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Banning corporal punishment in schools

25 Jun

25 June 2010  IN THE ECONOMIC TIMES BY  STEVEN RUDOLPH

The La Martiniere School for Boys has decided to ban corporal punishment after Rouvanjit Rawla, a student, committed suicide allegedly because of a disciplinary beating. This landmark decision has certainly changed the status quo for an institute that once prided itself for refusing to spare the rod.

The cane wielding teachers and dministrators will now be forced to stand empty-handed before their disciples—armed only with their teaching skills to make the students behave well in class and to help them to get good results. This will be somewhat unusual for most teachers who rely on brute force to make the students fall in line. With the armour taken away, some of them might now be feeling like defenseless sheep surrounded by a pack of wolves.

For teachers who relied exclusively on fear tactics or physical abuse as their disciplining tools of choice, a good amount of concern might be warranted. The rules of the game have changed with both sides fully aware of the implications. The more rambunctious children will likely test the boundaries and the patience of their teachers, knowing fully well that there’s not much that they can do if they crossed the line. But while it is unlikely that all hell will break loose when the classes resume (I’d like to give the majority of children the benefit of the doubt), it is perhaps a good time to take a closer look at why kids misbehave in the first place, how the wrong approaches to discipline can result in extreme measures such as suicide, and what can be done to create a healthy teaching environment without having to wield the danda.

While I could draw up a long list of approaches or techniques related to quality instruction, I would prefer here to focus simply on one critical educational concept: helping children develop a positive sense of self-esteem. When students have a low or negative self-image, they usually tend to alienate themselves or their problems through avoidance strategies such as not doing homework, not studying, goofing around, etc. They may also fall into unhealthy habits such as over-eating and intoxication like smoking, drinking, and taking drugs. Another common way to cope is by resorting to anti-social behaviour—such as isolating themselves, littering, destroying public property, performing practical jokes on others, bullying or injuring others, or even physically hurting themselves.

According to me, there are three key factors that together form the foundation of one’s self-esteem — autonomy, competence, and relationships. If teachers want to ensure that their students feel psychologically secure, that they don’t crack under pressure, and they will take up life’s challenges with a constructive, can-do attitude, then they must unequivocally give sufficient attention to these aspects of the child’s growth.

Help Develop a Sense of Autonomy

Children today have very little choice in what they do. Their schedules are largely predetermined: their course of study is set by some anonymous curriculum committee; they have to wear school uniforms selected by school officials; streams and courses of study are often decided by parents, as are academic targets that they are expected to achieve. It’s not strange to hear a parent tell the child, ‘I want you to get ninety percent marks in Maths next time!’ But when students lack opportunities to make choices regarding the way they live their lives, it fosters feelings of oppression and desperation in them. Then, when they are faced with a difficult situation (such as exam stress or differences of opinion with parents), they may feel helpless, believing there is little they can do to fix the situation. As a result, they resort to fight-or-flight responses that could create even bigger problems for them.

The solution here is to give children more choices in life—choices about their daily schedules, food, the way they can study or learn about a topic, or even their homework assignments. The more decisions that they take on their own, the more they will feel they have control on their lives, and the less likely they will be to succumb to pressure when they are faced with challenges. Parents and teachers should even go as far as to let kids set their own rules and punishments for misbehaviour. Children adopt a very different attitude when they are asked to follow the guidelines they have set rather than ones that have been handed down to them.

Help Children to Feel Competent

All of us want to feel competent—to know that they are good at something, that what they do is of value or meaning to themselves or others. Part of being able to feel a sense of worth involves the knowledge of the where the strengths lie. Unfortunately, too little is done in education to help children understand their unique set of qualities, let alone encourage them to improve their strengths. As a result, children who manage to discover their inner talents reach high levels of achievement by default, while those who don’t, sit discouraged, believing they have no redeeming qualities—that they were simply dealt a losing hand.

