India loses up to $46 billion to malnourishment #WTFnews


Malnourished child

Malnourished child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Author(s):
Jitendra
Issue Date:
2013-5-29

Report by children’s non-profit links childhood malnourishment to educational performance, adult income and GDP

 

Malnutrition decrease the gross domestic product (GDP) in low- and middle-income countries, says a report by international non-profit Save the Children. Malnutrition affects educational development, physical productivity and health, and also perpetuates inequalities, such as those created by caste in India, says the report.

The report, Food for thought: Tackling child malnutrition to unlock potential to boost prosperity, is based on a study conducted in four countries—India, Vietnam, Peru and Ethiopia. It argues that investment in preventing malnutrition in women and children would be the down payment for future prosperity.

The study estimates that the economic cost of micro-nutrient malnutrition costs India between 0.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent of its GDP, which is equivalent to $15–46 billion. China, too, loses between 0.2 and 0.4 per cent of GDP, equivalent to $15– 29 billion because of malnutrition.

The study looks at various pathways of malnutrition, and elaborates on the cognitive and physical impacts on children, as well as additional medical costs due to ill health. These cumulative effects can reduce GDP by 2 per cent to 11 per cent.

Hindrance to inclusive growth

This study is the first of its kind to link child malnutrition to educational outcomes. Children who are malnourished from an early age are severely disadvantaged in their ability to learn.

The lack of proper nutrition for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children, especially before their second birthday can impair the child’s brain development, cognitive abilities and physical development, leading to stunting or reduced growth. Brain drain

In comparison to children who are provided with proper nutrition, children malnourished at age five would be expected to demonstrate the following impacts of malnutrition three years later:
They score 7 per cent lower in maths tests
Such children are19 per cent less likely to be able to read a simple sentence at the age of eight
They are 12.5 per cent less likely to be able to write a simple sentence
They are 13 per cent less likely to be in the appropriate grade for their age at school

The report clearly links child malnutrition to educational outcomes, and demonstrates that children who are malnourished from an early age are severely disadvantaged in their ability to learn. These children later in life go on to earn 20 per cent less that other adults who are well-nourished in their childhood.

In effect, malnourishment perpetuates the cycle of poverty, as poverty-stricken and malnourished mothers have stunted children. The report states that children born to the poorest of families in developing countries are 2.8 times more likely to be malnourished than those in the richest, and are likely to go on to earn less than their better-off and better-nourished peers.

Thus the unequal social prevalence of malnourishment acts as a barrier to inclusive growth and the reduction of inequalities.

In India, the problem of malnourishment is helping to perpetuate the caste system, says the report. It goes on to say that if nutritional inequalities were tackled in such a way that low-caste children gained the same average nutritional status as their upper caste counterpart, this would close existing caste cognitive differentials by 25 per cent.

Hard facts

According to the report, State of the World’s Children, 2012, by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 47 per cent children under five in South Asia and 39 per cent under-fives in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted and their potential severely damaged. In Nigeria, 10.9 million children under five are stunted while in India, the figure is 61.4 million.

As many as 19,000 children continue to die worldwide each day from diseases which could have been easily prevented. Malnutrition is responsible for 2.3 million children’s deaths annually, and 130 million malnourished children who managed to reach school failed to learn even basics and are left without core skills and abilities they need to make their lives more productive.

The report suggests that direct nutrition interventions, such as promoting breastfeeding, and indirect nutrition interventions, such as social protection, investments in agriculture, and ensuring access to safe water and sanitation, can address malnutrition’s underlying causes.

Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/india-loses-46-billion-malnourishment

 

Surviving the First Day – State of the World’s Mothers 2013 #Vaw #Womenrights


A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

From the Report……………..

“…….Each year, 3 million newborns die, making up nearly half (43 percent) of the world’s under-5 child deaths. And yet almost all newborn deaths originate from preventable and treatable causes: we already have the tools available to save about three-quarters of the newborns who needlessly die each year.

