UPSC IAS Interview 2017-18

Technical Education

by Smt. S. Vishwanathan, *Freelance Writer

The changing economic scenario through out the world has made several developing countries including India to give utmost importance to technical education. India has taken crucial steps to pursue quality in technical education in order to achieve planned growth. Special efforts are being undertaken to inculcate competitiveness and quality in technically qualified human resources to make it globally acceptable. Such type of education will improve the quality of life of the economically weaker sections of society.

Realising the importance of education and to utilise the 500 million odd youth in the country, targets have been fixed in the 11th Five Year Plan. Education will get increased allocation, from 8 percent of the budget to 30 percent paving the way for setting up of more institutions for technical education which will yield more jobs. The Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh said: the plan’s focus is on the most marginalised sections of society. The goal of this five year plan is to invest in our people to enable them to become active participants in economic growth process.
The Union Cabinet has recently, approved setting up of eight Indian Institutes of Technology(IIT) in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and at Indore in Madhya Pradesh at a total cost of Rs.6080 crore (@ Rs.760 crore per IIT). It has also given approval for taking over the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University – a constituent unit of the Banaras Hindu University, a Central University, its conversion into an Indian Institute of Technology and integrating it with the IIT system in the country. With the creation of new IITs, high quality technical education will become accessible to bright students. So far, hardly two per cent of about three lakh students who appear in the joint entrance examination gets admissions in them.

A UN report on world youth says, because of their sheer size, the 1.2 billion youth are an essential and critical part of the development process. The report further says that because of poverty and sometimes because of social and cultural constraints many youth are excluded from decent employment and other resources and services.

In order to give importance to technical education in India, the National Policy of Education and Programme of Action 1986,emphasised the need for revamping this sector. The All India Council For Technical Education (AICTE), has been given statutory powers through an act of parliament to promote qualitative improvement of such education. The council has initiated several measures for planning, formulation and maintenance of norms and standards, capacity building, accreditation, funding of priority areas, programmes providing access, equality and quality in the field of technical education. So far, these efforts have yielded desired results. The number of recipients in the recent years has increased manifolds. The total intake capacity in AICTE approved institutions in 2006-07 was about six and a half lakh students in the 1617 undergraduate degree Engineering Institutions.

India’s efforts have been recognised by the signatories of the Washington Accord in this field and they have approved provisional membership to All India Council For Technical Education giving a further boost to India’s efforts. This means more job opportunities for the technically qualified in other countries as well. This also means that India needs to benchmark best practices and build national competitiveness. However, this requires a thorough revamping of the entire technical system with full involvement and empowerment of stakeholders.

Keeping this in mind, a two day conference was held in the capital on Development of Technical Education in India in the month of December last year all the speakers stressed the need to improve quality and accessibility. Technical sessions were held to discuss seven major areas. These include:
· Access, equity and inclusion
· Quality assurance and Washington Accord
· Academic reforms and curriculum framework, credit system and evaluation
· Faculty development
· Industry institute interface including public-private partnership and
· Role of ALCTE in the changing global competitiveness.

Coordinated development of technical education system has proved to be a stepping stone for thousands of young people who had no access to regular education. If this section is left out, as the prime minister said, there will be no overall growth in the country. India has plenty of human resources and to make them globally acceptable a well organised, quality technical education is needed and that is what India is striving for.

Today India is in a position to lead the way for many developing countries. The association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Non-aligned Movement member countries and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations are already making efforts to coordinate with each other in the field of technical education. Some countries have send their manpower to train youth in different vocational fields. India is also taking advantage of this and has sent technically qualified people to other countries to receive training. Besides these groupings, the Gulf Nations have shown interest in getting training from India as hundreds of qualified Indians are working in the region. Education is a priority for India and it will remain so till the last youth in the country is qualified in vocational fields as it will also pave the way for eliminating completely the rural- urban divide. Education for all is the buzz word as India wants to take the people together on the path of growth and development. The concept of inclusive growth will cover the entire country and it will lead to reduction of poverty in the long-run.

North East : Attaining Self Sufficiency through Horticulture Mission

by Khagendramani Pradhan,*Journalist

The North-East is very rich in horticulture and floriculture. There is also a rich variety of medicinal plants which are grown here. With funds from the Central Government Horticulture Mission, State like Mizoram, Sikkim and Meghalaya have established Centres of Excellence in Horticulture which have started spreading the idea of fruit and vegetable cultivation among farmers successfully.

‘Converting weakness into strength and success’ is the motto through which the Technology Mission on Horticulture is vying to attain self sufficiency in seasonal and off season vegetables. By providing technical inputs, high yielding seeds and training to progressive farmers, the Department of Horticulture, Government of Sikkim has set the ball rolling for the farmers willing to undertake production of horticulture produce. This is a paradigm shift from the traditional method of farming both for personal economic sustenance and reducing dependency on other states.

Within a span of just one year, after the department took a serious approach, the result has been surplus production, beyond the scale generated by local market that it now has decided to cross the border for marketing.

Taking cognizance of limited land holding of the farmers, the Department of Agriculture, Horticulture and cash crop development, has been laying emphasis on per square metre production module and cluster approach giving an opportunity even to marginal farmers to reap the benefit under Technology Mission.

High yielding varieties of seeds are being provided to progressive farmers along with training on cultivation and care of the plants, besides regular follow up during cultivation period by the departmental personnel.

Since the local market is now being flooded with surplus produce, the Department has further taken the initiative to provide better marketing outreach, in particular for tomatoes, by way of guiding the farmers to constitute village level marketing committees. They are being trained to segregate and grade the produce as a part of value addition before it reaches the market. Officials in the department of agriculture, horticulture and cash crop development inform that in order to facilitate the farmers and growers to get better price support, cold storage facilities and integrated packaging unit is under process of construction on war footing.

Sikkim being the land of climatic vagaries has its own limitations, but these facts are being converted into advantages. Methods are being adopted that are most suitable in terms of making the farmers economically self sustained and self reliant. For example, rain shadow areas with comparatively lesser rainfall in South and West district have been selected for cultivation of hybrid tomatoes.

Nearly 631 beneficiaries and an area of 56.67 hectare have been selected in West district for tomato cultivation. With an average of 3.5 kg yield per plant with approximate 11,33,400 numbers of plants, the production has been estimated around approximately 3966.90 tonnes. With an average consumption demand of roughly 25 tonnes per day in the whole of Sikkim in contrast to the supply of 125 tonnes per day, the department is trying to explore the market beyond the state.

Similarly large scale production of radish, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and other vegetables of gourd family, eggplant, lady finger, spinach and cucumber along with kharif crops is being emphasized under the technology mission.

In order to improve livelihood opportunities and to bring prosperity to the North Eastern Region, including Sikkim, by doubling the horticulture production by 2010, Technology Mission (TM) for Integrated Development of Horticulture was launched by Government. The Mission is based on the “end-to-end approach” taking into account the entire gamut of horticulture development, with all the backward and forward linkages, in a holistic manner.

Together with the support of technology mission along with the State Government’s objective of going organic, success of the mission lies on the progressive farmers determination to attain self-sufficiency in horticultural produces. As long as the marketing support is provided, the era of change is destined.

Ensuring Nutritional Support to Children

by N. C. Joshi, *Assistant Director (M & C), PIB, New Delhi

India is the home to the largest child population in the world. “The development of children is the first priority on the Government’s development agenda, not because they are the most vulnerable, but because they are our supreme assets and also the future human resources of the country”. As per 2001 census, India has around 157.86 million children, constituting 15.42% of India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) — one of the world’s largest programmes for early childhood development. ICDS is the foremost symbol of India’s commitment to her children. It is India’s response to the challenge of providing pre-school education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality, on the other.
The scheme has covered many milestones ever since it was launched in October, 1975. Today, it is globally recognized as one of the most unique community based outreach programmes catering to the health and nutrition needs of children under six, their mothers, adolescent girls, pregnant women, nursing mothers and all women who are in the age group of 15-45 years especially from vulnerable and remote areas.

An integrated package of services in a convergent manner are provided by the Scheme for the holistic development of the child. Basically it aims at laying the foundation for proper psychological development of the child; improve nutritional & health status of children between 0-6 years; reduce incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropouts; enhance the capability of the mother and family to look after the health, nutritional and development needs of the child and achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation among various departments to promote child development.

Basic services are rendered through community-based workers and helpers, at a centre called the ‘Anganwadi’. The Anganwadi, literally a courtyard play centre, is a childcare centre, located within the village itself where Supplementary nutrition, Non-formal pre-school education, Immunization, Health Check-up, Referral services are given to children below 6 years, pregnant and lactating mothers, Nutrition and Health Education are for women in the age group of 15-45 years.

