Tuesday, 31 December 2013


CHENNAI, December 30, 2013

Updated: December 30, 2013 18:22 IST

Grit and courage



Nine girls who refused to toe the line, because they felt it was unfair. They made a difference not only to their lives but to the lives of many other girls.

Look at the feisty 17-year-old Madhuri Ganesh Pawar and you get a glimpse of her courage. She lives in a remote village in Jalna district of Maharashtra. Armed with fierce oratory and articulate arguments, this teenager has managed to mobilise a few villages in her vicinity to convince the authorities to start a State Transport bus from her village Nivdunga to the nearby city to enable the education of other teenagers in the village.

What prompted her to do that? Some of her classmates had to get married because there was no school in their village.

“They would have otherwise studied with me, had they not been married off by their parents. I fought with my parents and continued my schooling, but could not stop their marriages. That is when I decided to do something. I studied government schemes, and kept sending petitions to the government repeatedly for a bus to facilitate our education. When it seemed like the authorities were adamant, we even organised a protest,” said Madhuri, daughter of a blacksmith and a house help studying in Std. XII. Her hardwork paid off, and the authorities finally relented.

In the past six months, she has stopped 35 child marriages in her village, threatening some with police action when they refused to listen to her.

This year, Madhuri is among the nine girls selected by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and Doordarshan Sahyadri from remote rural areas of Maharashtra for the Navjyoti awards.

Sunita Bora Vachami, a 15-year-old tribal girl resisted her family’s pressure to join the naxal movement in Gadchiroli. She wanted to continue studying.

Award and reward

This year’s theme for the awards was early marriage and the agency chose nine girls who not just stopped their weddings, but also put a halt to other child marriages in the villages. They were felicitated at Doordarshan Sahyadri recently.

Asha Babasaheb Tonde (16), daughter of two daily wage labourers, wrestled with hostile circumstances and managed to cancel her marriage. Her uncle, without consulting her or her parents, had fixed her wedding. This wrestling champion, who now studies in Std. X, put her foot down after the family refused to listen to her. She successfully convinced them, and now aspires to become an IPS officer “just like Kiran Bedi, who weeded out criminality from society”.

All these girls stay in residential schools striving hard to turn their dreams into reality.

Sunita from Bhamragad in Gadchiroli, does not have a family to support her. Her family threatened to disown her after she refused to join the naxal movement. No member of her family has any information about her. They haven’t yet heard of her award. She is in Std. IX, and plans to do social work after her graduation so that she can help her community.

Baby Thoke’s (14) father abandoned her family a decade ago. When Baby’s relatives fixed her wedding, her elder sister Savita informed the authorities and stopped it. “I didn’t want her to suffer. Early marriage takes a huge toll on a girl. I was married off at the age of 12. I have suffered. I didn’t want her to have the same fate,” Savita said. Pranali Sontakke (13) from Gondia, Savartoli, acted fast when she came to know that her teacher was about to marry off his 17-year-old daughter. Fighting all odds, she convinced the girl not to get married.

“Finally, that didi, after being convinced by me, told her family strongly that she did not wish to get married. They had to call off her wedding,” Pranali said.

Monica Islawat (18), daughter of two daily wage labourers, is the pride of her village Bhadravati in Chandrapur today. She flew to Delhi last year to tell her tale in a national convention about how she fought for her right to education and stopped her wedding. She has since been sensitising girls in the surrounding villages, and persuading them to get an education. She also mobilised people in her village to ban alcohol.

Saraswati Sarje (23) from Lori in Latur is a nurse now. She wants to get a secure job for the financial stability of the family, before tying the knot. Roshna Maraskolhe (18) from Hivardara in Yavatmal, stopped not just her wedding, but the wedding of another teenager in her village. When the bridegroom persisted and pestered her with calls, she threatened to hand him over to the police. “He hasn’t called me after that,” she said, adding that she is fascinated by the power of the uniform, and wants to become an IPS officer.



News » National

Published: December 30, 2013 20:37 IST | Updated: December 31, 2013 03:50 IST

Report says enrolment of disabled children in govt. schools under 1%

Preeti Mehra

Micro study of RTE Act in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha schools shows exclusion of disabled children

Taking stock at the end of the third year of the implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, a micro study carried out in the three states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha on inclusion of children with disabilities in the government school system reveals that their enrolment in relation to all children continues to be less than one per cent.


The study found that though in all three states the administrative procedures were increasingly following the letter of the law under the Act, children with disabilities were still not being accepted into the system, clearly not making inclusion a goal post.


