Thursday, 26 September 2013

Minor marriage stopped in Chennai
Pramila Krishnan
Chennai, September 26: Child marriage happens right in our city. A fourteen year old, class nine girl was rescued by the Kanchipuram child welfare committee from a marriage hall at OMR on Tuesday night. The groom S.Vijaykumar(25) was a real-estate contractor. He wanted to marry the girl in her quarterly exam leave since his father was not keeping well and wanted to witness his marriage. 

Based on phone call received in the Childline helpline (1098) the team comprised of tahsildar, district social welfare officer, police officials and the child welfare committee members rushed to the marriage hall and called off the marriage. According to the Kanchipuram social welfare department almost 25 marriages were stopped in the last three years including eight marriages this year so far. 

Speaking to me, CWC member I.Zaheeruddin Mohammed said, “When we arrived at the marriage hall, families of bride and groom and their relatives were frustrated and tried to convince us. We told them that it is illegal to perform underage marriage, they said the groom’s father was sick and wished to see his marriage. And both families were close relatives” He added when the team stoutly rejected all their pleas, the families agreed to stop the marriage. 

The officials made the parents to give a letter in writing that they would not get the girl married before she attains 18 years. District child protection officer S.Dhanasekara Pandian said that several awareness programmes were arranged in anganwadi centers and other public places on child marriages. School children were encouraged to alert about child marriages, he said.

Friday, 20 September 2013

வெங்காயம்; புன்னகை; கண்ணீர்

MSSRF (M S Swaminathan Research Foundation) மூலமாக ஒரு   பத்திரிக்கையாளர்களுக்கு கருத்தரங்கு நடைபெற்றது . அதன் முடிவில் கரசனுர் என்ற ஒரு கிராமத்திற்குக்  கூடிச் சென்றனர் . விழுப் புரம் மாவட்டத்தில்  உள்ள இந்த கிராமத்தில் MSSRF கடந்த 2 வருடங்களாக வேலை செய்து வருகிறது. ஏற்றுமதி தரம்  வாய்ந்த வெங்காயங்களை இங்குள்ள விவசாயிகள் பயிரிட்டு முன்றே மாதத்தில் சுமார் ரூ.2 லட்சம் இரண்டு ஏக்கர் நிலத்தில் சம்பாரிப்பதாகத்  தெரிவித்தனர்." எங்களின் வெங்காயம் சிங்கபூர்  மற்றும் மலேசியாவிற்குச் செல்கிறது . அங்கே சூப் செய்ய இதைப்  பயன் படுத்துகிறார்கள்," என்றனர் .

கூட் டத்தின் முடிவில் அவர்களிடம், வருமானம் நல்லா  கிடைக்கிறது, வாழக்கை நிலையும் மாறி இருக்கிறது. உங்களில் எத்தனை பேர் உங்கள் குழந்தைகளை விவசாயியாக இருக்க அனுமதிப்பீர்கள் என்று கேட்டேன். சுமார் 50 விவசாயிகள் இருந்த அந்த கூடத்தில் ஒருவர் கூட கை தூக்கவில்லை. ஏன் என்ற போது, "நங்கள் படும் பாடு போதும். எங்கள் பிள்ளைகள் கஷ்டப்பட வேண்டாம்," என்றனர். இரண்டு பெற்றோர் அவர்களின் பிள்ளைகள் ஆர்வமுடன் விவசாயம் செய்ய ஆசைப்பட்டனர் தாங்கள் தடுத்து இன்ஜினியரிங் கல்லூரியில் சேரத்துள்ளதாகத் தெரிவித்தனர்.                            

Sunday, 8 September 2013

People's power won in Perambakkam

Pramila Krishnan
Perambakkam, September 8: A special gram sabha held in Perambakkam in Kancheepuram district on Saturday was an example of people’s power. Residents of the little town boycotted the August 15 Independence Day gram sabha since officials aborted the greenhouse project in their neighbourhood due to pressure from local politicians. The district administration organised a special gram sabha and approved the housing project much to the glee of the residents.
Officials attended special gram sabha
on Saturday in Peranambakkam

Speaking to me, Perambakkam panchayat president Lavanya Mahendran (26) said the officials did not bother to listen to the people who were waiting for the funds to construct their houses. “Only when we boycotted the gram sabha did they understand and budged. They attended the gram sabha and promised to fulfil our demands,” she said. She added that the entire village was supportive in helping the poor beneficiaries who were earlier informed by the officials that they would not get funds.

Talking about other resolutions passed in the special gram sabha, vice president of the Perambakkam panchayat S. Kumar (29) said, “A private firm has encroached some four acres of promoboke land in our village and refused to vacate even after we issued a notice. Now we have asked the district administration to take over the lands from the private hands and surrender them to us.” He said the panchayat members have also placed a proposal to build concrete roads in the village. 

