After 60 years of India's independence, UP tribals to vote fearlessly for first time
Raup (UP), Apr 30 : After sixty years of country's independence, tribals of the Sonbhadra region in Uttar Pradesh will be entering polling booth without fear for the first time to take part in the democratic exercise of electing their representative by casting vote.
The socially deprived section in Raup village have been issued Election Identity cards ahead of the Assembly election in the State and as the date for polling draws near an unique sense of excitement has pervaded the small tribal population.
"We fought for so many years but we did not get anything. But today we have got our voter identity cards and this is the reason we are celebrating," said Yogindar, a tribal of the village.
And for them May 3 date is 'historic' and gives no less reason to celebrate when they would press the button of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The celebration has begun as they danced to the tunes of drum-beatings and songs, as an expression of their joy.
It is not uncommon in India's caste and crime-ridden politics, where goons of political parties or influential candidates scare away poor and the low-castes from voting or caste their votes by impersonating. And for these illiterate tribals democracy meant nothing.
But things started changing. The Election Commission decided in 1994 to make it mandatory for all eligible voters to possess election identity cards. Since then it has progressively made it compulsory as a proof of identity to cast ballots during elections.
"These people are the citizens of India but this is the first time that they have got the reorganization of being the citizens of India and the right to participate in the democracy of the country. And it is important, as while on one hand we have some people saying that they are running away from casting their votes, on the other hand these people are going to participate in the country's democracy and exercise their rights as citizens," said Lenin, President of Human Rights People's Surveillance Group.
A seven-stage poll in the state, which began on April 7, would end on May 8 and the ballot would be counted on May 11.
• Five children died due to Diarrhea in Lohata (Dhamariya)
In Lohata 5 children died due to diarrhea and more than dozens are fighting for life and administration is doing hell. Our colleague who is also a weaver reported us after survey that here in Lohata 5 children died and many are still fighting for life. He called to a press reporter of Daily newspaper named Hindustan for this. Hindustan publish this news with photograph that in Lohata diarrhea is proving his devil face he took the life of 5 children and peoples are leaving Lohata for saving their souls. Severs are flowing on road water is contaminated and no any medical aid is provided there by health and medical departments.
When our activist contacts with local reporter of daily Hindi newspaper then administration woke up and start acting. During this action 5 corrupt employees are suspended and medical people starts camping there for cure and trying to control the situation up to the three weeks with the help of five doctors and other staffs. Water board starts water supplying by tankers because pipelines have leakage at many places. Water board started maintain of pipeline, overhead tank cleaned by water board peoples now water supplying start properly. CMO told to the peoples for not drinking pipeline water drink only tankers water after adding the tablet of chlorine, if any one has seen the symptom of diarrhea then immediate start drinking Oral Rehydration Solution. After the struggle of one week situation turns normal. After this sub center become activated. Earlier PVCHR and Bunkar Dastakaar Adhikar Manch tried for activation by complaining and agitation but administration didn’t take attention, they people were waiting for causalities.
Sri Laxmi Chand Jaiswal died due to hunger on 13-4-07 his entire family was suffering in Hunger since five day.
His wife Ms Meena Devi carried her five-year-old child Juli Suffering malnutrition to primary health center Tanda.
She exposed that the matter of hunger was informed to the D.M. in writing before the media. She was visited by Mrs. Vidyavati Rajbhar who agreed that the entire family was at the verge of Hunger effect, and the death of her husband was due to hunger for which the district administration is responsible.
When this case was asked from the district authorities their reply was that the death was due to deases.
The entire village is in hunger and two childrens are affected by malnutrition.
In spite of the matter published in the newspapers, the administration has not provided any Government relief. Finally july passes away because of malnutrition. Then administrative people start acting and they makes new AAY ration cards, BPL cards and distribute grains. In the above fact, the D.M. has instructed Dr. R.K.Singh as not to write malnutrition in any case. Now he has refused to write malnutrition for other cases
Washington Post and Reuter published story on weavers of Varanasi:
An Ancient Indian Craft Left in Tatters
Sari Weavers Struggle Amid Economic Boom
By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, June 6, 2007; A01
VARANASI, India -- Deep in a labyrinth of stucco buildings, in a dark, cavelike warehouse, Mohamed Javen, 18, switched on a light bulb, sat before his rickety loom and began working on what was once the prize possession of every Indian bride: the hand-woven silk sari.
His feet operated the bamboo pedals, making a rhythmic clopping sound. He carefully positioned hair-thin strands of gold thread into green silk, crafting a glittery lattice of leaves, elephants and birds that unfolded like a painting.
This sari design, which has been in Javen's family for 100 years, can take up to two months to weave. Patterns like these have been a source of Indian pride for more than 2,000 years, with India's version of haute couture adorning wealthy women of the empires of Rome, Egypt and Persia. Until recently, weaving was India's second-most-common occupation, behind farming.
But in this ancient city along the Ganges, Hinduism's holiest river, an estimated 1 million sari weavers are facing almost certain ruin. Cheaper, machine-made saris -- many of which are copied from Varanasi's famous patterns -- are being pumped out of China and from newer factories in India's western Gujarat state. Adding to the weavers' woes, changing fashions and global trade rules have opened the Indian market to foreign competitors, leaving many once-prosperous sari weavers and their families in desperate poverty.
"This loom will be in a museum," said Javen's despairing uncle, Nazir Ahmed, 30, whose family was forced to shut down 12 of their 14 looms. "We would have never predicted this. We were India's artists. Now we are living in poverty."
