Analyze this: A week long protest, riot and looting in Haiti due to spiraling food prices led to the ouster of the Prime Minister and announcement of $10 million feeding program by the World Bank during an emergency meeting in Washington in April. The 9000 strong UN peace keeping force is still in dilemma to face the ‘hungry mob’ in Haiti. Approximately 10,000 workers clashed with police near the capital in Bangladesh over the rising food price. At least dozens of people, including 20 police officials, were injured in the violence in Dhaka. In Egypt, the revolt over food is mounting.
More than a decade of opening of India, the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), probably has become the most controversial economic reforms announced in recent time. While some consider it as India’s supersonic engine of growth, others severely criticize it as the latest land grab instrument in the hands of the industrialists. Serious discourses on models of development, displacement and rehabilitation, employment generation, foreign investment, primacy of industry over agriculture are being raised in justification as well as against the whole concept of SEZ.
Where Coal is gold, children’s education can be dumped! This has been followed by the mining-savvy Orissa government in a small Matulu Camp village-as the name suggests, a resettled habitation, in Rengali block of Sambalpur district in Orissa. There was a ‘school’, up to class 5th in this village just three years ago. But, the school is now reminding a World War-II concentration camp, where about 100 children of ten classes are being forced inside a dingy 20/15 ft room community centre building.
Recently during Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s maiden visit to Orissa, once again it was re-established that the most powerful word that drives the politicians and bureaucrats in contemporary Orissa is the infamous three-letter word KBK (Kalahandi–Bolangir–Koraput). It has been more then a decade that KBK area has been showered with specially designed programmes, grants and so many high profile visits. Unfortunately, the benefits of all these assistances are yet to reach the people of the region.
Last May, Singari, a young mother, of Kharijhola village in Koraput district, Orissa, died just after giving birth to her son. The reason is lack of access to basic health amenities. This is not an isolated case. Every second hour a woman dies due to pregnancy related complicacies in Koraput. From the time of conception, death chases women as a shadow. The story of Singari is an imposing symbol of the high maternal mortality rate that grips India. While Orissa has the highest rate of maternal mortality rate in India, Koraput has one of the highest rates in the state.
The renowned war veteran of Vietnam, General Vo Nguyen Giap has recently called for a novel kind of war on poverty. Can the warmongers accept this realistic call? While the strong argument for the war is maintenance of peace thereby sustaining livelihoods, the truth is however, somewhat different. The pledges for poverty reduction by half by the countries have gone awry as financial assistance is diverted to war. The amount of aid given by developed countries to poorer nations has fallen by half since the 1960s, risking the lives of millions of children.
The world of Indian policy makers is stoutly murderous. The current spate of malnutrition deaths in various parts of the country is just an enforcement of it. During July and September 20 this year, children have died primarily due to malnutrition in Rajasthan’s Baran district. In Maharashtra’s Nandurbar and Orissa’s Nabrangpur and Malkangiri districts death continues to stalk its tribal residents. Everyday 16 children die in Maharashtra of malnutrition.
‘Education for all’ still remains a distant dream and for disabled, it is even more remote in India. A recent survey of the National Center for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), revealed that only 1.2 per cent of the disabled in India has had any form of education. In its effort to have an all India school level survey, NCPEDP found that from the 89 schools, 34 did not have a single disabled student and unfortunately, 18 of them having a policy against giving admission.