The very word education means ‘to draw out’. And it is with this definition in mind that teachers must stop the unidirectional flow of information that does just the opposite-‘pushing in’. Instead, they must spend time identifying the traits that exist within each student and nurture them. This can be done with models such as Multiple Intelligences (MI) and Multiple Natures (MN). Multiple Intelligences identifies eight distinct abilities that describe how a student is smart, including Bodily, Interpersonal, Logical, Linguistic, Visual, Musical, Intrapersonal and Naturalistic. Multiple Natures explains the ways in which individuals use their abilities. These include Protective, Educative, Administrative, Creative, Healing, Entertaining, Providing, Entrepreneurial and Adventurous.

Teachers should help students understand the spectrum of qualities that exist, and how even though they might not be strong in Maths/Logic, they might be gifted in some other way like their interpersonal abilities might be excellent or their providing nature can get appreciated. Students should be told that when they graduate, those candidates who possess excellent people skills will be paid a premium in sales and PR jobs, and that in the hospitality sector, those with the knack for catering to others needs or desires will be labeled star performers.

Multiple Intelligences and Multiple Natures are largely formed by the time children are six years old, so there is ample time for teachers to get students to recognize and develop their talents. But unfortunately, most teachers only acknowledge those students who demonstrate excellent numerical or linguistic abilities. If teachers took it upon themselves to make a priority, within days, every child in the school would know how he or she is special. When you know you’re special, you feel good about yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, you behave in ways that are socially redeeming and constructive.

Encourage Children to have Healthy Relationships

In his book Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman explains how our brains are wired socially, and how our general feeling of wellbeing is largely dependent on the number of and strength of our social relationships. When children are brought up in environments where they receive high amounts of personal engagement, their brains develop in a psychologically healthy manner. Neural networks develop between the emotional centres of the brain and its other parts in a way that we learn to trust and bond with others easily. When such bonding occurs, the brain secretes hormones that make us feel happy, enabling us to find comfort in the association of others when hardships arise. Those who do not have strong social bonds are forced to find solace by distracting themselves—methods that may evolve into more serious avoidance or attention-getting strategies down the road—the most serious of all being suicide.

Schools therefore need to take great care in ensuring that children have strong support systems both at home and at school. As part regular assessments, teachers and guidance counselors should spend time to measure the strength of a child’s social bonds, and, if they determine that their social support structure is weak, make it a priority to strengthen it. Just as tuitions are prescribed for students who lack academically, so should recommendations be made for children to increase time with family members, friends, and others—to spend more quality time with each other, especially in play, creative activities, the arts and other non-academic pursuits.

The La Martiniere incident was a travesty that resulted in a loss of a life, and our hearts go out to Rouvanjit Rawla, and his family. While the story will continue to unfold and we will eventually get to know the facts that led to this tragic event, let us use this opportunity as a wake up call—not merely to reconfirm what we already know (that corporal punishment is cruel, unwarranted, and illegal), but to address the rkoot causes behind stress in students, unhappiness, inappropriate behaviour and suicide.

Without a doubt, self-esteem is a critical component of a child’s psychological wellbeing, and schools have a definite role to play in contributing to their students’ positive sense of self. Doing so need not be a difficult task; the strategies I have laid out are easy to implement and do not require government legislation or extra funding. Now that La Martiniere has prohibited any kind of physical abuse in its campuses, it will undoubtedly want to equip its faculty with other tools that can ensure better behaviour and academic performance. If they give it a try, I feel, they will surely find building self-esteem through enhancing autonomy, competence and relationships to be far more effective than the rod.

(The author is an American educationist, researcher, TV personality and public speaker based in India. His book, The 10 Laws of Learning was published by Random House India in 2009.)

(Courtesy: Random Reads, the official blog of Random House India; http://randomhouseindia.wordpress.com)

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Inclusive growth: the missing ingredient in Bihar’s success story

4 Feb

Shireen Vakil Miller in THE HINDU FEBRUARY 4, 2010

Despite staggering economic growth, Bihar has one of the highest rates of child mortality in India.

Bihar has been in the news recently for recording an average growth rate of 11.3 per cent for the period between 2004 and 2009. Much has been written about the quality of governance and the improved state of roads. This is indeed commendable, and no mean achievement, for a State that had virtually become a “development outcast”. I was pleasantly surprised to note on a recent trip to Bihar the great improvement made in providing more schools and notably, a huge effort to tackle the complex issue of child labour.

