherjee’s budget for 2012-13 estimated that the government would borrow Rs 1,500 crore every day for the full year. The trend of the first half of the year shows the government has borrowed over Rs 2,000 crore every day between April and September. Subsidies rose from Rs 1.7 lakh crore in 2010-11 to Rs 2.16 lakh crore in 2011-12—for fertilisers, the government provided Rs 49,997 crore and spent Rs 67,198 crore; for food, it provided Rs 60,572 crore and spent Rs 72,823 crore; and on fuel, it provided Rs 23,640 crore and spent Rs 68,481 crore. Yet in its wisdom, total subsidies were capped at Rs 1.9 lakh crore. Indeed, the Rs 43,000 crore provided for fuel subsidies for this year was exhausted by August and even after the hike in diesel prices, fuel subsidies are expected to touch Rs 1 lakh crore.

The budget also overestimates tax revenues despite the previous year’s performance. In 2011-12, collections of corporation tax, income tax and central excise were less than estimated. Total tax collected in 2011-12 was Rs 31,000 crore less than estimated at Rs 9 lakh crore. That didn’t stop budget-makers from estimating tax collection at Rs 10.7 lakh crore. Every year since 2008, the Reserve Bank has been forced to accommodate the government through a multiplicity of instruments. Reserve money has shot up and so has net credit to government. The inflationary character of successive budgets could not have been a secret. The tradition is that every budget—at least the broad outline—is presented before the Cabinet and every finance minister takes the okay of the prime minister on details. It is inconceivable that the underestimation of reality and overestimation of fantastic hope were not noticed. Why didn’t the economist prime minister react?

Last week, Raghuram Rajan, the new chief economic adviser, declared confidently, “I don’t think we are anywhere near the 1991 crisis.” The confidence is obviously not shared by many. Not in the absence of political will. The Kelkar Committee Report observes that the economy is headed for a “perfect storm”—simply put, is teetering on the brink of a crisis. The do-nothing approach will result in high fiscal and current account deficits. High borrowings will crowd out investment. Given the uncertainty in global marts, foreign capital flows are fragile. Foreign exchange reserves are falling and the currency is especially vulnerable. “The combination,” the committee says, “is reminiscent of the situation last seen in 1990-91.”

Unless the government wakes up to the enormity of the crisis faced by India, the Rs 7,721 per UPA-person dinner could well be the last supper.

Shankkar Aiyar is the author of  Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change



Human rights are the best weapon to combat hunger, report says

A report by civil society groups says it is impossible to tackle the causes of hunger if existing power relations remain untouched

MDG : Human rights and food security : A Indian youth eats food distributed by local charity, India

An Indian boy eats food distributed by a charity outside a temple in Delhi. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/AP

Human rights are the most powerful tool to ensure efforts against hungerand malnutrition tackle structural causes and are not reduced to short-term strategies, civil society groups said in a report published on Tuesday.

Who Decides About Global Food and Nutrition? – Strategies to Regain Control argues that it is impossible to combat the causes of hunger while keeping existing power relations untouched.

“Food and power are related. It is almost impossible to find one person among the powerful in society and politics worldwide who does not have enough to eat,” said Huguette Akplogan-Dossa, regional co-ordinator of the African Network on the Right to Food (ANoRF). “The tendency is for exclusion from economic and political decision-making to go hand in hand with incidences of hunger and malnutrition.”

The report expresses particular concern about the increasing influence and control of agribusinesses and financial companies over food and nutrition.

“Far too often, agribusinesses and nutrition companies use their weight and influence to increase their profit margins, and to manipulate the rules to their interests and convenience, without regard for the best interests of small-scale food producers and the survival of their communities – let alone the moral and legal requirements of the human right to food,” said Peter Prove, executive director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

The report points to a faultline in how to deal with food security – access to safe and nutritious food. There is the “mainstream approach” favoured by governments and international organisations, such as Agra, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and backed by the Gates Foundation, which focuses on technocratic approaches – better seeds and technology – to boost productivity and access to markets. This week, Agra is holding a forum in Arusha, Tanzania, on plans for developing Africa’s agricultural sector.

However, the civil society groups behind the fifth annual report on the right to food and nutrition put the emphasis on a rights-based approach. They say an agricultural system that features large US and EU farm subsidies, along with a concentration of power among a few grain giants such as ADM, Cargill and Bunge (the main corporate beneficiaries of US food aid), contribute to food insecurity in poor countries.

“Allowing decision-making to be in the hands of a powerful but reduced group has led to a centralised model of food supply, which in many cases results in famines, political abuse, or infringement on the state’s basic obligations when it comes to human rights: to respect, protect and fulfil them,” the report says.