The new India is home to smooth highways and shiny high-rises, all the accouterments of the developed world. But millions of craftsmen, manual laborers and rural workers are being left out of the economic boom. Nearly 70 percent of India's population lives on less than $2 a day, and with more than 40 percent of its young malnourished, India is worse off than Africa in terms of children's health, according to the United Nations.
India also lacks a social security system, leaving weavers, farmers and others vulnerable to market forces. It is a gaping hole in India's rush to become a developed country that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has pledged to fix.
"This is the ugly, painful side of globalization. It's a real crisis. If India is booming, you don't see it among weavers or farmers or other rural laborers, which is to say most of the country," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, head of the People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights, an aid group here. "Helping those left behind is India's greatest challenge."
Few professions in South Asia were as esteemed as that of the sari weaver -- part artist, part craftsman. Using simple foot-powered looms, weavers for generations have fashioned elaborate patterns and scenes of weddings, mango groves and Mughal processions, replete with elephants and horse-drawn carriages. Their canvases are billowing sunflower and saffron silks, each six yards long.
The father of independent India, Mohandas Gandhi, clad in his homespun loincloth, launched his nationalist movement to defy colonialism by encouraging Indians to stop wearing cheap British machine-made cloth in favor of Indian-made fabrics, partly as a gesture of self-reliance. The hand-loomed saris from Varanasi became a national symbol for India's independence.
But today, the decline of the sari industry has had tragic consequences. In the eastern villages and cities of Uttar Pradesh state, 175 weavers committed suicide last year, despondent over their recent change in fortunes, according to the People's Vigilance Committee. About 70 percent of weavers' children are malnourished, aid groups estimate. The weavers also cannot afford basic medical care for their children, much less themselves.
That's how Razia Khatoon, the wife of a once-prominent weaver, last year ended up a stranded widow with nine children to feed.
In her village just outside Varanasi, Khatoon said customers stopped buying handmade saris several years ago. She had to sell the gold she received at her wedding, the Indian equivalent of hocking a diamond engagement ring. Soon after, she married off her two oldest daughters "just so that they could be fed somewhere else," she said.
Her husband, Mohammad Ismail, 50, became more and more distressed as profits from weaving continued to dwindle. He also had contracted tuberculosis and was unable to pay for the medicines needed to treat the disease.
"The saris he wove were meant for queens and princesses," she said. "But everything changed. He started to wish he taught his sons more useful skills."
Ismail died in July 2006, Khatoon said. Traumatized by her grief and her new financial pressures, she sat with his body through the night, as her children hugged her.
"I was afraid of the future," whispered Khatoon, 45, red-eyed as she recalled Ismail's death. "Then everything got worse."
Early this May, her pretty 20-year-old daughter, Ruksana, also died of tuberculosis. Now the disease is set to claim her 16-year-old daughter, Salma, who rests limply on a straw mat outside her family's shanty.
What makes the deaths of Ismail and his daughter so surprising is that the weaver's family was always self-sufficient.
Likewise, Ramzam Ali, 32, is the first weaver in five generations to have trouble feeding his family. "I rush every morning to find work as a rickshaw driver or as a day laborer, but there are already so many people already doing those things," Ali said. "If I can't manage to even feed my children, how will I mange to educate them in a different trade?"
Part of the problem is that Ali has a fifth-grade education and no other skills. His father taught him how to weave intricate patterns of lotus flowers and animal motifs onto silk. That's all he ever thought he would need. Now, he joins more than 370 million other Indians in the informal jobs sector, many of them illiterate, unskilled and in dire need of work, according to government studies.
Aid workers trying to help the weavers say the industry desperately needs a marketing campaign. They are talking to Bollywood stars about showcasing handmade Varanasi saris on film while also trying to market the handmade sari to the middle and upper classes as the "little black dress of India" in fashion magazines.
But the campaign has been slow, partly because of greater interest in Western fashion.
In the new Indian metropolis, casual, machine-made cotton kurtas, or shirts, have become the preferred attire of the young; long and colorful, the shirts can be worn over jeans. But as India's markets open, India’s young middle class, eager to show the urbane hipness that distinguishes them from their parents, is flooding Western fashion outlets like United Colors of Benetton.
Despite the boom in many information technology hubs in southern Indian cities, Varanasi's weaver quarters look like a ghetto, with men sleeping under broken-down looms strung with cobwebs, rutted streets with trash fuming at every turn and donkeys hauling in water for cooking and bathing, tugged along by barefoot urchins.
"I hardly care about booming India when I have no food or money," said Poochland Dash, 60, a white-haired grandfather and a once-wealthy weaver who said through tears that he is considering suicide. He is trying to sell the house he built during the golden years of the sari-weaving industry, with his saris featuring embroidery of men atop animals in rich indigos and reds.
"If a buyer insults me with a too-low price, I swear I will kill myself," Dash said.
Listening nearby, his wife started crying. "If he takes his life, I will take my life, too," she said, staring at the ground.
Special correspondent Indrani Ghosh Nangia contributed to this report.
India's silk sari-weavers face bleak, hungry future
Tue Jul 3, 2007 11:05PM EDT
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By Jonathan Allen
VARANASI, India (Reuters) - Shiwajatan Rajbhar spends his days weaving golden and silver flowers across exquisite silk saris on a rickety handloom in his mud hut.
Once completed, the handloom sari -- traditionally a prized part of any Indian bride's trousseau -- will be sold for many times his monthly income.
The northern city of Varanasi is to handloom saris what Darjeeling is to tea. Yet despite producing some of the most coveted saris in the Indian subcontinent, the weavers -- said to number between 200,000 and 500,000 -- have never been rich.
