chop onions chop heads

chop onions chop heads

To say that we as a nation are insensitive is as sad as it is true. The latest example of this is an ad placed by the Delhi police to raise funds for its youth training campaign. The bye line used : “Help him learn how to chop an onion. Before someone teaches him how to chop a head.” The child in the picture is between 12 and 14. Child activists are up in arms. The creator of the campaign is trying his best to explain the bigger picture if there is any! It is obvious that the child in the advertisement is not yours or mine, but one from the other side of the fence, the kind everyone gives up on. he child destined to be ‘chop onions’ and the ‘heads’. The soft target for every bad deed that takes place in his immediate environment. The one everybody has decided can have no ambitions or dreams.

There are many aberrations in this ad! I will not delve on them. The ad also goes against the laws of the land be it child labour or Right to Education. Those only look good on paper. If they were properly enacted and implemented then no child would be working in our city. Just one look around and you find them helping their fathers at an eating stall, cleaning dishes at another one or tagging along their mums and learning how to clean houses and utensils. It is for the Delhi Police to ensure that child labour does not persist. Instead they come up with an ad that gives kids the options of chopping onions and should they not accept this then they are bound to be chopping heads. No matter what circumvented explanation anyone tries to put forth, to me it is nothing short of gory and unacceptable. Instead of ensuring that no child works and every kid attends schools, the Police is offering them a strange choice.

Every child has the right to dram and dream big. Even a kid born on the roadside had the right to
become what he wants. When we began classes more than 10 years ago for a bunch of gypsy kids on their roadside camp a young lad, around 14, joined our classes just because we had some foreign volunteers. Like every kid his age, he liked ogling at young girls, more so if they were blonde and pretty. Sanjay, however continued to study with us, unlike some of his pals who left along the way. I often use to tell these nowhere children that they too had a right to dream big, and that dreams did come true. Sanjay finished school and joined pwhy as a teacher. That was a great story in itself!

One day a film maker wanted to make a film on a feel good subject and to me the gypsy lad turned teacher seemed a great one. However that is not what it turned out to be. Sanjay shared his dreams with the film maker. He wanted to go to Bollywood. It did not quite happen but Sanjay became a model and walked the ramp not only in India but in Paris! Gypsy boy to ramp model! And he even starred in a movie aptly called Bollywodd Boulevard! Everything is possible.

Yet for too many, children who are born in underprivileged homes are destined to failure. This is not the way it should be.

Who will bell the cat

Who will bell the cat

The midday meal programme could have been a boon for India’s children just as ICDS should have been. But Alas, though the programme was conceived impeccably the implementation and the monitoring was left in the itchy hands of the corrupt or as maybe, and apologies if it sounds cynical, its failure was seeded in its implementation as is the view of an activist who quips, “Perhaps the government does not want the scheme to function properly. They want problems to be created so that people ask them to stop the scheme altogether. Maybe they want to hand over the scheme to some corporate organisation”. It is tragic that 23 children had to lose their lives for the scheme to be exposed.

I agree with this view as it is one that is evident in many so called social programmes. Let us take education which is now a constitutional right. If every child was truly educated the profile of India would be transformed to the detriment of the political masters. Yet they want to look good to the world so after 6 decades of Independence they finally vote a Right to Education bill that defies all logic. Free education is from 6 to 14. What happens before 6 and post 14. An enigma. The pass percentage is as low as 33%. Looks good as statistics but does not get you anywhere. Then instead of sprucing their schools that stand on prime land but are often dilapidated, they come up with a 25% reservation for ‘poor’ children, setting criteria that allow access to middle class kids whose parents are willing to take some not so honest shortcuts. I state this with responsibility as I have witnessed it. So the idea that the state does not want the midday meal to work makes sense. Just as they rushed privatisation of education, they would be too happy to hand over the midday meal to corporates. Feeding 1. million kids makes good business sense. What one forgets was that when the scheme had been thought of, the idea was to have mothers and the community cook this meal! But surreptitiously things mutated to enable corrupt individuals to get their pound of flesh. Mothers mutated into NGOs often set up by interested parties or private contractors. Quality went for a free fall and nutrition too. Insects and lizards, worms and ultimately pesticides that resulted in the death of children.

The situation is terrible. Portions are insufficient. Conditions unhygienic. Utensils dirty. The list is endless. The reality is that no one cares for the children who are treated like a burden. No one is really interested in their well being and proper nutrition. The monitoring is on existent.

When after the terrible incident of Chappra, teachers were asked to taste the food, they went up in arms and even suggested that it be ‘tasted’ by street dogs. Though this was promptly shot down, it shows the attitude teachers have towards poor children. According to me teachers and students should partake of the midday meal together! Maybe that would change things.

What all this shows is the inability, intended or real, of the State to implement and monitor any social programme. All they excel at is formulating and drafting more and more of the same to gain political support that translate into votes.