This report reveals that we know how to stop this trend, because we understand the causes and solutions of newborn death like never before. Simple lifesaving treatments like a basic antiseptic for cleansing the umbilical cord can prevent deadly infections. Antenatal steroids help premature babies breathe. “Kangaroo mother care” keeps them warm, encourages breastfeeding and protects them from infection. These inexpensive interventions haven’t taken hold, but a new analysis in this report shows that four basic solutions alone could save more than 1 million newborns annually as soon as they do. Improvements in access to contraceptives, maternal nutrition and breastfeeding practices would save even more………..”.

Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…………This report contains our annual ranking of the best and worst places in the world for mothers – but no matter if they’re in the United States or Malawi or India, all mothers are fundamentally the same. Every night, millions of mothers around the world lean over their sleeping newborns and pray that they will be safe, happy and healthy. It’s what we all want for our children. And it’s certainly not too much to ask………..”.

Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children USA

Key Findings……

“……In South Asia, mothers and babies die in great numbers. An estimated 423,000 babies die each year in South Asia on the day they are born, more than in any other region. South Asia accounts for 24 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of the world’s first-day deaths. In India – where economic growth has been impressive but the benefits have been shared unequally – 309,000 babies die each year on the day they are born (29 percent of the global total). Bangladesh and Pakistan also have very large numbers of first-day deaths (28,000 and 60,000 per year, respectively.) Mothers in South Asia also die in large numbers. Each year, 83,000 women in South Asia die during pregnancy or childbirth. India has more maternal deaths than any other country in the world (56,000 per year). Pakistan also has a large number of maternal deaths (12,000). (To read more, turn to pages 27-35 and 65-74.)….”.

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“…..Babies born to mothers living in the greatest poverty face the greatest challenges to survival. At the heart of the newborn survival problem is the widening gap between the health of the world’s rich and poor. Virtually all (98 percent) newborn deaths occur in developing countries, and within many of these countries, babies born to the poorest families have a much higher risk of death compared to babies from the richest families. A new analysis of 50 developing countries found babies born to mothers in the poorest fifth of the population were on average 40 percent more likely to die compared to those in the richest fifth. Disparities within countries like Bolivia, Cambodia, India, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Mozambique and the Philippines are especially dramatic. Many newborn lives could be saved by ensuring services reach the poorest families in developing countries. For example: If all newborns in India experienced the same survival rates as newborns from the richest Indian families, nearly 360,000 more babies would survive each year. Closing the equity gaps in Pakistan and Democratic Republic of the Congo would similarly save the lives of 48,000 and 45,000 newborns each year, respectively. (To read more, turn to pages 15-21.)….”.

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Recommendations…………..

1. Address the underlying causes of newborn mortality, especially gender inequality.

2) Invest in health workers – especially those working on the front lines – to reach the most vulnerable mothers and babies.

3) Invest in low-cost, low-tech solutions which health workers can use to save lives during pregnancy, at birth and immediately after birth.

4) Strengthen health systems and address demand-related barriers to access and use of health services.

5) Increase commitments and funding to save the lives of mothers and newborns.

 

Access the full report at:

http://www.savethechildrenweb.org/SOWM-2013/files/assets/common/downloads/State%20of%20the%20WorldOWM-2013.pdf

 

Third gender and the poll vault in Pakistan


 | Apr 16, 2013, 05.17 AM IST

If, in the run-up to the general elections in Pakistan, you haven’t heard of a candidate by the name of Bindiya Rana, I won’t hold it against you. Centre-stage characters – Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, and the new-ish kid on the block, Imran Khan, have devoured much of the media space. Yet, it is folks like Rana who are leading a quiet, potential cultural revolution amidst the madness of electioneering as Pakistan readies for a fresh round of timely elections.

And just who is Bindiya Rana ? She heads the Gender Interactive Alliance, an NGO that acts on behalf of the transgender community, better known in Pakistan as the Khwaja Sira community or less pleasantly to the rest of South Asia as the hijra community. Both Rana and Sanam Fakir, president of the Sanam Welfare Association in Sukkur, will be the first transgender people to be running for elections in Pakistan. Both are vying provincial assembly seats on strong anti-corruption mandates, and promise that new legislation – that has given them the power to vote, will bring in hundreds, if not thousands of new voters from their community.