Now, with the market flooded with cheap machine-made saris, they are poorer than ever with some turning to farming and manual labor and others resorting to begging.
The weavers are typical of the millions of Indians left behind by market forces even as parts of the country's metropolises enjoy increasing prosperity from a booming economy.
In the 1990s powerlooms became increasingly common, spitting out several saris in a day -- the same time it takes someone like Rajbhar to weave only the first yard of a classic six-meter sari on his wooden handloom, thread by thread.
Machine-made Chinese imitations have in recent years flooded the market, often sold by dishonest dealers as the real thing.
Varanasi's weavers say they cannot compete, and so thousands of looms have fallen silent.
"They started closing down slowly, one or two at a time," remembers Munni Devi, who lives in Gaurakala village, once home to about 100 handlooms.
Now there are only two still running.
Many of the others have been trashed for firewood. The trenches dug in the floors of their homes to house the looms' pedals now resemble shallow graves.
Before, the families once earned so much they could build sturdy two-storey homes, grand by Indian village standards.
These days, the once proud artisans now slowly sell off ornaments for money and rent land to farm.
WAITING FOR HELP
Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi of local advocacy group PVCHR points out that almost all weavers are either low-caste Hindus or from India's Muslim minority -- communities that have often been marginalized -- and are mostly illiterate.
His group wants the government to follow through on its proposal to introduce a handloom mark of authenticity so that the weavers have a fairer shot at selling their coveted saris in the market.
Until then, if they cannot earn from their handlooms, the weavers must resort to menial jobs, such as driving rickshaws, selling vegetables, laying roads or begging.
In the last few years, around 50 adults and children from weaving families have either starved to death, or killed themselves rather than endure their poverty, according to PVCHR.
Many lack the government ration card to which the poor are entitled, which would give them discounted or free food.
Tuberculosis is also common. The weaver parents of Iqbal Khan, 15, were typical: they went to their graves not knowing they were entitled to free life-saving drugs from the government.
Khan now has the disease that made him an orphan and sleeps most of the day, while his 8-year-old sister shoulders the extra burden of work on their handloom alongside two aunts.
Ramauti Rajbhar, like many weavers, talks about her poverty and hunger with weary good humor.
Likewise, the children playing between the mud huts look happy enough, even if malnutrition has turned their black hair tawny yellow and left their skin visibly dry.
Most of Rajbhar's one-room home in Bhagwa Nala is taken up by two defunct handlooms. She now works as a casual laborer on building sites. If she gets hired in the morning, she takes home 60 rupees ($1.50) in the evening.
She can afford to feed her children only a bowl or two of plain rice and some bread each day. Sometimes they get nothing.
"Tell me, with 100 rupees, what shall I do? Should I spend it on bread, or on medicines or on educating my children?" asked Rajbhar, saying her eldest daughter was about to become a full-time dishwasher.
"I have little hope for the future," she added, her eyes bloodshot and hooded from fatigue.
Reuter story published in many magazines and news letters in world.Some linkage as follows:
Urgent appeals by the Asian Human Right Commission- Hong-Kong
Progress report- for the month of May-07 Hi-Tech City
In Kashi Vidyapeeth block and Araji Line agriculture intensive area 2200 acres of land is been snatched for Hi-Tech City is being planned, is being objected since March 2007 and Government and Unitech Company is negotiating in this regard to settle capitalist and make a separate city. The directives of capitalist conspirators are destroying the culture of ancient heritage Benaras.
On 1st May in Vidyapeeth block and village panchayat of Forwan on May Day weavers and agriculturist collected together and marched a procession. Labour has a important role to play in society, on the other hand society and Government completely ignores them. Labour works day and right still he is completely queued for achieving their rights they have to get organized. On this day a big collection of labour mars was present. After this Hi-Tech city affected villagers consisting of labours, agriculturist and weavers made an arrangement of a meeting (panchayat) on 19th May at shaheed udyaan. They were to go for agitation for asking the Government appealed to wave of the Hi-Tech programme, so as to save agriculture of the area.
On 21st May villages affected by Hi-tech city youths collected in meeting where it was that they would do every thing to save agriculture. In the name of Hi-Tech city fertile land of agriculturist is being conspired and seized by the capitalist, due to this reason their agitation is not getting successful.
On 24th May a motorcycle procession was taken out, in which again and again false statement made by the administration has been objected. This procession went through Hi-Tech city affected villages- Kurauta, Daudpur, Unchgaon, Nakaipur, Maniaripur, Balirampu, Ghatampur, Tulachak, Darekku Pilkhini. It was pledged that in the region of development agriculturists would not be exploited. In case agriculture of this area is disturbed the urban area will also get affected, as cost of agricultural proceeds will also get affected, and simultaneously labours of this area will get workless.
On 30the May a folk school was organized at village panchayat Lohta in which victims these villages collected consisting weavers and agriculturist population. This folk school derived that this Hi-Tech programme is anti agriculturist and weavers, and people have organize themselves to object to Hi-tech city programme.
The weavers of this area are in a bad shape and weavers are compelled to committee suicide, and the Government has no solution to make these weavers stand.
Monument erected in February 2007 in commemoration of 18 children who died of starvation in Varanasi. Courtesy: Voice of People, People’s Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR) and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) & People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), Varanasi, India
The state and central governments in India cannot justify the occurrence of deaths due to starvation and malnourishment among its people because it is well known that the country is rich in food grains and has a surplus food stock in its granaries.