Supplementary Nutrition
This includes supplementary feeding and growth monitoring and prophylaxis against Vitamin A deficiency and control of nutritional anemia. All families in the community are surveyed, to identify children below the age of six and pregnant and nursing mothers. They avail of supplementary feeding support for 300 days in a year. By providing supplementary feeding, the Anganwadi attempts to bridge the protein energy gap between the recommended dietary allowance and average dietary intake of children and women.
Growth Monitoring and nutrition surveillance are two important activities that are undertaken. Children below the age of three years of age are weighed once a month and children of 3-6 years of age are weighed every quarter. Weight-for-age growth cards are maintained for all children below six years. This helps to detect growth faltering and helps in assessing nutritional status. Besides, severely malnourished children are given special supplementary feeding and referred to health sub-centres, Primary Health Centres as and when required.
On an average, daily nutritional supplements to the extent of 300 calories and 8-10 grams of protein is given to children below 3 and between 3-6 years. Malnourished children on medical advice after health check-ups are given double the supplement and pregnant and lactating mothers are given 500 calories and 20-25 grams of protein.

Pre-School Education
This component for the three-to six years old children in the Anganwadi is directed towards providing and ensuring a natural, joyful and stimulating environment, with emphasis on necessary inputs for optimal growth and development. The early learning component of the ICDS is a significant input for providing a sound foundation for cumulative lifelong learning and development. It also contributes to the universalization of primary education, by providing to the child the necessary preparation for primary schooling and offering substitute care to younger siblings, thus freeing the older ones – especially girls – to attend school.

Immunization of pregnant women and infants protects children from six vaccine preventable diseases—poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis and measles. These are major preventable causes of child mortality, disability, morbidity and related malnutrition. Immunization of pregnant women against tetanus also reduces maternal and neonatal mortality. This service is delivered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under its Reproductive Child Health (RCH) programme. In addition, the Iron and Vitamin “A” supplementation to children and pregnant women is done under the RCH Programme of the Ministry.
Health Check-ups
This includes health care of children less than six years of age, antenatal care of expectant mothers and postnatal care of nursing mothers. These services are provided by the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM), Medical Officers incharge of Health Sub-Centres and Primary Health Centres under the RCH programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The various health services include regular health check-ups, immunization, management of malnutrition, treatment of diarrhoea, deworming and distribution of simple medicines etc.

Referral Services
During health check-ups and growth monitoring, sick or malnourished children, in need of prompt medical attention, are referred to the Primary Health Centre or its sub-centre. The anganwadi worker has also been oriented to detect disabilities in young children. She enlists all such cases and refers them to the ANM and Medical Officer in charge of the Primary Health Centre/ Sub-centre. Such cases referred by the Anganwadi worker are to be attended to by health functionaries on priority basis.

Nutrition and Health Education
NHE is the key element of the work of the anganwadi worker. It forms part of BCC (Behaviour Change Communication) strategy and has the long term goal of capacity-building of women – especially in the age group of 15-45 years – so that they can look after their own health, nutrition and development needs as well as that of their children and families.

Allocation of Funds
ICDS is a Centrally-sponsored Scheme implemented through the State Governments/UT Administrations with 100% financial assistance for inputs other than supplementary nutrition, which the States were to provide out of their own resources. From 2005-06, the Government has decided to share with the States 50 per cent cost of supplementary nutrition. This Central assistance has been proposed to ensure that supplementary nutrition is provided to the beneficiaries for 300 days in a year as per nutritional norms laid down under the Scheme.
Almost three times increase has been made in total allocation for ICDS from Rs. 2178 crore in 2003-2004 to Rs. 7260 crore current financial year.

The Team
The ICDS team comprises of the anganwadi helpers, anganwadi workers, supervisors, Child Development Project Officers (CDPOs) and District Programme Officers (DPOs). Anganwadi Worker, a lady selected from the local community, is a community based frontline voluntary worker of the ICDS Programme. She is also an agent of social change, mobilizing community support for better care of young children, girls and women. Besides, the medical officers, the Lady Health Visitors (LHVs) and Auxillary Nurse Midwife and Female Health Workers from nearby Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Health Sub-Centre form a team with the ICDS functionaries to achieve convergence of different services.

Incentives to Anganwadi Workers
The Government has introduced ‘Anganwadi Karyakartri Bima Yojana’ to Anganwadi Workers/Anganwadi Helpers from April 1, 2004 under Life Insurance Corporation’s Social Security Scheme.
In order to motivate the Anganwadi Workers and give recognition to good voluntary work, a Scheme of Award for Anganwadi Workers has been introduced, both at the National and State Level. The Award comprises Rs.25,000/- cash and a Citation at Central level and Rs.5000/- cash and a Citation at State level.

Currently, services under the scheme are being provided to about 787 lakh beneficiaries, comprising of about 650 lakh children (0-6 years) and about 137 lakh pregnant and lactating mothers through a network of about 10.53 lakh Anganwadi Centres.

Special Focus on North East
Keeping in view the special needs of North Eastern States, the Central Government sanctioned construction of 7600 AWCs in 2004-05. In the wake of expansion of ICDS Scheme in 2005-06, it has been provided in the Scheme itself that Government will support construction of AWCs in NE States. To ensure coverage of all uncovered habitations/settlements, population norms for sanctioning an AWC have been relaxed.

BPL No Longer A Criteria
Contrary to earlier instructions now supplementary nutrition under the Scheme is not confined to beneficiaries of BPL families only. Coverage of ICDS to include SCs/STs/Minority- Instructions have been issued to all the States/UTs to give priority in location of Anganwadi Centres in areas predominantly inhabited by SCs, STs and Minorities
There has been significant progress in the implementation of ICDS Scheme during the last 3 years both, in terms of increase in number of operational projects and Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) and coverage of beneficiaries.
It is significant to note that during a period of about four years i.e. from 31.3.2004 to 31.1.2008, the number of beneficiaries for supplementary nutrition have registered an increased of 97 per cent.

Similarly, the number of children (3-6 years) attending Anganwadi Centres for pre-school education has increased from 204.38 lakh to 326.38 lakh, an increase of 60 per cent during the same period. These data show that ICDS is definitely making in roads to wipe out malnutrition and to ensure over all development of children.

Methodology for Assessment and Mapping of Forests

by Smt. Kalpana Palkhiwala, Assistant Director (M & C), PIB, New Delhi

Forests play a crucial role in the country’s ecological stability and economic development. This requires periodic monitoring of the forest cover of the country. By and large, till 1999 assessment, satellite data were interpreted visually. Shifting of interpretation from visual to digital started partially from 1997 assessment, wherein, two states were interpreted digitally. This was followed by digital interpretation of 14 states in 1999. However, the entire country was digitally interpreted at 1:50,000 scale from 2001 onwards.

Visual Interpretation
For visual interpretation, satellite data is procured at 1:250,000 scale in the form of hard copy called False Colour Composites (FCC). A base map is prepared on a tracing sheet (Mylar) using Survey of India (SOI) toposheet of corresponding scale. Selected details are taken from the toposheet. The base map depicts latitudes, longitudes, state and district boundaries, important places, drainage etc. The base map is set on the imagery of corresponding area so that the important features of the base map and imagery overlap each other completely. Thereafter, the interpretation of imagery is done using interpretation keys based on tone, texture, location, association etc. Delineation of forest patches is done on a light-table with the help of magnifying glasses. It results in separation of areas in the categories of dense forest, open forest, mangrove, scrub, non-forest etc. on a map. This forest cover map is then compared with the cover map of the preceding assessment. The changes with respect to preceding assessment are marked and a change map is prepared. These maps are used for ground verification to check the veracity of interpretation. Errors detected during ground verification are rectified and corrections incorporated. The area is calculated using transparent dot grid template. The forest cover is compiled by district and state.

