Monday, December 28, 2009

Social Entrepreneurship course in NMIMS,Mumbai

The School of Business Management, NMIMS University announces the commencement of the admission process for the fifth batch of the Three-year Part-time MBA (2010-2013) and One-year Diploma in Social Entrepreneurship. Details of the programme are listed on our website http://www.nmims.edu/parttime.mba.SE/.


The academic programmes are specifically useful for NGO/Government/ CSR professionals who wish to develop their careers in the social sector. Keeping in mind the special needs of the social sector professionals, this is a highly subsidised course and includes scholarship support for deserving candidates. Brief details about the programme are given below.


Eligibility Requirements - Candidates who have completed their graduation and who have at least two years exposure in the NGO sector are eligible to apply for the course. Those appearing for their final year exams in March/April 2010 are also eligible to apply for the course, provided, they have been exposed to the NGO sector by undertaking volunteering assignments.


Admission Process - Admission form and Programme Prospectus is available at the institute’s Accounts Office from December 1, 2009 on payment of Rs. 1,000/- in cash. Alternatively form can be filled and submitted online on our website www.nmims.edu. In case of online application, the candidates will have to mail a Demand Draft of Rs. 1000/- in favour of ‘SVKM’s NMIMS’ along with a print out of the acknowledgment of the online application to the NMIMS address.

Candidates have to submit the application on or before January 23, 2010.


Selection Procedure:
Selection to both the programmes will be based on a) Essay Test and b) Personal Interview. The Selection Test will be held at the NMIMS Campus on January 31, 2009.


For further information please contact us on the following phone numbers/email address:
A) Ms Shobha Pereira, Email: Shobha@nmims.edu
Tele-26143177 / 26183688 / 4235 5555 Ext: 6715 (Strictly between 10.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m)

B) Dr. Animesh Bahadur, Faculty,
Email:animesh.bahadur@nmims.edu ; animeshbahadur@gmail.com
Tele- 26143177 / 26183688 / 4235 5555 Ext: 5812 (Mobile- 93242 45045-Use strictly between 10.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m)


Thanking you,

Yours Faithfully,


Dr. Meena Galliara
Chairperson,
Social Enterprise Cell, NMIMS



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Change the world from Bandra,Mumbai: the new changemakers have arrived


All you need is a good cause—an innovative start-up will provide you with dirt-cheap office space and unlimited resources.

When one is young, restless and desperate to change the ruthless ways of the world, trustworthy companions usually include poky cybercafes, cutting chai and a jhola. But thanks to two individuals, social entrepreneurs in the city can look forward to upgrading to a more tony environment, complete with an espresso machine and unlimited access to resources like the internet and printing.

Welcome to the Hub—modelled on the Hub, London, and the first of its kind in Asia—where socially inclined start-ups can rent space for a song. An initiative of Unltd India founded by 29-year-old TISS graduate Pooja Warier and Londoner
Richard Alderson, it provides seed funding and incubation support besides the aforementioned co-working space at bargain basement rates.

Perched on the top floor of an old residential building near the Mount Mary steps in Bandra, the Hub looks like the workstation of a moody advertising guru. There are bandanasporting heads, half-full cups of coffee, straw curtains and Oshos parked at the entrance. The traditional sterile office space has been replaced by tanned wooden tables to hot-desk, Bombay Fornicators for inspiration, a pile of pillows to accommodate a power nap and a cosy pantry to take a break.

Entrepreneurs who work out of here don’t pay a fraction of the rent they would have had to dole out for prime property in Mumbai. In fact, keeping in mind the egalitarian sentiment, there’s a grading system of the social enterprise. So while lowbudget start-ups (under Rs 1 lakh per annum) get space for as little as
Rs 200 for five hours a month and Rs 3,000 for unlimited access, established businesses (above Rs 25 lakh per annum) pay Rs 600 for five hours a month and Rs 27,000 for unlimited access.

“It’s an ecosystem to allow social entrepreneurs to thrive and create sustainable organisations that can be scaled,” says Anderson. “This way, we are doing what we want to do and are also creating a steady income for Unltd India.”

The Hub started in July and since then has gathered 28 members, “peo
ple who simply want to change things for a radically better world’’. There are individuals working against child sexual abuse, for sanitation in slums and night schools as well as freelance writers trying to tackle issues like environmental degradation. But the interesting mix also includes a recruiter and fashion designer, leading one to wonder: how does a recruiter, whose primary job is to fuel the corporate machinery, help create a just society? And will a fashion designer’s contribution be to dress up the underprivileged?

Recruiter Francis D’Costa and designer Meera Mittal, however, are not stereotypes. Thirty-five-year-old D’Costa’s payback is to help recruit people for not-for-profit organisations. “NGOs need good people and volunteers think that NGOs don’t pay,’’ he says. “They just need to be connected to each other and that’s what I do.’’

When Mittal approached the “hub hosts’’ for membership after she stumbled upon it on a Yahoo group, they decided to call her in for a personal interview to see what
plans she had to make a difference. “We realised that she had a deep interest in therapeutic dance and yoga therapy, and she offered to conduct sessions for NGO volunteers. Then we were sold on the idea,’’ says hub host Raheen Jummani, a clinical psychologist who manages the space with Hub co-host Alex Baine.

How does the Hub make sure that entrepreneurs fulfil their promises and don’t take advantage of the low rent? “Our hub hosts are here round the clock, making sure people are genuinely interested,’’ says Alderson.

One of the first few members at the Hub was Sailesh Mishra, founder of Silver Inning Foundation, an organisation that works for the elderly. “There’s such a huge lack of space in Mumbai and the rent is sky-high. I earlier worked out of
Mira Road but now working out of Bandra gives me a different kind of credibility,’’ he confesses. The best part, he says, is that when in need of guidance, all one has to do is take a trip to the pantry and introduce oneself. “I get to meet so many different people. This way we have built a network. We also have an online community where we share google documents and try to take each other’s ideas forward,’’ he says.

That really is the idea behind the hub, emphasises Jummani. It hosts weekly events, film screenings and talks to encourage the Hub members to get to know one another. “And in the process spark off new ideas,’’ she says.



By Mansi Choksi for The Sunday Times of India ,Mumbai ,27th Dec 2009 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

NGO chief files anticipatory bail petition

The chairperson of Dignity Foundation, an NGO that works for the elderly, has filed for anticipatory bail in a cheating and forgery case.