A resident of Perambakkam panchayat K. Mahalingam said young leaders of the panchayat took the initiative to refurbish the panchayat office, which had been abandoned for the last two decades. “They also run three free tuition centres for poor students. Though Perambakkam is a reserved panchayat for Dalits, these young Dalit  leaders have won the hearts of people from different communities,” he noted.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sanitation is my religion: International sanitation expert Bindeshwar Pathak

Chennai, September 5: Bindeshwar Pathak (70), social reformer, native of Bihar, fights the caste system in India and particularly discrimination against manual scavengers by the upper class by introducing green toilets. Born a Brahmin, Pathak lived with scavengers and founded Sulab sanitation and social reform movement in Delhi in 1970, and has now successfully constructed hundreds of toilet complexes which are being used by nearly 10 million Indians.He spoke to me after being awarded the 'lifetime achievement award' by the Rotary Club of Madras in the city last Tuesday.

Question: What are the advantages of Sulab toilet?

They are hygienically and technically appropriate. Ours is an affordable system and doesn't pollute the ground water. Sulab model is a clean toilet which can be fixed in a house and there will be no complaints of mosquito or foul smell. Apart from this, sulab converts the waste into compost, which could be used in the fields and house gardens. Our model has been acknowledged by the UNDP in the human development report.

Question: How about your presence in Tamil Nadu?
We are spreading it as much as we can. In Tamil Nadu there are small groups which have taken up projects to set up toilet complexes. Sulab toilet in Chennai airport is working well. Our eco-friendly toilet model has not been patented simply because we want many more to benefit.

Question: How far the Sulab projects have empowered the untouchables?

Instead of talking about figures, I am telling you a tale of two towns in Rajasthan - Alwar and Tonk - where the upper caste and lower caste people earlier involved in manual scavenging, dine together and live without any discrimination. Recently, I was informed that many upper caste families have shown interest in marrying lower caste women. We first make arrangements to bring people from different castes to have a cup of tea  together and then have food together. Sanitation is my religion. Ours is a protest   movement against caste hierarchy in Hinduism. Instead of raising our hands against them, we supplicate and win their hearts. Gandhigiri is our weapon.

Question: Why will utilising biogas-linked toilet complexes remain a far-fetched dream in India?

We have to stop feeling shy and discuss sanitation. Our toilet museum in Delhi was set up in 1994. Scores of people visit the museum and are thrilled about the toilets different civilisations used in the early ages. The government and voluntary organisations have to come forward to promote its usage and explain the benefits of biogas toilets. Apart from India, we have installed green toilets in Kabul in Afghanistan and now got invitations to set up the same in African cities. All this because people are willing to talk about toilets without feeling shy.

To know more about Bindeshwar Pathak:

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Gandhi to rescue our rupee

  • Why should we depend on MNCs to eat potato chips and gulp soft drinks?
  • Gandhian economics is not bullock cart economics 

Pramila Krishnan
Chennai, September1:  Mahatma Gandhi gave solutions to enhance the economic development of India, but we have failed to implement his models in a big way, says Gandhian, A. Annamalai, director of the Gandhian study centre in Chennai. Annamalai spoke to me about how economic policies framed without following Gandhian values have failed, and what are the immediate measures that can save us from this abysmal situation.

Question:  How can Gandhian economics shake us out of the present economic slowdown?

Annamalai: Gandhian economics is the best policy to develop India in a sustainable manner. For example, we celebrate allopathy and call our native medicine as alternative medicine; the same thing has happened with our economics now. Instead of strengthening our foothold in agriculture as Gandhi asked us, we invited multinational companies (MNC) to invest in every field in India. A foreign firm sets up a company only to earn more or use the cheap labour available here. If his profits plummet, he simply shuts up without bothering about the workers and consumers. So we have to understand that foreign investment happens because MNCs want to flourish and are not bothered about the welfare of Indians. As far as possible, we should have decentralised production and distribution for all goods.

MNCs recruit scores of educated youth every year. Isn’t this progress?

Annamalai: We have to understand that MNCs take a fresh load of workers every year. But do they expand their units? They get rid of workers and take new people every year. This creates an illusion that MNCs give employment to the masses. If the recruitment had really benefited us, why should the unemployment index soar in the country? Employment by MNCs has really benefited only the creamy layer of society.

Are Gandhian economics suitable for this era of consumerism?

Annamalai: Most people relate Gandhian economics with bullock cart economics and think it suitable only for villages. Gandhi also preached distribution of wealth. If you think a car is an essential need, it should be made available for the last citizen of this country. Ours is an agro-based economy. Unless we invest and improve agriculture, we won’t be able to see growth and empowerment of the common man. Privatisation and globalisation are not the roadmaps for Vallarasu India (superpower India). Why should we depend on MNCs to eat potato chips and gulp soft drinks? Can’t we produce and sell them locally? Localisation and swadeshi consumerism should be encouraged to free us from MNCs and fight economic slowdown.