Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang

MP: Malnourished Child’s Video Goes Viral Amidst Row Over Alleged Fraud in Nutrition Scheme

Opposition demands CM’s resignation over alleged fraud in THR nutrition & distribution scheme; govt report says nearly 10 lakh children malnourished in state.

16 Sep 2022

 Malnourished

Bhopal: A week after being admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Somvati Mawasi, an eight-year-old malnourished tribal girl of Chitrakoot town of Madhya Pradesh's Satna district,  has gained 600 grams of weight. She weighed a meagre seven kg when she was initially taken to the hospital.

She was diagnosed with acute malnourishment and juvenile diabetes, rare in children. According to her doctors, she is 15 kg underweight for her age and her blood sugar level has dropped to 110 which was around 700- seven times higher than the normal for children of her age.

When the doctors inquired about her family, Somvati's aunt Seema, a daily-wage labourer explained, “her father abandoned her mother when she was pregnant. Her mother also abandoned her when she was three-year-old and went away with someone else."

Since then she has been looked after by maternal aunt Seema and grandfather Kaku, a daily-wage labourer. Both failed to look after her as they leave home early morning in search of work while she remained alone at home.

She was also admitted to the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) twice in 2019 and 2020 for 14-days each after she was spotted by a local Anganwadi worker. But she was discharged irrespective of her deteriorating health conditions as per the laid down rules, said a health officer adding that she should have been enrolled on Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) as she was eligible for it.

"The health workers failed to spot her diabetic problem which was the main reason for her deteriorating health even though she was admitted to NRC twice," the officer of the Women and Child Development Department told NewsClick.

"We are giving her insulin for a week as she is showing a sign of improvement," he said. "We are also planning to rehabilitate her as she can't be sent back to her aunt and grandfather who are living in destitute," he added.

The District administration took up the call after a video of Somvati, a resident of Surangi Tola area of Chitrakoot town, created a buzz on social media which was noticed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and he took cognisance of it.

Her video came at a time when the opposition Congress has been demanding CM Chouhan’s resignation over the alleged fraud of over 110 crore in the Take Home Ration (THR) nutrition and distribution scheme between 2018 to 2021. THR is given to kids between six months and three years of age, out-of-school adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women.

Satna, home to over 6,000 malnourished children, is among the eight districts of Madhya Pradesh where the THR nutrition and distribution scheme was underway and a 36-page government audit detected massive fraud in it.

A fortnight before Somvati was spotted, nine-year-old Sunaina Mawasi, another severely malnourished tribal girl from the Maihar area of Satna district died in the hospital. The girl was admitted thrice to NRC but did not recover. Yet, the health officials claim that she died of a respiratory disorder.

The leaked report of the Madhya Pradesh Accountant General office shows huge discrepancies in the THR component of the supplementary nutrition programme under ICDS run by the Women and Child Development Department- a department headed by CM Chouhan since March 2020. But the state government denies any such fraud citing an incomplete report.

Taking action over the issue, the Satna district administration terminated the services of the local Anganwadi worker and suspended her supervisor. Besides, the Child Development Project Officer of ICDS in the concerned area has been suspended by the Rewa divisional commissioner on the recommendation of the Satna district collector.  

Despite repeated attempts, Satna District collector, Anurag Verma and Chief Medical Health officer 10.32 Lakh Severely Malnourished Kids in MP

In a reply to the question of malnourishment among kids in the assembly in March 2022, the State government said that there are 10.32 lakh malnourished children and of them, 6.30 lakh are severely malnourished.

Replying to the question of BJP MLA Chaitanya Kashyap, the Chief Minister, who holds the Women and Child Development Department portfolio, replied in the assembly. The State has a total of over 65 lakh children between the age group of 0-5 years. Of them, 10.32 lakh are malnourished and close to 6.30 lakh children are put in the severely malnourished category. 

Chouhan affirmed that the situation of malnutrition has improved in districts and added that the state government is making efforts to eradicate malnutrition under various schemes including Atal Bihari Vajpayee Bal Arogya and Poshan Mission.

NFHS -5

Every third kid aged under 0-5 years in Madhya Pradesh is stunted or too short for their age, according to the fifth round of the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-5) released by the ministry of health and family welfare this year.

The survey found that 36% of children under the age of five years are stunted, indicating that they have been undernourished for some time. The survey also pointed out that children’s nutritional status in Madhya Pradesh hasn't changed much by all measures since the previous NFHS-4. Lack of complementary feeding to kids aged above six months is the cause behind inadequate diet causing under-nutrition.

Commenting on it, Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasth Abhiyan told NewsClick, "corruption is a major reason for prevailing malnourishment in the state. Madhya Pradesh has over 6 lakh, malnourished kids, in 2012 and it's the same even after a year."

Emphasising tackling corruption in children's budget, he pointed out, "Decline in health indicators in various reports suggests that the policies and money government spent to eradicate malnourishment is eating up by corruption. We have seen massive irregularity in the Take Home Ration scheme, this is the tip of the iceberg."

Madhya Pradesh government has set up 313 NRCs in all blocks in rural areas in the state which is the highest in the country for taking care of these kids.

Courtesy: Newsclick

MP: Malnourished Child’s Video Goes Viral Amidst Row Over Alleged Fraud in Nutrition Scheme

Opposition demands CM’s resignation over alleged fraud in THR nutrition & distribution scheme; govt report says nearly 10 lakh children malnourished in state.

 Malnourished

Bhopal: A week after being admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Somvati Mawasi, an eight-year-old malnourished tribal girl of Chitrakoot town of Madhya Pradesh's Satna district,  has gained 600 grams of weight. She weighed a meagre seven kg when she was initially taken to the hospital.

She was diagnosed with acute malnourishment and juvenile diabetes, rare in children. According to her doctors, she is 15 kg underweight for her age and her blood sugar level has dropped to 110 which was around 700- seven times higher than the normal for children of her age.

When the doctors inquired about her family, Somvati's aunt Seema, a daily-wage labourer explained, “her father abandoned her mother when she was pregnant. Her mother also abandoned her when she was three-year-old and went away with someone else."

Since then she has been looked after by maternal aunt Seema and grandfather Kaku, a daily-wage labourer. Both failed to look after her as they leave home early morning in search of work while she remained alone at home.

She was also admitted to the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) twice in 2019 and 2020 for 14-days each after she was spotted by a local Anganwadi worker. But she was discharged irrespective of her deteriorating health conditions as per the laid down rules, said a health officer adding that she should have been enrolled on Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) as she was eligible for it.

"The health workers failed to spot her diabetic problem which was the main reason for her deteriorating health even though she was admitted to NRC twice," the officer of the Women and Child Development Department told NewsClick.

"We are giving her insulin for a week as she is showing a sign of improvement," he said. "We are also planning to rehabilitate her as she can't be sent back to her aunt and grandfather who are living in destitute," he added.

The District administration took up the call after a video of Somvati, a resident of Surangi Tola area of Chitrakoot town, created a buzz on social media which was noticed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and he took cognisance of it.

Her video came at a time when the opposition Congress has been demanding CM Chouhan’s resignation over the alleged fraud of over 110 crore in the Take Home Ration (THR) nutrition and distribution scheme between 2018 to 2021. THR is given to kids between six months and three years of age, out-of-school adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women.

Satna, home to over 6,000 malnourished children, is among the eight districts of Madhya Pradesh where the THR nutrition and distribution scheme was underway and a 36-page government audit detected massive fraud in it.

A fortnight before Somvati was spotted, nine-year-old Sunaina Mawasi, another severely malnourished tribal girl from the Maihar area of Satna district died in the hospital. The girl was admitted thrice to NRC but did not recover. Yet, the health officials claim that she died of a respiratory disorder.

The leaked report of the Madhya Pradesh Accountant General office shows huge discrepancies in the THR component of the supplementary nutrition programme under ICDS run by the Women and Child Development Department- a department headed by CM Chouhan since March 2020. But the state government denies any such fraud citing an incomplete report.

Taking action over the issue, the Satna district administration terminated the services of the local Anganwadi worker and suspended her supervisor. Besides, the Child Development Project Officer of ICDS in the concerned area has been suspended by the Rewa divisional commissioner on the recommendation of the Satna district collector.  

Despite repeated attempts, Satna District collector, Anurag Verma and Chief Medical Health officer 10.32 Lakh Severely Malnourished Kids in MP

In a reply to the question of malnourishment among kids in the assembly in March 2022, the State government said that there are 10.32 lakh malnourished children and of them, 6.30 lakh are severely malnourished.

Replying to the question of BJP MLA Chaitanya Kashyap, the Chief Minister, who holds the Women and Child Development Department portfolio, replied in the assembly. The State has a total of over 65 lakh children between the age group of 0-5 years. Of them, 10.32 lakh are malnourished and close to 6.30 lakh children are put in the severely malnourished category. 

Chouhan affirmed that the situation of malnutrition has improved in districts and added that the state government is making efforts to eradicate malnutrition under various schemes including Atal Bihari Vajpayee Bal Arogya and Poshan Mission.

NFHS -5

Every third kid aged under 0-5 years in Madhya Pradesh is stunted or too short for their age, according to the fifth round of the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-5) released by the ministry of health and family welfare this year.

The survey found that 36% of children under the age of five years are stunted, indicating that they have been undernourished for some time. The survey also pointed out that children’s nutritional status in Madhya Pradesh hasn't changed much by all measures since the previous NFHS-4. Lack of complementary feeding to kids aged above six months is the cause behind inadequate diet causing under-nutrition.

Commenting on it, Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasth Abhiyan told NewsClick, "corruption is a major reason for prevailing malnourishment in the state. Madhya Pradesh has over 6 lakh, malnourished kids, in 2012 and it's the same even after a year."

Emphasising tackling corruption in children's budget, he pointed out, "Decline in health indicators in various reports suggests that the policies and money government spent to eradicate malnourishment is eating up by corruption. We have seen massive irregularity in the Take Home Ration scheme, this is the tip of the iceberg."

Madhya Pradesh government has set up 313 NRCs in all blocks in rural areas in the state which is the highest in the country for taking care of these kids.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

When Forest Rights meets Right to Education

23 Aug 2022

Right to Education

With the horrors of the deadly virus still in the air, this would appear to be like a remarkable fairy tale in the post-Covid pandemic scenario, almost like a dream come true, almost like the Sound of Music multiplied many times over. It is quite unbelievable, but true.

Across the dense forests and zigzag hilly terrain, full of water bodies, rivers and lakes, interspersed with sloping meadows, land turned into jhoom (burnt land,  shifting cultivation) and allowed to discover its own bio-diversity untouched by human intervention for years, and lush green paddy fields, a dream is truly and slowly coming true. The dream of Ajendra and his wife Madhavi Reang. And, surprisingly, even during the pandemic and lockdown, the dream flowered.