The legal credit goes to the supreme court of Pakistan, which accorded the Khwaja Sira a right to a third-gender category and the ability to record-it-as-it-is in newly issued National Registration and Database Authority stamped identity cards. In November 2011, the SC ordered the election commission to collect data on the community and register them to vote.

Of course, not all is rosy in this contested space. For one thing, despite the SC order, less than a third of the country’s presumed 500,000-strong transgender community have been given ID cards. There are also a number of representative bodies that differ on how the community should be identified; in addition to the two organizations mentioned above, there are the Shemale Foundation of Pakistan and the All Pakistan Eunuch’s Association.

What’s got the entire legal apparatus working out the rights of one small community when suppression of all others seems to be the norm? Could it be fear of an impending bane or the lust for a big, badass boon?

For a healthy does of reality, we turn to Bihar. It turns out that since 2000, efficient local tax collectors discovered that hiring hijras as contract tax collectors could significantly enhance their collection rate. The idea worked – and those who would normally shut the door on the mid-level revenue official – coughed up their dues when confronted by the embarrassment of a public spectacle right outside their elite homes. For their good offices, the participating hijras received 4% of all collections.

Inspired by their South Asian brethren, the folks in the income tax offices in Pakistan found this to be a good, if not brilliant, idea. The result would have the direct benefit of extracting revenue for the state, and the side one of distracting the community from sex work. The only difference in the approaches – and an important one – is that in Pakistan, official jobs – with benefits – were created for the Khwaja Sira folks. I wonder, however, what the job position is titled. Can you apply if you’re not from the community? In any case, the tactic seems to be working from the point of view of state revenue earnings.

Normally Scroogish folks rush over to pull out 1,000 rupee notes sewn into their mattress springs in the hope that the hijra – known to have spiritual powers endorsed in the once-syncretistic traditions of this region – will dance, clap and sing showering boons over banes.

The writer is a Delhi-based Pakistani journalist

 

 

Maharshtra – 2012 drought worse than in 1972; study blames govt mishandling


Ketaki Ghoge , Hindustan times , April 4, 2013

MUMBAI: The drought looming in one-third of the state has been compared to that in 1972. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, among others, termed it as worse than the one the state faced 40 years back.

The answer to this remark can be traced more to the government’s failure in agriculture and water management than nature’s wrath.

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), a network of organisations working on water- related issues, compared and analysed rainfall figures from June to October in 1972 and 2012 in 17 drought-affected districts and found that rainfall in 1972 was much lower than in 2012 for every month except June.

The figures show that in 2012, eight districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, none in July, three districts had 50% deficit rainfall in August, one district in September and two districts in October.

In 1972, three districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, nine districts in July, nine in August, six in September and 17 in October.

In 1971 too, rainfall was low. But in 2011, the rainfall was above average and most of the dams were full.

SANDRP argued that in the intervening 40 years, Maharashtra has been able to build big dams and it should have been able to store more water and reduce the impact of rainfall deficit. However, big dams starting with Jayakwadi, Ujani and Dudhana have nearly 0 % live storage as of now.

One of the reasons that SANDRP attributes this to is sugarcane farming. Overall, the area under sugarcane in Maharashtra increased from 167,000 hectares in 1972 to 102,2000 hectares in 2012. “Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Jalna, Osmanabad, Beed, Latur, Nasik, Parbhani and Aurangabad , all drought prone and drought affected districts of the state, are also major sugarcane producing districts. They collectively produce 79.5 % of sugarcane of Maharashtra and more than a quarter of sugarcane production of the country in 2012,” said Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP. The repeated drought cycle has not stopped farmers from taking up sugarcane farming and the government has failed to put any restrictions on this waterguzzling farming or control water releases upstream from the big dams.