The report sees negative corporate influence at work in the Scaling Up Nutrition (Sun) initiative, involving a $2.9bn plan to promote good nutritional practices with $6.2bn on preventing and treating malnutrition with special foods. Backed by the UN, the scheme has the support ofGain, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. Gain’s partners include food giants such as PepsiCo, Kraft and Danone.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, while welcoming the progress on Sun, has pointed out how the private sector tries to use technical solutions for what are fundamentally social problems. De Schutter has called on countries committed to scaling up nutrition to begin by regulating the marketing of commercial infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes. He has also noted the tension between a strategy that promotes processed foods, enriched with nutrients to the point that diets become “medicalised”, and one that promotes local and regional food systems, as well as a shift towards less heavily processed and more nutritious food.

A chapter in the report, written by Marcos Arana Cedeño and Xaviera Cabada, cites the vigorous promotion of soft drinks on school premises in Mexico by companies – endorsed by many school authorities, which provide space for sales and advertising in exchange for school supplies or financial benefits. They note the serious problems in Mexico’s regions with large indigenous populations, where obesity rates are growing faster within the poorest quintile.

“It is precisely in these indigenous regions where the most aggressive and unregulated marketing practices of sweetened soft drinks take place,” the authors write. These practices include a 35% price cut, promotion in Spanish and indigenous languages, and numerous sales outlets within and around schools.

Civil society groups are making themselves heard on the issues surrounding food security and hunger. After years of negotiations involving governments, international organisations and civil society groups under the UN’s Committee on World Food Security. The body officially endorsed the voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security.

The guidelines promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment. They contain provisions to protect local communities, indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups from land speculation and land concentration.

“With the reform of the Committee on World Food Security, an innovative way of inclusive governance has been established. It has been a breakthrough for those civil society groups that traditionally have been excluded from decision-making processes on all levels,” said Flavio Valente, secretary general of advocacy group Fian Internationa

Chhattisgarh eliminates farmer suicides by fudging death data


, TNN | Aug 27, 2012, 
Chhattisgarh eliminates farmer suicides by fudging death data
An analysis by right-to-food activist Manas Ranjan shows while suicides listed under ‘self-employed (farming/agriculture)’ have been falling, those under ‘self-employed (other)’ and ‘other’ have been rising, indicating farmer suicides are being concealed in categories that are less noticeable and politically sensitive.
RAIPUR: The sky is overcast, the fields lush with paddy. A good harvest beckons and to complete the picture of a rural idyll, Chhattisgarh has posted ‘zero’ farmer suicides for 2011. For a state that has consistently reported the highest rate of farmer suicides in India, with 1,773 cases in 2008; 1,802 in 2009; and 1,126 in 2010, eliminating farmer suicides would be a thundering achievement. But a ground investigation shows this may be nothing more than a statistical feat. 

Half an hour’s drive from Raipur, in Abhanpur, the annual police report, seen by TOI, records 12 cases of farmer suicides in 2011. This report was sent to the police headquarters in Raipur, but as the state-wide compilation submitted to the National Crime Records Bureaushows, the data was lost in transit. 

The additional director-general of police, Ram Niwas, says, “We found constables in police stations were making mistakes in entering data. Even traders and businessmen were shown as farmers. So we have corrected the mistakes in the headquarters.” 

An analysis by right-to-food activist Manas Ranjan shows while suicides listed under ‘self-employed (farming/agriculture)’ have been falling, those under ‘self-employed (other)’ and ‘other’ have been rising, indicating farmer suicides are being concealed in categories that are less noticeable and politically sensitive. 

Dead farmers vanish from Chhattisgarh records 

All his life, Tulsi Ram Gond laboured at others’ fields, barely making ends meet. But after he drank pesticide and killed himself on December 18 last year, he was no longer a farmer, it seems. Chhattisgarh reported that no farmer had committed suicide in 2011. It isn’t clear if the police did categorize Tulsi Ram as a farmer or snuck him under ‘other’, a less troublesome category. 

Tulsi Ram Gond’s world came apart last year when his baby daughter was diagnosed with a hole in her heart. The hospital gave an estimate of Rs 1.5 lakh for the surgery. “He was told the government helps out in such cases but he didn’t know where to go,” says Durpad Bai, Tulsi Ram’s mother. 

On the night of December 18, 2011, the 30-year-old tribal farmer of Seoni village in Abhanpur, drank pesticide in his small brick tenement and died within hours. His baby daughter died a few months later. Within days, a dozen claimants, including representatives of the local bank, the village society and countless others, showed up at the doorstep demanding repayment for loans worth Rs 1,85,500. 