Earlier this month, the D B Marg police arrested three persons, including the NGO's manager Hemang Desai. The three who have sought anticipatory bail are NGO chairperson Dr S Srinivasan and two others.

"The matter is in court and I have been advised by my lawyer not to comment," said Srinivasan.

The arrested are Desai, advocate Deepak Khilari and Peter Coutinho who allegedly did the notary work for forging papers. Two others—Mehernosh Palia and his wife Shirin—have already got anticipatory bail.


Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/NGO-chief-files-anticipatory-bail-petition/articleshow/5382941.cms



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NGO official arrested for cheating, forgery

The D B Marg police,Mumbai on Wednesday 16th Dec arrested a manager attached to Dignity Foundation,NGO working for senior citizens on charges of cheating and forgery.

The police was tightlipped about the case. “We have arrested Hemang Desai, manager (security service) of the NGO on charges of cheating and forgery,’’ said inspector Anil Sardal of the D B Marg police station, without giving any more details.

A senior police officer said the court has asked them to investigate the case. He, too, re
fused to elaborate on the case.

Dr Sheelu Srinivasan, chairperson of Dignity Foundation, rubbished the police allegation and said that Desai was framed in a false case. She suspected that the manager is being harassed by the police for helping a senior citizen. “We have been helping an 87-year-old man, Hoshi Wadia, who had deposited Rs 90,000 with us. We have spent Rs 45,000 in his case and have a record of all the expenses with us,’’ she stated.

According to her, Wadia had given Dignity Foundation a lot of powers to act on his behalf and they were taking up his case for justice. “We have also appointed a nurse to take care of Wadia,’’ she said.


By Mateen Hafeez

Courtesy: Times of India 17th dec 2009,Mumbai


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sweta Mangal, CEO & Co-Founder of the Dial 1298 for Ambulance service wins Tata TiE Stree Shakti award


Tata Group and TiE Mumbai chapter today conferred Tata TiE Stree Shakti award to Sweta Mangal, CEO & Co-Founder of the Dial 1298 for Ambulance service in the medium enterprise campaign, for her outstanding work in providing a network of quality life saving emergency service.


The winner was chosen through a panel that comprised the likes of Shikha Sharma, MD, Axis Bank, Ireena Vittal of McKinsey, Sanjeev Bhikchandani of Naukri.com amongst others and was verified by process partner Ernst and Young. The awards that included a trophy, certificate and cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.


Stree Shakti is an initiative of TIE Mumbai to recognize the relentless effort and resilience displayed by women entrepreneurs in setting up successful ventures and also a bid to create a platform to help them connect, share and network to form trust based partnerships.


Know more about 1298 service: http://www.1298.in/



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

See Silver Innings activity pictures

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sailesh2000_2000/


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

National Centre For Missing Children: HELP to find missing child

A missing child is a parent's worst nightmare.

Every day thousands of children are reported missing.... Many are never found.

Many of the kidnappings/abductions end tragically in rape, assault and death.

Since its inception in 2000, National Centre For Missing Children is making a impact in protecting India's children, it offers hope to families who know that the search will not end till their child is found. We need your help to get these missing children home soon and safely. It is impossible for any one person, organization or government to search for the missing children on their own. All of us have to join together and help in the search for missing children. Please visit the page "You Can Help" for more details.

N
ational Centre For Missing Children (NCMC) is a non political, non profit making and a non-governmental organization offering the services free of charge.

The site is presented for the parents, guardians, law enforcement agencies, free of charge, on a one to one manner as an alternative and unconventional method for locating a missing child who is lost or is suspected of having been kidnapped or is a runaway. It serves as a complement for the conventional methods and is not intended to interfere with the system's procedures or to promote false hope.


How many children go missing in a year in India?
In India no exact figures are available, however, according to an article in an English daily, the number of runaways is 10 lakhs per annum, i.e. every 30 seconds a child runs away from home. If you add the number of missing, lost and abducted children the number of missing children is phenomenal.

We do have figures of missing children in the USA. This may help give us an idea about the enormity of missing children issue in India.


Vist and support now:
http://www.missingindiankids.com/index.htm

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Can India And Pakistan Fight Terror Together?

Inseparable by geography, Pakistan and India are Siamese twins that have emerged together from the womb of history. For better or for worse, their futures will always remain inextricably tied together.

Today, one of the two is in deep trouble. The ferocious militant fanaticism of Pathan tribals, once sequestered in the mountains of Waziristan and Swat, has migrated down into the plains and across the country. Every city of Pakistan has been attacked, some repeatedly and without respite. With threats, abductions, beheadings, and daily suicide bombings, extremists have drastically changed the way Pakistanis live.

Just a couple of months ago, Pakistanis had heaved a sigh of relief. A brief lull in terrorist attacks had followed the army's successful operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Swat, and the killing by an American drone of TTP's supremo, Baitullah Mehsud. Some hubris-filled "analysts" - who incessantly chatter on Pakistan's numerous private television channels - claimed that the TTP had been mortally wounded. But they were dead wrong.

Islamabad is now a city of fear as the TTP retaliates. Traffic crawls past concrete blocks placed across its roads as helmeted soldiers peer suspiciously from behind their machine-guns. Restaurants barely function, and markets are deserted. Still, the attackers appear unstoppable and, as in Peshawar, they have paralyzed the city. Some attacks are more spectacular than others, but even the outstanding ones are forgotten once the next one happens. Explosives inside a car blow up over a hundred shoppers in Peshawar's crowded Meena Bazaar; a suicide bomber detonates himself in the girls' cafeteria of the International Islamic University in Islamabad; three simultaneous attacks hit police institutes in Lahore; school children are shredded by ball bearings from a suicide bomber's exploding jacket in Kohat,...

Other recent attacks - against hard targets - were even more dramatic. Just days earlier the headlines had been dominated by Taliban militants who had stormed the apparently impregnable General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's sister city. The 20-hour siege, followed diligently by private television channels, showed meticulous planning and execution that culminated in hostage-taking and killing. Still more recently, the heavily protected ISI headquarters in Peshawar was blown up by a suicide car bomber. The message was clear: no place in Pakistan is safe any more, not even the safest ones - particularly those belonging to former handlers and mentors.

