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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Scene of rural development in Jharkhand

Surveys conducted by different organisations reveal a sorry state of rural development in Jharkhand. About one lakh and twenty five thousand persons leave the state every year in search of jobs. They carry away their children with them. About six lakh children accompany their parents to work sites and leave their schools in particular seasons. Most of these children are either not enrolled in any school even in their school going age or they are bound to leave their schools for months as they cannot live in villages without their parents.

A large number of men, women and children migrate to other states during winters. There they work as labourers at brick kilns. This large number comprises a big percentage of girls in their school going ages. These migrating girls and women face serious exploitation and physical abuse by agents and contractors at the sites of their work.

Even after sixty years of freedom of the country, about 4,800 villages do not have access to electricity. Some of these villages do have electricity poles and wires hung on them but no supply. Lakhs of people living in 2043 villages do not know about electricity. Out of every 1000 sq km, only 109 sq km of the area has roads. Medical services provided by the government lack 94% doctors, 76% staff nurses and 38% laboratory technicians. About 22% primary schools and 3% upper primary schools do not have play ground for students. Only 3% primary schools and 21% upper primary schools have access to electricity.

The mention of above reported facts does not mean that the government at state and district levels and doing nothing. A number of plans and projects being implemented in the state include MANAREGA (sponsored by the Central Government), Indira Awas Yojna, Swarn Jayanti Rojgar Yojna, Watershed Development Programme, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, state sponsored Gram Setu Yojna etc. Besides these, a number of projects are being run by the financial help of Members of Parliament and Assemblies.

Millions of rupees are being spent every year on these projects. Media reports reveal that a big part of money for these projects and programmes is shared by middle men in the names of commissions etc. Here is a case of the story of the development of the village of Bagwan Birsa.

Ulihatu is the name of the village of Bhagwan Birsa. The 11 km long link road to this village is certainly black and smooth. But it does not certainly mean that the picture of Ulihatu village too is similar to the 11 km long pitch road. The nearest medical facility  for villagers of this village is found at a distance not less than 11 or 36 km. Even at this distance, villagers are not supposed to see any specialist doctor there.

People of the Ulihatu village are not strong enough financially to afford a four wheeler vehicle to carry their patients to a hospital located in the nearest city. Local newspapers report that the only reason behind construction of a pitch road to Ulihatu is periodic visits of leaders for paying homage to Bhagwan Birsa. About 0% of the people in this village do not have BPL numbers. Electricity poles were installed three years ago but the village has not seen an electric bulb so far. It is reported that villagers prefer work for 40 rupees per day instead of 120 rupees per day work of MANAREGA.

It is a good initiative that the government of Jharkhand has properly started a programme of upgrading 100 villages as ideal villages. Villages of Shaheeds and revolutionaries are to be taken for Upgradation in the first phase. It is planned that each one of these villages would have one village council and one village culture centre. The village council is planned to have library, healthcare centre, village council hall, stage, and campus, centre for adult education etc. The village council will be responsible for the organisation of cultural programmes.

Key Words:season,brick kiln,electricity, laboratory, Swarn Jayabti Rojgar Yojna, library

Friday, March 09, 2012

Information technologies helping rural development across the world

Progress and innovations in science and technology are causing changes in food production systems across the world including even the poorest countries. Cell phones, televisions, videos, community websites, news media partnerships etc. are affecting the food production systems up to greater extent.

Access to television is expanding in every corner of the world within a decade. Many villages in Africa have shared television sets. These sets are often powered by car batteries if electricity is not available. Communities gather around these T.V. sets and watch methods of agriculture, besides other programmes like football, hockey and cricket matches etc. Farming technologies, methods of pest control, organic agriculture, food-safety and storage etc are viewed by villagers on large scales.

In India, farmers learn modern technologies of crop production, and also of different aspects of sustainable agriculture like pisciculture, aquaculture, sericulture, bee-keeping, cattle rearing, and various other methods of advanced agriculture. Through mobile phones they can ask questions on Kisan Help Centres round the clock. They can know various government schemes and plans and also about different government programmes telecast for them.

Various progrmmes pertaining to micro financing, child and mother care, mass literacy, polio- and Filaria eradication etc are telecast on routine basis and farmers can learn a lot from these programmes. Different programmes designed for women are also telecast on television and women get expert advice on their reproductive health and about different government schemes run for their welfare. All these programmes have started changing the face of rural India, a well as of other countries in bigger ways.

The U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), Makutano Junction has a number programmes on health and development. These programmes touch various aspects of life like vaccines, health issues, methods of growing different crops, animal husbandry, corruption and development etc.