Next to the green density of the Chittagong Hill Tract across the Bangladesh border, in the Karbook subdivision of Tripura, are several scattered and distant villages inhabited by the Reang community. Soft-spoken, gentle and beautiful, these hard working communities lack basic infrastructure – not an unusual phenomenon in distant tribal locations across the mountains, plains and forests inhabited by the tribals in various parts of India – from Abhujmarh in Chhattisgarh to Niyamgiri in Western Orissa. In the Northeast, particularly, invisibilized by mainstream India and its media, the communities live far away and undisturbed, but often without any amenities: roads, health centres and hospitals, schools and colleges, and drinking water.

In the region bordering the Chittagong Hill Tract, the 50,000 odd tribals of the Reang community lack especially one important thing: education for their children. For their children to be educated is a deep and internalized longing that cuts across caste, communities, religions, geographies and inherited histories in most parts of India. Everyone wants good education and health systems for their children and their communities.

That is why the dream is flourishing and unfolding every day in village Shimbhua, at the St Thomas School and hostel, run by Ajendra and Madhabi, his wife. In a context where there are literally no teachers in most schools, and where children have to walk for miles in the dense forest to reach their schools and return home, both of them have set up a school which is becoming a role model.

There are 300 students in their school, 200 of them hostelers. So who are these kids?

These are mostly toddlers, little ones, barely three years or less, girls and boys, and some kids older than them. The little ones are helped by the older ones– for instance if they wet their pants, or need to go to the toilet. The girls live in separate quarters, cleaning and sprucing up the place, still active despite the heat.  It is a hot afternoon, so the boys have had their meals and are now resting, on the ground, on the beds, two in one, deep asleep, in their separate hostel. The kids play football, cricket and other games. Many of them were enjoying a break at the empty bus stop near the school, laughing, screaming and playing. They waved with joy when they saw us.

The question is why and how have their parents, who live in distant tribal settlements in the forest, often with no transportation, chosen to trust the couple and left their little ones in their care? And how does this confident couple manage so many kids next to their house?  And how do so many kids live in harmony and peace, without missing the comfort of their own homes and their parents and siblings?

In a context whereby most schools do not even have teachers or in a context when secondary education is all but absent in many tribal hamlets in the north of Tripura, this school in the south, close to the border of Bangladesh, is becoming a landmark in primary and secondary education.

There are 13 teachers in the school, both male and female, and all of them are young, confident and committed. A young woman teacher came out of the girls hostel, shook our hands and welcomed us, speaking English. The other teachers joined in the discussion on the problems and difficulties facing the people, and how the Forest Rights Act and the Gram Sabha have been missing in this area, though people still own community and individual lands in the forest, mostly for jhoom cultivation.

Madhabi studied in Rudrapur in Uttarakhand, though she could not  complete her graduation. There is a Reang community there, so she could travel all the way there for higher education. Now, she is a full-time and dedicated teacher in the school, also taking care of the hostel and the meals with the cooks.  One of the cooks is differently abled, but fully involved in the discussion.

Says Ajendra, “I have a dream. We are working to introduce studies up to Class 10. Three students might actually go to college one of these days. These little ones are our life here – we take care of them like their parents. Their parents and community trust us. You see, the lack of education is so stark and parents really want to get their children educated. That is why we have created a hostel as well for girls and boys.”

Around 100 students are day-scholars, while 200 students live in the hostel. Many of their parents visit them almost every week on two-wheelers or auto rickshaws. They bring fruits and food which is collectively shared. Ajendra is a well-off farmer, and owns a car, one of the very few in the area. The day-scholars pay Rs 300 per month, while those in the hostel pay Rs 1200 per month, which includes fees.

“We are committed to bringing in high quality education. If you have suggestions for alternative curriculum, or reference material, please do tell us,” said a teacher, when it was suggested that perhaps they could look into the innovative and imaginative methods used by the NGO, Pratham, to sharpen the minds of the children, to expand their imagination and knowledge systems about daily life and meaningful associations, and to make them more confident in learning the ways of their own indigenous community and the outside world, recognizing objects and their social meanings, while celebrating the world of story-telling and mathematics alike.

So what do they do if there are kids who are too naughty? “Well,” said Ajendra, “three kids did not let us sleep. They would scream at the top of their voice. So we took some advice from our elders. We rubbed a little salt below their teeth when they would scream. That would make them quiet.”

Indeed, the communities here are gearing up to fight a protracted and peaceful struggle for their inherited forest rights in the face of official and unilateral announcements by the authorities that they cannot cultivate or use ‘forest department land’, including for jhoom cultivation. This land, which is essentially their traditional community land for hundreds of years, is precious to them, and they love and protect the forests.

Hence, this school is an eye-opener. It only proves that a new generation of tribal children are getting ready to inherit their history, culture and civilization. And their forests, fully equipped with new knowledge systems and skills.

Amit Sengupta is Executive Editor, Hardnews and a columnist, currently based in Kolkata

Courtesy: https://countercurrents.org

When Forest Rights meets Right to Education

Right to Education

With the horrors of the deadly virus still in the air, this would appear to be like a remarkable fairy tale in the post-Covid pandemic scenario, almost like a dream come true, almost like the Sound of Music multiplied many times over. It is quite unbelievable, but true.

Across the dense forests and zigzag hilly terrain, full of water bodies, rivers and lakes, interspersed with sloping meadows, land turned into jhoom (burnt land,  shifting cultivation) and allowed to discover its own bio-diversity untouched by human intervention for years, and lush green paddy fields, a dream is truly and slowly coming true. The dream of Ajendra and his wife Madhavi Reang. And, surprisingly, even during the pandemic and lockdown, the dream flowered.

Next to the green density of the Chittagong Hill Tract across the Bangladesh border, in the Karbook subdivision of Tripura, are several scattered and distant villages inhabited by the Reang community. Soft-spoken, gentle and beautiful, these hard working communities lack basic infrastructure – not an unusual phenomenon in distant tribal locations across the mountains, plains and forests inhabited by the tribals in various parts of India – from Abhujmarh in Chhattisgarh to Niyamgiri in Western Orissa. In the Northeast, particularly, invisibilized by mainstream India and its media, the communities live far away and undisturbed, but often without any amenities: roads, health centres and hospitals, schools and colleges, and drinking water.

In the region bordering the Chittagong Hill Tract, the 50,000 odd tribals of the Reang community lack especially one important thing: education for their children. For their children to be educated is a deep and internalized longing that cuts across caste, communities, religions, geographies and inherited histories in most parts of India. Everyone wants good education and health systems for their children and their communities.

That is why the dream is flourishing and unfolding every day in village Shimbhua, at the St Thomas School and hostel, run by Ajendra and Madhabi, his wife. In a context where there are literally no teachers in most schools, and where children have to walk for miles in the dense forest to reach their schools and return home, both of them have set up a school which is becoming a role model.

There are 300 students in their school, 200 of them hostelers. So who are these kids?

These are mostly toddlers, little ones, barely three years or less, girls and boys, and some kids older than them. The little ones are helped by the older ones– for instance if they wet their pants, or need to go to the toilet. The girls live in separate quarters, cleaning and sprucing up the place, still active despite the heat.  It is a hot afternoon, so the boys have had their meals and are now resting, on the ground, on the beds, two in one, deep asleep, in their separate hostel. The kids play football, cricket and other games. Many of them were enjoying a break at the empty bus stop near the school, laughing, screaming and playing. They waved with joy when they saw us.

The question is why and how have their parents, who live in distant tribal settlements in the forest, often with no transportation, chosen to trust the couple and left their little ones in their care? And how does this confident couple manage so many kids next to their house?  And how do so many kids live in harmony and peace, without missing the comfort of their own homes and their parents and siblings?

In a context whereby most schools do not even have teachers or in a context when secondary education is all but absent in many tribal hamlets in the north of Tripura, this school in the south, close to the border of Bangladesh, is becoming a landmark in primary and secondary education.

There are 13 teachers in the school, both male and female, and all of them are young, confident and committed. A young woman teacher came out of the girls hostel, shook our hands and welcomed us, speaking English. The other teachers joined in the discussion on the problems and difficulties facing the people, and how the Forest Rights Act and the Gram Sabha have been missing in this area, though people still own community and individual lands in the forest, mostly for jhoom cultivation.

Madhabi studied in Rudrapur in Uttarakhand, though she could not  complete her graduation. There is a Reang community there, so she could travel all the way there for higher education. Now, she is a full-time and dedicated teacher in the school, also taking care of the hostel and the meals with the cooks.  One of the cooks is differently abled, but fully involved in the discussion.

Says Ajendra, “I have a dream. We are working to introduce studies up to Class 10. Three students might actually go to college one of these days. These little ones are our life here – we take care of them like their parents. Their parents and community trust us. You see, the lack of education is so stark and parents really want to get their children educated. That is why we have created a hostel as well for girls and boys.”

Around 100 students are day-scholars, while 200 students live in the hostel. Many of their parents visit them almost every week on two-wheelers or auto rickshaws. They bring fruits and food which is collectively shared. Ajendra is a well-off farmer, and owns a car, one of the very few in the area. The day-scholars pay Rs 300 per month, while those in the hostel pay Rs 1200 per month, which includes fees.

“We are committed to bringing in high quality education. If you have suggestions for alternative curriculum, or reference material, please do tell us,” said a teacher, when it was suggested that perhaps they could look into the innovative and imaginative methods used by the NGO, Pratham, to sharpen the minds of the children, to expand their imagination and knowledge systems about daily life and meaningful associations, and to make them more confident in learning the ways of their own indigenous community and the outside world, recognizing objects and their social meanings, while celebrating the world of story-telling and mathematics alike.

So what do they do if there are kids who are too naughty? “Well,” said Ajendra, “three kids did not let us sleep. They would scream at the top of their voice. So we took some advice from our elders. We rubbed a little salt below their teeth when they would scream. That would make them quiet.”

Indeed, the communities here are gearing up to fight a protracted and peaceful struggle for their inherited forest rights in the face of official and unilateral announcements by the authorities that they cannot cultivate or use ‘forest department land’, including for jhoom cultivation. This land, which is essentially their traditional community land for hundreds of years, is precious to them, and they love and protect the forests.

Hence, this school is an eye-opener. It only proves that a new generation of tribal children are getting ready to inherit their history, culture and civilization. And their forests, fully equipped with new knowledge systems and skills.

Amit Sengupta is Executive Editor, Hardnews and a columnist, currently based in Kolkata

Courtesy: https://countercurrents.org

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Over a Month, People With HIV Continue Protest at NACO’s Office Alleging ARV Drug Shortage

Officials assure fresh supply, as protesters say non-availability of drugs for the next few weeks could lead to serious complications.

20 Aug 2022

ANI
HIV patients protest outside the National AIDS Control Organization's office in Delhi claiming a shortage of antiretroviral drugs. Image Courtesy: ANI Twitter
 

New Delhi: Protest by a group of HIV-positive people alleging shortage of certain antiretroviral (ARV) drugs continues for almost a month, officials from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) held a meeting with them and assured fresh supply of medicines.