Incredibly, Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, says that Pakistan is "compiling hard evidence of India's involvement" in terrorist attacks upon Pakistan's public and its armed forces. If he, and the Interior Minister, are correct then we must conclude that the Indians are psychotics possessed with a death wish, or perhaps plain stupid. While India's assistance for Baloch insurgents could conceivably make strategic sense, helping the jihadists simply does not.

As Pakistan staggers from one bombing to the other, some Indians must be secretly pleased. Indeed, there are occasional verbalizations: Is this not sweet revenge for the horrors of Mumbai perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Taiba? Shouldn't India feel satisfaction as Pakistan reels from the stinging poison of its domestically reared snakes?

But most Indians are probably less than enthusiastic in stoking fires across the border. In fact, the majority would like to forget that Pakistan exists. With a 6% growth rate, booming hi-tech exports, and expectations of a semi-superpower status, they feel that India has no need to engage a struggling Pakistan with its endless litany of problems.

Of course, some would like to hurt Pakistan. Extremists in India ask: shouldn't one increase the pain of a country - with which India has fought three bloody wars - by aiding its enemies? Perhaps do another Bangladesh on Pakistan someday?

These fringe elements, fortunately, are inconsequential today. Rational self-interest demands that India not aid jihadists. Imagine the consequences if central authority in Pakistan disappears or is sharply weakened. Splintered into a hundred jihadist lashkars, each with its own agenda and tactics, Pakistan's territory would become India's eternal nightmare. When Mumbai-II occurs - as it surely would in such circumstances - India's options in dealing with nuclear Pakistan would be severely limited.

The Indian Army would be powerless. As the Americans have discovered at great cost, the mightiest war machines on earth cannot prevent holy warriors from crossing borders. Internal collaborators, recruited from a domestic Muslim population that feels itself alienated from Hindu-India, would connive with jihadists. Subsequently, as Indian forces retaliate against Muslims - innocent and otherwise - the action-reaction cycle would rip the country apart.

So, how can India protect itself from invaders across its western border and grave injury? Just as importantly, how can we in Pakistan assure that the fight against fanatics is not lost?

Let me make an apparently outrageous proposition: in the coming years, India's best protection is likely to come from its traditional enemy, the Pakistan Army. Therefore, India ought to now help, not fight, against it.

This may sound preposterous. After all, the two countries have fought three and a half wars over six decades. During periods of excessive tension, they have growled at each other while meaningfully pointing towards their respective nuclear arsenals. Most recently, after heightened tensions following the Mumbai massacre, Pakistani troops were moved out from NWFP towards the eastern border. Baitullah Mehsud's offer to jointly fight India was welcomed by the Pakistan Army.

And yet, the imperative of mutual survival makes a common defense inevitable. Given the rapidly rising threat within Pakistan, the day for joint actions may not be very far away.

Today Pakistan is bearing the brunt. Its people, government and armed forces are under unrelenting attack. South Waziristan, a war of necessity rather than of choice, will certainly not be the last one. A victory here will not end terrorism, although a stalemate will embolden jihadists in South Punjab, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed. The cancer of religious militancy has spread across Pakistan, and it will take decades to defeat.

This militancy does not merely exist because America occupies Afghanistan. A US withdrawal, while welcome, will not end Pakistan's problems. As an ideological movement, the jihadists want to transform society as part of their wider agenda. They ride on the backs of their partners, the mainstream religious political parties like Jamat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema-Pakistan. None of these have condemned the suicide bombings of Pakistani universities, schools, markets, mosques, police and army facilities.

Pakistan's political leadership and army must not muddy the waters, especially now that public sanction has finally been obtained for fighting extremism in Swat and Waziristan. Self-deception weakens, and enormously increases vulnerability. Wars can only be won if nations have a clear rallying slogan. Therefore the battle against religious extremism will require identifying it - by name - as the enemy.

India should derive no satisfaction from Pakistan's predicament. Although religious extremists see ordinary Muslims as munafiqs (hypocrites) - and therefore free to be blown up in bazaars and mosques - they hate Hindus even more. In their calculus, hurting India would buy even more tickets for heaven than hurting Pakistan. They dream of ripping apart both societies, or starting a war - preferably nuclear - between Pakistan and India.

A common threat needs a common defense. But this is difficult unless the Pakistan-India conflict is reduced in intensity. In fact the extremist groups that threaten both countries today are an unintended consequence of Pakistan's frustrations at Indian obduracy in Kashmir.

To create a future working alliance with Pakistan, and in deference to basic democratic principles, India must therefore be seen as genuinely working towards some kind of resolution of the Kashmir issue. Over the past two decades India has been morally isolated from Kashmiri Muslims and continues to incur the very considerable costs of an occupying power in the Valley. Indian soldiers continue to needlessly die - and to oppress and kill Kashmiri innocents.

It is time for India to fuzz the LOC, make it highly permeable, and demilitarize it up to some mutually negotiated depth on both sides. Without peace in Kashmir the forces of cross-border jihad, and its hate-filled holy warriors, will continue to receive unnecessary succor.

India also needs to allay Pakistan's fears on Balochistan. Although Pakistan's current federal structure is the cause of the problem - a fact which the government is now finally addressing through the newly announced Balochistan package - nevertheless it is possible that India is aiding some insurgent groups. Statements have been made in India that Balochistan provides New Delhi with a handle to exert pressure on Pakistan. This is unacceptable.

While there is no magic wand, confidence building measures (CBMs) continue to be important for managing the Pakistan-India conflict and bringing down the decibel level of mutual rhetoric. To be sure, CBMs can be easily disparaged as palliatives that do not address the underlying causes of a conflict. Nevertheless, looking at those initiated over the years shows that they have held up even in adverse circumstances. More are needed.

The reason for India to want rapprochement with Pakistan, and vice versa, has nothing to do with feelings of friendship or goodwill. It has only to do with survival. For us in Pakistan, this is even more critical.

By Pervez Hoodbhoy.The author teaches at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. A shorter version of this article was published simultaneously on 28 November 2009 by two of the largest newspapers in Pakistan (Dawn) and India (The Hindu)


Source:http://www.countercurrents.org/hoodhoy151209.htm


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Social Impact Award 2009: “Honouring the Elderly “

SPJIMR recognizes its twin roles as a responsible member of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan and the responsive member of the Indian society at large. It looks at itself in a wider context ‘beyond MBA’ institution by engaging itself in socially relevant segments of Indian society.