Videos made on various issues of health, education, agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture too can teach a lot to masses. Educational CDs are being used on village, blocks, and district levels to educate the public in various aspects of human lives and development. CDs on various government programmes and projects are used to educate the common public for awareness and nation building. These CDs can be used on Panchayat level in community/ village council halls to train farmers in agriculture, family planning, child and mother care, social issues, election- methods like casting of votes, government plans and programmes etc. In recent elections political parties used these media in exposing faults of their opposition parties in big ways. Skilled persons should be employed at all these centres and free T.V. set operated by solar energy should also be provided to these centres for educating the common public and developing the nation. Training videos are being used in over 30 languages by African Rice Centre to educate rice- growers for improving yield through improved crop-growing methods.

Now, village councils and mohallah-committees have been observed to develop their websites on internet. These websites foster open transfer of ideas and innovations through out the community. Innovations of various non-government organisations like Barefoot College of Tilonia, Tree Hugger etc. are displayed on websites of these organisations. People having access to internet can learn a lot from innovations and general activities of these communities and organisations.

Educational videos can be used for specific target groups. These can be region-specific as well. Sometimes these can be used for specific target villages also.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, Kibera, in Nairobi is considered to be the world’s largest slum. About one million people inhabit the area. People living in this area have developed many farming innovations but limited communication facilities do not allow their innovations to reach up to other areas. However, the condition is now being changed by a new project, the Voice of Kibera. People under the project are reported to send innovations through SMS that are later posted on the project website for all having the access to internet.

Thus development in communication technology is helping the poor and developing countries grow their economies faster, and in making the community life more and more comfortable, together with strengthening the integration of nations, besides helping the world become a global village.

Key Words:cell phones, reproductive health, pest control, pisciculture, micro-financing, website, horticulture 

Image Credit : BROADBAND

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Indoor Air Pollution contributing to global disease burden in a big way

Residential houses, offices, schools and colleges and the work environment, shops, restaurants etc. contribute to indoor air pollution in many different ways.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that cooking and heating with solid fuels on open fires or on traditional stoves result in high levels of indoor air pollution.

Indoor smoke contains a range of health damaging pollutants such as small particles and carbon monoxide etc.

In poorly ventilated dwellings, indoor smoke can exceed acceptable levels for small particles 100 fold. Exposure is particularly high among women and young children who spend the most time near the domestic sources of pollution.

According to Global Health Risks Mortality and Burden of disease attributed to selected major risks indoor air pollution is responsible for 2.7% of the global burden of disease.

Programmes of WHO on Indoor Air Pollution to combat this substantial and growing burden of disease, comprise- research and evaluation, capacity building, and providing evidence for policy makers.

Key Words :restaurant,cooking,children,fuels,

Olive Ridleys start nesting in Rushikulya

Rushikulya, Gahirmatha and Devi river mouth, the three principal rookeries in Odisa are now prepared to welcome Olive Ridleys for their mass nesting. Out of these nesting sites of Olive Ridleys, nesting in Rushikulya rookery coast has started in full swing, but other two Rookeries are yet to experience this season’s nesting by the endangered marine turtle species. Rushikulya rookery coast is located in Ganjam district of south Odisa.

Image -1 : A scene of Gahirmatha rookery

It has been reported that around 55,000 turtles have already nested on the coast near the Rushikulya rookery and the current mass nesting process at this site is expected to go on up to three or four days more. Around 2, 51,000 turtles were reported nesting on this coast last year.

A sand bar 200m inside the sea, about two km long has been created near the nesting site of Rushikulya. Turtles have been reported to prefer this site for nesting. Forest Department’s sources report that about 70% of nesting had already taken place by the end of February on this sandbar. Earlier, some environmentalists were thinking that the newly created sand bar might have some negative impacts on nesting process along this coast. It has been experienced earlier that Olive Ridleys did not prefer nesting under such conditions.

Image-  2 :Olive Ridleys on Rushikulya sand

Most of the Olive Ridleys laid eggs on the long sandy beach of Rushikulya but natural shifting of the river mouth has completely eroded the beach. So, wildlife lovers were not sure about a proper site for nesting of these turtles. None was expecting either, that turtles would prefer to lay eggs on this sand bar.

A number of predators like foxes, jackals and even stray dogs use to interfere with turtle eggs laid in the sand of the beach. But, now that the sand bar is detached from the main land, predators and even human beings are not expected to interfere there.

The only factor that is expected to disturb nesting of turtles in the sand bar near Rushikulya is overcrowding and the turtles reaching late at the nesting site may dig up the old nests.

Image -3: Eggs of Sea Turtle

The entire stretch of the coastline near the Rushikulya rookery has been divided by the forest department into 22 segments. These segments serve as sampling points for recording data on nesting, and monitoring the security of eggs buried by the turtles into the sand. This year, as per reports, as many as 50 forest officials have been deployed for the purpose of protection of rookeries. In Purunabandha village, near Rushikulya, villagers have formed “Rushikulya sea turtle protection committee” and members of this committee play a major role in the protection of these turtles.

Key Words: sandbar,sampling, protection, rookery, south Odisa, Olive Ridleys,

Image Credits: 1. Greenpeace; 2.The Hindu; 3. Coastal Care