The script for Bihar’s success story is incomplete, however. The State has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of child mortality in India. Out of every 1,000 children born in Bihar, 85 will not live to see their fifth birthday (according to the third National Family Health Survey). The deaths of a third of these children are associated with malnutrition. In fact, the Citizen’s Alliance against Malnutrition states that over 58 per cent of children in Bihar are malnourished. And the State, despite spending crores of rupees on improving the state of the roads, has failed to utilise the funds allotted to it under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which is mandated with tackling under-nutrition among children under six years of age.

MALNUTRITION AND CHILD MORTALITY

MALNUTRITION AND CHILD MORTALITY

(The anomaly between impressive economic growth and appalling rates of malnourishment is not peculiar to Bihar.The country as a whole records malnourishment rates that do not reflect the economic growth. A scene in Madhya Pradesh.)

The anomaly between impressive economic growth and the appalling rates of child mortality and underweight children is not peculiar to Bihar. The country as a whole has recorded an impressive economic growth (real GDP per capita grew by 3.95 per cent per year between 1980 and 2005). Yet, the percentage of underweight children under 3 went down by just six per cent from 52 per cent in 1992-93 to 46 per cent in 2005-06. Evidence suggests that for every 3-4 per cent increase in per capita income, underweight rate should decline by one per cent. This has not been the case in India.

At the present rate of progress, India will reach the Millennium Development Goal 1 target on eradicating extreme hunger only by 2043.

As we move to greater economic growth rates, the challenge we face is to make this growth more inclusive, ensuring that all of us, especially the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups benefit from this economic growth. Children especially must see the benefits of this growth now if we are to sustain economic growth in the future.

The reality in 2010 is that almost 50 per cent of India’s children are malnourished. In the nation’s capital alone, 42.2 per cent of children under five are stunted and a shocking 26.1 per cent are underweight.

Malnutrition stunts physical, mental and cognitive growth and makes children more susceptible to respiratory and diarrhoeal illnesses. Malnourished children are more likely to die as a result of common and easily preventable childhood diseases than those who are adequately nourished. According to a UNICEF report, 1.95 million children below the age of five die annually in India mainly from preventable causes that are directly or indirectly attributable to malnutrition. The children who survive the ravages of malnutrition are more vulnerable to infection, do not reach their full height potential and experience impaired cognitive development. This means they do less well in school, earn less as adults and contribute less to the economy.

While we have impressive policies and schemes such as the ICDS, these have not made a significant impact. The ICDS needs to reach the poorest and most excluded groups who need it the most, both in rural and urban areas. This is not the case however. Only 28.4 pc of children under six are able to access services provided by an anganwadi centre. Just in Delhi alone, for example, only 8.4 per cent of children under six have accessed an anganwadi centre.

India spends less than five per cent of the annual budget on children. The 2009-10 Union Budget earmarked 4.15 per cent on children! This, in a country where 447 million people are aged 18 and below! Of the total budgetary allocation on children, a mere 11.1 per cent is for child health schemes.

It is the poorest children in the poorest communities who experience much more malnutrition than their better-off counterparts. And yet, existing national nutrition plans barely tackle the socio-economic causes of the problem.

There is an assumption that economic growth will solve the problem of malnutrition but, in fact, economic growth often fails to reduce poverty. The economic causes of malnutrition are set to deepen: food prices remain high and are expected to stay high, the economic downturn is pushing millions more into poverty and climate change is causing an increasing number of extreme climatic events that devastate livelihoods and lead to destitution.

We have good policies and schemes in place. The time has come to implement these and more importantly, monitor their implementation. A task group on nutrition was set up by the Prime Minister’s Office in October 2008 but it appears that it has not yet met. We know which districts are hardest hit, we need to reach those districts and build the capacities of local health and nutrition workers to deliver effective services. We need to ensure greater convergence between the ministries that have responsibility for tackling malnutrition so that we have integrated plans at the district and panchayat levels to reach the communities that need it the most.