As a management institute we envisage a much broader scope for our participants- as change agents not only in the corporate world but also in the social landscape.


The Center for Development of Corporate Citizenship (DOCC) at SPJIMR was established in the year 2001 with a view to mould management education in accordance with the Indian context. DOCC is built on SPJIMR’s philosophy of ‘value based growth’ and ‘influencing practice’.


As part of this endeavour, SPJIMR organizes Social Impact Award every year to recognize the best projects/work implemented by the NGO’s/Ind. working in diverse fields which have substantially impacted the society.


This year 2009, the theme of the event is “Honouring the Elderly “and the award ceremony will be held on 16th December, at SPJIMR Auditorium, Bhavan’s Campus, at Andheri.



Over the years, there have been considerable changes in demographic trends of ageing. Improved life expectancy has led to an increase in the 60+ population of India. A growing number of persons 60+ in the coming decade will be economically better off with higher educational and professional qualifications.


Ageing doesn't mean slowing down. And to celebrate this fact, SPJIMR will honour three achievers for their irresistible momentum at the Social Impact Award.



We extend a cordial invitation to you on this occasion ,Kindly request you for the confirmation, enclosed please find the Program schedule.


Regards, Nirja Mattoo , Chairperson, Center for DOCC , S P Jain Institute of Management & Research

SIA Schedule


5.00 PM: Lighting the Lamp

5.05 PM: Welcome Address by SPJIMR Director Dr Sesha Iyer

5.15 PM: Introduction of the Social Impact Award process

5.20 PM – 6.15 PM: Panel Discussion on Economic Security and Dignity

6.20 – 6.50 PM: Cultural Programmes

1. Bharathnatyam performance by a Mrs.Navanita Parmar (Senior Citizen) of Silver Inning Foundation

2. Skit Aakhiri Mausam (Last Season ) by IDEA group with regards to issues of Elderly

3. Salsa Dance performance by Silvers of Harmony Interactive Centre (Sr Citizens)

6.50 PM – 7.00 PM: Keynote address by the chief guest

7.00 PM – 8.00 PM: Awards Ceremony


Vote of Thanks


Refreshments


Venue:

S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research

Bhavans College Campus,

Munshi Nagar, Dadabhai Road, Andheri (W)

Bhawan's College Campus

Mumbai – 400058


Entry by Invitation only


RSVP Contact:

SPJIMR: Pradnya Surve docc@spjimr.org Cell: 9867641260

Silver Inning Foundation: Mona silverinnings@gmail.com Cell: 9987104233



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Education key to inclusion for street children

Director-General of UNESCO Ms Irina Bokova said education was the key to a better future for excluded children.

She spoke during a day of events at UNESCO headquarters on November 26 devoted to street children and held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Ms Bokova said education was not only a universal right but a weapon in the fight against poverty. ‘What can the future offer street children if they are excluded from education. It is by learning reading, writing and mathematics that they can break the vicious circle of misery and take their destiny into their own hands.’

The day, organized by UNESCO and the Fondation Air France, started with a debate moderated by French journalist and writer Florence Schaal, which pieced together a global view of street children and also touched on the right to education, legal implications and partnerships for action.

Principal speaker Ms. Rizzini, President of the International Childwatch network which works with 40 countries said: ‘We have been talking about street children for 30 years and their numbers are increasing. Enough rhetoric. We know what the problem is. Now we must put pressure on countries to do something about it.’

‘In Brazil we don’t even talk any more about the right to education for street kids. They are bounced between institutes and centres and the street where they find their own dangerous strategies for survival and engage with dangerous adults,’

Street children were feared and resented by society because of their involvement in crime but the real problem lay not with the children themselves but with social inequality and lack of priority on political agendas.

‘Brazil is one of the ten strongest economies in the world but also one of the five most inequal. We have 6 to 8 year olds on crack. Children are beaten and used sexually. We have forgotten that children are young citizens who should be respected,’said Ms Rizzini.

‘Yet we still apply 19th century solutions; collecting street children like garbage, putting them in trucks and taking them to shelters where they won’t stay. I spoke to a girl once who said she felt safer sleeping under a bridge than in a shelter. Children tell me most of all they would just like to be regarded as human beings,’ she added.

Dr Najat M’Jid, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography said: ‘There is no task more difficult than protecting children because not only are there many actors but many different approaches. Children are considered victims by some organisations and actors by others. The challenge is for all those working with children to come together and find a sole objective. Not only must NGOs working for children be strengthened to push politicians to change but children must be consulted and informed.’

Isabelle de Guillebon, Director of Samusocial Senegal, an organisation that provides urgent medical aid to street children, said: ‘In Dakar street children live with daily violence. When they are sick they don’t go to hospital because they won’t be taken in. In some cases they may be picked up by the fire brigade and dumped in front of the hospital but if they can’t pay they won’t be treated.’

Claudia Cabral, Director of the association Terra Dos Homens which works with street children in Rio de Janeiro said: ‘In Rio children whether they live or work on the street are highly vulnerable. Violence is rife in families as is drug use with crack use the most devastating. The children have the added problem of corrupt police.

‘These children aspire to normal life but many of them have mothers and grandmothers who were also born on the street and that becomes the norm.’

Franco Aloisio, President of the Parada Foundation created in the mid 90s to help children living in the sewers in Bucharest, said the problem still existed in the city particularly in winter when temperatures drop to minus 15C but there had been an improvement. There were around 1000 -1,300 street children now compared to 4-5,000 at the height of the problem.

In Guatemala many young abandoned girls ended up working as prostitutes. Anne Pascal, President of les Trois Quarts du Monde, said her association went into bar brothels to distribute condoms, nappies and baby milk to young girls. Her association offered material and psychological support but needed consistent funding to be effective.

‘If we look after a girl it will often be a commitment of ten years or more but funding may last a year. How can we tell the girl we can’t continue to help her?’ she asked.

Concerning legal aspects the seminar heard that laws and statutes existed in most countries to protect street children but were not always enforced.

Daniel Condaminas, President of the International Commission of Exterior Relations for the International Police Association which works in 61 countries and 5 continents said police forces had their part to play.

‘Police have to be trained to see street children not just as criminals but as victims. We are only one link in the chain and we are not social workers but observers,’ he said.