Research by South Asia

Sunita Bhuyan performs at #1billionrising -Mumbai #Vaw


Submitted by AT News on Sat, 16/02/2013 – 12:20

Violinist Sunita Bhuyan , the cultural Ambassador to the South Asia Women’s Fund, Sri Lanka performs at Bandstand amphitheatre, Mumbai during the celebration ofOne Billion Rising – Mumbai on February 14, 2013.

Categories:

 

#India- Why subsidise the rape capital? #Vaw


Garga Chatterjee | Agency: DNA | Sunday, December 23, 2012

There should be no doubt at this point — Delhi is the rape capital of South Asia. No amount of regular manicuring of Lutyens lawns and NewDelhi-Gurgaon-style faux ‘cosmopolitanism’ can take away that fact. The rape capital epithet comes from simple numbers. Delhi is comparable in population size to Kolkata and Mumbai. If rape were to be considered a ‘natural’ human pathology, the number of rapes would be proportional to the number of humans. The thing is, when it comes to cities within the territory of the Indian Union, it is not.

The numbers speak for themselves. Let us take the National Crime Records Bureau figures for 2011. The number of registered cases of rape were as follows — Mumbai (221), Kolkata (46), Chennai (76), Bangalore (97) and Hyderabad (59). If one adds them up, the number comes to 499. Add Lucknow (38), Patna (27) and Coimbatore (9). The total comes to 573. This is one more than 572, the number of rapes reported in Delhi in 2011. This is not to say that the 46 rapes in Kolkata are somehow ‘normal’. But number and scale matters. There is clearly something wrong about Delhi and we can ignore that at our own peril.

From bus drivers to poor male labourers, the middle-class/upper-middle-class of Delhi has willy-nilly implicated all but itself. It is important to note the nature of prescriptions of rape prevention. These include profiling people who drive buses and the sort — a veiled reference to some imagined class bias in rapes. That gives away the underlying assumption — poor men rape not-so-poor women. There is no evidence to show that this is indeed the case, but the high decibel propaganda war in the elite-controlled media could care less about evidence, especially when it imagines itself to be the victim, as a class.

Rape is as much about power and impunity as it is about sexual violence. Nowhere in the subcontinent are power and impunity engaged in an embrace as tightly as they are in Delhi. There is empirical evidence from various parts of the world that affluent people are more likely to rape with impunity than those less so. Nowhere in the subcontinent is affluence so closely related with power than in Delhi. What are the implications of this for the rest of us?

Since 1990 and especially so in the previous decade, the central government has built up Delhi, showering it with goods, subsidies and helping make it an employment destination for the rest of the Indian Union. Other cities haven’t received this help — cities where women are less likely to be raped. Delhi and its surrounds are showered with money that Delhi does not produce. It is peppered with infrastructure that India’s provinces have toiled hard to pay for.

It is lavished with highly funded universities, art and cultural centres, museums that are designed to sap talent from India’s provinces and handicap the development of autonomous trajectories of excellence beyond Delhi. Revenues extracted from India’s provinces are lavished in and around Delhi by making good roads, snazzy flyovers, water supply infrastructure, urban beautification projects, new institutes and universities, big budget rapid transport systems like the metro and numerous other things that India’s impoverished wastelands as well as other towns and cities can only dream of.

All this results in investment and employment opportunities — it is not the other way around. Most people from other states are in Delhi not because they necessarily love it, but because the artificial imbalance that central policies have created between Delhi and other cities makes this an inevitable aspiration destination. This has resulted in a staggering internal drain of young people to Delhi — not by choice as in the case of Mumbai, but largely by braving potential adversities for women.

The elite of Delhi and the regional elites who wish to see their children in Delhi in perpetuity have, by dint of their grip on the central government, made a ‘world-class city’ for themselves. By choosing to do this at a location where power, impunity and rape-rates are the highest among cities, it has conspired against the rest of the Union, specifically against women.

Women should not have to choose between a lesser likelihood of being raped and creating a better life from themselves. The inordinate subsidisation of the rape capital by the central government has to stop. Women then will not have to come to Delhi to further their aspirations and dreams. They can then choose to boycott Delhi and still have a life that they aspire to. This requires a cutting down to size of the imperious rape capital. Cutting down to size should not raise eyebrows in a nation-state that vows by democracy. It is called distributive justice.