The officials on Thursday claimed that fresh supplies were being expedited and airlifted to priority locations. However, the protestors said they will continue the dharna until "all HIV patients in India start receiving one month of medicines."

They have been alleging complete unavailability of certain drugs, including those for children living with HIV, and random shifting to another class of drugs for most of the patients.

They say non-availability of drugs for the next few weeks could lead to serious complications.

Official sources said the officers have been in constant touch with the protestors from the day they launched the dharna at NACO's Chanderlok office premises.

In the beginning, discussions were held with division heads of NACO and subsequently escalated to the next level-the director of NACO.

Particular efforts have been made to ensure safety of the protestors in terms of making available drinking water, electricity and basic amenities at the NACO office premises, a source said.

"In today's meeting, the NACO director assured two representatives of significant improvements in the ARV fresh supplies that are being expedited and airlifted to priority locations.

"While the representatives acknowledged these improvements in stock availability and dispensation for one month, especially in Delhi and many other states, they continued to raise anecdotal issues of 'stock-out' of ARVs in few states as well as lay instances of patients not receiving drugs," an official source said.

A protestor told PTI on Thursday, "We are protesting since July 21. Due to heat and outside food, people have started falling ill. We were here on August 15 like prisoners. Entire India was celebrating Independence Day but we were here. The building and the toilets were locked. We had to walk down to the ground floor for basic facilities. One thing that keeps us on our toes is the need of our brothers and sisters in the community.

"Today, we held a meeting with NACO officials and they assured us that every patient in Delhi has started receiving one month of ART. We were asked to call off the protest but we were firm and our response was very clear that we will continue our protest till all HIV patients in India start receiving one month of medicines," he added.

NACO Additional Secretary and Director General Alok Saxena said the organisation will continue to hear voices of the community and that it believes in the culture of working in partnership with them to design and implement strategies outlined under the National AIDS Control Programme.

He urged the representatives to end the dharna, especially since their demand for ARV drug dispensation for at least one month at a time is met with. Also, he said, since NACO is a government office, protests during weekends will be non-productive.

He also appealed to the representatives to repose their faith in the system, end the protest and vacate the NACO premises, sources said.

"The focus has been on non-confrontational cooperative partnership. Community representatives are always included in meetings of technical resource groups and other consultations of NACO, prior to any major policy or programmatic decision," the official source said.

"The director said once the protestors lift the dharna, NACO and People Living With HIV (PLHIV) networks can jointly evolve timelines so that the entire machinery is responsive and work is done to everyone's satisfaction in a time-bound manner.

"Also, according to past practice, key members of the network volunteering to help in streamlining the systems to ensure seamless delivery of ARVs to PLHIV could come to NACO office and engage with officers," the source said.

The dharna, however, is yet to be called off, he said.

Health ministry officials had earlier said there was enough stock of all ARV drugs at the state level and fresh supply orders for procurement of the next lot of several drugs had been placed.

Individual ART centres may have this issue at times, but the medicines are immediately relocated from nearby centres, they had said.

The government had recently told Lok Sabha that there is adequate stock of ARV medicines for around 95 per cent of people living with HIV in India.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Over a Month, People With HIV Continue Protest at NACO’s Office Alleging ARV Drug Shortage

Officials assure fresh supply, as protesters say non-availability of drugs for the next few weeks could lead to serious complications.

ANI
HIV patients protest outside the National AIDS Control Organization's office in Delhi claiming a shortage of antiretroviral drugs. Image Courtesy: ANI Twitter
 

New Delhi: Protest by a group of HIV-positive people alleging shortage of certain antiretroviral (ARV) drugs continues for almost a month, officials from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) held a meeting with them and assured fresh supply of medicines.

The officials on Thursday claimed that fresh supplies were being expedited and airlifted to priority locations. However, the protestors said they will continue the dharna until "all HIV patients in India start receiving one month of medicines."

They have been alleging complete unavailability of certain drugs, including those for children living with HIV, and random shifting to another class of drugs for most of the patients.

They say non-availability of drugs for the next few weeks could lead to serious complications.

Official sources said the officers have been in constant touch with the protestors from the day they launched the dharna at NACO's Chanderlok office premises.

In the beginning, discussions were held with division heads of NACO and subsequently escalated to the next level-the director of NACO.

Particular efforts have been made to ensure safety of the protestors in terms of making available drinking water, electricity and basic amenities at the NACO office premises, a source said.

"In today's meeting, the NACO director assured two representatives of significant improvements in the ARV fresh supplies that are being expedited and airlifted to priority locations.

"While the representatives acknowledged these improvements in stock availability and dispensation for one month, especially in Delhi and many other states, they continued to raise anecdotal issues of 'stock-out' of ARVs in few states as well as lay instances of patients not receiving drugs," an official source said.

A protestor told PTI on Thursday, "We are protesting since July 21. Due to heat and outside food, people have started falling ill. We were here on August 15 like prisoners. Entire India was celebrating Independence Day but we were here. The building and the toilets were locked. We had to walk down to the ground floor for basic facilities. One thing that keeps us on our toes is the need of our brothers and sisters in the community.

"Today, we held a meeting with NACO officials and they assured us that every patient in Delhi has started receiving one month of ART. We were asked to call off the protest but we were firm and our response was very clear that we will continue our protest till all HIV patients in India start receiving one month of medicines," he added.

NACO Additional Secretary and Director General Alok Saxena said the organisation will continue to hear voices of the community and that it believes in the culture of working in partnership with them to design and implement strategies outlined under the National AIDS Control Programme.

He urged the representatives to end the dharna, especially since their demand for ARV drug dispensation for at least one month at a time is met with. Also, he said, since NACO is a government office, protests during weekends will be non-productive.

He also appealed to the representatives to repose their faith in the system, end the protest and vacate the NACO premises, sources said.

"The focus has been on non-confrontational cooperative partnership. Community representatives are always included in meetings of technical resource groups and other consultations of NACO, prior to any major policy or programmatic decision," the official source said.

"The director said once the protestors lift the dharna, NACO and People Living With HIV (PLHIV) networks can jointly evolve timelines so that the entire machinery is responsive and work is done to everyone's satisfaction in a time-bound manner.

"Also, according to past practice, key members of the network volunteering to help in streamlining the systems to ensure seamless delivery of ARVs to PLHIV could come to NACO office and engage with officers," the source said.

The dharna, however, is yet to be called off, he said.

Health ministry officials had earlier said there was enough stock of all ARV drugs at the state level and fresh supply orders for procurement of the next lot of several drugs had been placed.

Individual ART centres may have this issue at times, but the medicines are immediately relocated from nearby centres, they had said.

The government had recently told Lok Sabha that there is adequate stock of ARV medicines for around 95 per cent of people living with HIV in India.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Two Starvation Deaths in Fortnight Rattles West Bengal

Confusion caused due to overlapping ration schemes and unemployment appear to be direct causes behind the starvation deaths.

18 Aug 2022

Starvation deaths

Kolkata: Two tragic starvation deaths in the previous fortnight during the 76th independence day celebrations have rattled the state. Both the two deaths were reported from backward regions of West Bengal - one from Bhulabheda of West Medinipur district and the other from Kranti block of Malbazar in Jalpaiguri district.

The first incident involves the death of Sanjay Sardar died on August 3 due to malnutrition as he was left without food for days. The family has been in dire straits after he contracted tuberculosis in the month of June and Sanjay, a daily wage earner, could not go to work.

Though on paper there are schemes like Laxmi Bhandar and other schemes; however Sanjay didn't have the required Scheduled Caste (SC) certificate, resulting in his family not receiving the stipulated Rs 1,000.

Based on a report by a Bengali news daily, a team from the Right to Food and Work Campaign visited Bhulabheda recently and surveyed the condition of people living there. In the fact finding report it is stated that the death of the daily wage earner should be seen in the context of the food crisis that has set in the area. Sanjay’s family admitted to the fact-finding team that getting even one square meal for a day was difficult for them. Moreover as the family didn't have Aadhar card linkage with their ration card, they did not get the stipulated Rajya Khadya Suraksha Yojana (RKSY 2) ration which is monthly 1 kg of rice and 1 kg of wheat.

Sanjay Sardar was a migrant labourer who lost his job during the first lockdown, according to the report. After coming home in March 2020 he did not get any work in the village. Sometimes, he got paid as a farmhand but that was extremely irregular. While the family needed an Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) ration card, the government instead gave them a RKSY 2 ration card which is meant for relatively better-off persons. It should be noted that in AAY scheme, a family gets 35 kgs of rice and wheat and cereals.

The second starvation death occurred in a closed tea garden where a tea garden worker, Dinesh Orao, lost his life on August 13 due to malnutrition as he was left without food for months.

The name of the tea garden is Raj Project Garden. As the tea garden owner, Dharmendra Thakur arbitrarily closed the plantation on July 10, Orao’s family had been starving for months.

“The owner of the garden is singularly responsible for this death,” family members of the deceased told reporters.

It may be recalled that in the Malbazar area, a number of tea gardens including Nageshwari tea estate, Bagrakote tea estate, Kilkote tea estate and many other tea estates are closed, and this has resulted in widespread hunger among tea garden workers in the area.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Two Starvation Deaths in Fortnight Rattles West Bengal

Confusion caused due to overlapping ration schemes and unemployment appear to be direct causes behind the starvation deaths.

Starvation deaths

Kolkata: Two tragic starvation deaths in the previous fortnight during the 76th independence day celebrations have rattled the state. Both the two deaths were reported from backward regions of West Bengal - one from Bhulabheda of West Medinipur district and the other from Kranti block of Malbazar in Jalpaiguri district.

The first incident involves the death of Sanjay Sardar died on August 3 due to malnutrition as he was left without food for days. The family has been in dire straits after he contracted tuberculosis in the month of June and Sanjay, a daily wage earner, could not go to work.

Though on paper there are schemes like Laxmi Bhandar and other schemes; however Sanjay didn't have the required Scheduled Caste (SC) certificate, resulting in his family not receiving the stipulated Rs 1,000.

Based on a report by a Bengali news daily, a team from the Right to Food and Work Campaign visited Bhulabheda recently and surveyed the condition of people living there. In the fact finding report it is stated that the death of the daily wage earner should be seen in the context of the food crisis that has set in the area. Sanjay’s family admitted to the fact-finding team that getting even one square meal for a day was difficult for them. Moreover as the family didn't have Aadhar card linkage with their ration card, they did not get the stipulated Rajya Khadya Suraksha Yojana (RKSY 2) ration which is monthly 1 kg of rice and 1 kg of wheat.

Sanjay Sardar was a migrant labourer who lost his job during the first lockdown, according to the report. After coming home in March 2020 he did not get any work in the village. Sometimes, he got paid as a farmhand but that was extremely irregular. While the family needed an Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) ration card, the government instead gave them a RKSY 2 ration card which is meant for relatively better-off persons. It should be noted that in AAY scheme, a family gets 35 kgs of rice and wheat and cereals.