Digital Interpretation
The satellite data for the entire country is procured from the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad in digital form. It is a multispectral (LISS-III sensor) data of IRS P6 satellite with a resolution of 23.5 m. One scene of LISS III covers an area of about 20,000 km² (140 km x 140 km). A total of 327 scenes covering the entire country are procured.
The period of satellite data is of upmost importance. The reflectance from the forest is dependent on the crown foliage and its chlorophyll content. A deciduous forest would, therefore, not give proper reflectance in leafless period. Thus, data of the sprint summer season for such forests is not suitable for interpretation. Further, during the rainy season, it is difficult to find cloud-free data, moreover, agricultural and like lands give similar reflectance as forest cover during this period. The satellite data of the period October to December is therefore, most suitable for forest cover mapping of our country. While procuring the data, only those scenes are selected where cloud cover is less than 10 per cent.
Using Digital Image Processing (DIP) software, the satellite data in digital form is downloaded on the Workstations from the CDs procured from the NRSA. Radiometric and contrast corrections are applied for removing radiometric defects and for improving visual impact of the False Colour Composites (FCC).
Geometric rectification of the data is carried out with the help of scanned and geo-reference Survey of India (SOI) toposheets on 1:50,000 scale. The methodology of interpretation involves a hybrid approach in which unsupervised classification (ISODATA algorithm) aided on-screen visual interpretation of forest cover is done.
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) transformation is used for removing non-vegetated areas from the scene. Areas of less than one hectare, whether classified as forest cover within non-forest areas or blanks within forest cover, are excluded by appropriate DIP techniques. Degraded forests were tree canopy density is less than 10 per cent are classified as scrubs, which do not form part of the forest cover.
Shadow areas in the scenes are treated separately. Shadow regions on the images are highlighted using band ratio techniques. Forest cover classification of the totally obscure areas due to shadow or cloud cover are done using the ground truth information.
Mangrove forests have characteristic tone and texture on the satellite image. Their presence on the coastal areas make them even more conspicuous. They are, therefore, separately classified.
Interpretation is then followed by extensive ground verification which takes more than six months. All the necessary corrections are subsequently incorporated. Reference data collected through ground truth and field experience of the interpreter play an important role in delineating the forest cover patches and classifying them into the three canopy density classes.
Sheet wise mosaic of districts and States/UTs was made using SOI and census data to compute district wise and State/UT wise forest cover. The final output of the forest cover mapping is in the raster format.

Limitations of Remote Sensing Technology
There are certain limitations of remote sensing based mapping of forest cover, these are:
· Since resolution of data of LISS-III sensor is 23.5m, the linear strips of forest cover along roads, canals, bunds and railway lines of lesser width are generally not captured.
· Young plantations and species having less chlorophyll contents in their crown cannot be delineated as forest cover.
· Considerable details on ground may be obscured in areas having clouds and shadows. It is difficult to interpret such areas without the help of collateral data of ground truth.
· Gregarious occurrence of bush vegetation and certain agricultural crops, such as sugarcane, cotton, lantana etc. often poses problems in delineation of forest cover, as their reflectance is similar to that of tree canopy.

Empowering the Adolescent Girls

by N.C.Joshi, Assistant Director(M & C), PIB, Delhi

The approach for holistic child development remains unaddressed if adolescent girls are excluded from the developmental programmes. Adolescence is a crucial phase between childhood and womanhood. This intermediary stage is the most eventful for mental, emotional and psychological well being. Various surveys clearly reveal that the health, nutrition, education and social status of adolescent girls are at sub optimal level and the adolescent girls do not have adequate access to vital health and nutrition information or services.

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), with its opportunities for early childhood development, seeks to reduce both socio-economic and gender inequities. To better address concerns for women and the girl child, it was necessary to design interventions for adolescent girls which addressed their needs of self development, nutrition and health status, literacy and numerical skill, vocational skills etc.

The special intervention Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY0 and Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG) are being implemented for adolescent girls, using the ICDS infrastructure. These interventions focus on school dropouts, girls in the age group of 11-18 years, to meet their needs of self-development, nutrition, health, education, literacy and recreational skill formation.

Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY)
Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) seeks to empower adolescent girls, so as to enable them to take charge of their lives. It is viewed as a holistic initiative for the development of adolescent girls. The programme through its interventions aims at bringing about a difference in the lives of the adolescent girls. It seeks to provide them with an opportunity to realize their full potential.
This scheme is a redesign of the already existing Adolescent Girls (AG) Scheme being implemented as a component under the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme. The new scheme dramatically extends the coverage of the earlier scheme with significant content enrichment, strengthens the training component, particularly in skill development, aspects aimed at empowerment and enhanced self-perception. It also fosters convergence with other sectoral programmes, addressing the interrelated needs of adolescent girls and women.

The broad objectives of the Scheme are to improve the nutritional, health and development status of adolescent girls, promote awareness of health, hygiene, nutrition and family care, link them to opportunities for learning life skills, going back to school, help them gain a better understanding of their social environment and take initiatives to become productive members of the society.

Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls
To address the problem of under-nutrition among adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers, the Planning Commission, in the year 2002-03, launched the Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG), on a Pilot Project basis in 51 districts in the country. Under this scheme, 6 kg of food-grains were given to under nourished adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Eligibility was determined on the basis of their weight. The Pilot Project was continued in the year 2003-04 also. It, however, could not be continued in the year 2004-05. The Government approved the implementation of NPAG, through the Department of Women and Child Development, in 51 backward districts identified by the Planning Commission in the year 2005-06 to provide 6 kg of free food-grains to undernourished adolescent girls only (pregnant women & lactating mothers are not covered as these are targeted under ICDS). The scheme is being continued for the Annual Plan 2006-07 on pilot project basis.

The funds are given as 100% grant to States/UTs so that they can provide food grains through the Public Distribution System free of cost to the families of identified undernourished persons.
No doubt such programmes aimed at improving the nutritional and health status of adolescent girls would definitely promote their self-development and empower them with decision making capabilities.

World Today, World Tomorrow

By - Surekha Roy (Freelance Journalist)

There is a view that the burgeoning population is a vast human resource which can be used for development but a substantial difference has occurred in this conception, as unchecked growth of population is more of a liability than an asset. In earlier years, prior to Industrial Revolution, population was not a problem. But with the passing years, the earth is marching towards a saturation point. Population growth which exceeds the carrying capacity of an area or environment results in overpopulation. Over population is determined by the density and the ratio of population to available sustainable resources.

The world population is the total number of living humans on Earth at a given time. As of July 1, 2008, the world’s population is believed to be 6,707,035,007. The CIA World Fact Book reports that India has a population of approximately 1,135,062,000 people according to a July 2008 estimate. It’s already the world’s second-most-populated country next to China. The percentage growth in the population during a decade is calculated on the basis of the decadal census. The change in population is a natural process which is the result of differing birth and death rates as well as migration.

India’s decadal population growth rate, at present, stands at 21.3%. This high growth can be ascribed if the death rates being lower then the birth rates. Experiences from around the world and within India have shown that birth rates fall when a society is economically well-off, women are empowered and general education and awareness levels are high. In the last few centuries, the number of people living on Earth has increased many times over. By the year 2000, there were 10 times as many people on Earth as there were 300 years ago. According to data from the

World Factbook 2005–2006, the world human population increases by 203,800 every day. The world’s population, on its current growth trajectory, is expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2042. Between 1959 and 2000, the world’s population increased from 2.5 billion to 6.1 billion people. According to United Nations projections, the world population will be between 7.9 billion and 10.9 billion by 2050. The population growth is not occurring uniformly. If the countries are divided one has precisely two groups those with rapid growth rates and those with relatively slow growth rates. The first group making about two-third of the world population are mostly the Under Developed Countries. Most Latin American, African and Asian countries fall into this category. The second group is the Developed Countries which are United States, Canada, and most European Countries, Israel, Russia, Japan, Australia etc.

India falls in the category of developing countries. Population in India has been on the increase over the last 50 years and now stands around 1 billion with an overall population density of nearly 290 per Densely populated areas, however, have population density of more than 700 per sq km with some urban areas displaying a density of 6500 per and more. Some major areas of concern are –almost half the population is below the poverty line with 40% of the urban population living in slums.

Yet, there is hardly any time-bound program to stabilize the population. World Population is currently growing by approximately 75 million people per year. Net growth by mid-century is predicted by the United Nations’ medium variant to be about 33 million per year. Almost all growth will take place in the less developed regions, where today’s 5.3 billion population of underdeveloped countries is expected to increase to 7.9 billion in 2050. In contrast, the population of the more developed regions will remain mostly unchanged, at 1.2 billion.

The world’s population is expected to rise by 40% to 9.1 billion. During 2005-2050, nine countries are expected to account for half of the world’s projected population increase: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, United States of America, Ethiopia, and China listed according to the size of their contribution to population growth. Some argue that the Earth may support six billion people, but only on the condition that many live in misery. Overpopulation has had a major impact on the environment of Earth starting at least as early as the 20th century.

Human population has expanded with resultant adverse impacts upon bio-diversity, climate change, and even human health. There are also indirect economic consequences of this environmental degradation in the form of ecosystem services which includes inadequate fresh water for drinking, sewage treatment, and effluent discharge. Rise in population is also responsible for increased levels of air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination, and noise pollution. Population explosion is also responsible for deforestation and loss of ecosystems that sustain global atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide balance, and for this about eight million hectares of forest are lost each year. Carbon dioxide and other air pollutants collect in the atmosphere like a thickened blanket, trapping the sun’s heat and causing the planet to warm up.