Garga Chatterjee is a postdoctoral scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

Protect reporters in conflict zones, say experts


 

New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS)

Mediapersons reporting from conflict zones, including Jammu and Kashmir, Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh and the northeastern states, should get government protection, media experts said at a seminar here Saturday.

“The state institutions are expected to provide adequate protection and other systems to the journalists – irrespective of the views of the newspaper and channel concerned,” said a statement passed at the seminar on ‘Reporting Conflict Zones’ organised by South Asia Media Commission under the mandate of Indian chapter of South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA).

“There is no organised machinery to either protect or to project objective truth about the situation in those areas,” said a release issued by the commission, which facilitates free flow of information among Saarc countries.

The experts put the onus on the owners of the media organisations to “give monetary and legal back up, including special insurance, to the journalists”.

The statement issued on the conclusion of the day-long seminar regretted that there was a general apathy threatening the free flow of information which was a “prerequisite for maintaining national unity, integrity and sovereignty”.

The families of newspersons reporting from conflict zones too were subjected to blackmail, the experts said.

The statement said this while noting the “permanent threat” to the lives of the scribes reporting from “conflict zones like J&K, naxal affected areas like Chattisgarh or the northeast to various districts under Maoist influence…”.

The media commission urged the “state institutions, media owners and independent media organisations to join hands to face the grave threat to free media”.

“We should express solidarity with those who do a difficult job of reporting from the battle lines as it were,” the statement said.

Calling upon the governments to repeal the laws that restricts freedom of press in any manner, the seminar urged the governments particularly the Jammu and Kashmir government not to resort to the “stoppage of advertisements to newspapers and desist from resorting to persecution”.

–IANS

 

#India #Aadhaar #UID- The Big One- #Lawrence Cohen


The Big One

Posted on October 19, 2012

At the Annual South Asia Meetings this past week in Madison, Wisconsin, I organized a set of panels, with Gayatri Reddy and Martha Selby, on Number: participating were (in addition to we three) Sonal Acharya, Michele Friedner, Mather George, Ajay Skaria, and Harris Solomon.

The primary paper I gave was on UIDAI/Aadhaar. It was preceded by a somewhat more impressionistic set of comments on number designed to open the imagination as it were.

Both merit critique and so I am posting them here, though the first is tangentially relevant to UID, and both suffer from the limits of 15 minute presentations.

The conceit of the panel was that every paper be given a number as a title. My UID paper was entitled “1.”

Here it is, after the requisite picture of Madison.

South Asia, materialized annually on a Midwestern isthmus

1

Lawrence Cohen

A new and massive expansion of identity has been underway in India since the 1999 conflict with Pakistan known in the country as the Kargil War. Certitudes abound in the wake of this expansion: Geeta Patel yesterday spoke of a cottage industry of expertise. And yet as recently as this summer not only journalists and scholars but cabinet members appeared uncertain as to what the identity project was, whether it was legal, and who controlled it.  I want today to offer what partial certitudes I can and to share some questions I face.  Let me begin by summarizing my main assertion baldly. India is now a database[Whether it makes sense to say that it has been a “database” in the past I would leave open for now.] For this nation-cum-database governance is being redefined as an “technocratic” operation that has been termed de-duplication.  If we are to think about politics and economics in the age of the nation as database, we might attempt to understand both what may be entailed by the nation’s de-duplication, its reduction to a population of singularities, of ones, and, in contrast, what form, what thing, or what practice duplication of the one entails

For duplication is a problem. The architect of the dominant version of the current expansion of identity, Nandan Nilekani the former CEO of the outsourcing giant Infosys, argues compellingly that India is plagued by leakage and inefficiency that dooms it to stagnation, illiteracy, and impoverishment and in effect keeps it, unlike China, out of history. This is the old Hegelian sickness from which China has apparently broken free. But India is awash in duplicates, precisely the symptomatology Hegel offered in theAesthetics in his claim that for the Hindus spirit or divinity, being radically separated from nature, is indeterminate and can only take determinate form through a sensuous rejoining with nature: but a rejoining that must mark the primary ontological division between nature and spirit by exaggerating nature.