In the third century BC, Patna was the greatest city in India; the seat of the Maurya dynasty with Emperor Ashoka at the helm. Ashoka was arguably one of our greatest and most forward thinking leaders, who believed in inclusive development. If Bihar pays attention to social development ensuring that its economic growth benefits its most excluded groups and minorities, it may yet again lead the way for other States.

(Shireen Vakil Miller is Director of Advocacy with Save the Children)

http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/04/stories/2010020455120900.htm

HOME MINISTRY DIRECTIVE TO STATE POLICE DEPARTMENTS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING

20 Sep

The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Ajay Maken today said that the Government of India in close co-ordination with the various State and UT Governments had intensified measures against Human Trafficking and Crime against women. Shri Maken also informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) along with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will be organizing a workshop for training of trainers of all stake holders against Human Trafficking by the end of this year. The Conference will be inaugurated by the Home Minister, Shri P Chidambaram, he said. After this workshop, the MHA also intends to organize similar workshops for stake holders from SAARC countries in line with Government of India’s offer of conducting training programmes for Capacity building for implementation of the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children, he elaborated.

In this regard the Ministry had convened a meeting of the Nodal Officers for Human Trafficking of various States and UTs on August 28, 2009 and had pushed forward the agenda of co-ordinated and intensive efforts against trafficking, Shri Maken informed.

While the meeting resolved to strengthen the respective Nodal Officers and Offices at the Centre and in the States, it also deliberated upon certain common operating procedures and practices, following which MHA has issued the following two advisories to the State Governments and UT administrations to issue suitable directions to all concerned to check crime against women and Human Trafficking;

Advisory regarding Measures needed to curb Crime against Women issued on September 4, 2009.

Advisory on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in India issued on September 9, 2009.

Main Points of advisory on checking crime against women

The advisory  has detailed measures that are needed to curb crime against this vulnerable section of the society.  The States and UTs have also been asked to convey the status on the measures to the Centre within a month. The Government of India have been advising the State Governments from time to time regarding the steps that need to be taken to afford a greater measure of protection to the women and in particular to prevent incidence of crimes against them.  Through the advisories, the State Governments were also requested to undertake a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the machinery in tackling the problem of women and to take appropriate measures aimed at increasing the responsiveness of the law and order machinery.

Some State Governments, no doubt, have taken some measures in this regard. However, the inputs regarding crime against women available with this Ministry indicate that these measures need to be strengthened further. Despite several steps being taken by the State Governments, picture still is very grim and disappointing. Complaints are still being received regarding non-registration of FIRs and unsympathetic attitude of police personnel towards rape victims and victims of violence.

The National Commission for Women has been undertaking visits to various States to review the status of women and has been making available findings of their inquiry to the concerned State Governments as well as to the MHA.  The reports of the inquiries conducted by the Commission in specific incidents indicate that the level of sensitiveness and care with which crime against women should be handled is not up to the desired level.

The Government of India is deeply concerned with these trends and ground situation and has re-emphasized that urgent action should be taken on the following:-

  • Vigorously enforce the existing legislation relating to Crime against Women and Children, i.e.,  Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 and Violence against Women (Prevention) Act, 2005, Section 67 of the IT Act, 2000, the display of lascivious photographs/films on computer through internet, etc.
  • Government must ensure proper enforcement of law and convictions in women related crimes.  Enforcement agencies should be instructed in unambiguous terms that enforcement of the rights of the weaker and vulnerable sections including women and children should not be downplayed for fear of further disturbances or retribution and adequate preparation should be made to face any such eventuality.
  • The administration and police should play a more proactive role in detection and investigation of crime against women and ensuring that there is no under reporting.
  • Increasing the overall representation of women in police forces.  The representation of women in police at all levels should be increased through affirmative action so that they constitute about 33% of the police.
  • Sensitizing the law enforcement machinery towards crime against women by way of well structured training programmes, meetings and seminars etc., for police personnel at all levels as well as other functionaries of the criminal justice system.
  • Government must take concrete steps to increase awareness in the administration and among the police in particular, regarding crime against women, and take steps not only to tackle such crimes but also deal sensitively with the ensuing trauma.