The second starvation death occurred in a closed tea garden where a tea garden worker, Dinesh Orao, lost his life on August 13 due to malnutrition as he was left without food for months.

The name of the tea garden is Raj Project Garden. As the tea garden owner, Dharmendra Thakur arbitrarily closed the plantation on July 10, Orao’s family had been starving for months.

“The owner of the garden is singularly responsible for this death,” family members of the deceased told reporters.

It may be recalled that in the Malbazar area, a number of tea gardens including Nageshwari tea estate, Bagrakote tea estate, Kilkote tea estate and many other tea estates are closed, and this has resulted in widespread hunger among tea garden workers in the area.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Climate Change May Increase Mortality Rate by 6 Times Due to Excess Heat: Lancet Study

The study said rise in night heat events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to sleep disruption.

10 Aug 2022

climate change
Image: Newsclick

Beijing: Climate change may increase the mortality rate due to excessive heat six times by the end of the century, according to a modelling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina, US noted that ambient heat during the night may interrupt the normal physiology of sleep.

Less sleep can then lead to immune system damage and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic illnesses, inflammation and mental health conditions, they said.

The study found that the average intensity of hot night events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to excessive heat that disrupts normal sleep.

The findings show that the burden of mortality could be significantly higher than estimated by average daily temperature increase.

The results suggest that warming from climate change could have a troubling impact, even under restrictions from the Paris Climate Agreement that aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

"The risks of increasing temperature at night were frequently neglected," said study co-author Yuqiang Zhang, a climate scientist at the University of North Carolina.

"However, in our study, we found that the occurrences of hot night excess (HNE) are projected to occur more rapidly than the daily mean temperature changes," Zhang said.

The study shows that the frequency and mean intensity of hot nights would increase more than 30% and 60% by the 2100s, respectively, compared with less than 20% increase for the daily mean temperature.

 The researchers estimated the mortality due to excess heat in 28 cities in China, South Korea and Japan between 1980 and 2015 and applied it to two climate change modelling scenarios that aligned with carbon-reduction scenarios adapted by the respective national governments.

The team was able to estimate that between 2016 and 2100, the risk of death from excessively hot nights would increase nearly by six-fold.  This prediction is much higher than the mortality risk from daily average warming suggested by climate change models.

"From our study, we highlight that in assessing the disease burden due to non-optimum temperature, governments and local policymakers should consider the extra health impacts of the disproportional intra-day temperature variations," said Haidong Kan, a professor at Fudan University in China.

"A more complete health risk assessment of future climate change can help policymakers for better resource allocation and priority setting," said Kan, the corresponding author of the study.

The researchers also found that regional differences in temperature accounted for many of the variances in night time temperature, and areas with the lowest average temperature were projected to have the largest warming potential.

 "To combat the health risk raised by the temperature increases from climate change, we should design efficient ways to help people adapt," said Zhang.

"Locally, heat during the night should be taken into account when designing the future heat wave warning system, especially for vulnerable populations and low-income communities who may not be able to afford the additional expense of air conditioning," the scientist said.

The researchers said stronger mitigation strategies, including global collaborations, should be considered to reduce future impacts of warming.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Climate Change May Increase Mortality Rate by 6 Times Due to Excess Heat: Lancet Study

The study said rise in night heat events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to sleep disruption.

climate change
Image: Newsclick

Beijing: Climate change may increase the mortality rate due to excessive heat six times by the end of the century, according to a modelling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina, US noted that ambient heat during the night may interrupt the normal physiology of sleep.

Less sleep can then lead to immune system damage and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic illnesses, inflammation and mental health conditions, they said.

The study found that the average intensity of hot night events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to excessive heat that disrupts normal sleep.

The findings show that the burden of mortality could be significantly higher than estimated by average daily temperature increase.

The results suggest that warming from climate change could have a troubling impact, even under restrictions from the Paris Climate Agreement that aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

"The risks of increasing temperature at night were frequently neglected," said study co-author Yuqiang Zhang, a climate scientist at the University of North Carolina.

"However, in our study, we found that the occurrences of hot night excess (HNE) are projected to occur more rapidly than the daily mean temperature changes," Zhang said.

The study shows that the frequency and mean intensity of hot nights would increase more than 30% and 60% by the 2100s, respectively, compared with less than 20% increase for the daily mean temperature.

 The researchers estimated the mortality due to excess heat in 28 cities in China, South Korea and Japan between 1980 and 2015 and applied it to two climate change modelling scenarios that aligned with carbon-reduction scenarios adapted by the respective national governments.

The team was able to estimate that between 2016 and 2100, the risk of death from excessively hot nights would increase nearly by six-fold.  This prediction is much higher than the mortality risk from daily average warming suggested by climate change models.

"From our study, we highlight that in assessing the disease burden due to non-optimum temperature, governments and local policymakers should consider the extra health impacts of the disproportional intra-day temperature variations," said Haidong Kan, a professor at Fudan University in China.

"A more complete health risk assessment of future climate change can help policymakers for better resource allocation and priority setting," said Kan, the corresponding author of the study.

The researchers also found that regional differences in temperature accounted for many of the variances in night time temperature, and areas with the lowest average temperature were projected to have the largest warming potential.

 "To combat the health risk raised by the temperature increases from climate change, we should design efficient ways to help people adapt," said Zhang.

"Locally, heat during the night should be taken into account when designing the future heat wave warning system, especially for vulnerable populations and low-income communities who may not be able to afford the additional expense of air conditioning," the scientist said.

The researchers said stronger mitigation strategies, including global collaborations, should be considered to reduce future impacts of warming.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

UP: Long lines for funerals return in Varanasi ghats

Local newspaper report Covid-like atmosphere at crematoriums with multiple bodies on the pyre at once

17 Jun 2022

Funerals
Image Courtesy:amarujala.com

The horror of excess deaths returns in the Ghats of Varanasi. As the heat in cremation grounds rises, the plague of long lines, insufficient facilities and simultaneously burning pyres return, reports Amar Ujala.

On June 15, 2022, Amar Ujala, a widely circulating Hindi newspaper reported, in an exclusive report on how the Mokshanagari Kashi crematorium once again reports long lines of families waiting to carry out the last rites of their kin. After the surge of Covid-19 cases last year, the area reported around 40-50 deaths at the crematoriums. Since last week, these numbers have increased to 120 deaths.

People wait for four hours to bid their deceased goodbye while the officials call more people to carry out cremations. Amar Ujala reported that due to lack of platform(s) and construction work at Manikarnika shrine, space for cremation is falling short. Since last week, it has reported 100 to 120 deaths. From June 13 till June 14 night, over 135 cremations took place at Manikarnika Ghat.

Funerals

One person told the newspaper that he travelled from Patna with his grandfather’s body. Further, as in times of Covid-19 surge, the demand for wood has also doubled. As many as 12 bodies are burnt simultaneously on lower platforms and 10 bodies are burnt on upper platforms.

Overall, people from districts of Purvanchal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh all visit the Kashi region for last rites. Part of this reason may be because locals are reluctant to allow the bodies to be buried in villages, on private land. In Ishwarpur village, Amar Ujala said that there was a dispute on Tuesday morning over the burial of an old man on private land. The SDM Pindra and the police pacified villagers by assuring them the son would bury the body away from the public. Similarly, a retired doctor from the Health department CMS also faced flak from villagers for trying to bury his 85-year-old deceased mother Surjakali in private land. While officials again had to intervene to settle the matter, the shocking fact is that these deaths are – once again – not reflected in government figures.

On June 9, India reported 7,240 active Covid-19 cases. This was the first time since March 1 that the daily number of active cases exceeded the 7,000 mark. In the month of June, over 39,400 fresh cases have been reported in India. For this reason, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi and Karnataka were put on high alert.

Accordingly, the four regions have reported around 1,000 (Delhi) to over 4,000 (Maharashtra) infections with Karnataka reporting around 800 deaths.  Maharashtra reported three deaths, Kerala reported eight deaths, Karnataka reported one death and Delhi reported two deaths by June 17. However Uttar Pradesh, despite reporting 20,83,072 cases with an increase of 413 cases has not reported any deaths.

On Friday, Indian Express also reported how Covid-19 cases in Uttar Pradesh increased by 413 cases on Thursday over the last 24 hours with Varanasi reporting 14 new cases. Still, there were no reports over the number of deaths.

Earlier in 2021, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) published a report on the death figures in Varanasi. The survey in parts of Varanasi, Ghazipur, Jaunpur and Chandauli showed how the Ghats were inundated with bodies and lack of supplies during the second wave of Covid-19. Families failed to report deaths in rural areas and many people were unaware of the precautions necessary against Covid-19. Data suggested that areas in eastern UP especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi had 60 percent excess deaths during the pandemic relative to 2019.

As per CJP’s report, surveyed areas had 55-60 percent more deaths from January 2020 to August 2021 than expected in this period. Subsequent coverage of the region also showed how people were struggling to access hospitals even for regular virals or infections.

The state government was accused of manipulating Covid-related data to create the impression that the healthcare system was effective. Now, this report by Amar Ujala comes after the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) estimates of a whopping 47.4 lakh excess deaths in India. This number is nearly 10 times the country’s official Covid-19 reported deaths between 2020 and 2021.

With cases once again on the rise, people are being once again urged – at least by the four state governments on alert – to follow Covid-protocols and exercise social distancing.

Related:

In 2021, COVID Deaths Surged in Stunning Fashion in Eastern UP, Investigation Finds
47.4 lakh excess deaths in India: WHO
India ranks high in cumulative excess Covid-deaths: Lancet report
UP: 1,621 people on polling duty dead, but gov't recognises only 3! 

 

UP: Long lines for funerals return in Varanasi ghats

Local newspaper report Covid-like atmosphere at crematoriums with multiple bodies on the pyre at once

Funerals
Image Courtesy:amarujala.com

The horror of excess deaths returns in the Ghats of Varanasi. As the heat in cremation grounds rises, the plague of long lines, insufficient facilities and simultaneously burning pyres return, reports Amar Ujala.

On June 15, 2022, Amar Ujala, a widely circulating Hindi newspaper reported, in an exclusive report on how the Mokshanagari Kashi crematorium once again reports long lines of families waiting to carry out the last rites of their kin. After the surge of Covid-19 cases last year, the area reported around 40-50 deaths at the crematoriums. Since last week, these numbers have increased to 120 deaths.

People wait for four hours to bid their deceased goodbye while the officials call more people to carry out cremations. Amar Ujala reported that due to lack of platform(s) and construction work at Manikarnika shrine, space for cremation is falling short. Since last week, it has reported 100 to 120 deaths. From June 13 till June 14 night, over 135 cremations took place at Manikarnika Ghat.