The report pointed out that children with disabilities still constituted one of the biggest groups of drop outs and out-of-school children. Often their admission was being stalled and the ‘push out’ factor was primarily the attitude of school authorities. “The lack of specialist teachers, rehabilitation facilities and personnel with the school system are adding to the feeling among schools that they do not know how to teach children with disabilities,” said the report.


It found that in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, though entitled, many children with disabilities were not given transport to access school. In Odisha, out of the 50 school going children studied, only 10 were provided an escort allowance which encouraged them to take the child to school. However, parents of children who were under the home-based education programme complained that teachers did not show up at their homes.


In all three states, most often children were not admitted to school due to their disability contrary to the provisions of the Act. In some schools the admission was subject to a family member accompanying the child and sitting in the school all day. Parents interviewed for the study gave several reasons why their children had to drop out including poverty, lack of facilities for special children and inadequate care in the schools.


The report points out that though the RTE Act includes the right of children with disabilities to free and compulsory elementary education and India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities where the state is mandated to ensure inclusive education, the micro study indicates “trends that call for the attention of policy makers, organisations, educationists and activists.”

The study was carried out by National RTE forum member Aarth-Astha in Delhi along with Sparc-India from Uttar Pradesh and Aaina from Odisha, taking a detailed sample of 50 children from each State to look at the reality at the grassroots.


Printable version | Dec 31, 2013 11:14:58 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/report-says-enrolment-of-disabled-children-in-govt-schools-under-1/article5519483.ece



Monday, 16 December 2013


One in three unregistered children live in India: UNICEF

The UN agency said globally the births of nearly 230 million children under five have never been recorded

Yoshita Singh 

Among the 10 countries with the largest numbers of unregistered children, India has 71 million, followed by Nigeria at 17 million. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint

India is home to nearly one in three unregistered children worldwide, with 71 million children under the age of five not having their births recorded, a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report has said.

The UN agency said globally the births of nearly 230 million children under five have never been recorded, with Asia being the home to more than half of these children (59%). Another 37% live in sub-Saharan Africa and the remaining 4% are from other regions.

In 2012 alone, 57 million infants, four out of every ten babies delivered worldwide that year, were not registered with civil authorities. “Birth registration is more than just a right. It is how societies first recognise and acknowledge a child’s identity and existence,” Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF deputy executive director, said at a news conference here yesterday.

“Birth registration is also key to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of their nations,” Gupta said. The new report, ‘Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration´, collects statistical analysis spanning 161 countries and presents the latest available country data and estimates on birth registration.

Among the 10 countries with the largest numbers of unregistered children, India has 71 million, the most, followed by Nigeria at 17 million. “Nearly one in three unregistered children live in India,” UNICEF said, adding that the lowest levels of birth registration in India are found among children from the two largest population groups – Hindus and Muslims.

Children from religious minorities, such as the Sikhs and Jains, are about twice as likely to be registered. The 10 countries with the lowest birth registration levels are: Somalia (3%), Liberia (4%), Ethiopia (7 %), Zambia (14%), Chad (16%), Tanzania (16%), Yemen (17%), Guinea-Bissau (24%), Pakistan (27%) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (28%). Gupta said while India’s birth registration level was 41% nationwide, there was a huge gap between states with the highest rates and those with the lowest, due mainly to accessibility and infrastructure issues.



BELGAUM, December 6, 2013
24,663 girls, 13,795 boys missing in three years in State
There were 24,663 cases of missing girls registered in the State from 2010 to November 2013. For boys, the missing number stood at 13,795 during the same period. The highest number of girls who went missing was in 2012, with 6,729 cases registered. Bangalore recorded the highest, with 2,743 missing cases of both boys and girls in 2013.
Disclosing this in the Legislative Council during Question Hour, Home Minister K.J. George said the police have cracked 21,993 cases of missing girls and 11,214 cases of missing boys.
Stating that there were many reasons for children going missing, Mr. George said the issue could be addressed only if society accepts love marriages. “Otherwise, the incidents are bound to increase,” he said. “A meeting of top police officials would be convened soon to discuss the issue,” he added.
Bhanu Prakash (BJP) had alleged that the police could not pinpoint reasons for the increasing incidence of missing girls and suggested that they should provide an opportunity to parents of missing girls to convince their daughters, who have eloped after falling in love with boys from other castes and religions, to return home.
The Minister said the police were trying to create awareness among rescued girls and boys, with the help of non-governmental organisations. The police also provide an opportunity for parents to convince their children, in the case of love marriages, he added.
Canteen facilities
Reiterating the government’s commitment to protect the interests of police personnel, Mr. George said the government would open police canteens on the lines of the Army in the State. He also said the government was planning a 600-bed hospital and medical college for police staff. “A proposal will be discussed in the Cabinet soon,” he said. On the issue of hiking allowance of the police, who are on duty during elections and other special occasions, he said a proposal has been submitted to the Finance Department.
Human trafficking
The case of the Chickballapur police busting a prostitution racket and rescuing nine women from two brothels in New Delhi also echoed in the Upper House.
Replying to a question on the incident by Y.A. Narayanaswamy (BJP), Mr. George clarified that no organised group was active in human trafficking in the State. Four persons have been arrested in connection with the incident and the probe was progressing.
As many as 32 incidents of trafficking were reported from various parts of the State in 2012-13, and the Anti-Human Trafficking Cell of the Criminal Investigation Department had registered the cases.
Admitting that there was an increase in incidents of chain-snatching in Bangalore city, he said over 972 cases were reported from 2011 to October 2013, and police have cracked over 783 cases. Most of the chain-snatching cases occurred during early morning and evening hours. The department has strengthened the patrolling system, he said.