The increase in global temperatures has been brought about by the increased emission of greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere. There is no doubt that atmospheric carbondioxide has risen since the 1950s along with the rise in world population. The human population explosion is becoming the greatest threat for the whole species of human genre resulting in hazardous conditions of lifestyle including overcrowded living conditions, malnutrition and inadequate, inaccessible health care. Population-reduction programs and current trends toward world population stabilization by 2050 are, by themselves, sources of assurance of a good future for the future generations. However, much too little is being proposed for much-needed government action plans with regard to the empowerment of women, free and immediate access to safe means of birth control, adequate family planning and health education programs as well as other vital interventions. The only way-out is to take on hand an elaborate program of mass education campaign especially in rural areas, directed to the goal of convincing people of urgent needs of family planning. The Government, must therefore, necessitate steps to control population before it exceeds the carrying capacity of our Planet, the Earth.

Legal Provisions for Protection and Conservation of Wildlife in India

By - Smt. Kalpana Palkhiwala (Assistant Director M & C, PIB, New Delhi)

The illegal trade in wildlife is a global issue. From animal parts, like tiger bones and musk glands to live reptiles, birds and ivory, poachers and smugglers illegally poach and traffic a variety of wild plant and animal species. The two major categories of traded items are live specimens of wildlife species and products from wildlife species.
The wildlife products mostly traded illegally from our country are musk, ivory Rhino horns, Tiger and Leopard skins and bones for oriental medicines and food; Snakes and Monitor Lizard skins, feathers for decoration turtle for meat and soups and Tibetan Antelope for shawls.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
 The Government enacted a comprehensive legislation “Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972” with objective of effective control by poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products.
 The Act has been amended in 1982, 1986, 1991, 2002, and in 2006 to make the provisions of the Act more stringent. Hunting of all species was banned in 1991.
 Realizing the global nature of the illegal wildlife trade, the “Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora” was signed at Washington on 3rd March, 1973. The Government deposited the instruments of ratification on 20th July, 1976. The provisions of the Convention and the export policy of the country if effectively used, provide the Government with adequate legislative powers to deal with illegal wildlife trade.
Legal Protection Measures against Hunting
Hunting of wild animals is prohibited except for exceptional circumstances. The Wildlife Act prescribes stringent punishment for hunting and illegal trade from fine to imprisonment. These includes:
i. For hunting and illegal trade in wild animals belonging to Schedule I and Part II of the Schedule II – Minimum 3 years imprisonment extendable to seven years and a minimum fine of Rs. 10,000/-
ii. For hunting and illegal trade in wild animals belonging to other Schedules – Imprisonment upto three years or a fine upto Rs. 25,000/- or both. Such offences can also be compounded, the amount of composition not exceeding Rs. 25,000/-
iii. For offences in relation to zoos, the punishment prescribed is imprisonment for upto six months or a fine of upto Rs. 2,000/- or with both.
iv. In addition to the above punishments, the court trying the offence may also order the forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon to cancel any wildlife license or permit held by the person, as well as cancel the Arms license and debar for an Arms license for a period of five years.
v. There is also a provision for Forfeiture of Property of offenders who are awarded sentence of three years or more of imprisonment.
Steps to Curb Poaching and Illegal Trade
The Government has taken many steps to curb poaching of wildlife and illegal trade.
A special co-ordination committee under the chairmanship of the Secretary (E&F) has been constituted. The CBI has been empowered to investigate wildlife offence cases as per the decision of this committee.
The States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Meghalya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Tripura, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have formed the State level/District level co-ordination committees for the control of illegal trade, smuggling, trafficking of Wildlife and its products.
Special training is organized for the wildlife officers at the Sardar Vallabhai Police Academy, Hyderabad.
Regional meeting of Chief Wildlife Wardens, Southern states is periodically held to work out a joint strategy for protection of elephant and meetings with Principle Secretaries (Forests) and the Chief Wildlife Wardens of the States is held regularly in the Ministry to discuss the matters relating to wildlife conservation and prevention of illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
Conservation and Protection Measures
By amending the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 in 2006, the Directorate of Project Tiger has become National Tiger Conservation Authority. It is to give impetus to the existing initiatives against illegal trade in wildlife especially tigers.
The Government has set up four Regional Offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai to control illegal trade in wildlife and its products. These offices are responsible for import and export of wild animals and plants from the major airports and seaports. In addition, there are 3 more sub-regional offices located at Amritsar, Guwahati and Cochin to assist these regional offices in the responsibilities of controlling illegal trade. These offices have seized many important wildlife and products of precious and endangered wild animals, which were meant for trade in international market.
India is also a signatory to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and trade in wildlife and its product is governed by the Convention. Most of the endangered Indian wild animals species are covered under CITES Appendices and trade is permitted only after due consideration by the management and the technical authorities of the country.
A Special Co-ordination Committee with Secretary (Environment & Forests), as Chairman and Special Secretary (Home), Director, CBI and representative of the Chairman, Central Board of Excise & Customs has been created to ensure better co-ordination in the efforts to curb smuggling of wildlife products.
Training and Workshops of various enforcement agencies for effective intelligence gathering and law enforcement are also being conducted regularly.
India is a signatory to many international conventions responsible for protection of bio-diversity and its habitat. Important conventions include:
i. Convention on Biological Diversity
ii. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
iii. World Heritage Convention
iv. Convention on Migratory Species and
v. Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention)
Co-ordination with Neighbouring Countries
India has signed a Protocol with Republic of China for taking up joint measures to crack down illegal activities of poaching of tigers, smuggling and selling of tiger bones and their derivatives. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with Nepal to establish a Joint Task Force to check Trafficking across borders.
Infrastructure-The problem of poaching has been compounded by the financial stringency prevailing in most of the states due to which total ban on new recruitment have been imposed and in certain case, there are 30 to 40 percent vacancies in the forest department. Funds for recurring expenditure like patrolling, maintenance of vehicles, sets and sometimes even for supply of uniforms are not available.
The modus operandi- Attracted by lucrative prices, organized mafias have entered the field of poaching and illegal trade of wildlife and its products. Shooting of animals by guns has given place to poisoning of animals. The carcass or the body parts of dead animals are then expeditiously transported to certain metros for processing and smuggling outside the country. The presence of forest department outside forest boundary is very notional and it is therefore likely, that significant number of cases go undetected.
As per the provisions of the amendments made in 2006, ‘National Tiger Conservation Authority’ has been formed. The constitution of National Wildlife Crime Bureau is also now included in the wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, through this amendment.
National Wildlife Crime Bureau (NWCB)
The Bureau is envisaged as a multi-disciplinary approach to combat the organized crime against wildlife and trade in wildlife and its derivatives. It will be headed by Additional Director General of Forest and will have its Headquarters at New Delhi and Regional Offices at Jabalpur, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Kolkata, Guwahati, Imphal and Amritsar.
Objectives of NWCB
1) To act as a multi agency unit with full time officer from Forest and Wildlife Departments and various para military forces ( Police, DRI, CBI, IB, ITBP, BSF), Customs.
2) To develop a National Level Policy for containing the trade, enforcement and capacity building of the State Forest Departments to carry out enforcement and investigation in a professional manner.
3) To implement the resolutions and decisions taken under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
4) To co-operate with the Interpol Wildlife Crime Working Group, the World Customs Organisation, the CITES Tiger Enforcement Task Force and various other Law Enforcement Agencies inside the country.
5) To gather and analyze intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and Regional Enforcement Agencies for swift action to apprehend the criminals.
6) To undertake joint operations with counterpart agencies in other countries.
7) To maintain a data bank related to wildlife crimes .
8) To monitor trade and advise the on changes required in policy and legislation from time to time.
9) To develop infrastructure and capacity for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and assist State Governments to ensure better success of cases related to wildlife crimes.
There are five regional offices and five Border Units of the Bureau. The regional centers are at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and five border units are at Guwahati, Chandigarh, Bareilly, Siliguri and Gorakhpur.

Dengue Fever

By - Sanjeev Shrivastava (PIB Features, Freelance Journalist)

Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are acute febrile diseases. It is similar to malaria. But there are some certain differences between dengue and malaria. Dengue is usually found in only urban areas of developed or developing tropical nations. In its initial stage, it was found in the Tropics. The disease was identified and named in 1779.