For improving general awareness on legislations, mechanisms in place for safety and protection of women, the concerned department of the State Government must, inter-alia, take following steps:

  1. Create awareness through print and electronic media;
  2. Develop a community monitoring system to check cases of violence, abuse and exploitation and take necessary steps to curb the same;
  3. Involving the Community at large in creating and spreading such awareness; and
  4. Organize legal literacy and legal awareness camps.
  5. Explore the possibility of associating NGOs working in the area of combating crime against women. Citizens groups and NGOs should be encouraged to increase awareness about gender issues in society and help bring to light violence against women and also assist the police in the investigation of crime against women.  Close coordination between the police and the NGOs dealing with the interests of women may be ensured.
  6. There should be no delay whatsoever in registration of FIR in all cases of crime against women.
  7. All out efforts should be made to apprehend all the accused named in the FIR   immediately so as to generate confidence in the victims and their family members;
  8. Cases should be thoroughly investigated and charge sheets against the accused persons should be filed within three months from the date of occurrence, without compromising on the quality of investigation.   Speedy investigation should be conducted in heinous crimes like rape. The medical examination of rape victims should be conducted without delay.
  9. Ensure proper supervisions at appropriate level of cases of crime against women from the recording of FIR to the disposal of the case by the competent court.
  10. Help-line numbers of the crime against women cells – should be exhibited prominently in hospitals/schools/colleges premises, and in other suitable places.
  11. Set up exclusive ‘Crime Against Women and Children’ desk in each police station and the Special Women police cells in the police stations and all women police thana as needed.
  12. Concerned departments of the State Governments could handle rape victims at all stages from filing a complaint in a police station to undergoing forensic examination and in providing all possible assistance including counseling, legal assistance and rehabilitation.  Preferably these victims may be handled by women so as to provide a certain comfort level to the rape victims.
  13. The specialized Sexual Assault Treatment Units could be developed in government hospitals having a large maternity section.
  14. The Health department of the State Govts., should set up ‘Rape Crisis Centres’  (RCCs) and specialized ‘Sexual Assault Treatment Units’ (SATUs), at appropriate places. RCCs could act as an interface between the victims and other agencies involved.
  15. The administration should also focus on rehabilitation of the victims and provide all required support.  The police should consider empanelling professional counselors and the counseling should not be done by the police.
  16. For improving the safety conditions on road, the concerned departments of the State Government must take suitable steps to:
  17. Increase the number of  beat constables, especially on the sensitive roads;
  18. Increase the number of police help booth/kiosks, especially in remote and lonely stretches;
  19. Increase police patrolling, especially during the night;
  20. Increase the number of women police officers in the mobile police vans;
  21. Set-up telephone booths for easy access to police;
  22. Install people friendly street lights on all roads, lonely stretches and alleys; and
  23. Ensure street lights are properly and efficiently working on all roads, lonely stretches and alleys.
  24. The local police should arrange for patrolling in the affected areas and more especially in the locality of the weaker sections of the society.  Periodic visits by DM & SP will create a sense of safety and security among these sections of the people.
  25. Special steps to be taken for security of women working in night shifts of call centers.
  26. Crime prone areas should be identified and a mechanism be put in place to monitor infractions in schools/colleges for ensuring safety and security of female students. Women police officers in adequate number fully equipped with policing infrastructure may be posted in such areas.
  27. Action should be taken at the State level to set up of Fast Track Courts and Family Courts.
  28. Dowry related cases must be adjudicated expeditiously to avoid further harassment of the women.
  29. Appointment Dowry Prohibition Officers and notify the Rules under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
  30. All police stations may be advised to display the name and other details of Protection Officers of the area appointed under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
  31. Police personnel should be trained adequately in special laws dealing with atrocities against women. Enforcement aspect should be emphasized adequately so as to streamline it.
  32. Special steps may also be taken by the police in collaboration with the Health and Family Welfare Department of the State to prevent female foeticide.
  33. Special steps should also be taken to curb the ‘Violation of Women’s Rights by so called Honour Killings, to prevent forced marriage in some northern States, and other forms of Violence’.
  34. Ensure follow up of reports of cases of atrocities against women received from various sources, including NCW & SCW, with concerned authorities in the State Governments.