The evening after the debate was given over to the screening of a documentary, Street Children, by Michel Bulté and the presentation of a new prize established by Fondation Air France for associations working with children and awarded to Dr Xavier Emanuelli, Founding President of Samusocial International. An exhibition of photos, Just Kids, by François Perri can be seen at UNESCO HQ until December 12.


Source: http://www.unesco.org/en/education/dynamic-content-single-view/news/education_key_to_inclusion_for_street_children/back/9195/cHash/74e2c93eed/



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

FOSS (free and open source software) for the comman man

The Maharashtra government recently announced a MOU with Microsoft Corporation (http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/) to enhance the adoption of information, communication and technology in schools across the state. Government schoolteachers will be trained exclusively on its software products, with the government paying part of the training costs. Public funds will thus be used to promote a monopoly’s proprietary products, whereas the public good could be better served by training teachers on available equivalent FOSS (free and open source software) applications that are freely shareable. I also wish to debunk the popular impression among bureaucrats that they need to be neutral regarding proprietary software and FOSS, for FOSS is not merely a technology issue it has significant implications for equity and democracy in society.


The community and the corporate

Imagine a village that has a drinking water shortage. While there is a shop in the village that sells bottled (‘mineral’) water, it is obviously not within the reach of most villagers. A group of villagers has come together to dig a public tank that will provide water to all, treating it as a community resource. How should the government support the effort? Imagine if the government were to tell the villagers that it would need to be equidistant between the two sources of water -- the public tank and the bottled water -- and could not ‘discriminate’ between the two in providing its support. This would clearly be anti-people and unacceptable.

In actual practice too, government would support the community creation of public resources. Under the landmark National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) aimed at providing employment, the creation and maintenance of public waterbodies is a popular project. Government is unlikely to provide any direct support to the sale of bottled water, other than of course to regulate its sale. While the shop and the bottled water it sells do have their place in society there is little ambiguity that the government will support and participate in the community effort to provide clean drinking water through public tanks, and that it cannot take a ‘neutral’ stand on the two sources of drinking water.

Now let’s take the case of software, the basic resource that runs computers and the Internet and is at the core of information technology. On the one hand, we have proprietary software that is made available for ‘use’ on a ‘per use royalty’ basis. For every copy of the software purchased, a licence fee has to be paid. The buyer cannot make copies of the software (making copies is easy in the case of digital goods like software), even for his own use in multiple computers. On the other hand, we have free and open source software (FOSS, for short) which guarantees four freedoms:

1 Freedom to use the software.

2 Freedom to study the software (since the actual software program or source codeis publicly made available).

3 Freedom to modify.

4 Freedom to share/distribute.


Proprietary software does not provide the last three freedoms; the seller usually hides the source code. The word ‘free’in FOSS refers to these four freedoms, not to the cost being nil, although FOSS applications are often also available at no cost as they can be freely shared. Hence, like the community pond, FOSS is created by the people (produced by a community of software developers across the world volunteering their services for the public good), of the people (owned by society at large, not by private entities) and for the people (distributed freely to maximise public welfare).

Since FOSS applications are developed and maintained by communities of software developers working for the public good, their efforts require societal support, especially that of government. Governments must clearly support and adopt FOSS in order to promote the equitable and democratic spread of ICT.


Software as the building blocks of our information society

Comparing software to drinking water may strike one as a little far-fetched. But it is widely accepted that we live in an increasingly digital world in which software plays a critical role, whether in booking train tickets, banking, using search engines to get specific information, communicating with friends, use of the Internet by political parties and NGOs for their campaigns, participation of individuals in virtual professional and social networks, accessing public services over the Internet, etc. Software structures our social interactions and is increasingly important in knowledge-creation; hence its free and easy availability becomes essential to society. This would be even truer of software that runs personal computers -- our gateways to the information world. It’s in recognition of this that the Indian government has a programme (common service centres) that aims to provide Internet access through computers to 250,000 villages.

Governments therefore cannot afford to treat software as a mere technology issue and be ‘neutral’ to the dichotomies of proprietary applications and FOSS, ignoring their social, political, and economic dimensions.

There have been sporadic efforts by government and public institutions like NIC (which develops software for governments, often as FOSS), NRCFOSS (which works with educational institutions to adopt FOSS), CDAC (which has released GNU/Linux operating system distribution and the Open Office suite in Indian languages) to adopt and promote FOSS in India. The department of IT, Government of India, recently released ‘Draft Open Standards for eGovernance’, which provides an enabling environment for FOSS and emphasises free and open public standards. However, unlike many countries that have clearly declared national policies supporting the adoption of FOSS, India still has to take a firm stand on the issue.


Political parties

Political party support for FOSS is important as it can shift governments from their current ambivalent stand. Like most individuals and institutions, political parties have not put FOSS on their agenda, viewing software as largely an esoteric technology issue. The recent general elections made a break with this, with parties on both the left and right end of the political spectrum -- namely the CPM and the BJP -- announcing their support for FOSS. This is an appreciation not merely of the technical advantages of FOSS but also of the immense value for society from the principles of open and collaborative creation of knowledge and its critical role in a democracy.

The Indian left is a traditional supporter of FOSS. The Kerala government employs FOSS and even has a comprehensive policy for the adoption of FOSS across all public enterprises. The IT@Schools programme, which is ahead of similar attempts elsewhere in the country, is fully based on FOSS. The government also acknowledges that use of FOSS has saved Kerala crores of rupees and helped spread ICT in the state. The CPM’s election manifesto clearly supports “promoting FOSS and other such new technologies which are free from monopoly ownership…”.


Kerala and FOSS

The nature of adoption of FOSS in Kerala is worthy of emulation. It has been a participatory process involving teachers unions and civil society organisations collaborating with the state government. The actual ICT training has been taken up by teacher-training institutions themselves which are responsible for building the capacities of a large number of teachers within the government system. This ‘integrated’ model of ICT training has led to it becoming deeply embedded within the education system. Other states use the ‘outsourcing’ model in which the training of teachers and students is taken up by technology vendors whose core competency is not education. Here, even after years of hand-holding under public-private partnership models, most teachers view the programme as external to the school; it therefore does not become institutionalised. This is unfortunate as the public education system has strong teacher education structures at the district, block and cluster levels. Unlike Kerala, other states have not used these to build the capacities of teachers to use computers and integrate computer-aided learning into the mainstream learning process at schools.