Funerals

One person told the newspaper that he travelled from Patna with his grandfather’s body. Further, as in times of Covid-19 surge, the demand for wood has also doubled. As many as 12 bodies are burnt simultaneously on lower platforms and 10 bodies are burnt on upper platforms.

Overall, people from districts of Purvanchal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh all visit the Kashi region for last rites. Part of this reason may be because locals are reluctant to allow the bodies to be buried in villages, on private land. In Ishwarpur village, Amar Ujala said that there was a dispute on Tuesday morning over the burial of an old man on private land. The SDM Pindra and the police pacified villagers by assuring them the son would bury the body away from the public. Similarly, a retired doctor from the Health department CMS also faced flak from villagers for trying to bury his 85-year-old deceased mother Surjakali in private land. While officials again had to intervene to settle the matter, the shocking fact is that these deaths are – once again – not reflected in government figures.

On June 9, India reported 7,240 active Covid-19 cases. This was the first time since March 1 that the daily number of active cases exceeded the 7,000 mark. In the month of June, over 39,400 fresh cases have been reported in India. For this reason, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi and Karnataka were put on high alert.

Accordingly, the four regions have reported around 1,000 (Delhi) to over 4,000 (Maharashtra) infections with Karnataka reporting around 800 deaths.  Maharashtra reported three deaths, Kerala reported eight deaths, Karnataka reported one death and Delhi reported two deaths by June 17. However Uttar Pradesh, despite reporting 20,83,072 cases with an increase of 413 cases has not reported any deaths.

On Friday, Indian Express also reported how Covid-19 cases in Uttar Pradesh increased by 413 cases on Thursday over the last 24 hours with Varanasi reporting 14 new cases. Still, there were no reports over the number of deaths.

Earlier in 2021, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) published a report on the death figures in Varanasi. The survey in parts of Varanasi, Ghazipur, Jaunpur and Chandauli showed how the Ghats were inundated with bodies and lack of supplies during the second wave of Covid-19. Families failed to report deaths in rural areas and many people were unaware of the precautions necessary against Covid-19. Data suggested that areas in eastern UP especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi had 60 percent excess deaths during the pandemic relative to 2019.

As per CJP’s report, surveyed areas had 55-60 percent more deaths from January 2020 to August 2021 than expected in this period. Subsequent coverage of the region also showed how people were struggling to access hospitals even for regular virals or infections.

The state government was accused of manipulating Covid-related data to create the impression that the healthcare system was effective. Now, this report by Amar Ujala comes after the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) estimates of a whopping 47.4 lakh excess deaths in India. This number is nearly 10 times the country’s official Covid-19 reported deaths between 2020 and 2021.

With cases once again on the rise, people are being once again urged – at least by the four state governments on alert – to follow Covid-protocols and exercise social distancing.

Related:

In 2021, COVID Deaths Surged in Stunning Fashion in Eastern UP, Investigation Finds
47.4 lakh excess deaths in India: WHO
India ranks high in cumulative excess Covid-deaths: Lancet report
UP: 1,621 people on polling duty dead, but gov't recognises only 3! 

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Don’t make mentally disabled person travel for assessment test: Madras HC to TN gov’t

HC also suggest that the government consider exempting those suffering from other disabilities also from appearing in person to obtain disability certificates

06 Jun 2022

Madras High Court

On May 12, 2022, the Madras High Court’s single-judge bench of Justice G.R. Swaminathan, took a compassionate view of challenges faced by mentally challenged people in a verdict highlighting the right to live with dignity of mentally disabled persons in a case of T.R. Ramanathan v/s. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr. [Writ Petition No. 12540 of 2022].  

The Court held, “It is clinically appropriate that assessment for issuing such certificates is done at their homes. I therefore hold that persons suffering from mental retardation or mental illness are entitled to have the assessment done at the place where they reside.”

The Court further held, “Authorities shall not insist that a person suffering from mental retardation/ mental illness should be physically present in the premises of the certifying institution. But this need not stop the Government from going into the issue and issuing a standard protocol to cover cases of those who are suffering from other disabilities, particularly, motor related physical disabilities.”

Brief Background of the case

The Petitioner in this case is on the verge of turning ninety and has a 61-year-old who suffers from mental disability. This son can neither speak nor express himself, nor move about freely. He also has severe anxiety disorder.

A certificate dated February 29, 1992 was issued by a Dr. Shanti Chandramohan, Assistant Physician Government General Hospital, Madras Medical College stating that the son suffers from a permanent mentally disorder. This was not noted by the Institute of Mental Health, Kilpauk.

The Petitioner became a widower a few months ago, and his son-in-law also died a few years ago. He is entitled as pensioner since November 1992. The Petitioner’s son will be entitled to receive the benefits of this family pension after his death. To avail the said benefit, an entry will have to be made in the petitioner's pension book. For that, a disability certificate must be obtained.

The Petitioner's daughter approached the Institute of Mental Health at Kilpauk for obtaining such certificate. The Institute insisted that the disabled man be brought for assessment. Left with no other option, on April 26, 2022, the son was taken to the Institute of Mental Health, Kilpauk in an ambulance. A group of paramedical staff literally bundled him into the vehicle. He was assessed and it was noted that he was mentally retarded. But this was deemed insufficient for issuance of certificate.

It was again insisted that he should be brought to the premises of the second respondent for conducting few more tests. Since he was traumatised by what happened on April 26, 2022, he developed severe anxiety and became paranoid and whenever anybody entered his home, he held on to the bars of the window. Even though the Petitioner's daughter informed the concerned officials that it was not possible to bring him for further assessment, the personnel attached to the second respondent Institute declined to pay heed to the same. That led to filing of the present Writ Petition.

Court’s Observation and Judgment

The Court had observed, “Article 41 of the Constitution of India mandates that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to public assistance in cases of sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want. In Jacob M.Puthuparambil and Ors.Vs. Kerala Water Authority (1991) 1 SCC 28, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the Court should interpret a given statute so as to advance Article 41.”

The Court further observed that in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Sambhavana Vs. University of Delhi (2013) 14 SCC 781, it can be observed that the state has a special obligation to design a special approach depending upon the special needs of the concerned category of disabled.

The Court also observed, “The Government of Tamil Nadu has introduced a laudable scheme “Illam Thedi Kalvi” (Education at doorsteps). This model can very well be applied to the case on hand.”

The Court further observed, “The disabled persons who are obviously entitled to rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India are entitled to obtain a certificate under Section 58 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 without any hassle or difficulty. The international conventions as well as the statutes governing their rights speak of barrier free access to rights and services. Without obtaining the certificate mentioned above, the disabled will be denied access to certain fundamental rights and facilities. Consequently, they cannot lead a quality life.”

The Court further observed, “The assessment process must be as simple as possible. It must not cause any difficulty or trauma or even the least burden to the individual concerned. I take judicial notice of the fact that bringing such persons to a congested place like the Government Hospital would trigger considerable stress and anxiety to them. One does not know what can trigger panic and anxiety.”

The Court upon above observations held, “It is clinically appropriate that assessment for issuing such certificates is done at their homes. I therefore hold that persons suffering from mental retardation or mental illness are entitled to have the assessment done at the place where they reside.”

The in this case held, “In this case, the assessment of the petitioner's son was already done in the premises of the second respondent Institute. The entries enclosed in the typed set of papers indicate that the petitioner's son had already been noted as suffering from mental retardation. Insisting that he should be produced again reeks of arbitrariness.”

The Court allowed the Writ Petition and made directions regarding the issuance of certificate, “I therefore direct the second respondent to issue a certificate certifying that the petitioner's son is suffering from permanent disability ie., mental retardation.”

The Court also suggested that the state government could even issue a standard protocol to cover cases of those who are suffering from other disabilities, particularly, motor related physical disabilities.

The Court while concluding the Judgment held, “When community certificates are received at doorstep, can the State not apply the same model in the case of persons with disability also? The bureaucracy of the Indian State is described as its steel frame. It must be malleable enough to reach out and address the needs of the last person.”

Laws protecting rights of disabled people

Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees that State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws.

Chapter V of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 sets out rights of persons with mental illness. Section 18(5)(d) of the Act states that the appropriate Government shall ensure that no person with mental illness (including children and older persons) shall be required to travel long distances to access mental health services and such services shall be available close to a place where a person with mental illness resides.

Section 10 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 states that one of the objects of the Trust shall be to facilitate the realization of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of persons with disability and to do any other act which is incidental to the aforesaid object.

Section 3(1) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 states that appropriate Government shall ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy the right to equality, life with dignity and respect for his or her integrity equally with others.

India is a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006. Article 18 of the said Convention expects the States parties to ensure that the persons with disabilities are not deprived on the basis of disability of their ability to obtain, possess and utilize documentation of identification.

Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, 1971 proclaims the necessity of protecting the rights and welfare of the physically and mentally disadvantaged.

Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, 1975 also affirms the rights of disabled persons to services which enable them to develop their capabilities and skills to the maximum and will hasten the process of their social integration or reintegration.

The entire Judgment may be read here: 

 

Related:

Form Public Grievance Committee, submit vaccine plan for disabled and labour class: Allahabad HC

Guidelines for special arrangements for persons with disabilities and senior citizens at Vaccination Centres

Now, jail authorities deny GN Saibaba plastic water bottle!

Dr. GN Saibaba hospitalised after his health deteriorates due to hunger strike

Don’t make mentally disabled person travel for assessment test: Madras HC to TN gov’t

HC also suggest that the government consider exempting those suffering from other disabilities also from appearing in person to obtain disability certificates

Madras High Court

On May 12, 2022, the Madras High Court’s single-judge bench of Justice G.R. Swaminathan, took a compassionate view of challenges faced by mentally challenged people in a verdict highlighting the right to live with dignity of mentally disabled persons in a case of T.R. Ramanathan v/s. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr. [Writ Petition No. 12540 of 2022].  

The Court held, “It is clinically appropriate that assessment for issuing such certificates is done at their homes. I therefore hold that persons suffering from mental retardation or mental illness are entitled to have the assessment done at the place where they reside.”

The Court further held, “Authorities shall not insist that a person suffering from mental retardation/ mental illness should be physically present in the premises of the certifying institution. But this need not stop the Government from going into the issue and issuing a standard protocol to cover cases of those who are suffering from other disabilities, particularly, motor related physical disabilities.”

Brief Background of the case

The Petitioner in this case is on the verge of turning ninety and has a 61-year-old who suffers from mental disability. This son can neither speak nor express himself, nor move about freely. He also has severe anxiety disorder.

A certificate dated February 29, 1992 was issued by a Dr. Shanti Chandramohan, Assistant Physician Government General Hospital, Madras Medical College stating that the son suffers from a permanent mentally disorder. This was not noted by the Institute of Mental Health, Kilpauk.

The Petitioner became a widower a few months ago, and his son-in-law also died a few years ago. He is entitled as pensioner since November 1992. The Petitioner’s son will be entitled to receive the benefits of this family pension after his death. To avail the said benefit, an entry will have to be made in the petitioner's pension book. For that, a disability certificate must be obtained.