To distribute its ample food stocks, the central government of India has a distribution system where food grains are sent to the state governments in accordance with their requirements. It is the responsibility of state governments to communicate their food needs to the central government. The state governments in turn, have a a licensing scheme to distribute food grains, particularly to the poor sections of society. But as illustrated below, this system is totally inefficient and riddled with corruption so much so that many Indian people continue to die of starvation.
'Fair price' (Ration) shop where little is fair.
The Public Distribution System or PDS is the mechanism through which state governments distribute rationed articles for subsidised prices to the poor. Towards this end the governments issue licences to run PDS shops and allots quotas of food grains and other rationed articles to these shops. The articles are delivered at the shops at government expense with the explicit objective that these items are distributed—free, at subsidised prices or through some other scheme such as the food for work programme—to those in need.
To assess the scheme through which grains are to be distributed and also to decide those eligible to receive food items free or at subsidised rates, the state governments authorise various local administrations—including the district and block level administration—to conduct periodical surveys and provide the government list of persons or families requiring assistance. Those families thus identified as eligible to receive assistance, are given ration cards or different colours depending on each family's financial status. These marginalized families can then obtain their food allocation at the licensed 'ration shops' which are located in almost every village in the country.
The ration shops are the distribution points for the food grains. The shops are licensed to individuals or co-operatives under the Rationing Order, which is a law under the Essential Commodities Act of 1955. The government by periodical declarations designates select items as ‘essential commodities'. A wide variety of food grains are included as essential commodities under this Act and any illegal dealing with items that are to be distributed through the ration shops as essential commodities is an offence in law punishable with imprisonment for a period of seven years and also fine. Notwithstanding however, there is a wide network of deep-rooted corruption going on within this distribution cycle ensuring that the poor and vulnerable continue in their pitiful plight.
Consequently, many people who are assessed as eligible to receive food grains at subsidised rates or free of charge never get their ration cards from the local administration. Reliable information has been received that local administration officials connive with corrupt licensees of ration shops, gather information regarding these families and obtain the cards meant for them and get their quota of food grains and items such as cooking oil, sugar and kerosene. They then sell these articles in the black market or private hotels for huge profits. And this chain of corruption is said to be so widespread and deep-rooted that it includes some senior government officers to ration shop licensees in the villages.
Illegal dealing in rationed items is a crime. Therefore, any complaint regarding corruption in the PDS system can be made to the local police who are duty bound to record and investigate same. But due to the massive corruption that has eaten into the whole Indian system, the police fail/neglect their duty and consequently, the rationed items never reach the needy. The culprits never get booked or charged with a crime and are thus emboldened to continue their nefarious activities in total impunity. Additionally, illiteracy and social ostracism of select communities on the basis of caste and religion also deprive the marginalised from benefiting from the government schemes. As a result, these schemes exist only on paper while the poor starve to death.
The following are two stories depicting the agony of marginalised communities in India:
Story One: Misery of the Musahars
Lush paddy fields, but not for the Musahars
The Musahar community, in Varanasi district, is socially and economically one of the most marginalized communities in India. The Musahar community comes under the category of Scheduled Castes. Although the practice of untouchability is a crime under Indian law, the Musahar community is treated as such and not allowed to enjoy social life with the mainstream society and to share common amenities in the village.
People from the Musahar community are deprived of owning property, maintain means of livelihood, and accessing the education system. For their survival they work as labourers in agricultural fields or engage in other kinds of hard manual labour. The remuneration for such work is usually in kind—mostly discarded food or grains. They do not have any savings to use in times of need. These families are thus forced into starvation at times when they have no regular work.
Taking into account the plight of the Musahar community, in 1998 the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Pindra allotted some land in favour of the Musahar community of Dallipur-Fattepur village, (Pindra Tehsil, Badagaon block) in the Varanasi district so that people belonging to this community could construct their huts and live with their families without fear of displacement. But to date, they have not got possession of the allotted lands. It is alleged that upper caste people belonging to the Patel community of Dallipur-Fattepur village, have illegally taken possession of the said lands and are depriving the Musahar community of their lawful rights.
On February 19, 2007, the members of the Musahar community of Dallipur-Fattepur village gathered at the district headquarters and complained to the district magistrate of Varanasi, regarding the following:(1) for possession of their lands (2) for an Anganwadi centre [children's school in the community] in their community and (3) to ensure proper distribution of food grains through the PDS shops. But many of them allege that the district administration of Varanasi has done little or nothing to fulfil the requests made by the Musahar community of Dallipur-Fattepur village. On the contrary—probably in revenge for complaining and to deter future agitations—the Musahars were in fact given less rations that month (March), than what they were entitled according to their ration cards.
According to information, the PDS ration shop of Dallipur-Fattepur village is in the name of Surmati Devi but the shop is actually managed by Sunder Ram, the brother of Surmati Devi's husband. Those deprived of their food grains include: Kariya Musahar,Doctor Musahar, Hirawati Musahar, Bideshi Musahar, Moti Musahar, Nanhey Musahar, Santhosh Musahar, Kebali Musahar, and Khelawan Musahar.
Meanwhile, on March 8, 2007, Musahars of Dallipur-Fattepur village submitted an application to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Varanasi district regarding the breakout of Measles in their community. They requested urgent medical assistance as most of the victims were children who were suffering serious health problem as a result. Also in a recently conducted survey, PVCHR found that most of the families belonging to the Musahar community had no work, were living in utter squalor and faced acute starvation. The PVCHR demanded that the Varanasi district be included under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) immediately.