A helping hand for child labourers

An outreach initiative by Salaam Namaste 90.4 FM aims to help poor, young children in the unorganized workforce

Barsha Chabaria, station head, Salaam Namaste, says education and training has helped the kids get well-paying jobs. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi:

The boy working at a chai shop near your office, or serving you at an eatery or working at a construction site could be anyone with a different name, but most likely he is called chotu.

These young boys form an integral part of India’s unorganized workforce. They are child labourers who have no way out of their predicament through either earnings or education. They don’t have a typical childhood. No play, no fun and no education make these kids miss one of the best times in a person’s life.

A community radio station took up the cause of helping such kids and introduced them to the joys of childhood. Salaam Namaste 90.4 FM, a community radio station that broadcasts out of the IMS Noida campus on the outskirts of Delhi, started a campaign to help child labourers living near their campus with a programme called Chak de Chotu.

Chak de Chotu literally means ‘come on, you can do it chotu’. The termchotu is causally used for the boy who serves tea at the tea shop. For us, he was a kid who pulls a rickshaw near the campus,” says Barsha Chabaria, station head.

The radio station works with issues that are often not spoken about. “There are many slums around us which need voices. The kids have a very tough life. We want to bring small difference to their lives by providing them with things they don’t have access to,” says Chabaria. “Being a radio station, we are a problem solver also.”

The radio station did a research in nearby localities and found that though Noida, a Delhi suburb, is an education hub, it still has a high number of child labourers. These children are also a part of the community that needs a voice.

“We can’t understand someone’s problem until we relate to them on familiar grounds with them. We understood that these kids have a far bigger responsibility compared to kids of their age group. They are the breadwinners of their family,” Chabaria said.

Chak de Chotu was started two years ago as an outreach initiative. Radio programmes are an integral part of this. It emphasizes on every aspect of childhood, from education to talent nurturing to physical health. “They need to have basic education, nourishment, exposure to sport and talent spotting,” Chabaria says.

Initially, it was difficult to convince parents to send their kids to the studio for any sort of exercise, as it was difficult for them to forego even a day’s wage. It took a while before the station could make any headway into this. They had to start counselling parents regarding the benefits of the programme.

“The good thing was that we didn’t get negative response from parents. When the kids got things equivalent to their wages, parents were also happy. So we are not telling that leave your job and come. But you can come anytime you want,” says Chabaria.

The campaign started off as an education mission for kids called Akshar Gyan under Abhinav Vidyalaya, where the children are taught how to read and write. “We provided them with stationery, books, toys and our radio jockeys turned teachers. What we needed was their time,” she adds.

The radio station tied up with NGOs to help some of these kids to get admitted to schools. “We worked with Smile Foundation, Sadrags and Navodaya. We have our children studying in Delhi Public School andkendriya vidyalayas,” says Chabaria. Four students are now studying in various Delhi Public School branches across the city.

“Good education and training has helped land these kids well paying jobs as well. One of our students got a job as a peon at IMS when he was 14 years old. Now he has moved to another institution with better prospects,” says Chabaria.

For talent nurturing, the station organizes talent hunts like dancer chotuand singer chotu. “Not only this, we keep sharing success stories with the kids of those people who belong to similar background,” says Chabaria.

Along with education, kids are encouraged to play cricket and football, among other sports. At regular intervals, the station also organizes donation drives called Daan Vardan, where they seek support from lay people.

“Earlier, we had to manage all supplies on our own but now we get so much in donations that our store room is full all year round,” she says.