A global pandemic began in South-East Asia in the 1950s. Dengue had become a leading cause of death among children in many countries in that region. Epidemic dengue has become more common since the 1980s. By the late 1990s dengue was the most important disease affecting humans after malaria. There being around 40 million cases of dengue fever and several hundred thousand cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever each year. Spread of dengue cases have also been reported through tourists coming from areas with widespread dengue, such as Tahiti, Pacific, South-East Asia, the West Indies, India and Middle East.
Dengue is transmitted to humans by Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which bites during the day. The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes Aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. After being bitten by a mosquito carrying a virus, the incubation period ranges from three to fifteen days. Usually dengue signs and symptoms appear between five to eight days. Dengue starts with chills, headache, pain upon moving the eyes and low backache. Painful aching in the legs and joints occurs during the first hours of illness. The temperature rises quickly as high as 104 degree F with relative low heart rate and low blood pressure. The eyes become reddened. A flushing or pale pink rash comes over the face and then disappears. The glands in the neck and groin are often swollen. The palms and soles may be bright red and swollen. In more critical condition, there is bleeding with easy bruising, blood spots on the skin, spitting up blood, blood in stool, bleeding gums and nose bleeds. Platelet of blood comes down rapidly. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a specific syndrome that tends to affect children under 10.
There is no commercially available vaccine for the dengue or specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. Patients of dengue must be monitored closely for the first few days. The mainstay of treatment is supportive therapy. Oral fluid intake is recommended to prevent dehydration. Supplementation with intravenous fluids may be necessary to prevent dehydration and significant concentration of the blood if the patient is unable to maintain oral intake. Cyanotic patients are given oxygen. Vascular collapse requires immediate fluid replacement. A platelet transfusion is indicated in rare cases if platelet level drops significantly below 20,000 or if there is significant bleeding. Clinically, the platelet count will drop until the patient’s temperature is normal. It is very important to avoid aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs may aggravate the bleeding tendency associated with some of these infections. Patients should receive instead acetaminophen preparations to deal with these symptoms if dengue is suspected.
Primary prevention of dengue mainly resides in mosquito control, i.e. eliminating or reducing the mosquito vector for dengue. Public awareness is the most important fact. The most effective step to control mosquitoes is, not to allow water to stand for a long time because it’s a fact that Aedes mosquito thrives in clean water. Initiatives to remove and dry out standing water have proven useful in controlling mosquito-borne diseases. The mosquito breeds in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags, coolers, open water storage tanks and cans round the year. One or two spoon of kerosene or petrol oil can be mixed in cooler water if it is not possible to drain water from the cooler within a week. Besides this, personal prevention consists of the use of mosquito nets, repellents, covering exposed skin and avoiding endemic areas. Wear long pants and long sleeves, staying indoors two hours before sunrise and sunset can also help from mosquito bite. Government initiatives to decrease mosquitoes also help to keep the disease in check.
Dengue may be an acute disease but it can be prevented with awareness.

Forest and Tree Cover

By - Smt. Kalpana Palkhiwala (*Assistant Director ( M & C), PIB, New Delhi)

Forest survey is the act of making measurements and assessments of various forest related physical parameters, such as forest area, forest cover, growing stock, distribution of tree species, extent of forest fire damage, etc. The information generated may be spatial (presentable on maps) or non-spatial (shown through statistical tables). This information provided by forest survey is essential for judicious planning, development and management of forest resources. Forest, a renewable natural resource, occupies a unique position due to its role in maintaining ecological balance and environmental stability and in sustaining economic development.

Under the pressure of demands from ever-increasing population, the forests, which initially seemed inexhaustible, are struggling for survival leading to over all deterioration in the environment, threatening the very existence of civilization. Over the last two decades, concern about the world’s forests has risen dramatically on the global political agenda. Large areas of the world’s forests, which served in subsistence and advancement of human kind, have been converted to other uses or severely degraded. There is a need to use all possible tools and information to manage and utilize forest resources wisely and scientifically in a sustainable manner. Application of forest survey techniques generates such information that can be used for sound management of forest resources.

Forest Cover Assessment

Space borne Remote Sensing technology has proved to be an important tool in rapid assessment and mapping of natural resources over a large area with reasonable accuracy. Application of satellite data in assessment of forest cover in India was first demonstrated by the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Department of Space, Hyderabad in 1985, when it came out with the first ever estimate of country’s forest cover based on interpretation of Landsat (an American Satellite ) data. Almost simultaneously Forest Survey of India (FSI) started interpreting satellite data for assessment of forest cover of the country and published the country’s forest cover in 1987 using Landsat (MSS) data.

Thereafter, FSI was mandated to assess and map the forest cover of the country on a two-year cycle and monitor the changes in forest cover of the country during the intervening period. Since then FSI is assessing and mapping forest cover of the country using satellite data on a two-year cycle. Results of these assessments are published in the form of a biennial report – State of Forest Report (SFR). So far FSI has completed ten biennial assessments, the latest being the State of Forest Report, 2005. During this period, there has been a rapid development in satellite-based technology and also in related high-end hardware and software for digital image processing of satellite data.

FSI kept pace with these developments by continuously updating its methodology to suit the new developments. Each assessments had improvement over the previous one with the addition of unique features. The technological improvement in the quality of data as well as the imaging software has led to improvement in the accuracy of the assessment of the forest cover.

The scale of forest cover maps increased to the present 1:50,000 scale. The minimum mappable area (cartographic limit) of the assessment was improved from 400ha in the 1987 assessment to 1ha in the eighth and ninth assessment.

Forest Cover in Hill Districts

Forest cover in hills is essential to maintain ecological balance and environmental stability as it prevents soil erosion and land degradation. The National Forest Policy (1988) aims at maintaining two thirds of the geographical area in hills of the country under forest and tree cover.

Forests Survey of India(FSI) has been assessing forest cover in the hill districts of the country since 1997. The hill districts identified for the forest cover analysis are the same as other identified by the Planning Commission for Hill Areas and Western Ghats Development Programme. As per the Planning Commission’s criterion, a hill taluka is the one with altitude more than 500m from the mean sea level. A hill district is the one whose total area of hill talukas is more than half of the geographic area of the district. Based on this criterion, there are 124 hill districts spread over 16 States and UTs.

The forest cover in the hill districts is 274,932, which is 38.85% of the total geographic area of these districts. Out of 124 hill districts, 55 have over two thirds of geographic area under forest cover; 36 have been between one third and two third; and 33 have less than one third. Moreover, forest cover is less than ten percent of geographic area in ten hill districts.

Compared to the 2003 assessment of forest cover, there has been a loss of forest cover of 255 sq. km in the above hill districts mainly due to the practice of shifting cultivation.

Forest Cover in Tribal Districts

Forests have traditionally played a central role in the economy of tribal people who are also known to protect forests and to live in harmony with nature. Since, 1997, FSI has been assessing forest cover in the district identified as tribal district by the Government in the Integrated Tribal Development Programme. This includes all the districts of the State of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura. The UTs of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep have also been considered as tribal districts.

Although all tribal districts constitute only 33.57% geographic area of the country, the forest cover in these districts is 60.11 % of the total. All the North-Eastern States have over 75% geographic area under forest cover, except Assam (23.89% in 16 tribal districts) and Sikkim (45.97%). Overall, these figures indicate the richness of forest resources in the tribal districts in general, and in North-East region in particular.

The country is endowed with rich and diverse forest vegetation. The forests vary from alpine to coastal forests and from rain forests to arid forests. The recorded forest area of the country is 769,626 (23.41% of the country’s geographic area) and the forest cover of the country as per the 2005 assessment is 677,088 (20.60% of country’s geographic area). The volume of growing stock in the forest is estimated to be about 4,602 million cu.m. Being the second most populous and seventh largest country in the world having a population of over 1 billion with 1.8 per cent of world’s Forest Cover. It is sustaining the needs of 17% of human and 18% of the livestock population of the world.