Increasingly, the growth and development of language will depend on its digital presence. The dominance of English has increased since most knowledge on the Internet is in that language. For example, the popular ‘free’ encyclopaedia on the Internet -- Wikipedia -- has more than 27 lakh articles in English whereas Hindi has around 25,000! FOSS has helped the spread of ‘Malayalam computing’ in Kerala, as local enterprises and schools become more familiar with FOSS applications and start making software modifications and extensions. FOSS is also slowly helping develop FOSS-based enterprises in the state.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition party in the last and current Parliament, released an IT ‘vision document’as part of its election campaign. The document suggests that the government standardise open standardsand open sourcesoftware. The document also recognises the role of FOSS in active promotion of the domestic IT industry. Overall, the document seeks a departure from the current largely market-driven investment by providing access to the nascent information society, to public policy, a public investment-driven one which seeks universal access and participation, with special provisions for the marginalised. The document also emphasises the role of such investments in providing socio-economic impetus in the current recessionary scenario.

The Congress manifesto, on the other hand, made no mention of FOSS and was itself in the .doc format which is a proprietary format, meaning information on this format is not publicly available. When a society uses a proprietary format to store its own knowledge, it can be dangerous. If the vendor is not available or willing to support the specific proprietary format (which happens, as newer releases of software and document formats are made available by the same vendor), the knowledge and cultural resources of society, which belong to everyone, are lost. Also, the use of proprietary formats often compels users to buy the next software upgrade even if they do not need it, simply because older applications do not open the document formats of newer versions.

It is a moot question whether forcing voters to buy expensive proprietary software to read its manifesto is aligned to the party’s espoused support for the aam-aadmi!


Bureaucracy

This kind of indifference is also typical of bureaucrats in most states. Bureaucrats, especially those in the IT or e-governance ministries, espouse ‘neutrality’ between FOSS and proprietary software even though many of them accept the fact that governments could save crores of rupees by adopting FOSS at least on the large number of personal computers they buy. They also insist that users in government departments should ‘choose’ what they are ‘comfortable with’. It is obvious that ‘comfort’ comes primarily from usage, and, being conditioned to proprietary software, users may find FOSS alternatives difficult at first. In a developing country, spending crores of rupees of public funds on proprietary software when FOSS equivalents are freely available is an avoidable waste and a clear violation of the ‘least cost’ principle that governments usually follow in their procurements.

A second kind of ‘neutral’ response from bureaucracy is to ask FOSS supporters to provide software on the same terms as do proprietary software vendors. Typically, the bureaucrat will demand the same kind of support across the entire state as the large technology vendor provides, saying: “X company can provide free training for the next one year; what can you do?” The problem with this expectation is that while the proprietary software vendor will have the necessary resources (acquired through software licence fees) to make support available immediately, it is harder for the other side to comply.

Once it is set up, though, FOSS provides benefits that are exponentially greater than the cost of establishment. The system has immense economic (both in terms of reduced software procurement and support costs and in promoting the establishment of FOSS SMEs --small and medium enterprises -- that provide local employment and entrepreneurship), social (supporting local collaborations) and political (reducing government dependence on specific vendors, many of whom are transnational) benefits. Kerala has consciously opted for this route of creating a FOSS environment and is already benefiting from both lower costs of setting up ICT infrastructure and spawning local SMEs that use FOSS.


Support to small-scale industry

Since FOSS-based enterprises do not license software but provide training and support services, they tend to be much smaller than proprietary companies that earn significant licence fees. While India’s policy has always been to support small and medium enterprises and give them preferential treatment over large industries, in the case of software government tenders often impose huge minimum limits of turnover which favour large companies over SMEs. Such high floor limits are inequitable and unjust; it is the government’s responsibility to promote FOSS SMEs and regulate restrictive trade practices that large technology monopolies indulge in with impunity (such as ‘persuading’ hardware companies to bundle only their software products with the hardware, ‘dumping’ their software at low or zero prices when they fear competition from FOSS). The irony is that the same bureaucrat who strongly supports community pond-building/maintenance as a secretary in the panchayati raj department, or favours small-scale industry as a secretary in the industries department, will insist on remaining neutral when it comes to proprietary software and FOSS, as IT or e-governance department secretary, ignoring the government’s duty in protecting the common good.


Bottlenecks in the adoption of FOSS

Our own research efforts indicate two bottlenecks in the adoption of FOSS. The first is basic awareness about FOSS itself. Though many people have heard of Linux, most technology users are unaware of the philosophy behind FOSS, its practical benefits and the various FOSS alternatives available today. The government therefore needs to popularise the adoption of FOSS, which can be done by supporting FOSS awareness and promotion campaigns just as there are government campaigns for polio vaccinations or literacy or consumer rights. FOSS is basically public software, and itneeds public/governmental support as much as public health and public education do.

The second obstacle is the apprehension that FOSS represents naïve idealism and does not work at a practical level. While it is true that FOSS applications are not available in all areas, requiring some governments to procure proprietary software, this is not the case with respect to most basic software applications including those that are on personal computers. Large organisations in the public and private sectors use FOSS. LIC has been using a GNU/Linux operating system for years, and several large banks like ICICI Bank are employing Open Office. A number of engineering colleges too use the GNU/Linux operating system and FOSS applications as these may be studied and customised by students in computer science programs. FOSS applications are used in several high-end applications as well, and most Internet applications are powered by the FOSS quartet ‘LAMP’ (Linux operating system/Apache Web Server/MySQL database/PHP scripting language). Millions of people use GNU/Linux (Ubuntu is becoming more and more popular) and Open Office for their desktops, instead of proprietary alternatives. Apart from the basic office automation software, Ubuntu GNU/Linux (and other GNU/Linux distributions) comes bundled with thousands of FOSS applications that are not available freely with proprietary operating systems, such as those for image editing, audio-video editing, PDF file editing, etc.