Read more here and follow the blog http://followuidai.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/the-big-one/

 

Mumbai, Karachi press clubs for liberalized media visas


 

KARACHI: The Press Club, Mumbai and Karachi Press Club have welcomed the scheduled meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna, and Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, to be held in Islamabadon September 7-9, 2012.In a joint statement issued both the prestigious press clubs reiterated their demands of free movement of journalistsbetween two countries in order to promote people-to-people contact and enduring peace in the sub-continent.The press clubs hoped both foreign ministers would give due attention to their demands.

In the meeting both the foreign ministers will review the resumed peace process, which began last year.

I the statement issued the press clubs have demanded of the ministers to liberalize the visa regime for the journalist community and should be made easily available.

It is pertinent to mention that the joint statement issued by Indian and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretaries after their meeting on July 4-5, 2012 had emphasized the need to promote media and sports contacts.

Moreover they also demanded removal of the cap on the number of journalists allowed to function in both the countries as currently only two newspersons from one country are allowed work in the other and vice versa.

The statement also said that more and more journalists from both the countries should not only be encouraged bul also allowed to move easily.

Sale of hard copies of newspapers and periodicals should be allowed to sell in other country, said the joint statement.

Acid violence: The faceless women you can’t forget #VAW


 

Nita Bhalla and Sonali Mukherjee pictured at a sikh temple in New Delhi which has given Mukherjee shelter. | Photo Ahmad MasoodNita Bhalla and Sonali Mukherjee pictured at a sikh temple in New Delhi which has given Mukherjee shelter. | Photo Ahmad Masood

Source: TrustLaw | Nita Bhalla

Since I met her over a week ago, I have been unable to forget.

Every morning as I put on my lipstick and black eyeliner in front of the mirror, I am reminded of her face. Or lack of it.

Sonali Mukherjee, 27, is one of hundreds of women across the world who have lost their faces, and their will to survive, as a result of one of the most heinous crimes against women I have come across: Acid violence.

Nine years ago, three men broke into Sonali’s home in the east Indian city of Dhanbad as she slept, and threw concentrated acid over her face.

The highly corrosive chemical caused 70 percent burns to her face, neck and arms and melted away the skin and flesh on her nose, cheeks and ears – leaving her almost blind and partially deaf.

Sonali, who was a 17-year-old college student at the time of the attack, had rejected their sexual advances for months and when she threatened to call the police, they took their revenge.

Despite multiple painful skin reconstructive surgeries, she still looks nothing like the photographs taken before the attack – a smiling pretty, confident, young woman who took pride in her appearance and who wanted to be a teacher in India‘s poor and marginalised tribal areas.

Sonali says she is living “half a life with half a face” and has endured so much mental and physical pain over the years, that she is now pleading with the government to allow her to end her life. Euthanasia is illegal in India.

 

According to London-based charity, Acid Survivors Trust International, around 1,500 acid attacks are reported globally each year, with 80 percent of them on women. Figures are likely to be much higher, though, as many victims are too scared to speak out.

Acid attacks are not specific to any one country, but are more common in India and other South Asian nations such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal as well as in Cambodia and Uganda.

Many of the attacks on women, like that on Sonali, are simply because men in these deeply patriarchal societies cannot handle rejection of love or a marriage proposal by a woman and decide to take revenge.

In a conservative culture where women are largely still judged by their looks, rather than by their attitudes, education, career or achievements, throwing a bottle of cheap and easily available hydrochloric acid over them is guaranteed to ruin their lives.

No one will marry them, employ them or even want to be seen with them. Their families, which are often poor, are burdened with the expense of years of medical treatment and soon run out of money – forcing victims with “half faces” to hide indoors, isolated and unable to return to the life they once had.

Despite the long-term financial, medical and psychological support vital for victims, little compensation, if any, is given by authorities.

As a result, these faceless women are left forgotten – but if you meet them, you simply cannot forget.

 

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