The other part of this campaign is online, which includes two programmes called Chak de Chotu and Bal Majdoori Hatao. Chak de Chotu is all about children, their experiences, their lives, etc. For Bal Majdoori Hatao, the content encourages children to move away from child labour and how they can better their lives.

“Children just coming to the radio station doesn’t work. Chotu doesn’t not come to Salaam Namaste, we also go to them,” she adds. The show is 30-minute long and plays every six hours.

Speaking on radio has helped these children develop confidence. Their newfound speaking skills have landed them admissions in schools. Not only this, good habits such as eating properly, dressing up and communication skills that were inculcated have also prompted these kids to come back again and again to Salaam Namaste.

Salaam Namaste also goes to villages and nearby rural areas to spread awareness about the campaign.

“Our kid RJs have their own fan following among their friend circle. This also inspires a lot of children to join us,” she adds.

The radio station is overwhelmed with the response it got from people as volunteers and donations from them. The children’s participation has increased considerably.

“We would like NGOs to work with us. We doing this alone will not make much impact like it will when a lot of people come together,” says Chabaria.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan Awards.




BREADS organized the inauguration of State Network of Child Rights Clubs under project CREAM – Child Rights Education and Action Movement on 29th and 30thNovember 2013. CRC leaders from 10 districts in Karnataka, accompanied by a supportive teacher from each district and CREAM team, all totaling to 84, had come together at Don Bosco Provincial House to share their experiences, learn from peers’ efforts and stage a network that will anchor efforts on a large scale.



This networking effort will help children understand the challenges and issues faced by children like them in different regions and explore options based on each others’ experiences. Prior to this state level network, district level networks and 3 regional networks had been formed.



On 29th, the children were given an opportunity to share their CRC experiences district wise. Facilitated by Fr Joy Nedumparambil, Executive Director – BREADS Bangalore, the children made the best of this opportunity expressing their concerns and obtaining clarity on the purpose behind establishing such a network. Surprisingly, the children headed off to little debates and discussions in between, curious about similar issues receiving different approaches in the project districts. Whether it was child marriage, child labour, access to quality education, the programme offered a canvas of opinions from children that enriched the overall experience for the staff as well. Later during the day, the children were divided into three groups and asked to deliberate on the following questions:

1.      What is the most important issue concerning child rights, according to you?

2.      Why is it important to address this issue?

3.      What can be done to address these issues through the State Network?

4.      What do you think should be the role of a State Network of CRCs?

Post these discussions, the members of the State Network were elected.



On 30th, the Network leaders – Mr Bharath Kumar (Bangalore) and Ms Spoorthi (Davangere) geared up to present the unanimous inferences from group discussions to eminent guests on board – Mr C G Hungund, Member, Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, Fr Edward Thomas, Member, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Fr Koonan Thomas, Vice Provincial and Director – Youth Services, Bangalore Province, Fr Puthenpurayil Kuriakose, Head – YaR Commssion and Fr Joy Nedumparambil, Executive Director – BREADS Bangalore. Post the formal inauguration by lighting the lamp, Mr Bharath Kumar presented the group’s concern on multiple issues that affected children – Child sexual abuse, child marriage, female feticide, bonded labour, discrimination, trafficking. While Mr C G Hungund congratulated project CREAM for establishing this network on its anniversary, Fr Edward Thomas reiterated that children are equal and significant stake holders in protecting child rights. Fr Kuriakose, expressing his pride for these children said that they portrayed hope for many others who were deprived of their rights and insisted on the difference education can make. After Fr Koonan Thomas wishing BREADS to spread the message of CREAM across the nation, Fr Joy Nedumparambil briefed the audience on the genesis of CREAM and shared the obstacles faced in Bellary district for the implementation of Human Rights Education in schools. Ms Spoorthi felt that this stage offered an opportunity to learn about issues in other districts and promised to work for the betterment of children with support from all stake holders through CREAM. Teachers from the districts were also given an opportunity to share their experiences with CRCs and opinions on choosing the way forward. Their enthusiasm compelled BREADS team to declare that child friendly, proactive teachers from the project districts will be duly recognized. The 10 members of the network then came up on stage to plan campaigns on a specific issue for the year 2014. Out of school children and Child Marriage were chosen as the issues of concern and the children decided to organize 4 events at the district level (in 10 districts), 2 events at the regional levels and 1 mass campaign at the State Level in 2014, marking the 2ndanniversary of the project.


In effect, this programme once again outlined that what we were working for – Right to Participation for children – was making its visible impact.











Monday, 9 December 2013


Districts covered - Bangalore, Mysore and Ramnagara