With regard to the second apprehension, the adoption of FOSS in the public sector would help break the myth of ‘non-usability’ and encourage more people to adopt it. For a start, all government websites could be developed in a way that they can be accessed by FOSS web browsers without any problem (in many cases, government websites work well only with Microsoft Internet Explorer which is a proprietary software application). Using document formats that are not proprietary would also support greater use of FOSS applications. Government should stipulate FOSS in their computer procurements and IT projects, acquire the source code and release it as FOSS to society. FOSS is not only a technical or technology issue, it is also a political one. Political parties seeking to represent people’s aspirations and interests must come out clearly in favour of adopting and promoting FOSS. Bureaucrats in the IT, e-governance and other ministries must use the same principles in their technology policies as they do in other developmental spaces, and promote FOSS on socio-political and economic grounds.


By Gurumurthy Kasinathan is with IT for Change, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. He uses the following FOSS applications on his computer:

Ubuntu GNU/Linux 8.04 (operating system). Open Office 3.1.0 (office automation). Mozilla Firefox 3.0.10 (web browser). Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0.0.21 (email client). VLC player (media player), GIMP image editor ( photo editing),PDFEdit 0.3.2 (PDF editing, which is normally not available on Windows machines), pidgin (chatting), K3B (burning CDs and DVDs) etc.

For more information on the sociocultural, political and pedagogical dimensions to FOSS, visit www.PublicSoftware.in.)


Source:http://infochangeindia.org/200911038011/Technology/Analysis/FOSS-for-the-people.html



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Interpreter of dreams

For 80-year-old Ramnika Gupta from Jharkhand, allowing voices to be heard that are rarely heard and yet have a lot to say, has resulted in a mission to hunt out and publish the works of tribal and dalit writers.

Thanks to her efforts over the years, several collections of dalit and tribal poetry, short stories, and books have been published. The magazine she founded Yudhrat Aam Admi has featured the works of many tribal and dalit writers. The All India Tribal Literary Forum, also her baby, is one of very few forums for tribal literature. And the Ramnika Foundation works for the emancipation of the underprivileged in several areas -- from education to legal assistance, research, cultural preservation and material assistance.

Is it really necessary to have a separate dalit/tribal genre of literature? Ramnika Gupta’s answer is to quote from a poem by Vahru Sonwane, a tribal poet of Maharashtra:

We never went on stage that was made in our name,

They did not invite us They pointed with their finger And showed us our place We sat there They appreciated us They were narrating to us Our own vows and sorrows Which were ours and never theirs We had some doubts We murmured They heard us attentively and sighed They twisted our ears and said- Apologise... or you will be...” “It is for this reason that tribal and dalit literature is required,” Gupta says. But the two literatures are very different. The dalits are landless and do not have their own language. Their literature is written in Hindi and other languages. They are victims of caste oppression and untouchability even today and hence have not developed self-respect; many are still engaged in occupations considered unclean. “They belong to the pancham varg of society, where the so-called upper castes do not take water from their hands,” Gupta says.

The adivasis or tribals, on the other hand, belonged to the forests which began to be taken away from them following British rule. Tribal-inhabited lands are rich in minerals so the pressing issues confronting them today are displacement and migration in search of livelihood. They have a rich language and culture, but today their very identity and existence are in peril.

Gupta says there are 90 known tribal languages in the country, of which she has been able to document 27 so far. “A literature that encapsulates a history of at least 3-4,000 years, a wonderful diversity with abundance of communities, and which is composed in 90 languages doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world – neither in American Black literature, nor Australian nor Negroid. It is a unique chapter in the history of world literature,” she says.

Though this multi-lingual tribal literature has been preserved through an oral tradition for 5,000 years, the written form of tribal literature is barely 100-125 years old, starting with the script of the regional language of the area. Christian missionaries who came to the tribal states took an interest in learning the language and began documenting tribal culture and history in English.

Gupta emphasises language because the language revolution can be really powerful in fighting the tyranny of the ruling class.

“Our main aim and agenda is to generate the socio-cultural forces that are necessary for bringing about an attitudinal change in people’s outlook to the victims of socio-cultural injustice, especially tribals, dalits and even women. For this, it is very essential that victims of injustice, exploitation and discrimination come forward and assert their voice in unison. To do this it is also essential that they shake off the inferiority complex they have developed over centuries of suppression and subjugation. It is also necessary that they fight for their self-respect and identity,” Gupta says.

The need to focus on indigenous literature, Gupta says, is “because we wanted to stop the prevalent practice of non-tribals speaking, writing and representing them, without caring what the tribals actually want, think, dream or plan. So we started a reverse process, ie the victims of injustice and discrimination should speak for themselves and assert what type of change they want to promote. Their literature may not have the conventional aesthetics, but it is grounded in reality, it is their voice, their struggle, their pain and anguish that are penned by them, as they see it.”

Tribal literature has always existed as an oral tradition, but when it is written down, the culture is documented, the history and trends are recorded and it is not lost, infiltrated, and imposed on by outsiders, Gupta explains.

“I got a chance to interact with a large cross-section of downtrodden society (dalits). I began collecting their works; their writings were stark depictions of their struggles, the pathos of discrimination, the trials and tribulations of their life. This led to the birth of the magazine Yudhrat Aam Admi in 1986,” Gupta says, describing the genesis of her interest.

In 1997, she formed the Ramnika Foundation which promoted, among other things, the literature of dalits. In 2002, the All India Tribal Literary Forum (AITLF) was formed with Dr Ram Dayal Munda, Sangeet Natak Academy awardwinner and eminent academician from Jharkhand, as president. AITLF has since been holding regular conferences across the country to mobilise tribal and dalit writers and collect their works, many of which are published in Yudhrat Aam Admi.

This quarterly magazine has become a gateway of expression for numerous tribal and dalit writers across the country. It publishes work in the original language and in Hindi translation, thus bringing a subaltern literature into the national limelight. Poems, stories, lyrics, novels and other literary forms from writers and poets of the north-eastern states, Jharkhand, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and other states, get exposure and are themselves exposed to outside critique.

The conferences organised by AILTF not only take these little-known writings into the outside world, they also discuss important tribal and dalit issues. These include a clearly drawn up 12-point agenda which includes highlighting the unjust development policies of the government which cause displacement and migration; denigration of tribal scriptures by mainstream languages; education in the mothertongue; change of curriculum in schools and colleges and introduction of tribal and dalit literature.

Yudhrat Aam Admi’s print-run of 2,500 is quickly sold out. The translations into Hindi are done by Gupta’s friends including Akil Quis and Pramila Garg of Jawaharlal Nehru University, and by Gupta herself. Often the authors do a basic translation in Hindi or English, which is then perfected by professionals such as Suresh Sahil and Madan Kashyap.