The Petitioner's daughter approached the Institute of Mental Health at Kilpauk for obtaining such certificate. The Institute insisted that the disabled man be brought for assessment. Left with no other option, on April 26, 2022, the son was taken to the Institute of Mental Health, Kilpauk in an ambulance. A group of paramedical staff literally bundled him into the vehicle. He was assessed and it was noted that he was mentally retarded. But this was deemed insufficient for issuance of certificate.

It was again insisted that he should be brought to the premises of the second respondent for conducting few more tests. Since he was traumatised by what happened on April 26, 2022, he developed severe anxiety and became paranoid and whenever anybody entered his home, he held on to the bars of the window. Even though the Petitioner's daughter informed the concerned officials that it was not possible to bring him for further assessment, the personnel attached to the second respondent Institute declined to pay heed to the same. That led to filing of the present Writ Petition.

Court’s Observation and Judgment

The Court had observed, “Article 41 of the Constitution of India mandates that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to public assistance in cases of sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want. In Jacob M.Puthuparambil and Ors.Vs. Kerala Water Authority (1991) 1 SCC 28, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the Court should interpret a given statute so as to advance Article 41.”

The Court further observed that in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Sambhavana Vs. University of Delhi (2013) 14 SCC 781, it can be observed that the state has a special obligation to design a special approach depending upon the special needs of the concerned category of disabled.

The Court also observed, “The Government of Tamil Nadu has introduced a laudable scheme “Illam Thedi Kalvi” (Education at doorsteps). This model can very well be applied to the case on hand.”

The Court further observed, “The disabled persons who are obviously entitled to rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India are entitled to obtain a certificate under Section 58 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 without any hassle or difficulty. The international conventions as well as the statutes governing their rights speak of barrier free access to rights and services. Without obtaining the certificate mentioned above, the disabled will be denied access to certain fundamental rights and facilities. Consequently, they cannot lead a quality life.”

The Court further observed, “The assessment process must be as simple as possible. It must not cause any difficulty or trauma or even the least burden to the individual concerned. I take judicial notice of the fact that bringing such persons to a congested place like the Government Hospital would trigger considerable stress and anxiety to them. One does not know what can trigger panic and anxiety.”

The Court upon above observations held, “It is clinically appropriate that assessment for issuing such certificates is done at their homes. I therefore hold that persons suffering from mental retardation or mental illness are entitled to have the assessment done at the place where they reside.”

The in this case held, “In this case, the assessment of the petitioner's son was already done in the premises of the second respondent Institute. The entries enclosed in the typed set of papers indicate that the petitioner's son had already been noted as suffering from mental retardation. Insisting that he should be produced again reeks of arbitrariness.”

The Court allowed the Writ Petition and made directions regarding the issuance of certificate, “I therefore direct the second respondent to issue a certificate certifying that the petitioner's son is suffering from permanent disability ie., mental retardation.”

The Court also suggested that the state government could even issue a standard protocol to cover cases of those who are suffering from other disabilities, particularly, motor related physical disabilities.

The Court while concluding the Judgment held, “When community certificates are received at doorstep, can the State not apply the same model in the case of persons with disability also? The bureaucracy of the Indian State is described as its steel frame. It must be malleable enough to reach out and address the needs of the last person.”

Laws protecting rights of disabled people

Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees that State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws.

Chapter V of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 sets out rights of persons with mental illness. Section 18(5)(d) of the Act states that the appropriate Government shall ensure that no person with mental illness (including children and older persons) shall be required to travel long distances to access mental health services and such services shall be available close to a place where a person with mental illness resides.

Section 10 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 states that one of the objects of the Trust shall be to facilitate the realization of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of persons with disability and to do any other act which is incidental to the aforesaid object.

Section 3(1) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 states that appropriate Government shall ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy the right to equality, life with dignity and respect for his or her integrity equally with others.

India is a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006. Article 18 of the said Convention expects the States parties to ensure that the persons with disabilities are not deprived on the basis of disability of their ability to obtain, possess and utilize documentation of identification.

Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, 1971 proclaims the necessity of protecting the rights and welfare of the physically and mentally disadvantaged.

Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, 1975 also affirms the rights of disabled persons to services which enable them to develop their capabilities and skills to the maximum and will hasten the process of their social integration or reintegration.

The entire Judgment may be read here: 

 

Related:

Form Public Grievance Committee, submit vaccine plan for disabled and labour class: Allahabad HC

Guidelines for special arrangements for persons with disabilities and senior citizens at Vaccination Centres

Now, jail authorities deny GN Saibaba plastic water bottle!

Dr. GN Saibaba hospitalised after his health deteriorates due to hunger strike

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

78 percent Maharashtra households suffered food insecurity: Hunger Watch II report

As many as 20 percent of surveyed households suffer severe food insecurity, with most deprivations focused in urban areas

04 Jun 2022

Maharashtra
Image Courtesy:thewire.in

As many as 78 percent of households surveyed in the Hunger Watch Survey II reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. Surveyors like the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan fear that skyrocketing prices, growing unemployment and disempowering policies like labour codes will only worsen the situation.

Like its preceding survey, the Hunger Watch-II conducted for 1,225 respondents in 17 districts of Maharashtra between December 2021 and January 2022. It seeks to document the hunger situation six months after the devastating second wave of Covid-19 in India. The survey’s interim report stated that 36 percent of households (HH) reported mild food insecurity, 23 percent HH reported moderate food insecurity and 20 percent HH reported severe food insecurity. This condition was more in urban HH (79 percent) than in rural HH (77 percent).

At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about upliftment of the poor, the survey showed that over 50 percent HH were unable to eat healthy or nutritious food. They could eat only a few kinds of food in November 2021.

About 46 percent (around 490) of respondents said their household ran out of food in the month preceding the survey. One in five persons reported that someone in their household had to skip a meal or sleep without eating in the month preceding the survey.

Overall decline in nutritional quality and quantity

As many as 48 percent HH said their cereal consumption in the preceding month was insufficient. In urban areas, this number was 56 percent, while in rural areas 40 percent HH suffered. A total of 67 percent HH reported that the nutritional quality of their diet had deteriorated as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Religion-wise, HHs may be divided as 34 percent Hindus, 33 percent Muslims, 22 percent adivasis and 9 percent Buddhists. Yet, 84 percent Muslim HH, 78 percent Hindu HH, 74 percent Buddhist HH and 65 percent Adivasi HH reported food insecurity. Further 34 percent Muslim HH reported severe food insecurity followed by 32 percent Buddhist HH and 14 percent among Adivasi HH.

“However, even 17 % facing food insecurity is quite significant. 82 percent HH from general category which includes majority of Muslim households faced food insecurity, followed by 77 percent SC HH,” said the report.

Similarly, consumption of nutrient rich foods was poor. 60 percent HH said they ate less than 2-3 nutritious meals a month. Compared to pre-pandemic times, 57 percent respondents said that the nutritional quality and quantity of food consumed had deteriorated. Again, the figures were higher in urban areas.

Then 54 percent HH could not afford cooking gas in the month preceding the survey. Overall 90 percent of HH headed by single women reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. 37 percent of them experienced severe food insecurity.

It may be noted that the percentage of households who reported sleeping on an empty stomach in November 2021 was highest (about 30 percent) among the General category households and lowest (15 percent) among the Schedule Tribes. However, a large majority of respondents said they feared the situation would worsen in the next three months.

Loss of income

The survey conducted by Surbhi Kesar, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti, Paaritosh Nath and Amit Basole found that around 75 percent of self-employed and wage workers suffered a loss in employment, excluding farmers. Nearly 7 in 10 said they consume less food than before Covid-19.

The report estimated that an additional 23 crore individuals fell below the ₹ 375 daily wage threshold. In the second wave, employment among casual workers fell by 24 pp, compared to 18 pp among the self-employed, and 14 pp among salaried workers.

As many as 95 percent HH earning less than ₹ 7,000 experienced food insecurity followed by 80 percent of those earning over ₹ 7,000. A majority of people i.e., 35 percent of the INR 3,000-7,000 category faced severe food insecurity and belonged mostly to urban areas.

Two years into the pandemic, about 75 percent of respondents reported that their income had decreased. 68 percent said their income was reduced to half. It declined more in urban areas with 76 percent respondents than in rural areas with 75 percent respondents. This was higher among the poorer HH with income less than ₹ 7,000.

Overall, 64 percent HH with working members said that their current incomes are less than half pre-pandemic levels. Close to 56 percent HH had some outstanding debt. Among those, 25 percent respondents have debts higher than ₹ 50,000. Moreover, 59 percent of single women HH reported outstanding debt.

A total of 93 percent of the particularly vulnerable group HH suffered decreased income during the pandemic. Further, 82 percent OBC, about 74 percent general, SC and ST categories reported income decline.

Impact on health and children

Around 309 HH reported incurring major health expenditure. Out of these 20 percent HH incurred health costs of ₹ 10,000-20,000, another 13 percent spent ₹ 20,000-50,000 on health and 19 percent HH spent over ₹ 50,000 on health.

As many as 34 percent of total HH reported that a member had stopped working due to Covid-19. Moreover, 59 HH said that someone died in their family. Only 32 HH received death certificates that mentioned Covid-19. Worse still, only 17 HH received compensation.

Meanwhile, childcare also showed concerning data with at least 1 in 5 households reporting their children as drop-outs. 8 percent of households said their children had entered the workforce.

“These numbers are calculated from the full sample, some households of which might not have young children, and hence are likely to be conservative estimates of the impact on child education and labour,” said the report.

Government Programmes and HW demands

Despite these persisting problems, the report agreed that safety nets like PDS provided great relief to poor communities. 86 percent of HH had ration cards although 2 percent reported that their ration cards were cancelled sans reason.

“Overall 72 percent of the Households received ration every month at the state level. However, as compared to rural areas where 83 percent HH received ration every month in urban areas only 59 percent of HH received ration every month,” said the report.

About 40 percent HH reported that they did not get anything under the ICDS and midday meal schemes. Similarly, about 90 percent eligible HH reported that they received ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). Yet only 61 percent HH reported that they received ration under PMGKAY every month. Only 8 percent of eligible HH reported that they received pension. As an exception, the latter was higher in rural areas.

For all this, the report called for strengthening of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and setting-up systems for decentralised procurement of a wide variety of food crops while linking these to food distribution schemes such as PDS, mid-day meals and ICDS.

Particularly in the case of PDS, the organisations recommended that the ration scheme be extended to migrant workers, homeless, sex workers, trans people and all vulnerable communities without ration cards. As per SC order, state wise quotas should be re-determined in light of the increase in population. In the same manner, the PMGKAY should be extended till such time that the pandemic continues, with the provision of edible oils and pulses to each household. It called for immediate implementation of the June 29, 2021 Supreme Court order that called for dry ration to all migrant workers who are non-ration card holders and community kitchens.