Poverty, mounting debt, catastrophic health expenses — the ‘marg jayaram’ or death register maintained by the local police records the circumstances of Tulsi Ram’s death in great detail, along with the fact that he did not own the land he cultivated, and was a farm labourer. In reality, he was a sharecropper, cultivating four acres of borrowed land. 

In its annual report, the Abhanpur police recorded some 12 cases of farmer suicide in 2011. But by the time the state-wide data was compiled, the statistics had disappeared. 

Those tracking farmer suicides are not surprised. “States are fudging data to conceal the extent of farmer suicides, either at the primary level, or at the state level,” says Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, agricultural scientist at the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. 

Despite reporting the highest rate of farmer suicides in India for years, there are no clear studies documenting farming distress in Chhattisgarh. On the surface, farming in the predominantly paddy-growing state is less insecure, compared with the neighbouring cotton-growing region of Vidarbha. The state government buys bulk of the paddy produce at ever-rising minimum support prices. But agricultural expert Sanket Thakur has pointed out that paddy growers of Chhattisgarh are typically small and marginal farmers, and if not the vagaries of market, the vagaries of monsoon are enough to bring them down. 

In the first week of 2012, Sevak Ram, a farmer in Khapri village in Baloda Bazaar district, walked out of his house to attend to his fields, but was found the next morning in the meadows, hanging from a palaash tree. His family and friends speak in muted tones when asked why he ended his life. No reason, they say. But as the conversation turns to the state of agriculture, they become animated, discussing the rising prices of fertilizers and pesticides, and the un0certainty of rains and crop returns. 

“It didn’t rain enough last year. We only managed to harvest half the crop,” says Jayant Ram, Sevak Ram’s brother. At the local police station, last year’s death register records 25 suicides, of which seven are listed as ‘housewives’, one as ‘student’, another as ‘unemployed’, and the remaining 16 are simply noted as ‘agyaat’ or ‘unknown’.

1,200 tonnes of wheat rot in scarcity-hit Gujarat #Narendramodi #Indiashining

A bag of wheat, often used as an adjunct

A bag of wheat, often used as an adjunct (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TNN | Aug 13, 2012, 04.35AM IST

VADODARA: Wheat enough to feed more than 5,000 people for more than a year has been left to rot at the Vadodara railway station even as the current spell of monsoon showers hit the city. The foodgrain has been allowed to turn to waste less than a week after more than half of Gujarat was declared scarcity-hit.

Some 1,200 tonnes of wheat, packed in 24,000 bags, was lying in the open at the Vadodara railway yard when a TOI team reached there on Sunday afternoon. The foodgrain had poured out of the bags and had become a free lunch for stray cattle.

The wheat sent by Food Corporation of India was to be sent to Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC’s) godown in Vadodara within 36 hours. It was meant for both poor people to be given through the public distribution system as well as for sale in the open market. It was wasted only because the contractor didn’t pick up the bags in time apparently because he didn’t have enough labour to do the job.

“This is unfortunate,” said economist and former Union minister Y K Alalgh. “Such a waste can’t be allowed in our country simply because there is a lack of coordination between various agencies, including the railways and the FCI. The guilty should be brought to book.”

Vadodara collector Vinod Rao and BJP MP Balkrishna Shukla rushed to the spot as word on the issue spread.

CWC officials, however, downplayed the issue, saying that it was a minor hitch. “The contractor was expected to pick up the entire stock from the railway yard. However, he couldn’t do so as the stock was large. Usually, the stock is not offloaded when it is raining. But when the stock was offloaded three days ago, it wasn’t raining. The contractor had moved many bags from the yard to the godown,” said CWC regional manager V K Tyagi.

“Many foodgrain bags have become wet, but we can salvage them and use them again. The lack of infrastructure in the railways, too, led to the situation. We will take action against the contractor and penalize him for the damage,” Tyagi added.

FCI regional manager N Mohan said out of 54,000 bags, 30,000 had been shifted.