The material published in Yudhrat Aam Admi is now considered basic reference material for research work on dalit and tribal literature, which is carried out by several universities in the country such as Ranchi University, in Jharkhand, Cochin University in Kerala, Nagpur University, Central University and Osmania University in Hyderabad, and Arunachal University.

The excellent response to the magazine emboldened Gupta to compile the writings and publish them as books: Dalit Chetna is a collection of 41 poems, Chetna Kahani showcases the literary talent of 28 writers. Dalit Chetna Soch and Dalit Chetna Sahitya followed.

The AITLF has concentrated on different languages and language centres. Thus there is the Telegu Sahitya Me Dalit Dastak and the Gujarati Sahitya Me Dalit Kadam etc.

Four hundred dalit and tribal writers have been featured in a series of special issues between 1995 and 2000, surely a first of its kind.

“Our success story inspired the Indira Gandhi National Open University to start a post-graduate course in Dalit Literature,” Gupta says. Equally successful were the endeavours of the forum in the north-eastern states. A special issue on the North-East, ‘Purvottar Ka Adivasi Swar – Vichar Khand’, showcased the work of 60 writers in 13 languages of the region. A directory of 105 writers from the north-eastern states has been published in two volumes.

In 2002, the Sahitya Akademi joined hands with AITLF to host the first major tribal literary conference in New Delhi. This was followed by conferences in association with Kannad University in Tami Nadu, the Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribagh, and others across the country.

“These writers across the country need to be honoured and felicitated for their work,” Gupta points out. To this end, the Ramnika Foundation Samman selects writers from the remote hinterlands and awards them for their creative writing. In this way new talent has been unearthed -- Nirmala Putul from Jharkhand went on to bag the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan Award, and the National Youth Award besides the Bharat Adivasi Samman award given by the Ramnika Foundation in collaboration with the National Book Trust in 2005, for her powerful Santhali writing.

In Nagare Ki Tarah Bajte Hain Shabad (Words Resound Like Drums), a collection of poems, Putul counterpoises her tribal world with the 'developed' and modern world. Her poetry questions the whole notion of 'development' and 'progress' in modern civilisation. Her poetry is very musical and full of imagery drawn from nature. They describe the agony of being belittled by an ‘educated’ and ‘cultured’ society and the consequent feeling of helplessness. Her poetry compels the reader to empathise with the angst of a dying ethnic group.

This year, the Ramnika Foundation in association with AITLF honoured 12 tribal artistes from across the country in the state capital of Jharkhand.

Among those honoured was Vijoya Sawiyan, a noted writer in Khasi and English. Her stories are about the life and culture of the Khasis of the northeast. The Family Secret and Other Stories is a collection of 11 short stories about contemporary life amongst the Khasis of Meghalaya. She is currently working on a novel, Men in the Shadows, based on the present situation in the turbulent northeast. Her other published works include three books of translations from Khasi into English -- The Teachings of Elders, Popular Khasi Folk Tales and About One.

Vahru Sonwane is the first modern poet from the Bhil community of Maharashtra. His poems depict the hunger, pathos and struggle of Bhil society. His collection of poems Godhar which has been translated into Hindi is a window into the trials and tribulations of his community.

Bhagwan Das, a lawyer by profession, was born into a dalit family in Himachal Pradesh. He has written 20 books revolving mainly around untouchability, human scavengers, human rights, and social disparity. ‘Main Bhangi Hoon’ (I Am a Scavenger), amongst his best works, is a vivid portrayal of the harsh realities of his community, aglow with his wrath against centuries of social oppression:

“Yes, my family name is Bhangi,” he wrote in Hindi. “Today, I want to narrate my story. My story in my words. Who would have narrated it? Nobody ever wrote anything about us. We are on the last rung of the social ladder – dustbins, where the filth and dirt are disposed.”

“The Foundation has instilled confidence in dalits and tribals,” Bhagwan Das says. “They take pride in their culture and language – this is the Foundation’s biggest contribution.” He has been awarded the Birsa Munda Samman by the Ramnika Foundation this year.

Sushila Takbhore was honoured with the Savitri Bai Phule Samman this year. One of her poems, Gaali (abuse), translated into Hindi, reads:

“Vafa ke naam par, apne aap ko ek kutta kaha ja sakta hai…magar kutia nahi, kutia shabd sunkar hi lagta hai, yah ek gaali hai… kya isliye ki wah stri varg me aata hai…?”

(In the name of loyalty, one may call himself a dog… but not a bitch… the very utterance of the word makes it appear as an abuse… is it because it belongs to the feminine race..?)

Ramnika Gupta’s empathy with the downtrodden began early. “I have been a rebel since my childhood and began to write from the age of 14, when I penned my first poems,” she recalls. “I questioned untouchability and the existence of God, defying the prevalent traditions and customs, particularly on gender and caste.”

Her first book, Geet-Ageet, (1962) is a collection of poetry on the Chinese aggression in the 1960s, nature, love, and patriotism. She began her career as a trade union leader, forming the Koyla Sramik Sangh in 1969 in the coal-belts of south Bihar (now Jharkhand), initially affiliated to Hind Mazdoor Panchayat, and later Hind Mazdoor Sabha. She fought for the cause of coal workers, braving attacks from the private mine owners and contractors, particularly in the Hazaribagh region, during the pre-nationalisation era. She was the CPM’s candidate from Mandu in the 1979 assembly polls, and won.

However she drifted away from politics after she suffered a heart attack in 1987. Also the changing political values made it difficult for her to work and gradually she came closer to the literary world. An ace writer herself, she has 67 books to her credit and is the recipient of the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Award.

Her literary institution is run largely with the support of her children who are settled in the United States and Canada. Her pension of Rs 12,000, and Rs 100,000 free travel that she gets as part of her entitlements as a former MLA, are used for the cause.

Yet, in the twilight of her life, Ramnika Gupta is far from satisfied with her considerable achievements. “There are 600 tribal languages in our country of which only 90 languages have so far been written down. Our Forum aims to scout for more talent from the nooks and corners of the country,” says the indefatigable chronicler of marginal cultures.


By Moushumi Basu , a freelance journalist based in Jharkhand


Source:http://infochangeindia.org/200911098013/Human-Rights/Changemaker/Interpreter-of-dreams.html




Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.