Regarding the National Food Security Act 2013, the report called for maternity entitlements to be restored. The Act also calls for social audits in every district. Further, child-care services can be expanded by making adequate budgetary provisions for anganwadi-cum-creches, expansion of the National Creche scheme, creches under the NREGA and so on.

In case of the latter, the government should set aside adequate funds as required per family throughout the year and ensure timely payment of wages. It also suggested a minimum 200 days of work under the scheme and increased reach of the programme.

“Even in urban India, wages for casual work remain abysmally low. Given the lack of social protection and the increasingly private provision of public goods like healthcare and education, a rise in the wage rate from very low levels is not only desirable but urgently needed. As such, there is an urgent need to create a National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme,” said the report.

Related:

Just gratuity not enough: Anganwadi workers

“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Rajasthan: Experts call for urgent need to review State Food Commission

Do farmers’ demands benefit India’s hungry population?

 

78 percent Maharashtra households suffered food insecurity: Hunger Watch II report

As many as 20 percent of surveyed households suffer severe food insecurity, with most deprivations focused in urban areas

Maharashtra
Image Courtesy:thewire.in

As many as 78 percent of households surveyed in the Hunger Watch Survey II reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. Surveyors like the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan fear that skyrocketing prices, growing unemployment and disempowering policies like labour codes will only worsen the situation.

Like its preceding survey, the Hunger Watch-II conducted for 1,225 respondents in 17 districts of Maharashtra between December 2021 and January 2022. It seeks to document the hunger situation six months after the devastating second wave of Covid-19 in India. The survey’s interim report stated that 36 percent of households (HH) reported mild food insecurity, 23 percent HH reported moderate food insecurity and 20 percent HH reported severe food insecurity. This condition was more in urban HH (79 percent) than in rural HH (77 percent).

At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about upliftment of the poor, the survey showed that over 50 percent HH were unable to eat healthy or nutritious food. They could eat only a few kinds of food in November 2021.

About 46 percent (around 490) of respondents said their household ran out of food in the month preceding the survey. One in five persons reported that someone in their household had to skip a meal or sleep without eating in the month preceding the survey.

Overall decline in nutritional quality and quantity

As many as 48 percent HH said their cereal consumption in the preceding month was insufficient. In urban areas, this number was 56 percent, while in rural areas 40 percent HH suffered. A total of 67 percent HH reported that the nutritional quality of their diet had deteriorated as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Religion-wise, HHs may be divided as 34 percent Hindus, 33 percent Muslims, 22 percent adivasis and 9 percent Buddhists. Yet, 84 percent Muslim HH, 78 percent Hindu HH, 74 percent Buddhist HH and 65 percent Adivasi HH reported food insecurity. Further 34 percent Muslim HH reported severe food insecurity followed by 32 percent Buddhist HH and 14 percent among Adivasi HH.

“However, even 17 % facing food insecurity is quite significant. 82 percent HH from general category which includes majority of Muslim households faced food insecurity, followed by 77 percent SC HH,” said the report.

Similarly, consumption of nutrient rich foods was poor. 60 percent HH said they ate less than 2-3 nutritious meals a month. Compared to pre-pandemic times, 57 percent respondents said that the nutritional quality and quantity of food consumed had deteriorated. Again, the figures were higher in urban areas.

Then 54 percent HH could not afford cooking gas in the month preceding the survey. Overall 90 percent of HH headed by single women reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. 37 percent of them experienced severe food insecurity.

It may be noted that the percentage of households who reported sleeping on an empty stomach in November 2021 was highest (about 30 percent) among the General category households and lowest (15 percent) among the Schedule Tribes. However, a large majority of respondents said they feared the situation would worsen in the next three months.

Loss of income

The survey conducted by Surbhi Kesar, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti, Paaritosh Nath and Amit Basole found that around 75 percent of self-employed and wage workers suffered a loss in employment, excluding farmers. Nearly 7 in 10 said they consume less food than before Covid-19.

The report estimated that an additional 23 crore individuals fell below the ₹ 375 daily wage threshold. In the second wave, employment among casual workers fell by 24 pp, compared to 18 pp among the self-employed, and 14 pp among salaried workers.

As many as 95 percent HH earning less than ₹ 7,000 experienced food insecurity followed by 80 percent of those earning over ₹ 7,000. A majority of people i.e., 35 percent of the INR 3,000-7,000 category faced severe food insecurity and belonged mostly to urban areas.

Two years into the pandemic, about 75 percent of respondents reported that their income had decreased. 68 percent said their income was reduced to half. It declined more in urban areas with 76 percent respondents than in rural areas with 75 percent respondents. This was higher among the poorer HH with income less than ₹ 7,000.

Overall, 64 percent HH with working members said that their current incomes are less than half pre-pandemic levels. Close to 56 percent HH had some outstanding debt. Among those, 25 percent respondents have debts higher than ₹ 50,000. Moreover, 59 percent of single women HH reported outstanding debt.

A total of 93 percent of the particularly vulnerable group HH suffered decreased income during the pandemic. Further, 82 percent OBC, about 74 percent general, SC and ST categories reported income decline.

Impact on health and children

Around 309 HH reported incurring major health expenditure. Out of these 20 percent HH incurred health costs of ₹ 10,000-20,000, another 13 percent spent ₹ 20,000-50,000 on health and 19 percent HH spent over ₹ 50,000 on health.

As many as 34 percent of total HH reported that a member had stopped working due to Covid-19. Moreover, 59 HH said that someone died in their family. Only 32 HH received death certificates that mentioned Covid-19. Worse still, only 17 HH received compensation.

Meanwhile, childcare also showed concerning data with at least 1 in 5 households reporting their children as drop-outs. 8 percent of households said their children had entered the workforce.

“These numbers are calculated from the full sample, some households of which might not have young children, and hence are likely to be conservative estimates of the impact on child education and labour,” said the report.

Government Programmes and HW demands

Despite these persisting problems, the report agreed that safety nets like PDS provided great relief to poor communities. 86 percent of HH had ration cards although 2 percent reported that their ration cards were cancelled sans reason.

“Overall 72 percent of the Households received ration every month at the state level. However, as compared to rural areas where 83 percent HH received ration every month in urban areas only 59 percent of HH received ration every month,” said the report.

About 40 percent HH reported that they did not get anything under the ICDS and midday meal schemes. Similarly, about 90 percent eligible HH reported that they received ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). Yet only 61 percent HH reported that they received ration under PMGKAY every month. Only 8 percent of eligible HH reported that they received pension. As an exception, the latter was higher in rural areas.

For all this, the report called for strengthening of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and setting-up systems for decentralised procurement of a wide variety of food crops while linking these to food distribution schemes such as PDS, mid-day meals and ICDS.

Particularly in the case of PDS, the organisations recommended that the ration scheme be extended to migrant workers, homeless, sex workers, trans people and all vulnerable communities without ration cards. As per SC order, state wise quotas should be re-determined in light of the increase in population. In the same manner, the PMGKAY should be extended till such time that the pandemic continues, with the provision of edible oils and pulses to each household. It called for immediate implementation of the June 29, 2021 Supreme Court order that called for dry ration to all migrant workers who are non-ration card holders and community kitchens.

Regarding the National Food Security Act 2013, the report called for maternity entitlements to be restored. The Act also calls for social audits in every district. Further, child-care services can be expanded by making adequate budgetary provisions for anganwadi-cum-creches, expansion of the National Creche scheme, creches under the NREGA and so on.

In case of the latter, the government should set aside adequate funds as required per family throughout the year and ensure timely payment of wages. It also suggested a minimum 200 days of work under the scheme and increased reach of the programme.

“Even in urban India, wages for casual work remain abysmally low. Given the lack of social protection and the increasingly private provision of public goods like healthcare and education, a rise in the wage rate from very low levels is not only desirable but urgently needed. As such, there is an urgent need to create a National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme,” said the report.

Related:

Just gratuity not enough: Anganwadi workers

“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Rajasthan: Experts call for urgent need to review State Food Commission

Do farmers’ demands benefit India’s hungry population?

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

WHO bats for ASHA, calls them India’s ‘Global Health Leaders’

Union leaders argue true respect for ASHAs would entail payment of proper wages and job permanency

26 May 2022

ASHA workers
Image: Tumpa Mondal/Xinhua/Alamy


The World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 23, 2022 awarded India’s Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers with the ‘Global Health Leaders’ title. However, while masses including Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praises, unions asked when the Government of India will similarly award the workers with basic rights.

“ASHA (which means hope in Hindi) are the more than one million female volunteers in India, honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure those living in rural poverty can access primary health care services, as shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the WHO.

The global organisation acknowledged how ASHAs provide:

  • maternal care and immunization for children against vaccine-preventable diseases

  • community health care

  • treatment for hypertension and tuberculosis

  • and core areas of health promotion for nutrition, sanitation, and healthy living.

 

 

Many people including PM Modi celebrated this news and congratulated ASHAs for this title. In a tweet, he said that ASHAs are at the forefront of ensuring a healthy India. Their dedication and determination is admirable.

 

 

Similarly, unions like the All India ASHA Workers Federation affiliated to All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) too thanked WHO for rightly conferring the award. However, AITUC Secretary Vahida Nizam pointed out the supreme irony that despite such praise ASHAs still are not recognized as workers in India.

“No wages except the paltry sum of ₹ 2,000 per month and the meager incentives is all that they get. For decades, ASHAs’ demand for regularisation of their services and defined minimum wages has fallen on deaf ears,” said Nizam.

The union said that besides recognising leadership, contribution to global health advancement and commitment to regional health, this award vouchsafes the permanent nature of ASHA’s contributions. As such, the union government should announce an equivalent return of compliment to the workers, said leaders. The Federation demanded regularisation of ASHAs with ₹ 18,000 per month salary.

“We hope that greetings of admiration translate into reality of rendering justice to these ASHA workers. This is long overdue,” said Nizam.

Similarly, Delhi ASHA Workers Union General Secretary Shweta Raj thanked WHO for respecting “India's hopes” and asked when the central and Delhi governments intend to honour these hopes. Like Nizam, she said that the real meaning of respecting ASHAs is indicated by giving due rights.

“ASHAs served the public by playing on their lives during the last Covid-19 wave. But in return, neither do they get proper salary nor have they been given the status of government employees. Even ASHAs are mistreated every day from dispensaries to hospitals,” said Raj.

Regarding Modi’s tweet, she said that until the governments give the workers their rights, the congratulatory remarks remain as pure rhetoric. The union demanded respectable salary, government employee status for ASHAs and an immediate stoppage to misbehaviour suffered by the women.

Related:

No payment received for six months: UP Anganwadi workers

Just gratuity not enough: Anganwadi workers

CTUs celebrate success of General strike

UP: No payment for MDM cooks on election duty?

