[eebill] [NAFRE right to CSS & right to work campaign, etc, in right to food ml]

[btw, we *won* the dmp css pil, seems purely academic i know, but will post the order as soon as we have the certified copy, rgds, gita]

From: "Right to food" <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: Update 33 (2): Recent and forthcoming events
Date: 13 Nov 2004 18:04:07 -0800

UPDATE 33 (part 2): RECENT AND FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Dear friends,

This is the second part of our two-part Update (an additional "Diwali bonus" will follow soon, to accommodate further items that are pouring in). The first part, focusing on "employment guarantee", was sent a few days ago. This part begins with a few items relating to children, in anticipation of Children's Day (14 November). This is followed by an update on employment guarantee, recent developments around the country, and some info on forthcoming activities. As usual, further information can be found on the campaign website (www.righttofoodindia.org), or by sending a line to [email protected] (please note the new contact address).

Today's headlines:

1. SUPREME COURT ORDERS ON ICDS

2. MID-DAY MEALS UPDATE

3. NAFRE LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN ON COMMON SCHOOLING AND THE RIGHT TO WORK

4. EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE UPDATE

5. UPDATE ON THE "BANNERS PROJECT"

6. ALL INDIA PEOPLES DIGNITY RALLY ON 5 DECEMBER

7. RECAP OF FORTHCOMING EVENTS


1. SUPREME COURT ORDERS ON ICDS

Another long Supreme Court hearing on the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) took place on 7 October. To refresh your memory, an earlier order dated 28 November 2001 directed the state and central governments to univeralise ICDS. This means ensuring that there is an anganwadi in every settlement, and that all children under six, all adolescent girls and all pregnant or lactating women are covered. There has been little official action on this front during the last three years, leading the Supreme Court to issue another order in April 2004, reaffirming in no uncertain terms that ICDS is to be universalised as soon as possible. The order gave the central government three months to specify the time frame within which this is to be done. (For details of these and other orders, see the "legal action" section of the campaign website, www.righttofoodindia.org).

As it turned out, it took six months for the government to submit its affidavit, and the content is far from impressive. The affidavit essentially states that requests for 1.7 additional ICDS centres have been received from the state governments, "in pursuance of Supreme Court orders". With 6.6 lakh centres already operational, this marginal expansion would fall far short of the total 14 lakh centres required for universalisation in rural areas alone, as per Supreme Court orders. The laid-back response of the central government is all the more disappointing as the universalisation of ICDS is part of the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government: "The UPA will also universalize the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme to provide a functional anganwadi in every settlement and ensure full coverage for all children." The National Advisory Council has formulated detailed recommendations on this, in line with the Supreme Court orders, but these recommendations are yet to be considered by the government.

On a more positive note, the government's affidavit informs the Supreme Court that the expenditure norms for supplementary nutrition under ICDS will be increased for all user categories with immediate effect. The norms have been increased from 95 paise per day to Rs. 1.9 per day for infants, from Rs. 1.35 per day to Rs. 2.70 per day for severely malnourished infants, and from Rs. 1.15 to Rs. 2.3 per day for pregnant and nursing mothers and adolescent girls.

The campaign for universalisation of ICDS continues, and Children's Day is a good opportunity to reiterate this demand.

2. MID-DAY MEALS UPDATE

The outlook for mid-day meals in primary schools is a little more upbeat than for ICDS. Here again, the Common Minimum Programme includes a specific commitment: "A national cooked nutritious mid-day meal scheme funded mainly by the central government will be introduced in primary and secondary schools. An appropriate mechanism for quality checks will also set up." In contrast with the continued apathy on ICDS, this pledge on mid-day meals has led to some concrete action. A large part of the "Education Cess" (expected to fetch about Rs 5,000 crores per year) has been ear-marked for mid-day meals. Central assistance to the tune of Re 1 per child per day is being provided with effect from 1 September, 2004. These additional resources could substantially improve the quality of mid-day meals, provided that they are treated as additional resources by the states governments, and not used by them as an opportunity to reduce their own contributions.

Central assistance has also enabled some of the state governments that had not initiated mid-day meals (in violation of Supreme Court orders) to make a start. For instance, mid-day meals have finally been introduced in Uttar Pradesh. However, early reports suggest that the implementation of mid-day meals in UP is very erratic and haphazard. According to a report in Indian Express (dated 29 September), even in the city of Lucknow arrangements are yet to be made for utensils, water, cooking sheds or indeed cooking staff. Head teachers were informed just the day before that they were supposed to provide meals and so they carried cooking pots from their own homes, while the children used leaves from trees as bowls. In rural areas, too, there have been serious teething problems, including much resistance from high-caste parents, especially when the cook is a Dalit. These report bring back memories of similar problems in the early days of the mid-day meal programme in Rajasthan and elsewhere. Hopefully they will be overcome, but as of now the situation in UP is quite grim.