The advisories issued by MHA, inter-alia, include gender sensitization of the police personnel, adopting appropriate measures for swift and salutary punishment to public servants found guilty of custodial violence against women, minimizing delays in investigations of murder, rape and torture of women and improving its quality, setting up a ‘crime against women cell’ in districts where they do not exist, providing adequate counseling centers and shelter homes for women who have been victimized etc.

Main points of advisory on preventing and combating human trafficking in India

The key points include implementation of legal provisions in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1956; Juvenile Justice Act 2000; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006; capacity building of the State machinery; prevention of trafficking; investigation and prosecution and rescue and rehabilitation measures. The states and UTs have also been asked to convey to the Centre the present status within one month. The key points have been worked out in collaboration with the related Ministries of Women & Child Development, Labour & Employment and Health & Family Welfare.

To facilitate matters in this regard, MHA has already established an Anti Trafficking Cell (ATC) which deals with the following major subject matters:

  • All matters pertaining to the criminal aspect of trafficking in human beings especially of women and children, which is the fastest growing organized crime and an area of concern.
  • To act as the Nodal cell for dealing with the criminal aspect of Human Trafficking in India, hold regular meetings of all States and UTs, communicating various decisions and follow up on action taken by the State Governments.
  • To interface with other Ministries like Women & Child Development, Social Justice &Empowerment, External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs, Labour & Employment, Law, and NCRB regarding the criminal aspect of human trafficking.

The Anti Trafficking Nodal Cell of MHA has developed an MIS proforma for the monitoring of the action taken by various State Governments regarding the criminal aspect of human trafficking as well as crime against women.  The State Governments are required to send quarterly information.

http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=52750&kwd=

Girls rescued from the hand of flesh trader in Sikkim

16 Sep

16 Sep 2009:

Voice of Sikkim:

Man named Vidur Rai who was possessing the girls was arrested here at Gangtok as said by SP East Mr. Tuli. Human Trafficking in North East is increasing day by day in lieu offering teens handsome amount of Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000. The traders usually give a promise to deploy victim in a good salaried job at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore like other cities but they finally push innocents into a flesh trade business.

The shocking incident occured when a seven girls were rescued from Syari and Tadong at capital from hand of such intruder.  However some more rackets can be exposed if Sikkim Police takes the Human Trafficking matter seriously and perfoms some sting operations in the capital town Gangtok, local people says.

http://voiceofsikkim.com/2009/09/15/girls-rescued-from-the-hand-of-flesh-trader-in-sikkim/

MEDIA COALITION AND SHAKTI VAHINI EXPRESS THE GRAVE CONCERN OF INCREASING NEW TREND OF SIKKIMESE GIRLS BEING TRAFFICKED. THE GOVERNMENT OF SIKKIM HAS TO TAKE IMMEDIATE  STEPS TO MONITOR ALL THE EXIT ROUTES OF SIKKIM FOR TRAFFICKING. IF  TRAFFICKING CONTINUES UNABATED AND THE GOVERNMENT REMAINS SILENT AS A SPECTATOR VERY SOON THE DEMAND OF GIRLS FROM SIKKIM AND NORTH EAST WILL INCREASE AND THIS MAY EMERGE AS A REPLACEMENT OF NEPALI GIRLS WHO HAVE BEEN TRAFFICKED TO INDIA FOR MANY YEARS.

EVEN THE HOME MINISTRY HAS TO TAKE URGENT STEPS TO STOP THIS TRAFFIC.

THIS NEWS COMES JUST TWO DAYS AFTER A SIKKIM GIRL WAS RESCUED BY VIGILANT POLICE MAN FROM THE RED LIGHT AREA OF DELHI.

Are N-E kids part of RSS grand plans?

13 Jul

MANGALORE: The Dakshina Kannada District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) thought it had stumbled on a child trafficking racket at Kuttarpadavu in 2007. Little did it realize it had uncovered a cog in the RSS social engineering set-up which moved children from the North-East India to the state to protect them from religious conversion.