Justice for Saraswati Devi – Casteist Harassment #dignity4all

Physical assault on Dalit women by PDS dealer (retired from Armed Forces) in Patan, Dist. Palamau, Jharkhand
Report of the joint fact-finding exercise by a team of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Palamau and Right to Food Campaign, Palamau

A  joint fact -finding exercise was conducted by the PUCL and RTFC Palamau   on 29.07.12  after  all major  newspapers reported  on 28.07.12 of  a physical assault on a Dalit woman by a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop dealer in Gaharpatra village, Panchayat Hisra Barwadih, Patan block of Palamau district.  Members of this team were Jawahar Mehta, Shabbir Ahmed, Mithilesh Kumar, Birendar Kumar, Rajesh Vishwakarma, Ramanek and Shubham.
On the morning of 26th of July, 2012, around 9 am, a group of women  (Saraswati Devi, Poona Devi, Pankaliya Devi and others)  from the  Jeervataan-Harijan tola  (a Dalit hamlet in the village)   in Gaharpatra  went to the PDS shop whose dealer is Lalmani  Singh, an ex-Armed Forces person. They had heard of ration being distributed at other places. They
enquired about their ration which they are supposed to receive every month; it was pending since the last  4months.

When the women asked Lalmani Singh as to why they aren’t getting the ration since 4 months, he  shouted at
them saying  they won’t get any ration for the next six months as well. He dared them to go to any authority and do whatever  he won’t give them ration. When they again requested to the dealer that in this drought like condition, they need the ration to
survive, he started abusing the women and asked them to get out of his  place.  He also took out his gun and said he would shoot them then and there.

The women  asked him not to use abusive language and said that there are women in his family also and he should respect them.  On this,  Lalmani  Singh, his son Azad Singh and his grandson, Regal Singh  became very angry and said “You Chamarin (lower caste woman) want to match our women?”and started beating up whoever was caught.

Out of his fear  and guns, some of the women ran away from his place but  Lalmani  Singh and others caught Saraswati Devi and beat her with his gun, repeatedly slapping, punching and  ramming  her on ground.  She became unconscious because of the severe beating and was taken to the Primary Health Centre, Patan block with the help of some villagers where she was treated.
An FIR has been lodged against Rajmuni Singh and others by Saraswati devi with the help of other villagers and member of the Panchayat Samiti, Kamuda Devi at the Police Station in Patan.  The Sub-divisional Officer, Daltonganj, Deputy Commissioner,  Palamau and Superintendent of Police, Palamau have also been informed about the case and a copy has been submitted to them.The receiving copy of the FIR says that the case has been registered under IPC 341, 323, 504, 34 and
SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.
Saraswati Devi narrates her trauma to the team while other women surround The women said that we received such a violent, abusive and insulting response even after using respectable language for the dealer.  “Despite using locally very respectable salutations like Babu Saheb and Gaunwa for the dealer, he abused us so badly and even used our caste names very insultingly.  It was our right and an entitlement from the government that we were asking for.After this incident, we feel so terrorized that we wouldn’t be able to go to ask for our ration for a long time. He and his men
are still threatening us. They tried to stop  us  from reporting to the police, the  DC and SDO. They say that if we raise this issue, they would kill us! They freely roam around with fire-arms. ”Other than the women whom the dealer had assaulted, the
people in the village said that the dealer had been very irregular in giving rations. He had been  filing false entries in the ration cards of the villagers. “If we go for buying kerosene, he would also fill in the entry for grains and give us none”, they said. The people in the village showed forged entries  in their cards to the team. It was also reported that there is a significant number of poor people in the village who do not have ration cards.

Lalmani Singh belongs to the Rajput caste and is locally a feared man. He and his men carry guns openly in the village and as per the locals, his son Azad Singh has already been arrested before for various cases. The most important part is that Lalmani Singh has retired from the Armed Forces. This clearly establishes that caste based discrimination  and atrocities  can be committed even by people who are onsidered to be heroes in our society.
PUCL and RTFC, Palamau demand the following for Saraswati Devi and others:
1.  Immediate Arrest of Lalmani Singh, Azad Singh and Regal Singh
2.  Cancellation of license for PDS shop of Lalmani Singh
3.  Punishment to Lalmani Singh for irregularity in ration distribution
4.  Immediate distribution of pending rations to all the card holders.
5.  Compensation to Saraswati Devi and payment of legal expenses.
6.  Issue of ration cards to eligible  people in the village who currently do not have cards (a
significant number of poor people in the village mostly from SC communities do not have
ration cards while most of the upper caste people have it)


Unreliable Aadhar data to be used for Food Bill

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SAGNIK DUTTA NEW DELHI | 18th Mar , Sunday Guardian

A customer pushes a shopping trolley down an aisle at a retail supermarket in Mumbai on Friday. ‘It is unlikely that UIDAI will improve the efficiency of the government’s welfare schemes this year.’ REUTERS

hile the government is banking heavily on the Aadhar data supplied by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for the implementation of the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) and better targeting of fertiliser subsidies, the reliability of the data is in itself in question.

