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Vol 7 Issue 4 Regn. no. MAHENG/2004/15104 ● Jul-Aug, 2010 People who don’t know the joy of giving, keep their belongings to themselves and finally lose it” A ‘SHAKTI’ PROJECT CONNECTiNG A COUNTRY FOR SOLD MEN! Denounce the murder of RTI Activist Amit Jethwa O O ne more dead. Yet another person who raised his voice against corruption was killed. And we remain silent. Politicians, parties, the government, officials, moneyed people and criminals have joined hands. They constitute a gang that is robbing the nation. Anyone who dares to raise his voice against this gang is killed. There is only one solution to this mayhem—the voice of the people. This recent spate of brutal and senseless murders of those who have raised their voice against corruption is a warning: our democracy is in danger; our own lives are in danger. We are the only ones who can set this right. Whenever any activist exposes corruption against someone mighty in the government, it is futile to expect any protection from police, which is directly controlled by the political executive. It is also futile to expect the anti-corruption agencies in that state to take any effective action because these anti-corruption agencies are directly controlled by political executive. The police and anticorruption agencies, on the contrary, collude with the corrupt. They either turn a blind eye to complaints and threats or openly victimise the complainant. Therefore, there is a strong need for an institution which is completely independent of political executive and has adequate powers and resources to deal with such issues. The Empire strikes backand how! T he original report on ‘paid news’ of the Press Council of India sub-committee is relegated to the archive. Then too, it does not even appear on the PCI’s website. Presented with a chance to make history, the Press Council of India has made a mess instead. The PCI has simply buckled at the knees before the challenge of “Paid News.” Its decision of July 30 to sideline its own subcommittee’s report - which named and shamed the perpetrators of “paid news” - will go down as one of the sorriest chapters in its history. A chapter that will not be forgotten and the impact of which causes immeasurable damage to the fight against major corruption within the Indian media. Acting promptly at the time, the Press Council of India *suo moto* set up a sub-committee to probe the phenomenon of paid news. The twomember sub-committee of Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and K. Sreenivas Reddy produced a devastating report (see *The Hindu* April 22, 2010). One that observed all the norms and ethics you could demand of such an exercise. It did not carry a single allegation without full attribution. It spared no effort to obtain the responses of the groups accused of playing the paid news game. Laying the charges squarely before them, it gave them ample right of - and space to - reply. It recorded depositions from scores of individuals. In one instance, a media organisation apologised for what it had done. In another, a candidate from Andhra Pradesh placed on record the results of his own “sting” operation against a major media group. Some of these depositions were in the form of affidavits. Its outstanding effort stands reduced to a footnote in that report. The footnote says the sub-committee’s report “may remain on the record of the Council as a reference document.” (archive). This is the standard the PCI sets for the Indian media? (excepts from an article by P. Sainath) —Saint Thiruvallur The Mumbai Marathon T he Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is one of India ’s biggest sporting events. Even bigger than that, is its role of being one of India ’s largest platforms for raising funds for charity. Last year the total funds raised amounted to INR 91,600,000 benefiting over 160 NGOs. United Way of Mumbai is the lead charity partner of the event. This can serve as a new and lucrative fund raising platform for an organization. Potential donors could be companies and individuals who wish to participate in this event. Any corporate or individual who applies through the charity partner gains guaranteed entry into the event. To participate, your organisation would need to register with United Way of Mumbai, the official charity partner. The run costs are: Marathon Rs. 600 ; Half Marathon Rs. 600; Dream Run Rs. 500;Sr. Citizens Run Rs. 300; Wheelchair Event Rs. 300 NGOs who wish to participate in the SCMM and raise funds need to register with UWM. The earlier an organization registers the better the chances of connecting with prospective donors. UWM puts up the list of registered NGOs on its website as well as on the event website which will help build awareness for participating NGOs. A total of 5000 running slots (bibs) have been reserved for NGOs who register for SCMM 2011. They can block a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 100 running slots each on a first-come-first served basis. This blocking can be done by just paying the event application fees based on the race category. After blocking the running slots, the NGOs will work within a pre-defined time period to find donors who would donate towards their cause. For the blocked bibs to be confirmed, the NGOs need to raise a minimum of Rs 3,000 per bib. For any queries write to or call (022) 24937676/79. United Way of Mumbai, 309 Kewal Industrial Estate, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (W), Mumbai 400 013. Tel: +91 22 24937676/79. UN recognises Right to water T he United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to adopt a resolution recognising the human right to water and sanitation. There were 124 states in favour - 0 opposed and 42 abstentions, with the US calling for a vote. Abstaining States included, among others, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Netherlands New Zealand, Poland, Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States. We can now use this in all of our advocacy and efforts in our struggle for water justice. NGOs may run Rs 13K cr govt plan New Delhi: The Planning Commission may rope in NGOs to implement its proposed Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for development of Naxal-affected areas This was discussed in a meeting attended by NGOs. Institute of Rural management, Gram Vikas, Pradaan and Samaj Pragati Sahyog were among the NGOs present in the meeting. “We