It is worth noting here that the NREGA programme is a central government programme that provides employment for the poor. The programme is intended to support rural sectors of the population who otherwise find it near- impossible to find paid employment and unable to feed their families end up in starvation. The scheme guarantees employment for specific periods of time throughout the year so that a minimum number of working days are ensured for the poor. However, this programme is implemented only in areas that are declared fit for implementation of the programme.
But this requires a considered approach by the administration of the particular region, first to identify the number of people suffering from poverty and then to recommend to the government to include the region under the scope of the programme. However, Musahar being an 'untouchable' community the administration is not really concerned about its welfare.
It is further shocking to note that 18 Musahar families had not been given ration cards until 2006. After a long and strenuous struggle 15 families were finally afforded yellow cards which are issued to those families whose living conditions are identified as being below the poverty line (BPL). But BPL families are those who are identified in the rural area with an annual income of Rs. 12000 [272 USD] or less and urban families living in declared and undeclared slums with an annual income of Rs. 17000 [386 USD] or less.
As far as the Musahar families are concerned they are qualified for Antyodaya Anna Yojana cards (red cards) which are issued to the poorest of the poor amongst the BPL families. However three Musahar families of Indrajit Musahar, Gulab Musahar and Dinesh Musahar, continue to be deprived of even BPL (yellow) cards—despite of their dire economic plight.
It is also alleged that these families have been living in Sarai village for generations. However, it is alleged that the village head of Sarai village was reluctant to accept these Musahar families as residents of the village. He has thus maliciously denied their rights to a livelihood and to food and force them, including women and children, to die of hunger and starvation. Mithai Musahar, who is one of the BPL card holders (card no. 497457) is unable to buy food grains on BPL card and his grandson Sanju, who is also suffering from measles, has reached the verge of dying from starvation due to the lack of food.
More shockingly, upper caste people, who are well-above the BPL, are alleged to be enjoying the use of red cards—as earlier mentioned, issued only to the poorest of the poor. It is also alleged that Jagdeesh Patel the husband of Sarai village head Mrs. Urmila and Chandrashekhar Singh, who is the Village Secretary of Sarai village have given red cards to those people who belong to upper caste families and who are disqualified for holding red cards.
Story Two: Little Juli
According to information received, several families in Alhadapur village were engaged in the weaving industry. However owing to the influx of cheap alternatives from outside the country and various other factors like poor management of the industry by private entrepreneurs and lack of government support, the weaving industry in Uttar Pradesh deteriorated. This deprived thousands of families of even a basic income—several of these families are from the villages and Alhadapur is one such village.
Many people who found it extremely difficult to put even one meal a day on the table for their families, resorted to various odd jobs. One such person was Laxmi Chandra Jaiswal, the husband of Mina Devi and father of 5-year-old Juli. Mr. Jaiswal opened a small shop in his village where he sold cigarettes and betel leafs. However in 2006, he fell ill and had to sell his shop and borrow money for his treatment. This left him without an income and in debt and his family in dire straits. As a result, 5-year-old Juli is severely malnourished.
When PVCHR was informed of this family's plight, activists attached to PVCHR took July to a paediatrician at the local Primary Health Centre. The doctor there immediately diagnosed that the little girl was suffering from Grave IV malnourishment. Furthermore, he was shocked to find that Juli weighted only 7 kg when other children of the same age and height ideally weighed around 18 kg.
Many children like little Juli suffer from malnourishment due to the inefficiency, neglect and rotten corruption of the system.
Mina Devi said that her daughter has been suffering from malnourishment for almost one year as the family could not afford to feed her. And though, Mina Devi works as a maid servant in a nearby house, she is only given left over food as her wages—and this too is often limited to one or two roti a day. Inquiries also revealed that the family is also not receiving the benefits of any government scheme enacted for the benefit of the poor. Contrarily, the village head seemed far from interested in issuing free food grains to the poor families in the village and more interested in selling the food grains, obtained on their behalf, to the black market.
The local community children's school remains closed and pitiful little has been done so far to conduct a study on the health condition of the village children. The Jaiswal family does not have any land; they only have a small hut. Several families including Mr. Jaiswal's, have filed petitions with the district administration for assistance as well as to be included among those requiring food assistance. However owing to widespread corruption, at the district administration office these petitions were rejected or ignored.
In addition to the Jaiswal family, Shri Ram Lakhan Kanauja and his family are also living in similar conditions. He is 65 years old, does not have a job and is dying from starvation. Then Abdul Haq and his wife Sazida are both blind. Mr. Haq is also 65 years old and unemployed. His wife is suffering from severe malnourishment but has received no help from the district administration thus far. It is reported that there are several such families suffering from similar or worse conditions, and in the absence of immediate help from the district administration many people will surely die from starvation or malnourishment induced by starvation unless something is done really fast.
And, according to recent information, Mina Devi—the mother of Juli—was also admitted to the local government hospital for illness brought about by malnourishment
Posted on 2007-06-20
Back to [Vol. 17 No. 03 May 2007]
• PVCHR and AHRC highlighted the weavers issue of Varanasi with the agenda of Sachchar committee
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in India, situated on the bank of holy river Ganges. City is mostly inhabited by hindus and Muslims. Hindus are in majority but Muslim population is also more than 1 million. Mulim population is highly concentrated in different areas of the city. Most of the Muslim population is engaged in weaving work of famous Baranasi Sarees.