In fact, a Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Finance had questioned the legality of the collection of biometrics for creating a citizen database in December 2011. Also, the process of creation of a citizens’ database was outsourced to a third party with no means of adequate monitoring of their activities. The Union Finance Minister seems to have placed immense faith in this one-technology driven initiative to deliver many ambitious fiscal targets. But most of the UID-based delivery schemes will be pilot projects to be rolled out in a few chosen districts. It is unlikely that they will improve the efficiency and accuracy of the government’s gargantuan welfare schemes this year.

Pranab Mukherjee, in his Budget speech, said, “To ensure that the objectives of the National Food Security Bill are effectively realised, a Public Distribution System using the Aadhar platform is being created.” The Finance Minister also mentioned, “The recommendations of the task force headed by Nandan Nilekani on IT strategy for direct transfer of subsidy have been accepted.” Speaking to this newspaper, Anupam Saraf, a former Governance Advisor to the Government of Goa and an independent leadership, strategy and innovation mentor, said, “The process of registering individuals under Aadhar was assigned to third parties. There is no way to ensure that the third parties will not register non-existent individuals. This leaves a lot of room for massive scams, corruption and leakages if the data is used for distribution of subsidies. Thus the proposed Food Security Bill and targeting of fertilizer subsidies will be based on data which is not reliable. Instead of better targeting of subsidies, it will only lead to more leakages.”

Saraf added, “A population register is already maintained by the Registrar General of India at present. The registration of citizens and the issuing of national identity cards are already provided for under the Citizenship Act 1955. This population register could have been used as a database for targeting subsidies instead of the Aadhar data.”

“Also, there has been no audit of the UID project by an independent authority. The CAG should audit the entire process of creation of a people’s database,” Saraf said.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in December 2011 had said, “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information without amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 as well as the Citizenship (registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards Rules 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by the Parliament.”

A concern– India Shining Campaign

The country is shining, people’s health is declining

Tell me, what is draining my people’s health?

Is it so much poverty despite so much wealth?

They smile and inform us that our country is shining.

But everywhere I look, I see public health declining.

From ordinary ailments, so many infants dying.

To save them, are our rulers really, really, trying?

Losing their own lives, while bringing to life another

Why is it still a hazard, to become a mother?

Ranging from womb to tomb, women facing threats to life.

But for a sterilisation, they always take the wife!

Old diseases spreading, and now infections new,

Outbreaks off and on, maybe an epidemic too.

Malnutrition growing, even deaths by starvation,

Export the grain for pigs abroad, aren’t we a shining nation?

Pepsi and Coke aplenty, bottled water some can buy

But most still lack a safe well, or see their tap run dry.

In the public hospitals, no medicines or supplies.

Ask officials what’s going on, all you get is lies.

Pay at every window, stand in every line,

Quietly buy all your drugs; don’t you think that’s fine?

And if you go to the villages, things may be even worse.

No doctor in the health centre, in the subcentre no nurse.

So you suggest I go to, the private clinic next door?

Pay a hefty doctor’s fee, for tests and drugs some more?

And god forbid, if they admit me, after consultation,

Hospital bills, referrals and scans may cause my ruination.

You ask about our taxes, how public funds are spent?

Not for health, but tanks and bombs, is where our money went.

The time has come to ask, some questions loud and clear.

Why life here is so cheap, why health care is so dear.

Why rulers shrug off their duty, for citizens’ health care

Despite the highest growth rate, why state coffers look bare.

Doesn’t every Indian, rich or poor, have a right to live?

Then as a basic service, health care the state must give.

Bring the ‘public’ into public health, this is the need today.

Make the system answerable; and heed what people say.

We know this country can ensure, basic health care for all,

If rulers cannot meet basic needs, then such rulers must fall.

For now the tide is rising, people beginning to assert

Right to resources, right to food, the basic right to work.

Let’s form a broad alliance, all those facing oppression

The toiling and the marginalised, the great mass of our nation.

Let’s join ranks in our millions, and fight for a better life

To end deprivation, exploitation, and communal strife.

As one step in this struggle, now let’s begin the fight

To ensure health, and make health care a fundamental right!

by  Abhay  sukla

P.S.- Did you know ? Prathap Suthan, national creative director with Grey Worldwide (India) advertising agency. came up with the slogan in December  2003 as part of a Rs 65 crore (Rs 650 million), government-funded campaign to promote India. internationally .’India Shining‘ was originally the theme for a 60-second video made by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government to highlight the steps it says it took to boost economic growth, slash interest rates, stabilise prices, expand road and telecom and health networks, and offer free basic education.


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