Car Festival of Puri Jagannath

By - Shiva Narayan Singh (Journalist and News Editor of ‘Rashtradeep’ Cuttack)

Lord Jagannath of Puri in Orissa on the shore of Bay of Bengal is the reigning deity of Hindus in general and people of Orissa in particular. Yet, his appeal is not limited to any specific geographical, sectoral, cultural and national entity, rather it ascends to a universal level. This is why he is called ‘Jagannath” or the Lord of the Universe. Devotees from around the world cutting across nationalities, regions and religious beliefs throng with utmost devotion to have a glimpse of the lord who is the symbol of synthesis, unity and integration.
Jagannath cult is so old and mystic that one cannot say exactly when it originated. Various vedic literatures and mythologies sing the glory of Jagannath or Purusottam as the incarnation of Vishnu. From another research resources it has been amply proved that this cult existed even prior to vedic era. According to these sources Jagannath originally belonged to tribal ‘Sabara’ community and they used to worship him secretly. Later he was brought to Puri. He being the universal God belongs to all. Various sects like Vaishnab, Shaiba, Shakta, Ganapatya, Buddhist, Jain find semblance of their religious dogmas and symbols in Jagannath. Jagannath had also an ardent devotee in the form of Salbeg who was incidentally muslim by birth.
Lord Jagannath and his abode at Puri has been attracting many spiritual leaders representing various sects and religious communities. Adi Shankaracharya selected it to establish ‘Gobardhan Peeth’. He also composed ‘Jagannathastakam’ (Sanskrit hymn with eight stanzas). Other religious leaders and saints who came here and worshipped Jagannath were Madhwacharya, Nimbakacharya, Sayanacharya, Ramanuj, Ramanand, Tulasi Das, Nanak, Kabir, Chaitanya and local saints like Jagannath Das, Balaram Das, Achyutananda, Yasobant, Sishu Ananta and Jayadev. Various Mutts and Ashram founded by these saints at Puri are still in existence and are associated with Jagannath temple in some way or other.
According to mythological description King Indradyumna brought Jagannath from Sabar King Biswabasu and constructed the original temple which was later destroyed. Exactly when this original temple was built and destroyed is not known. Jajati Keshari also built a temple. The present 65 metre high temple was built by Chodagangadeb and Anangabhimadeb in 12th century. But the cult of Jagannath has been existing from pre-vedic age till now. In the present temple the presiding deity Jagannath is worshipped along with brother Balabhadra and Sister Subhadra in the sanctum sanctorum. The images have no legs, ears and nose. Only Jagannath and Balabhadra have two hands each bereft of wrists and fingers. The images are made of Neem wood and they are changed in every twelve years. There are many myths and folktales about these images. The imposing temple stands in a compound surrounded by a 20 feet high wall within which lie several smaller shrines. A traditional porch, sanctum sanctorum, hall of offerings and a pillared hall of dance form the rest of the temple.
Puri has been known by several names over the centuries such as Nilagiri, Niladri, Nilachal, Purusottam, Shankha Kshetra, Sri Kshetra, Jagannath Dham and Jagannath Puri.
Twelve important festivals are celebrated here. But the most important among them which has achieved international fame is Rath Yatra or Car Festival. This festival falls in the month of Asadha (corresponding to June-July). Jagannath alongwith brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra take an annual vacation to Gundicha Ghar, their aunt’s house. The deities undertake this journey in decorated chariots, this is why it is called ‘Rath Yatra’ or Car Festival. The three deities in separate chariots are pulled by devotees to the Gundicha temple on grand road. The names of the chariots are Nandighosa (45.6 feet high), Taladwaja (45 feet high) and Darpadalan (44.6 feet high) which are ascended by Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhdra respectively. The chariots are elaborately made and decorated in a riot of colours symbolizing the significance of each deity. Deities are brought from the temple to the chariots which are parked outside in a tradition which is called ‘Pahandi Bije’. The Gajapati king performs ‘Chhera Pahanra’ in which he has to sweep with a golden broom. Then only the chariots are pulled. The deities remain in Gundicha temple for seven days and return to the main temple in the same fashion. Thus ends the nine day long car festival. When this unique tradition of car festival started is not known. While the word ‘Rath’ finds mention in the Rig and Atharba Veda and the concept of Sun God ascending the chariot is linked to mythologies, still some researchers connect the car festival to Buddhist tradition.
The significance of the car festival is that lakhs of devotees get the opportunity to have a heart felt glimpse of their beloved deities. As if the deities come outside to mingle with the general public. The car festival has become so popular and it has assumed so much importance that it is no more limited to Puri only. Similar car festivals are being celebrated at different places in the country and in foreign countries too. Lord Jagannath’s worship is so closely associated with the sentiment of Oriya people that one can find Jagannath Temple car festival at almost every village and city of Orissa.
Lord Jagannath and his car festival symbolize synthesis, unity and integration. Though seated at Puri he is the Lord of universe and his sublime appeal is universal. All belong to him and he belongs to all. All are equal before his wide eyes.

Indian Women’s Odyssey into the Medical World

by - A.Vasantha, Freelace Writer

First of July is celebrated as the Doctor’s Day in India. This day has been chosen to pay homage to doctor Bidhan Chandra Roy and doctors like him who devoted their lives to the upliftment of the poor and the needy. Roy was, an eminent physician, and a dedicated social worker.

The story of Indian women’s struggle to enter the medical profession reflects their courage, determination and dedication to a noble cause. Unlike the women in western countries Indian women did not have to fight the laws or discrimination by the state to enter this profession. Opposition came mainly from the society of that time; a society steeped in ancient traditions with no scope for women to act or think independently The environment was hostile to a woman to step out of the home, let alone take up a career.

Missionaries pave the way
When the British rulers opened their hospitals in India, the attendance of women was almost negligible because of the purdah (veil) observed by women in many parts of India. Since there was no woman on the hospital staff, women resented being treated by men and stayed from hospitals. The plight of women during confinement owing to lack of medical attendance and the large-scale infant mortality disturbed many ‘zenana’(women) missionaries, who decided to do something to mitigate the sufferings of these women.
The task of women missionaries was not easy. They had to face the ignorance and prejudices of Indian women, work without proper instruments and insufficient supportive help and above all their own inadequate medical knowledge.
The first qualified medical woman to arrive in India was Miss Clara Swain of U.S.A. who reached Rae Bareily on 2nd January 1870. Soon a stream of missionaries, started pouring into India. Their main concern was training of nurses and mid-wives and hospital administration. They introduced hospital nurses into Indian homes, persuaded Indian women to go to hospitals for delivery and took part in other social service activities. Two outstanding medical missionaries, Edith Mary Brown(1864-1956) and Ida Sophia Scudder(1870-1960) will ever remain in the collective consciousness of the nation for the legacy they have left behind to humanity. The Christian Medical College and Brown Memorial hospital at Ludhiana and the Christian Medical College at Vellore stand testimony to their work.
In the meantime two contemporary Indian women created history by breaking the social barriers to become doctors. Both were Maharashtrians and were victims of child marriage. Anandibai Joshi was married at the age of ten to a widower almost twenty years senior to her. She became a mother at the age of fourteen but unfortunately the child lived only for ten days. A grief stricken Anandi resolved to become a doctor and help other women. Rakhmabai’s tale is some what different. She was not fortunate enough to have a supportive husband like Anandibai. Married at the age of ten without her consent she rebelled against the tradition. She matured into a highly esteemed doctor and rendered invaluable service during the plague in the Bombay Presidency. She was a pioneer of red cross activity in India and it was mainly through her that medical aid reached the interior parts of that Presidency.

Men support women’s cause
Higher education and training for women came through as a result of the efforts of a few enlightened men. In 1872, Edward Balfour, the Surgeon General in Madras started an agitation with the education department for admission of women to the medical course, but he was successful only partially as the Director of Public Instruction considered this move as entirely premature and did not recommend admission of women to medical college. Three years later Balfour could get them admitted to the Certificate course. Six years later the first woman to be admitted was Mary Scharlieb, wife of a Barrister. She took up the mid-wife’s training at the Government Maternity Hospital in Madras but found the training very inadequate. The Kasturba hospital owes its inception to her.
In the Calcutta Presidency, the Calcutta Medical College threw its doors open to women in 1880 and one Kadambini Ganguly became its first graduate.
In the Bombay Presidency, George T. Kittredge, an American business resident fought for medical education for women. He was not happy with the inferior training provided to women and observed “I am convinced that for success in India, woman must be recognized as the equals of men in medical care.”

Medical Funds come to Aid
George T. Kittredge along with one Sorabjee Shapurji Bengalee organized a fund called the Medical Women for India Fund. Also, the Lady Dufferin fund created in 1885 gave tremendous impetus to entry of women into the profession. Both the funds were set up with the major objective of bringing medical women from England, arranging for medical education of women in India and opening hospitals to be staffed by women.