Bajardiha is one of the most densely populated areas in Varanasi city. The total population of Bajardiha is more than 100,000 and most of them are weavers and living in appalling condition. In the concerned weavers’ community of Bajardiha there is only one government Primary school for children’s education, there is no hospital, no road, even there is no pavement in the locality. The sewer system does not work there. Everywhere in the area, stagnant and dirty water of sewer can be seen overflowing. The dump of rubbish is spread around the area which is not sanitary safe for the residents. Due to acute poverty and unhygienic conditions many people of this community, including children, are suffering from TB and Asthma. It is alleged that Varanasi Municipal Corporation is also responsible for the plight situation of the residents of Bajardiha.
Due to breakdown of the economy in the market of Baranasi sarees, weavers' community of Bajardiha have found difficulties to get job and the people are facing imminent problem of starvation. Thousands of weavers have been migrated to other cities leaving their families behind in search of livelihood; many others are involved in menial jobs to feed their families and children.
In another community called Mirzamurad in Varanasi district named which is hardly 5 kilometers away from Varanasi city. People of neighbouring villages of Mirzamurad have also been engaged in weaving of sarees for last several years. Weavers of this area are also facing the same problem of loss of jobs due to breakdown of market.
Most of the villagers in the area of Mirzamurad from different villages like Kardhana, Benipur, Mehdiganj, Ganeshpur, Islampur, Amini, Admapur, Mominpur, Kallipur, Chateri, Manapur, Thatara, etc are engaged in the weaving work. At the advent of summer season, weavers of this area were expecting that the market of Baranasi Sarees will gain momentum and with the increase in the sale of Baranasi Sarees they would be able to get job and their income will increase. But the weavers' expectations proved to be mistaken and their hopes to get out of the crisis of acute poverty even for a while seem to be broken.
Dozens of weavers have already been closed their looms due to fall of demand of Baranasi Sarees and groping the dark in search of their livelihood. It is reported that in the State of Uttar Pradesh election campaign is going on and the candidates from different political parties contesting the election to get elected for State Legislative Assembly and their leaders are spending millions of rupees to win the election by any means but the sufferings of poor workers are not on the agenda of any political parties.
Majority of the Muslim community in India is living in acute poverty. Muslims in India have deliberately been deprived of education and jobs in government services. Muslim population in India mostly resides in cities and has been involved in different economic activities to earn their livelihood.
It is ironic to know that Muslim population in India has been facing the negligence and indifferent attitude of Indian ruling authorities and local level administrations since independence of India. It has been the root cause of all sorts of backwardness and poverty among Muslim community. They have been subjected to acute exploitation and for this reason despite of hard labour majority of Muslim population has always been deprived of their essential requirements.
Recently Justice Sachar Committee, which was established to improve economic conditions and social welfare of Muslims and other minorities in India, stated that the conditions of Muslims in India are even worse than that of Dalit. Sachar Committee has also recognized the fact that the Muslim community is deprived of all basic amenities and living in horribly poor conditions.
Amidst assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, it has been reported that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was pledging to implement the Sachar Committee's recommendations for the welfare of Muslims and other minorities. Addressing at the election meeting at Puranpur in Pilibhit, Singh said central government would implement the recommendations made by the Sachar Committee for socio-economic uplift of Muslims.
However, the situation of the Muslim weavers in Varanasi district is hopeless and they have responded that it is only election stunt to attract the Muslim voters. They say that at the time of elections leaders are used to make mere verbal promises and once when election is over no leader turns back to take notice of them.
• May Day was celebrated an Alhadpur, Tanda Akbarpur of Ambedkar Nagar district by arranging a gathering of labours mainly weavers for appreciating the values of labour.
While in varanasi earthen lamps were lighted by praising the virtues of labour.
Further in Sonbhadra May day was celebrated by Ghasia tribe by collecting down at martyr stone which ware made in honor of their starved children by making an oath that in future such an incidence will not occur in future by resisting that labour being their right an will struggle hard to take complete care of their families and children.
• Mr Prashant represents JMN towards three days Parner’s meet at Bhawali. The outcome of the meeting was:
1. That effort is to be made to attain women’s equality rights.
2. Social Audit are to be different than the Govt. Audits, considerations are to be on the actual status of demographical status character.
3. Description of working status for disabled people should be collected.
4. Appraisal of NREGA programme in UP and Uttaranchal region was discussed at a large.
5. Condition of weavers was discussed as 50 or more weavers have committed suicide in the near past.
6. Matters related to objections and demerits of SEZ in Varanasi were considered by all the members.
• On 19th may a folk school was organized at village Belwa, in which 15 victims participated for their violation of Human rights.
• Dr. Bahadur Singh Yadav member of UP SC/ST commission was the guest who assured to help this victim by taking stern action. He also assured to be present in all future such programmes.
• On 30th a folk school was organized in Lohta, varanasi of marginalized people and weavers, which mainly consisted people from Hi-Tech zone like village Bhatti, Churamanpur, Dhannipur, Korauta, Bharthara and so on.
• Dr. Lenin (Director) JMN has been appreciated worldwide an was honored with Gwangjoo Human Rights Award from South Korea for his out standing achievement in the area of Dalit Human Rights and democracy, police torture, bonded labour and Hunger etc.
• By the effort of JMN team the authorities were provoked to do the best for promoting ‘Right to Food’ campaign, further 300 job cards were issued, 8 Antyodaya cards and 18 old age pension were issued to deprived and marginalized communities in Chandauli district.
• There has been a protest at DM’s office in Chandauli by various people from Belwani Village of Sakaldeeha block regarding basic rights on issue of malpractices in NREGA programme as SC and ST were not issued with job cards. There were 28 such cases.