are trying to form a new PPP model for rural India, where the private partnership will come from academic institutions, socially responsible corporate and civil society institutions”, said Mihir Shah, member Planning Commission for Rural Development. The IAP, being prepared by the Planning Commission, will require a budget of around Rs 13,000 crore. That could spell a huge opportunity for NGOs. The criteria for the NGOs to be included in the implementation of the government schemes will be decided by the Planning Commission. The proposal for formulating IAP had come from the Cabinet committee on security. The package under the plan would be for a three-year period for infrastructure development in the Naxal-affected districts, like roads, drinking water and electrification. The commission is also looking at the possibility of implementing the PESA (Panchayats Extension to Schedule Areas) Act, 1996, to give tribals the right to use minor forest produce. The special package for affected districts gains significance in the backdrop of the government’s flagship programmes, such as NREGA, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana and Bharat Nirman, not achieving much success. (- Neeraj Thakur) 1 ur SEZ laws force the poor out of their only means of sustenance, without alternative, and for a pittance. It is happening quietly, but certainly. Little by little at first, and recently in ways far more brazen, whole chunks of our country are being sold. Indian SEZs are all over the place. SEZs are not entirely new. SEEPZ in Mumbai, Kandla, Vizag and other places were all precursors. Every special zone had two distinctive elements: reduced taxes and milder labour laws. What the SEZ law now does is to make land available at a throwaway cost. Privately owned land can always be acquired for public purposes. There are roads to be built, and dams, hospitals, bus stops, water works – everything we take for granted but which somebody has to build, maintain and run to provide the essentials of civic life. Previously, the public purpose was identifiable and while the rationale may have been questioned later, the motives were not. For real estate developers, this is a bonanza: a statute that forces people to sell their land and simultaneously lifts all restrictions on what the developer can do on that land. Today, civic authorities throw up their hands and say the only solution is to “privatise”. Privatise everything: from policing, to land laws, water supply and sanitation to all forms of local governance. As a vehicle for privatising an entire country, there has never been a statute as breathtaking in its sheer audacity as the law governing Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The lugubrious title of the zhunkabhaakar version of the central SEZ law, “The Maharashtra Special Economic Zones and Designated Areas Act, 2010 by a clever piece of legislative legerdemain will become ‘industrial townships’. This means that within these areas developer corporations will have all the powers of a municipal authority: transport, hospitals, health care, markets, schools and colleges, public monuments, parks, police and fire stations and even the registration of births, deaths and marriages. Governments point to China and claim that, for faster growth, India too needs SEZs. However: the first SEZ law in India was proposed in 2000, earlier in China. By 2006, China had only five or six SEZs. In India, by October 2006, a staggering 403 SEZs had been approved. The Chinese SEZs are all located near the coast, very close to major transport hubs and routes and within shouting distance of significant commercial centres like Taiwan or Hong Kong. The The eradication of poverty is not achieved by the elimination of the poor. This is precisely what our SEZ laws do, for they force the poor out of their only means of sustenance, without alternative, and for a pittance. It comes down to our definition of progress. Where we should be pursuing the greater common good, we are, instead, only promoting the lesser private bad. 100 pledge money/time at ‘Giving Summit’ Mumbai: An elite group of business executives came together to pledge that they would donate almost Rs 5 lakh a year and dedicate 40 hours of their time to support non-profit organisations in the country. Over the next year, the 100 men and women who made the pledge at a “Giving Summit” organised by voluntary group GiveIndia, will participate in five workshops to understand areas that need attention and learn to choose an NGO or method in which they can lend their support. Inspiring the gathering was a family from the US, Kevin and his wife Joan Salwen, who, with their two children, decided one morning that they would give away half of their “things” to help others. “We associated ourselves with the Hunger project in Ghana for a five-year programme,” said Kevin. Indian couple Amit and Ardhana Chandra are emulating the Salwens. Amit, Boston educated and a former managing director of DSP Merrill Lynch, and Aradhana already have several support programmes. Now (continued on pg 5) Poor response from NGOs for central Schemes for elders Chennai: Tamil Nadu has pioneeerd many social welfare programmes like the free nutritious meal scheme but many central govt. sponsored integrated welfare programmes for the elderly are going abegging as NGOs are reluctant to implement them. Out of the 17 central govt. sponsored programmes for the elderly,TN is implementing only three: maintenance of 78 old age homes, running of 17 multi-service centres and 6 mobile medical units. Programmes like running of continuous care homes, day care centres for dementia patients, physiotherapy clinics, mental care health centres, helpline and counseling centres, sensitization programmes for youth, providing disability aids have got little or no response from NGOs. For many of these schemes the Centre sanctions Rs. 10 lakh per year. The State provides old age pensions of Rs. 400 pm to 91 lakh poor elderly of which the Centre finances 50 percent. The State has decided to cover another 1 lakh people this year. According to the National Commission on Population by 2011 there will be nearly 20 crore people above 60…about 8.3% of the population. Thirty percent of these are below the poverty line with a majority of them in the rural areas.(Times of India, Chennai, Aug.4.)

NGO Connect Vol 7 Issue 4. July - August, 2010.

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