The question is who will or rather can bell the cat

Five rupees joke

Five rupees joke

One thought one heard it all with the prayers to God to stop rains so that our traffic moves smoothly on Delhi pothole filled roads or that demure dressing protects you form rape (I wonder which diaper the babies that have been raped should have worn!) when a new shocker comes courtesy the ruling party. If we were to believe them than no one should be poor because you can have a meal for 12 rupees a day and if that was not enough another leader stated that you could eat well in Delhi for Rs 5! This after the planning commission has revised the poverty statistics and declared that : every eighth person living in urban areas is below the poverty line, while one in five rural residents is poor, the Planning Commission has estimated, hence the poverty ratio has declined to 21.9 per cent in 2011-12 from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05.

Dear Politician this game of statistics to prove that aal izz welll inIndia makes me want to throw up. You crunch the number and make some inane political statement and hope to get away, and sadly you do as many vote you back in power falling for your skewed and dishonest statements. Who do you want to fool? One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see poverty amidst your glitzy malls and gated communities. have you ever thought who build them? And how they live? And where there go? And what happens to their kids?

You come up with cleverly drafted options to meet your so called goals. You privatise schools and reserve 25% seats for the ‘poor’. I challenge you to do a survey and find out how many really poor kids get these seats. Oh you have taught us well. People know how to make fake certificates and fake rental agreements to beat your system. And it is kids of fairly well to do families who avail of this so called reservation which is meant to give good education to all. But does 25% meet the needs of ALL the children of India.

You say that 12 rs or 5 rs can buy you a meal. For you a daily consumption of 28.65 rs is enough to live in a city. I challenge you to so. And it is not only your 5 bucks meal but there are things like housing, clothing, eduction, health, transport! Or is this only for you.

I am speechless, repulsed, sick and ashamed of being a citizen of a country where no one cares about the poor.

Pray to God

Pray to God

Our politicians never fail to flabbergast me! The one that still has the power to startle me though one has come to expect the most ludicrous and preposterous statement from her is our very own CEO! The latest in her exceptional repertoire was her one line answer to a question posed to her about the water logging this city has to face after a heavy spell on rain. In her true inimitable manner she declared: Pray to God to stop Rains!

New Delhi is not the only city in the world to receive heavy rainfall. Moreover rains are the lifeline of our land. And our lady should be thankful for the climate change over the past decades because I remember Delhi when monsoon rains would hit the city non stop for days. Now we just have hours. Any self respecting city should have a proper drainage system. Ours has clogged drains and in my case we have a  peculiar rain storm drain as it stops tow houses away, where the owners have simply filled the drain and cemented it. Moreover the frenzy we have seen in the last few months where every square inch of a earth on the roads has been cemented makes it impossible for part of the rain water to percolate as should be the case. The cementing frenzy is to unable to fill pockets before the next elections.

The other excuse that is thrown at us for any problem we may encounter is the helplessness due to the multitude of agencies that rule our city. So why not sort this problem once for all. I am sure we as voters will welcome the move. If a girl is raped we are told the police is not under the Delhi administration and anyway women have  no business being out late at night, and even her daughter is scared after 10pm. If roads are flooded it is the responsibility of some other agencies . And this goes ad nauseum.

She is not the only one to come up with wise cracks like these; many of our politicians do be it their comments about the way girls dress to the very latest from the Bihar Education Minister who says:  he cannot guarantee that the disaster will not repeat itself. 

So let us take it from the top: if roads are flooded Pray to God; if you do not want to be raped stay at home and dress demurely and do not have a drink! We have had our share of this nonsense and it is not funny. We keep being told that Delhi is to be transformed into a second Singapore. It is glitzy malls and uber rich constructions that will make it happen. It is cleaning the city, disposing of its garbage, having drains that work and roads without potholes. We need to have an ace rain harvesting system and above all proper habitat by the ‘poor’ who play probably the biggest role in keeping our city going.

Maybe one should move in the other direction, I mean modernise the city from down to up.

Till then we are all praying.

Another tale of two Indias

Another tale of two Indias

Last week a young 11 year old became one the youngest to undergo bariatric surgery. She was born normal but undue spoiling and the lifestyle of the rich made her morbidly obese. This is the same country where babies on the other side of the fence are born with extremely low weights; where 5000 children die of malnutrition related diseases; where basic clean drinking water is a rarity for many; where millions still go to sleep hungry. On the other side of the fence there are many like this young girl who get overfed the wrong things to the point of becoming seriously damaged.

The lure of the west, the proliferation of fast food outlets in humbler areas, the easy availability of all junk food in smaller and thus cheaper packaging – a great marketing ploy -; the smart TV ads where superstars extol the goodness of packaged food are now making the poor leave their healthy fare and get lured by all these unhealthy products.

In our creche we have mothers giving Instant noodles and small bags of chips to their children in place of the home bead roti or parathas and home cooked vegetables that we saw some years back and that they still cook for their husbands. No matter how much we plead, the TV ad is not a match for us. I wonder how long it will take to see our first obese slum kid!