• Regarding Hi-Tech city youths collected in a meeting on 21st May where it was decided that they would do everything to save agriculture in the area.
• On 24th May a motorcycle procession was taken out in which false statement repeatedly by the administrative authorities has been resented by various villages of this area and made a pledge and united to save agriculture in the region.
Wednesday, 30 May
* Folk school of victims and marginalized in Lohota
Participants: over 30 people who are living in high-tec Zone area, Bhatti, Churamanpur, Lohata, Dhannipur, Korauta, Bharthara, Ghamaria and so on.
All the participants were on leave from work today to attend the folk school but they will work over night someday.
Morning session: 11am-2pm
Lunch break: 2pm-2:30pm
Afternoon session: 2:30pm-8pm
Wonderful dinner: 10pm
Prashant: The purpose of the folk school is to share and individual problem each others and to try to find the common solution and strategy to the problem.
All participants including me introduced one after another.
Ghanshyam(name): I have worked for 25 years. Today the wage of labour is going down, while the cost of raw material (silk) is going up. Sometimes warp is gone up but sometimes the weft is not available, when our work is pended. The condition of those who have more children is worse. Who can be responsible for this situation? Government can be responsible? The gaddidar who is the owner of the Saree shop reduce the cost of production too much which is not acceptable for Saree weavers. Due to this, weavers are compelled to shift to construction work, Rickshaw pulling, or trolly pulling etc.
One brother weaves, while the other buys it. It is matter of availability of money and of holding capacity. Further, you (people who are from NGO) have to find out the way, since we are helpless.
Prashant Q: How to revive this industry?
Ghanshyam: I have no way out. We have neither money nor relatives who can be of assistant for this matter. I have no option. There is no option in the hand of capitalist. After finishing one month work, the payment is not paid monthly, but paid by installment which makes our life harder. There is no way to improve this industry. We cannot handle it. I think the output should be fixed by the governmental policy, and both the payment for us and our labour also should be fixed at some level by the government.
Toni: I have worked as a weaver last for 35 years. My income is not as much as the cost involved in Saree. At the present, I am working as a building labourer and managing my family. For starting any self business, I need some money. If cost of raw materials for a Saree was 300 Indian Rs., we are paid 250 Indian Rs. by the retailer, which is even lower than cost of production. For this condition is government responsible. The reason why is that if government controls the price of warp and weft, the condition of market could be controlled. The Saree retailer buys Saree for 200Rs. from us, sell it for 400 Rs. to the consumers. When our business does not go well, we can not help working as a building labourer to support our family. The number of family is increasing; on the contrary, the wage is not improved. In case the government fixes the rate for Saree, we would sell our Saree to retailers. We then can expect whether we could get a benefit of 50-60Rs. per a Saree. Due to the money, weavers ' lives are getting worse.
Phool Chand: I have worked as a weaver for 15 years. The duty hour per day regulated by the government is 8 hours, but we, weavers are working for 12 hours a day. What can we do after 60 years old? Who will take care of us? When we had money in our pocket, everyone could be our friends, however once the circumstances surrounding us got worse, all friends immediately fled away. At this extent, my brother has told me that no one is on my side. Both the government officials and employees involved to corruption are engaged in promoting the situation. I have gone in debt, and then people came to my home and assaulted me.
Narmu: Weaving industry is going on wonder circumstances. A piece of cloth by handloom can be done in 15 days. But these days it can be completed in 4 to 5 days by power loom. The rate is going down since some weavers are involved in reducing the price by commission.
Aftab: Color is prepared on base but chemical coloring has given harmful effect on skin. Synthetic Saree ranges from 200Rs to 250Rs, in which government is to be blamed somewhere. Weavers are also to be blamed. Weavers ' community hides income tax, due to which government gets no benefit. Inappropriate education for the weavers ' community also drags behind.
Siddique Hassan: In 1985, synthetic thread was focused, and at that time government policy was visible. There was no association at that time. There was a condition of scatteredness. There was no representative of weavers. This was not known to any weaver. When the matter was discussed, the government said your people have done that. Chinese silk market is open, under this conspiracy, we are being exploited. If we don 't organize, we would get effects from that. It is our responsibility that weavers must survive. Government has to solve the problems. The government doesn’t give ration cards so that they save the money which they chew away.
Beshu Lal Maurya: Who is the middle merchant, why he is silent? Instead of blaming, he must work. If there would be no rationality, the man must have eaten man.
Ray Bhar: High-tech pressure has been made on the agriculturalist, conspiracy is going on where industrialist could be settled, the agriculturalists are compelled to commit suicide.
Sri Raj Narainji: Capitalist had an intention of ruling the entire society. As being made about the high-tech city. It has already been warned by us that we should be aware. We have to save ourselves from robber. Everyday the entire society is being ruled by the capitalist. No one talks about poverty but everyone talks about religion. On the name of religion, we come to fight. However, today poverty is spreading its wing on the entire society with poverty to be the main.
Dharam Raj Maurya: The state has been designed to be welfare based. The leader of society must carry the words of the public to right direction. Those who are starving, how can they think? Because the weavers are facing poverty. On the issues of weaver and agriculturist, the leaders must pressurize the state government and firm as well.
If the Haryana State is getting industrialized, some where the state government has to play its role. Thinking should be based on the fundamental cause. All issues must be based on common minimum programme. Consequently, the different problem can be observed and struggled separately.
Prashant: In the last election of legislative assembly, 206 members with criminal background were elected and in the recent election, 125 mafias have been elected. When there is 40% of voting, even then criminals are able to be elected. We have to work under such environment. Wherever changes have taken place, people have desired and have worked on it. The straggle consequently comes to be people’s struggle in which everyone participates and leads altogether.
Students have not received scholarship, when I went to the teacher and talked about the scholarship. He indicated to contact secretary. Weaving industry is passing through bad phase. A Saree is made at 850 Rs., while is sold for 800Rs.
Narmee Yadau: Land mafias are forcibly acquiring land. At Allauddinpur village, Kashi vidyapeeth block, land is being terrorized our lives, and in many ways harassed. Please help us against them, battle against land mafias.
Prashant: Special Economic Zone
Raw Material converts into completed goods for export. In this area, the labour will work and wages Act will not be implemented. 700 areas were selected for Economic Zone in the country. 250 areas out of them were notified and Nadigram and Singur are involved in Economic Zone. 25% land will be constructed by the government. For five years no tax will be imposed. No licenses will be applicable. Probably one goes for ----of medicine. Our domestic production area will be affected. When the government is involved in getting production, then one can not stop it. In such Special Economic Zone (SEZ) area, the government is equipping the land and supporting in all matters. Getting the new city constructed in comparative to the new city. In the city, new capitalist being promoted and caring their comforts, their vehicles plying on roads. Hi-tech city and SEZ was to be pushed away and struggled.
Vijay Raj: Hi-tech city is a conspiracy to demolish agricultural developing and in Varanasi, the 10 villages were chosen to Hi-tech city. Those areas are extensive agricultural areas and the land is fertile. The life of agriculturalists fully depends on the land. Kaurauho, Unch gaon, Darekhee, Naskripur, Ghartampur, Maniyasipur, Balirampur, Pilkhani, Nakaipur, and so on, around 2200 Acre land is snatched. The agriculturalists of these areas harvest million tons of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and then sell them to the city. The income proceeds are listed for welfare of the city. The educated youth can be employed in this area and they can support their family. If their land is snatched, then he will be in a danger of unemployment. Once their land is squeezed, it will become difficult to cycle for 60km for employment. Some people will have difficulty of separating from his friends.
Gagan Prakash: by getting 2200 acres of land is planned and those who have given land is not known and even those people have sold the land as sandy non-agricultural land. State government should not propagate to acquire agriculturalist land forcibly and below the rates considering sandy and ditch land.
In the entire area those who have sold their land are mainly people who are not doing in their profession. In the entire country wherever Hi-tech or SEZ plan works, people should be organized against it.
Internal conflict of the village should be resolved with it, by sitting together and organizing meetings as to how to make a voice against the abnormality of the government. The population of these areas is 12,000 and only 40-50 peoples are visible in this sphere. It is requested that we ought to go and tell our neighbors about this situation and must go along with people who is willing to join us.
Ram Lakhan : In 1960, Jawahar Lall went to Russia, from where he --- this plan of SEZ, which is a problem among the agriculturalist and weavers, for which public is to be blamed. When we were struggling against Hi-tech city, the local MLA was not visible. But when election comes, then the same MLA is elected again, and he comes to the agriculturalist with good image. He works for the government and sits on the laps of capitalist. The agriculturalist with 10 biswa land is deprived of red ration card. However, he should be provided with red ration card.
1. It should be planned in a democratic way considering the benefits of agriculturalist and weavers, and accordingly the strategy will be adopted.
2. The organization should be strong for strategic struggle.
3. Agriculturalist and weavers are willing to face long struggle since when the people can not survive, what can they do other than fighting?
4. Agriculturalist affected by Hi-tech policy should encourage the youth to join the struggle with them.
5. To sustain weaver industry, any amount of labour is needed shall afford.
6. Supply for Electricity should be increased and agriculture also should be improved.
1. Village and Muhalla level committee should be formed.
2. District level committee should be formed by program.
3. The short meeting at the level of village and Muhalla should be made and the strategy should be discussed.
4. Every village should have a meeting and maximum number of opinion should be taken.
5. At the district level, the strategy should be well planned, and the action should be followed accordingly.
6. In Lohta Kaurauta area, deprived people should be informed their rights and what the organization has done. We should go to village each other. The regular meeting should be formed. Follow-up action should be strong. The struggle should be based on the legal rights.
7. Circulatory media should be strong. All kinds of problem including little ones of the area should be known and be prepared for struggle. Movement should be told to 5-10 members of the community.
• Helma Richa of Indo-German Social society visited to Raup Village(Ghasia Basti) of Sonbhadra
The President of Indo-German Social Society of Remscheid, Germany and the member of Advisory board of IGSS Remscheid visited in Ghasia Tribal Hamlet of village Raup. There they present flowers on martyr stone of 18 children with wet eyes. After this they distributed contribution to joint families for buying goat with the help of Rajesh Chaubey of VOP and Charkhu Mukhiya (community leader) contribution was provided by Misereor- Germany. This contribution benefits total 23 joint families. Earlier PVCHR with the help of Misereor helped as livelihood option by buying 4 rickshaws for the community people. Helma says that she feels that she is standing beside grave of 18 children, she was lighten the candle on her home’s window on 20th Jan. when the martyr stone was inaugurated, I am with these peoples in struggle against hunger. The Care House Foundation Sweden is also supporting their struggle by their efforts. The member of State SC/ST Commission Dr. Bahadur Singh Yadav send letter to District Magistrate of Sonbhadra for providing land by lease to the people living in this hamlet.
Monday, July 16, 2007
After 60 years of India's independence, UP tribals to vote fearlessly for first time