March towards professionalism
The founding of the Association of Medical Women in India in 1907 under the Presidentship of Dr. A.M. Benson, the Medical Officer at Cama Hospital at Bombay was an initial step in the professionalisation of women medicos. It was this association which agitated for the creation of Women’s Medical Service (WMS) in 1914 on the lines of Indian Medical Service (IMS). Regrettably the WMS was abolished along with IMS soon after Independence.
Hilda Mary Lazarus was the first Indian woman to be appointed to WMS. She became Chief Medical Officer in 1943 and held the post till her retirement in 1947.
Undoubtedly the woman doctor of early 20th century was Muthulakshmi Reddy. She entered into the medical world like a storm and initiated many reforms through legislation like medical inspection of girls in schools and colleges, suppression of immoral trafficking in women & children etc,. She made history when she sought to liberate devadasis from the tyranny of tradition. The Avvai Rural Medical Service and Cancer Research Institute at Chennai are her gifts to humanity. She balanced her role as a mother, wife and a doctor so perfectly that she is still held as a role model by many.
Though late entrants by world standards women are now entering the medical profession on equal footing with men. No longer are the super speciality areas,the preserve of men. Everyday a new male bastion is broken and women try to prove that they are in no way inferior to men. However the contributions of the women pioneers in medicine in India cannot be evaluated in terms of the present day parameters. As Joshua Jhirad the first Woman Superintendent of Cama Hospital observed “It was the idea and urge to serve needy women who could otherwise have gone without treatment and suffered silently that attracted most of us to take up medicine.”

Providing due share to the Handicapped

by M. I. Habibullah (Freelance Writer from Tamil Nadu)

Realising the problems of the handicapped, the Government has included Handicapped Welfare in its Five Year Pans and from one Pan to another, this area has been given an enhanced outlay. Moreover, the Article 41 & 46 of the Constitution of India also insists on the “all-round betterment” of the handicapped community. The handicapped are classified into five categories:- (1) Visually handicapped (2) Orthopaedically handicapped (3) Hearing handicapped (4) Mentally retarded and (5) Leprosy-cured.
Total population of all categories of the handicapped in our country is quiet large and they take any task as a “Challenge” and that is why the Government began to refer to them as “Physically Challenged Persons”.

UN Convention
Towards empowering the disabled, India signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on 30th March, 2007, the day it opened for signature. India was also among the first countries to ratify it on 1st October, 2007. The Convention has come into force from 3rd May, 2008.
The purpose of the Convention is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”. Article 3 of the Convention enumerates the eight guiding principles and Article 4 lays down the General Obligations.

As a step towards rehabilitation of the handicapped, the Government established a Special Employment Exchange for the Physically Handicapped (SEEPH) at Bombay in 1957. As this first venture proved successful, the Government has increased the number of SEEPH’s to 43 at present. As a second step, it has setup Vocational Rehabilitation Centres (VRC) at key stations of the country to assess the vocational capabilities of the handicapped persons. Of the 20 VRCs, Patna (Bihar) and Vadadora (Gujarat) Centres are specially meant for the women handicapped.

National Level Institutes
In order to provide National level facilities in the field of training, education and employment, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment set up four National Institutes for each category of the handicapped as under:-
1. National Institute for the Visually handicapped at Dehradun in Uttarakhand State
2. National Institute for the Orthopaedically handicapped at Calcutta in West Bengal
3. Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the hearing handicapped at Mumbai
4. National Institute for mentally handicapped at Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (earlier known as the Ministry of Social Welfare) set up a National Institute for Multiple handicapped at ‘Muttukkadu’ near Chennai. The “Team Speciality Hospital” at Pudukkottai in Tamilnadu treats the Handicapped in a special way through the services of expert doctors.

Concessions and Facilities
The Government through it’s various Ministries provides a number of facilities for the all-round betterment of the handicapped community. Three percent job reservation is provided to the handicapped job-seekers in the group A, B, C & D Posts (Class I,II,III & IV) since 1977. The job reservation is one percent to the blind. One percent for the deaf and dumb and one percent for the orthopaedically handicapped persons. All the State Governments and the Union Territory Administrations are observing the same policy.
The National Policy for Disabled People, adopted in 2006, has comprehensively spelt out the goals towards full acknowledgement and exercise of all human rights of persons with disabilities as well as promoting a broad commitment to accessibility, autonomy and equality of opportunity for them. These measures would stand India in good stead in discharging its accountability to the international community under the UNCRPD.
Age relaxation upto 10 years is given to the handicapped job-seekers as compared to the normal age-limit for all the posts. It a handicapped person is unable to type due to this disability, they are exempted from the typing test (as it is compulsory for Group ‘C’ posts). The Ministry of Communications, Department of Telecommunications has opened telephone-booths for the handicapped persons (under self-employment scheme). Most of the handicapped persons are manning telephone booths and earning their livelihood through this beneficial scheme. The Ministry has also exempted affixing of postage stamps on the letters of “Braille Scripts” meant for the blind community.
Re-caning of chairs in the Central as well as in the State Government Offices has been strictly reserved for the blind caners. The Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals has reserved fifteen percent of all types of dealerships/agencies of the Public Sector Oil Companies to the handicapped candidates only. Under the direction of Ministry of Finance, all the Nationalised banks are providing Differential Rate of Interest (DRI) loans at the rate of four percent interest per annum upto Rs. 6,500/- without any surety to the disabled. This type of loan is provided for self-employment of the handicapped persons.
The Ministry of Social Justice has recently formulated a corporation, entitled “The National Handicapped Financial Development Corporation” for the all-round development of the handicapped community of the Nation. The Corporation is specially meant for starting self-employment programmes of the un-employed handicapped. The corporation also makes arrangements to dispose the manufactured goods of the handicapped people in their workshops. The Ministry also provides National Scholarship to poor handicapped students.
During 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07, Rs 130.55 crore, Rs. 124.71 crore and Rs. 122.19 crore were released for the various programmes connected with persons with disabilities mainly Non-Governmental Organisations, National Institutes, Artificial Limbs manufacturing Corporation of India and National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation.
Taking into account the past experience, the procedure for sanction of grant-in-aid to Non-Government Organizations has been streamlined from current financial year. The State Governments had been advised to send consolidated proposals after getting them scrutinized by a multi-disciplinary committee. To ensure proper utilization of funds, periodic progress reports are obtained apart from audited statement of accounts, list of beneficiaries and utilization certificates.

RTI in Braille
In order to provide equal opportunities to the handicapped people also, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment published the RTI (Right To Information) Act in “Braille Versions” also to cater to the Visually Handicapped people. The copies of “Braille Versions” of the RTI Act can be obtained from the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped, 16, Rajpur Road, Dehradun (Uttarakhand).
In addition, the Central Board of Secondary Education has provided the following concessions to physically handicapped students:
· Option of studying one compulsory language as against two for general candidates and option to offer other subjects in lieu of Mathematics or Science.
· Facility of a writer in the examination, if requested for.
· Additional time ranging from 30 minutes to sixty minutes provided to answer the question paper.
· Separate question papers in enlarged print for visually impaired candidates.
· Alternative questions provided for the visually impaired candidates, in lieu of questions having visual inputs in Social Science and English Communicative for class X and in History, Geography and Economics for Class XII.
· Special seating arrangement for the conduct of the examination on the ground floor as far as possible.
· Physio-therapy exercises are considered as equivalent to physical education and health education course.
· Answer Books of such candidates are evaluated separately.
The above concessions are being extended to the candidates of all CBSE affiliated schools throughout the country.
Thus, the Government integrates the handicapped people in the National Mainstream by implementing various welfare measures in a big way to help them stand on their own feet.

JNNURM - Pioneering Development In Urban India

by - Tasneem F.Khan (Media & Communication Officer)

“The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, to my mind, is an immense opportunity for our country to create livable, just and inclusive habitats through responsive and transparent local government system”, said the Prime Minister at the National Conference on JNNURM.

A momentum that rebuilds our cities and reforms the way the Urban Local Bodies are governed, a commitment to the development and expansion of physical infrastructure, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), a first of its kind programme was launched on 3rd December, 2005. It envisages an investment of more than Rs.1,00,000/- crore with committed Central Government share of Rs. 50,000/- crore. The State Governments and the Urban Local Bodies are to contribute Rs.50,000/- crore. The Mission is to be implemented within a time frame of 7 years (2005-06 to 2011-12).

The objective of the Mission is to ensure integrated development of Urban Infrastructure and Services, secure effective linkage between asset creation and management. It is also to ensure adequate investment of funds to address deficiencies in the urban infrastructure. It lays particular emphasis on providing basic services to urban poor. Thus it aims to encourage reforms and fast track planned development of identified cities with focus on efficiency in urban infrastructure and service delivery mechanisms, community participation and accountability of Urban Local Bodies/Parastatal agencies towards citizens.