It happened when a school correspondent revealed to the Udupi CWC in 2009 that the RSS had been bringing children over seven years to protect them from missionaries and nurture them in the Hindu way. The number of such trafficked numbers was anywhere between 1,600 and 1,800.

The Udupi incident also came to light accidentally when a school applied for grants under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyana (SSA). During inspection, the SSA official found children from the North-East in the Thenkabettu aided Higher Primary School at Uppoor, without proper records. The school was neither recognized by the CWC nor were the children produced before the CWC.

CWC member Prameela Vas said Sukumar Shetty, correspondent, Padmavathi Govinda Memorial Trust, which runs the school, in a written statement said the RSS brought them here as the school faced a shortage of students. Though he assured that all the 17 girls would be produced before the CWC, local MLA Raghupathi Bhat scuttled the move and prevented the Brahmavar police from taking the children before CWC, said Vas. Shockingly, the school has no plans regarding their future after elementary education, she added.

The fate of 20 children at Mangala Seva Samithi, Kuttarpadavu, also hangs in the balance. For two years, nothing has moved from the district administration / police or the Women and Child Welfare Committee. The only positive thing is that the Meghalaya joint director of department of social welfare, Nelle, visited Kuttarpadavu, and submitted his report to the government a year ago. CWC sought a copy of the report two months ago. Now the DK CWC is planning to move the state child commission, formed on July 8, for expediting the case and returning children to their state.

Geo D’Silva, CWC member, told STOI that apart from human rights violation by denying children education in their native tongue, they are being subjected to “unwanted influences” which could turn them into anti-social elements. Stressing they have been “trafficked” assuring their parents that they would be given good education, D’Silva claimed they are being engineered to be made foot soldiers of a fundamentalist organization. D’Silva says, “If Tukaram Shetty, who claims to be the guardian of 20 children, is so interested in educating these deprived children, why are they being educated only in RSS-run schools? Moreover, the applications doesn’t contain any details about parents and the place they hail from except that the guardian is Tukaram Shetty. This violates Section 34 of the Juvenile Justice Act.” He points out, “The system has not moved an inch in bringing Shetty to book. Moreover, their religion has been shown as Hindu, while in reality they are tribals.”

After the Kuttarpadavu case, though there is no case against the perpetrators, there have been many complaints that CWC members are over-stepping their jurisdiction.

D’Silva says the return of the children should happen at the governmental level after the Meghalaya government goes trough the report. Till then, the fate of hundreds of children in an alien place is quite uncertain.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sphome/4719148.cms

Focussing on children in need of care and protection

6 Nov

The handbook is useful for people working in the area of child rights

BANGALORE: There is still a long way to go for all children in India to dream of living a healthy, happy childhood free from abuse and exploitation. The protection and promotion of child rights in India vis-À-vis the juvenile justice system is an issue that needs to be addressed with much seriousness and concern.

“Justice for Children,” – a Handbook on Implementing The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 and the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act 2006, is an attempt to guide the statutory body under the Juvenile justice system, the child welfare committees while dealing with the web of legal maze of procedural and substantive laws.

Representatives of non-governmental organisations got a sneak preview of the handbook co-authored by Nina P. Nayak and Anuradha Saibaba Rajesh at an informal programme here recently. The venture is supported by Child Fund India and Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare.

According to the authors, the handbook focuses on children in need of care and protection, that is, children who are exploited or abused and abandoned. It is largely based on the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act 2006 and the Karnataka Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules 2002. The Constitution of India, other laws relating to children and the international human rights instrument, the Convention on the Rights of the Children are also appropriately referred to.

The predominant aim of “Justice for Children” is to serve as a reference tool primarily for the Child Welfare Committee members in Karnataka and functionaries of the Department of Women and Child Development and itself draws from the experiences of the five-member committee here. Additionally as child protection issues gain increasing awareness amongst the public, the handbook can be useful for anyone working in the area of child rights and protection — be it academicians, activists, voluntary organisations, students, childlines and so on.

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