WHO bats for ASHA, calls them India’s ‘Global Health Leaders’

Union leaders argue true respect for ASHAs would entail payment of proper wages and job permanency

ASHA workers
Image: Tumpa Mondal/Xinhua/Alamy


The World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 23, 2022 awarded India’s Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers with the ‘Global Health Leaders’ title. However, while masses including Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praises, unions asked when the Government of India will similarly award the workers with basic rights.

“ASHA (which means hope in Hindi) are the more than one million female volunteers in India, honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure those living in rural poverty can access primary health care services, as shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the WHO.

The global organisation acknowledged how ASHAs provide:

  • maternal care and immunization for children against vaccine-preventable diseases

  • community health care

  • treatment for hypertension and tuberculosis

  • and core areas of health promotion for nutrition, sanitation, and healthy living.

 

 

Many people including PM Modi celebrated this news and congratulated ASHAs for this title. In a tweet, he said that ASHAs are at the forefront of ensuring a healthy India. Their dedication and determination is admirable.

 

 

Similarly, unions like the All India ASHA Workers Federation affiliated to All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) too thanked WHO for rightly conferring the award. However, AITUC Secretary Vahida Nizam pointed out the supreme irony that despite such praise ASHAs still are not recognized as workers in India.

“No wages except the paltry sum of ₹ 2,000 per month and the meager incentives is all that they get. For decades, ASHAs’ demand for regularisation of their services and defined minimum wages has fallen on deaf ears,” said Nizam.

The union said that besides recognising leadership, contribution to global health advancement and commitment to regional health, this award vouchsafes the permanent nature of ASHA’s contributions. As such, the union government should announce an equivalent return of compliment to the workers, said leaders. The Federation demanded regularisation of ASHAs with ₹ 18,000 per month salary.

“We hope that greetings of admiration translate into reality of rendering justice to these ASHA workers. This is long overdue,” said Nizam.

Similarly, Delhi ASHA Workers Union General Secretary Shweta Raj thanked WHO for respecting “India's hopes” and asked when the central and Delhi governments intend to honour these hopes. Like Nizam, she said that the real meaning of respecting ASHAs is indicated by giving due rights.

“ASHAs served the public by playing on their lives during the last Covid-19 wave. But in return, neither do they get proper salary nor have they been given the status of government employees. Even ASHAs are mistreated every day from dispensaries to hospitals,” said Raj.

Regarding Modi’s tweet, she said that until the governments give the workers their rights, the congratulatory remarks remain as pure rhetoric. The union demanded respectable salary, government employee status for ASHAs and an immediate stoppage to misbehaviour suffered by the women.

Related:

No payment received for six months: UP Anganwadi workers

Just gratuity not enough: Anganwadi workers

CTUs celebrate success of General strike

UP: No payment for MDM cooks on election duty?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Ration cards are the new methods of inclusion and exclusion into food security, as the UP government issues “guidelines” to declare people“ineligible”

20 May 2022

ration cards
Image Courtesy:newsnationtv.com

Increasing media reports, first in the Hindustan Times and then The Pioneer have reported that the Uttar Pradesh government is in a post-election spree of seizing “ineligible” ration cards. This is ironic given that political analysts have attributed the free ration scheme announced by the ruling regime in Lucknow to take the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to its second win the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh under Adityanath.

Immediately after results were announced on March 10, second time chief minister Ajay Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath had even announced that that his government would continue to give free ration to 15,00,000 eligible, poor people across the state for the next three months. But who is poor and who is eligible is the moot question given the April 2022 Government Order asking “ineligible” individuals to “surrender” their ration cards or, surprise or surprises, they will face punitive action, an FIR against them. The deadline for surrendering these is today, March 20. Individuals can surrender their ration cards at their block offices or the office of the district supply officer, the official said.

UP’s guidelines, reportedly under National Food Security Act 2013, are specific and particular: The government guidelines specify that the residents are ineligible to hold a ration card if one of the members of the family pays income tax, more than one member holds an arms licence, or if a member has an annual income of more than Rs 3 lakh in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas, or he /she owns a house, flat or a commercial space of more than 100 square feet area. Families who own a four-wheeler/tractor/harvester/ air-conditioner or generator set at home are considered ineligible to hold ration cards as well, the guideline says.

A senior official reportedly told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who do not submit their ration cards by May 20 and may even lodge FIRs against them under provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He said the recovery would be made as per the guidelines. All district magistrates have issued orders accordingly. According to officials, the “recovery process” includes imposing penalties at a rate of Rs24 for a kilogram of wheat and Rs32 for a kilogram of rice from the time ineligible households started availing ration.

HT reports that 1520 ration cards were “surrendered” in Lucknow by March 17 fearing legal action. A senior official has told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who did not surrender their ration cards by May 20 and may initiate legal action against them under provisions of NFS Act 2013.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ration card holders were given free ration twice a month — once from the Centre and the other time from the Uttar Pradesh government. There were complaints that many non-eligible persons were getting ration but the government preferred to look the other way because of the assembly elections. There were also serious allegations of bias and prejudice with the rations not reaching minority dominated and Dalit dominated areas.

There are two types of ration cards — Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cards and Priority Household cards. Families with an annual income of less than Rs 3 lakh per annum in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas are eligible for priority household cards. People who have no house, fixed income or working skills — essentially, the poorest strata of the society — are eligible for AAY cards.

As per the district supply office record, as reported by HT, presently there are 7,86,218 ration cards in the state capital, covering around 31,18,110 units (people). Of the total ration card-holders, there are around 50,112 Antyodaya card-holders (covering around 1,51,317 people) and 736106 Priority House Hold (PHH) card-holders (covering around 6,34,901 people).

According to the present grain distribution system, Singh said of the two, the Antyodaya card-holders used to get 35kg food grains, including 20kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 15kg rice at ₹3 per kg. The PHH or regular ration card-holders used to get 5kg food grains, including 3kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 2kg rice at ₹3 per kg, per unit. In addition, under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY), the UP government had announced 5kg food grains (per unit) and it was also giving one kg gram (chana), one litre oil and one kg salt packet to the ration card-holders.

India’s declining food security

India’s declining ranking (India has ranked 71 among 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index with a score of 57.2) leaves these recent moves open to question. If state governments or the Centre restrict distribution through the public distribution system (PDS) the policy will not just privatise trade in basic food but also affect overall food security of the country. The GFS Index is released by Economist Impact and Corteva Agriscience. The Index is measured on four metrics, Affordability, Availability, Quality &Safety, and Natural resources&Resilience.

Compared to few of its neighbouring countries, India has a better overall score. Pakistan is ranked at 75th position, Sri Lanka at 77th, Nepal at 79th and Bangladesh at 84th position. However larger countries like China (34) and Russia (23) hold a much better position than India.

Related:

Purvanchal: Silence of the Looms
Urgent need to revive and sustain Banarasi weaving industry
India ranks 71 in Global Food Security Index

“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Ration cards are the new methods of inclusion and exclusion into food security, as the UP government issues “guidelines” to declare people“ineligible”

ration cards
Image Courtesy:newsnationtv.com

Increasing media reports, first in the Hindustan Times and then The Pioneer have reported that the Uttar Pradesh government is in a post-election spree of seizing “ineligible” ration cards. This is ironic given that political analysts have attributed the free ration scheme announced by the ruling regime in Lucknow to take the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to its second win the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh under Adityanath.

Immediately after results were announced on March 10, second time chief minister Ajay Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath had even announced that that his government would continue to give free ration to 15,00,000 eligible, poor people across the state for the next three months. But who is poor and who is eligible is the moot question given the April 2022 Government Order asking “ineligible” individuals to “surrender” their ration cards or, surprise or surprises, they will face punitive action, an FIR against them. The deadline for surrendering these is today, March 20. Individuals can surrender their ration cards at their block offices or the office of the district supply officer, the official said.

UP’s guidelines, reportedly under National Food Security Act 2013, are specific and particular: The government guidelines specify that the residents are ineligible to hold a ration card if one of the members of the family pays income tax, more than one member holds an arms licence, or if a member has an annual income of more than Rs 3 lakh in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas, or he /she owns a house, flat or a commercial space of more than 100 square feet area. Families who own a four-wheeler/tractor/harvester/ air-conditioner or generator set at home are considered ineligible to hold ration cards as well, the guideline says.

A senior official reportedly told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who do not submit their ration cards by May 20 and may even lodge FIRs against them under provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He said the recovery would be made as per the guidelines. All district magistrates have issued orders accordingly. According to officials, the “recovery process” includes imposing penalties at a rate of Rs24 for a kilogram of wheat and Rs32 for a kilogram of rice from the time ineligible households started availing ration.

HT reports that 1520 ration cards were “surrendered” in Lucknow by March 17 fearing legal action. A senior official has told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who did not surrender their ration cards by May 20 and may initiate legal action against them under provisions of NFS Act 2013.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ration card holders were given free ration twice a month — once from the Centre and the other time from the Uttar Pradesh government. There were complaints that many non-eligible persons were getting ration but the government preferred to look the other way because of the assembly elections. There were also serious allegations of bias and prejudice with the rations not reaching minority dominated and Dalit dominated areas.

There are two types of ration cards — Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cards and Priority Household cards. Families with an annual income of less than Rs 3 lakh per annum in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas are eligible for priority household cards. People who have no house, fixed income or working skills — essentially, the poorest strata of the society — are eligible for AAY cards.

As per the district supply office record, as reported by HT, presently there are 7,86,218 ration cards in the state capital, covering around 31,18,110 units (people). Of the total ration card-holders, there are around 50,112 Antyodaya card-holders (covering around 1,51,317 people) and 736106 Priority House Hold (PHH) card-holders (covering around 6,34,901 people).

According to the present grain distribution system, Singh said of the two, the Antyodaya card-holders used to get 35kg food grains, including 20kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 15kg rice at ₹3 per kg. The PHH or regular ration card-holders used to get 5kg food grains, including 3kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 2kg rice at ₹3 per kg, per unit. In addition, under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY), the UP government had announced 5kg food grains (per unit) and it was also giving one kg gram (chana), one litre oil and one kg salt packet to the ration card-holders.

India’s declining food security

India’s declining ranking (India has ranked 71 among 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index with a score of 57.2) leaves these recent moves open to question. If state governments or the Centre restrict distribution through the public distribution system (PDS) the policy will not just privatise trade in basic food but also affect overall food security of the country. The GFS Index is released by Economist Impact and Corteva Agriscience. The Index is measured on four metrics, Affordability, Availability, Quality &Safety, and Natural resources&Resilience.

Compared to few of its neighbouring countries, India has a better overall score. Pakistan is ranked at 75th position, Sri Lanka at 77th, Nepal at 79th and Bangladesh at 84th position. However larger countries like China (34) and Russia (23) hold a much better position than India.

Related:

Purvanchal: Silence of the Looms
Urgent need to revive and sustain Banarasi weaving industry
India ranks 71 in Global Food Security Index

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Subscribe to Health