Urban Infrastructure and Governance
In the third year since its launch, JNNURM is now on a fast track. Under one of its submission, Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG), which focuses on 63 Mission Cities, a total of about 324 Projects have been sanctioned covering 54 cities in 26 states and Union Territories in the country. The cost of all sanctioned projects is estimated at Rs. 30,135.23 crore. The total Additional Central Assistance (ACA) is Rs. 14,612.46 crore for the sanctioned projects. A total amount of Rs. 2529.84 crore under UIG has been utilized in 2007-08 which is the highest utilized in a financial year since the inception of the project.
The Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram has lauded JNNURM as one of the flagship programme and proposed to increase the allocation for the Mission from Rs. 5482 crore in 2007-08 to Rs. 6866 crore for 2008-09.While presenting the Budget for 2007-08, he said “JNNURM is the main vehicle for improving urban infrastructure. It has also succeeded in driving reforms in urban governance and urban related laws”.
Reforms are one of the main components under JNNURM. Some important reforms envisaged under the Mission are:

Mandatory reforms at State Level
* Enactment of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992, which envisages that the third tier of the Government i.e. Urban Local Body is given major share in urban governance.
* The Mission envisages a reform in the area of Rent Control legislation. This will encourage construction and development of more housing stock, promoting efficient and robust rental/tenancy market. Thereby improving availability of housing across all income categories.
* Rationalization of Stamp duties by States/Cities has been envisaged to establish an efficient real estate market with transparency in transfer of property.
* JNNURM requires that States undertake to repeal “Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act” with the objective of increasing the supply of land in the market.
* With the objective of institutionalizing citizen participation as well as introducing of Area Sabha in Urban areas community participation law has been drafted.
* Enactment of Public Disclosure Law (PDL) requires reforms to be undertaken by States/Cities in areas of disclosure of information to Public making Municipalities/Parastatals published various information pertaining to its functioning at periodic intervals for sharing with citizens.

Mandatory reforms at ULB level
*Implementation of e-governance with the objective of deployment of information technology tools and applications has been envisaged to bring in a transparent administration, quick service delivery, effective MIS and general improvement in service delivery to the citizens.
* Reforms have been envisaged in the methods of levy, administration and collection of property taxes with the objective of establishing simple, transparent, non-discretionary and equitable property tax regime encouraging voluntary compliance.
* JNNURM requires States/Cities to levy user charges on different municipal services leading to self sustaining deliveries for these services ultimately for securing effective linkages between asset creation and asset management.
* The Mission requires ULBs to earmark funds in their budget specifically for services delivery to the urban poor.
* Provision of basic services to urban poor such as water supply and sanitation, including provision of security of tenure and improved housing at affordable pricing are also envisaged under JNNURM. Mission also requires delivery assurance for universal services in the areas of health, education and security.
Apart from mandatory reforms, there are some reforms to be undertaken by States/Cities such as property titling, improving building by-laws, earmarking land for housing to poor, computerized registration of land and property, administrative and structural reforms, and reforms to encourage public-private partnership.

Initiatives to Monitor Implementation of Projects
The Mission Directorate has taken several initiatives to monitor implementation of projects. Independent Review and Monitoring Agencies (IRMA) is to be appointed by the States for monitoring of the progress of implementation of the projects sanctioned under the Mission. The agency will offer comments on procurement policies followed, review pre-construction activities, report on the progress activities (physical and financial) and their timely completion with acceptable quality of construction etc. Programme monitoring and Evaluation System (PMES) is a comprehensive web-enabled management information system which will serve cover all the critical aspects of programme implementation.

Citizen Participation
Citizen participation, an interesting feature of the Mission seeks various initiatives at city, state and Central level wherein a favourable environment is created for citizens from various walks of life by encouraging them to participate in the development of their cities. Technical Advisory Groups (TAG) comprising members of civil society have been constituted to ensure transparency and accountability in the Mission. A Community Participation Fund (CPF) has been established by the Mission Directorate with the initial corpus of Rs. 100 crore with the provision of Rs. 90 crore for funding the projects during the remaining years of Mission. The balance of Rs. 10.00 crore will be utilized for management, monitoring, organizing outreach workshop and coordination etc. The primary objective of the fund is to create capacities in the communities to effectively engage and contribute in improving their living environment.
Thus the JNNURM is different from earlier programmes as it encourages inclusive development focuses on development together with the necessary reforms and represents the collective and well intentioned efforts of stake holders in the urban sector.

Blood Donation

by - V. Mohan Rao ( Freelance Journalist)

Donating blood means giving life to some one and it is believed that voluntary blood donors command the highest respect for their sacrifice. The World Blood Donor Day in June every year reminds the people of their social responsibility of saving the lives of those needing blood. The celebration of the blood donor day assumes importance with the growing clinical demand for blood globally to support advancements in medical and surgical procedures.

The annual event highlights the role of the blood donors in saving the lives and improving the health of millions and creates awareness about the availability, safety and appropriate use of blood and blood products. In 2008, the theme of World Blood Donor Day is – Giving Blood Regularly – to support national blood donor programmes in building a stable base of voluntary unpaid donors, who make a long-term commitment to blood donation. The resolution passed by the World Health Assembly in 2005 recognized that voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors, who donate blood regularly, are integral to safe, adequate and sustainable blood supply.

Voluntary blood donors donate blood of their own free will for altruistic reasons and get no reward except personal satisfaction. Patients, who receive blood of their group, feel a sense of being cared for by others who they will never meet. The blood donor day emphases the importance of regular donation by eligible donors in enabling blood collection to be planned to meet national requirements for specific blood groups and blood components and thus ensures access to safe blood transfusion when needed.

Brief History of Blood Donor Day
14th of June every year is celebrated universally as the World Blood Donor Day. It started from the year 2004 coinciding with the birthday of Karl LandSteniner, the Nobel Prize Winner, who had discovered the ABO blood group system. The World Blood Donor Day provides a special opportunity to thank all the voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors. The day has been selected by three major organizations working for voluntary non-remunerated blood donation. They are--The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, The International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations and The International Society of Blood Transfusion. The Day has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, which co-sponsors the event. Several millions owe their existence to people they may never meet those, who donate their blood without any reward or remuneration.

Despite these noble acts by many, 'safe' blood is denied to the overwhelming majority of the world's population. Of the 80 million units of blood that are donated each year, only 38% is collected in developing countries, where a staggering 82% of the world's population live. Several third world countries are still dependent on paid donors although the vast majority of donated blood comes from family members or friends of the patients. In developed countries, on an average 50 out of 1,000 people donate blood as against only 10 in developing countries. In India, it is as low as 5 out of 1000 people donate blood.

Blood Shortage
There is a huge mismatch between the supply and demand of blood in India. Only 5.5 million units (300cc) of blood is collected as against the demand of 8 million units. This is attributed to the shortage of donors and inefficient usage of donated blood, pathologists feel. Statistics show that each unit of blood donated can save three lives but in case of India it saves only one life. It is because of the shortage of blood component separators in the country.

Blood donation & HIV/AIDS
The voluntary and unpaid blood donation ensures safe blood supply because of the reduced possibility of transmitting potentially life-threatening organisms, such as the HIV and Hepatitis viruses.

Importance of Blood donation
Blood is needed every two seconds. Accidents, premature babies, major surgeries require Whole blood. Trauma, Anemia, other surgeries require only RBC, which is separated from donated blood. Blood is needed at regular intervals and at all times as it has only finite time to store. Red blood cells can be stored for about 42 days, Fresh Frozen Plasma and Cryoprecipitate for a year and platelets for 5 days. People above 18 years weighing more than 50 kgs (110lbs) can donate blood. In India, around 60 per cent of the blood donation is voluntary and the government is planning to set the target at 90 per cent.


It enhances the production of new Red Blood Cells. As the blood is withdrawn from the donor’s body, there is decrease in blood cells. To replenish it, immediately new cells are produced by marrow and this way blood gets refreshed. Thus donating blood helps in stimulating operation of new blood cells. It also reduces the chances of heart diseases. Iron is involved in oxidation of cholesterol and this process is believed to be detrimental for the arteries. Increased blood iron level favours this process of cholesterol oxidation and thus leads to heart diseases. Regular blood donation helps especially males in loosing iron on regular basis. It helps in reducing the chance of heart attack to one third. One can diet or remain fit by donating blood regularly. One pint of blood (450 ml) when donated burns 650 calories in donor’s body. Blood donation invigorates feelings in elderly people.

National AIDs Control Organisation

The government is going to implement the National Blood Transfusion Services Act, soon to ban malpractices related to blood donation. The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has prepared the draft of the Act, under which those people who are found selling or buying blood would be penalized and jailed for six months. The draft has been sent to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry for approval. NACO also recommended the setting up of an autonomous body to monitor the collection, storage, distribution and supply of safe blood. Considering the huge shortage of blood, the government should take effective measures to encourage blood donors, particularly those willing to donate voluntarily.

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