As this Update leaves the launchpad, it is learnt that cooked mid-day meals are finally being introduced in Bihar also, based on an expenditure norm of Re 1.64 per child per day. With Bihar and UP on board, the coverage of cooked mid-day meals in primary schools is now close to universal. This is an achievement of sorts, but there are miles to go before we sleep, as the quality of mid-day meals still leaves much to be desired in most states.

3. NAFRE LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN ON COMMON SCHOOLING AND THE RIGHT TO WORK

NAFRE (national Alliance for the Fundamental Right to Education) held an important meeting in Hyderabad recently, and decided to launch "a people's campaign for Common
School System and constitutional right to work". Excerpts from a recent e-mail:

"We have discussed the proposed Employment Guarantee Act at Hyderabad... In our opinion it is not sufficient to provide 100 days of work to unemployed youth of our Nation. We need to address our economic policy and developmental direction in this regard. It is the right of people and not a matter of beneficient privilege to get employment for livelihood and Govt. must do it.

As you know NAFRE has taken the issue of "right to work" with Education right and Equity in Education. We are going to organize a people's campaign for Common School System and constitutional right for Work. In the first phase of the movement we will observe campaign from 28th of oct. (shiksha adhikar diwas) to 10th of Dec. (human rights day) across the country. Press conferences, seminars, meeting with community people, memorandum submission and rallies will be organized all over country.

At Delhi more than 15 thousand people will come on 29th nov.and make a human chain & will submit a demand letter to govt. We will be concluding the programme on 10th Dec. During the coming budget session more than 30 thousand people are expected to march towards parliament to press the above concerns."

4. EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE: UPDATE

The draft Employment Guarantee Act (EGA) is winding its way through the system (Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Rural Development, other Ministries, Cabinet, etc.). It is expected to reach the Cabinet any time this month, and if all goes well it will be tabled in Parliament in early December - in what form it will reach remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, organizations across the country are getting ready to agitate for the right to work, including a full-fledged EGA, on 10 December (Human Rights Day). As mentioned in Part 1 of this update, a unanimous decision to demonstrate for the right to work on 10 December was taken at a convention on EGA held in Delhi last month (a report on this convention has just been published in Frontline). All-India organisations involved in this effort already include the All India Agricultural Workers Alliance, All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU), All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), among many others - the list is growing fast. The participating organizations are planning to agitate independently or jointly, but in any case on the same date - 10 December. In case you haven't planned anything yet for 10 December, it is not too late!

5. UPDATE ON THE "BANNERS PROJECT"

Among many activities that are planned for 10 December, one is to collect signatures (demanding an Employment Guarantee Act) on banners all over India. After 10 December, the banners will be brought to Delhi and tied together for a creative public display of "people's voices from around the country". An effort is being made to collect at least one banner with signatures from each district - this will also be a useful way of ensuring that the movement spreads to new places.

For effective display in Delhi, it would be useful to have banners of similar size. It has therefore been suggested that old light-coloured saris be used for this purpose. Please consider joining this effort and planning a signature campaign in your own area. In fact, there is no need to wait for 10 December - the collection of signatures can start any day. Further details about this initiative will follow soon (and be posted on the website also). Meanwhile, for further advice and information you can send a line to [email protected] or contact any of the following persons in Delhi: Vivek (3091 7116), Rajan (2371 1276), Subhash Bhatnagar (9810810365), Suneet Chopra (2307 3666).

6. ALL INDIA PEOPLES DIGNITY RALLY ON 5 DECEMBER

The following announcement has been received from the World Dignity Forum:

"The World Dignity Forum along with eight mass organisations in India are organising an All India Peoples Dignity Rally at Ramlila Grounds in Delhi on 5 December. There is going to be worldwide demonstrative action on this day by solidarity groups who would like to stand up and mobilize for the sociopolitical inclusion of Dalits and other discriminated sections of the world. For further details please contact Deepa Menon ([email protected])." Further details are available in www.righttofoodindia.org/wdignitiyforum.html


7. RECAP OF FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Much action is on the cards during the next few weeks. Some forthcoming events of interest are listed below:

18 November onwards: National conference of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) in Bhubaneswar.

21 November: National convention of All India Agricultural Workers Alliance in Delhi. Contact: Swapan Ganguly, Convener, All India Agricultural Workers Alliance (tel 033-25380386, fax 033-25384779, e-mail [email protected]).

26-28 November: National convention of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) in Jaipur. Contact: Kavita Srivastava (tel 0141-2706 483, [email protected]).

28 November: Shiksha Adhikar Diwas. Launch of NAFRE's campaign for Common Schooling and the Right to Work (see above). Contact: Ambarish Rai ([email protected]).

29 November: NAFRE's human chain in Delhi (see above).

5 December: All India Peoples Dignity Rally at Ramlila Grounds in Delhi (see above). Contact: Deepa Menon ([email protected]).

10 December: Human Rights Day. Country-wide demonstrations for the right to work and "employment guarantee now" (see above).



_________________________________________________________________
NRIs! Easy to send, easy to receive! http://creative.mediaturf.net/creatives/citibankrca/rca_msntagofline.htm Ask us how!


Partial thread listing: