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Archive for September, 2010

Indian Dalits find no refuge from caste in Christianity

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 17, 2010

By Swaminathan Natarajan

BBC Tamil

Wall built across the Catholic cemetery in Trichy, Tamil Nadu stateTill death do us part: Dalits are buried on the other side
of the wall in this cemetery

Many in India have embraced Christianity to escape the age-old caste oppression of the Hindu social order, but Christianity itself in some places is finding it difficult to shrug off the worst of caste discrimination.

In the town of Trichy, situated in the heart of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a wall built across the Catholic cemetery clearly illustrates how caste-based prejudice persists.

Those who converted to Christianity from the formerly “untouchable” Hindu caste groups known as Dalits are allocated space for burial on one side of the wall, while upper-caste converts are buried on the other side.

The separating wall was built over six decades ago.

Father Yesumariyan“Caste discrimination is rampant in the Catholic Church”:  Father Yesumariyan Jesuit lawyer, Dalit campaigner

“This violates the Indian constitution. It is inhuman. It’s humiliating,” says Rajendiran, secretary general of Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, a small socio-political group that has announced a protest demanding the removal of the wall.

The Catholic Church in India says it does not approve of caste discrimination. But it says it is helpless in resolving this issue.

“The burial ground is owned by private individuals, so we are not able to do anything about this. Even the local bishop is not going to the cemetery to perform rituals,” says Father Vincent Chinnadurai, chairman of the Tamil Nadu state Commission for Minorities.

He says there is a new cemetery in the town, where bodies are buried without any discrimination.

Yet burials continue to take place in the controversial cemetery, presided over by Catholic priests.

For centuries Hindus from different castes have been cremated or buried in different places, according to their caste.

‘Cementing caste’

This practice is fading in the big cities and towns, but in some places in rural Tamil Nadu, caste-based graveyards are still in operation.

Dalit women in Delhi Discrimination against Dalits persists in all strata of Indian society

Dalit Christians are demanding more proactive steps from the Church to remove the wall.

Father Lourdunathan Yesumariyan, a Jesuit, practising lawyer and Dalit-Christian activist, says the Church has the legal power to remove the wall.

Even though the cemetery is on privately owned land, he says, a recent high court judgement ruled that the Church has full responsibility as it administers the graveyard.

“The failure to remove the wall only helps cement caste feelings,” he adds.

Some years ago two Catholic priests demolished a small part of the wall.

But the influential land-owning upper-caste Christian group rebuilt it.

The Church is meanwhile accused by critics of refusing to give “just representation” for Dalits in its power structure, even while it campaigns for a separate quota for the Dalit Christians in government jobs.

Fr Yesumariyan says: “In Tamil Nadu, over 70% of Catholics are Dalit converts. But only four out of 18 bishops are from the Dalit-Christian community.

“In many places influential caste groups have lobbied and made sure that only the person belonging to their caste is being appointed as bishop in their diocese.”

He says that in places where Dalit Christians are the majority, they often struggle to get the top job.

Even though the archbishop of Tamil Nadu region is a Dalit Christian, he has been unable to improve the situation much for other members of his community in the Church.

Untouchablity ‘everywhere’

In recent years a fixed number of jobs and seats have been earmarked in Catholic-run schools and colleges for members of the Dalit-Christian community.

Indian Catholic priest hands out the Eucharist There are estimated to be more than 17 million Catholics in India

But this is being challenged in the court on the grounds that “there is no caste in Christianity”.

Fr Yesumariyan continues: “The Indian constitution says it has abolished untouchablity. But it is everywhere. In the same way, the Catholic Church says there is no caste bias but caste discrimination is rampant in the Church.

“There are hardly any inter-caste marriages among converted Christians. Until recently, Church-run magazines carried matrimonial advertisements containing specific caste references. Only after our protest they stopped it.”

A few churches in Tamil Nadu have even been closed after Dalit Christians demanded a share in the administration.

“We say there is no caste in Christianity,” says Fr Chinnadurai. “But in India, Christianity was not able to get rid of caste.

“Those who converted to Christianity brought their caste prejudices with them. We are trying our best to get rid of them.”

[Source:  ]


Posted in Caste, Christian Missionaries, Encounter, Mindsets | Leave a Comment »

UNICEF and IKEA partner for healthier babies in Jharkand state, India

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 6, 2010

© UNICEF/2010/Crouch
Chilgi Topo and her daughter Sushima at an anganwadi health centre in Jharkhand state, India.

By Diane Coulter

KHUNTI, India, 2 September 2010 – Bilkani Sangha shakes her head in amazement when she recalls how she first fed her newborn baby. She remembers dipping a cloth into warm goat’s milk mixed with honey and jungle herbs, then slowly dripping the concoction into her tiny child’s mouth.

She wasn’t allowed to breastfeed her son for almost two days until all the colostrum – the highly nutritious first milk produced by a mother after childbirth – could be squeezed from her breasts and discarded. Older villagers considered the milk ‘dirty’ and ‘useless.’

As a new mother, Ms. Sangha wasn’t given any food to eat for three days, just turmeric water as part of a purification ritual that left her almost too weak to begin breastfeeding.

Support for new mothers

If her newborn lost weight, started to vomit or had diarrhoea, people just blamed bad luck, not unsanitary feeding practices.

© UNICEF/2010/Crouch
Bikani Sangha, left, is one of about 9,000 female health and child-care workers in villages in Jharkhand state, India.

“Those were the old ways and they were very bad for babies,” said Ms. Sangha, 50.

Her son, now 25, survived. But Ms. Sangha knows a number of other children who started a downward spiral into severe malnutrition and even death.

“That’s why I’m happy teaching mothers in my village on how to do things properly,” said  Ms. Sangha, who now works as an ‘anganwadi,’ or a village health worker. “I tell them breastfeeding is the best and only way to feed new babies.”

Thanks to Sangha and about 9,000 other anganwadi across the Indian state of Jharkhand, about 1.3 million families are now getting support for proper breastfeeding practices.

Reaching the most vulnerable

The anganwadi programme is supported by the generous funding of the IKEA Social Initiative – the philanthropic wing of the international furniture company – and its partnership with UNICEF and the state and Indian governments.

© UNICEF/2010/Crouch
A baby nurses in India’s impoverished Jharkhand state.

Jharkhand is one of the poorest states in India. It has a large percentage of people living below the poverty line and a significant tribal, or indigenous, population. Many young children here are malnourished.

In India, rates of acute malnutrition, or ‘wasting,’ are twice as high as the average in sub-Saharan Africa, and ten times higher than in Latin America. Currently, an estimated 25 million children under five are wasted in India and some 60 million are underweight.  Typically much of this damage occurs in the pre-natal and first two years of a child’s life, stunting growth, brain development, eventual school performance and adult productivity.

Most of the children affected are born to the region’s poorest families.

New habits

At the moment, Ms. Sangha is counselling new mother Taramani Devi and her two-month-old daughter, Lalita. The baby is tucked under a fold in Ms. Devi’s olive-green sari as she breastfeeds. At times, only the baby’s feet can be seen shaking tiny silver bangles around her ankles. The family is of the indigenous Mahto tribe.

© UNICEF/2010/Crouch
Villagers gather outside the local anganwadi health centre for a nutrition education session in Phudi village, Jharkhand state, India.

Ms. Sangha tells Ms. Devi to lean back against the hut’s mud-plastered wall and be comfortable. They chat about proper arm positions and the child’s nipple latch.

“Before, women used to just walk around and work while they breastfed,” explained Ms. Sangha. “They didn’t think about how the baby was feeding or whether it was enough.”

Because of earlier sessions with the health worker, Ms. Devi knew to start breastfeeding within one hour of her baby’s delivery. She also made sure to eat lentils and rice for her own strength and milk production. The child got also received her first milk, which Ms. Sangha told her was akin to the baby’s first immunization.

Gazing at her son Karthik, 4, Ms. Devi says that her second child is already stronger than her first. “Lalita is growing so well because she’s breastfeeding with me from the beginning,” she said.

‘Care and love’

Ms. Sangha and Ms. Devi’s counselling relationship is one link in an intricate chain of support for women and children that is extending slowly across India.

Funding from the IKEA Social Initiative currently supports UNICEF and the Indian Government through a three-year project, started in 2009, to further extend the anganwadi programme to some 22 million Indian children. Known in Jharkhand as ‘Dular,’ or ‘care and love,’ the programme is up and running in five of the state’s districts.

According to a recent evaluation, mothers in Dular villages were almost three times more likely than other women to exclusively breastfeed newborns and avoid old practices. They had significantly higher rates of first milk feeding, and the percentage of underweight children in the villages was drastically reduced.

“Regular breastfeeding is no longer a problem here,” said Ms. Devi. “It is a fully accepted practice now.”

Best nutrition

Breastfeeding is the best and most basic way of preventing malnutrition and boosting resistance to disease, said UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Jharkhand Dr. Prakash Gurnani.

It is also part of a major effort to help India meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals target related to child health. The MDGs, a set of internationally recognized targets for reducing poverty worldwide, call for reducing the global under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by the year 2015.

“It’s so wonderful to have the IKEA Social Initiative here,” said Dr. Gurnani. “What could be better than a simple, home-based solution that costs nothing and improves so many children’s lives?”

[Source: ]

Posted in Health, Jharkhand, Reports, Tribals | Leave a Comment »

Bihar demands Rs 4000cr from state

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 6, 2010

Ranchi, Sept. 2: (PTI)Jharkhand might have to pay nearly Rs 4,000 crore to Bihar for the settlement of employees’ pension and state liabilities to government-run corporations.

At a meeting convened by Union home secretary G.K. Pillai in Delhi yesterday, Bihar demanded about Rs 4,000 crore from Jharkhand, mainly to settle the pension liabilities of employees who had worked under the Bihar government before the bifurcation of Bihar in 2000, said a top official source today.

The demand, estimated up to March 2010, has been pending for a decade since the creation of Jharkhand.

The distribution of assets and liabilities between the mother state, Bihar, and Jharkhand has been done according to the Bihar Reorganization Act, 2000. However, the distribution of liabilities on these two accounts has been a bone of contention between the two states.

According to the Act, the state’s liability for employees’ pension and state guarantees to corporations are to be distributed according to the ratio of employees distributed between the two states, the official said.

On the other hand, similar liabilities in case of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh, created simultaneously, were settled based on the proportion of population distribution in the states, he claimed.

In yesterday’s meeting, Bihar chief secretary Anup Mukherjee demanded the payment of the liabilities by Jharkhand according to the Bihar Reorganization Act, 2000. His Jharkhand counterpart Ashok Kumar Singh urged for the adoption of norms as followed in Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh to settle the liabilities.

Pillai asked the two states to settle the liability issue amicably in 60 days.

[Source: ]

Posted in Governmentality, Jharkhand | Leave a Comment »

IRS Q2, 2010: All top 10 dailies in Jharkhand register growth

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 6, 2010

By Sumantha Rathore, afaqs!, New Delhi, September 03, 2010

Hindustan is the highest gainer in the region, followed by Prabhat Khabar.

The state of Jharkhand has seen a growth in total readership of 1.04 lakh in the current round. The readership growth registered by the state since IRS R2, 2009 is about 3 lakh. Of the 2.2 crore population, about 56 per cent can read Hindi in the state and newspaper penetration is about 11.5 per cent.

According to the industry, there is a potential for the readership to grow to 60 per cent, considering the current market dynamics.

In June 2010, all the leading Hindi dailies of Jharkhand, including Dainik Jagran, Hindustan and Prabhat Khabar, reduced their cover prices. This was followed by aggressive circulation drives by all the Hindi dailies in the area. As a result of this, circulation numbers increased for all the existing players.

“Between June 11 and August 18 , the combined circulation of Dainik Jagran, Hindustan and Prabhat Khabar increased by more than 50 per cent – leaving very little potential to be tapped by the new entrant,” says Basant Rathore, vice-president, strategy planning and brand development, Jagran Prakashan Group.

In terms of total readership (46.51 lakh), the No. 1 daily of Jharkhand is Hindustan; the newspaper shows a gain of 3.36 lakh readers in the current quarter. In the last two rounds, the Hindi daily had gained 7.34 lakh readers.

According to company officials at Hindustan, the key strategy adopted by the daily was to “make the product more relevant, along with differentiated and innovative offerings (like Jaano English) and making the product affordable through revised pricing”. Another strategy adopted by this Hindi daily was an attempt to increase its reach in the English newspaper households by offering value added combo offers for HT readers.

Talking about the factors behind the constant growth of dailies in the region, the official adds, “The biggest factor is the large gaps within literacy rates and readership figures across segments (especially the youth segment aged 15-29 years). These segments are constantly adding readers. Also, Internet usage for information in this region is limited – so the newspaper is a very important source of information. Third, Jharkhand and Bihar typically have a culture of newspaper reading, not so prevalent across other markets of the Hindi heartland.”

The No. 2 position is taken up by Prabhat Khabar with a total readership of 34.17 lakh – an increase of 2.27 lakh in the latest quarter. The Hindi daily had added 51,000 readers in the last round.

The Jharkhand based daily has added 2.78 lakh readers in the last two rounds.

Dainik Jagran is at No. 3 with total readership of 32.68 lakh. The daily has added 1.98 lakh readers this time. This No. 1 daily of India is the second biggest gainer of the state since the last two rounds, registering an increase of 2.95 lakh readers during the tenure.

Dainik Jagran, the flagship brand of Jagran Prakashan, had launched an initiative in Jharkhand called Jharkhand Jagran in April. As part of this, a mass survey was conducted in Ranchi, which covered more than two lakh homes from April to mid-June. The survey captured the reading habits and asked citizens to comment on the core issues concerning them.

Sitting firmly at No. 4 is Aj, with a total readership of 4.37 lakh readers, which is 28.31 lakh less than Dainik Jagran (the No. 3 daily of the state). The daily has registered a growth of about 1 lakh readers in the last two rounds. It has added approximately 50,000 readers in this quarter.

The No. 5 spot is taken up by the West Bengal based English daily, The Telegraph, which has registered total readership of 1.91 lakh – the maximum for any English daily in the area. The newspaper has added a marginal readership of 11,000 in the current round; however, in the last quarter, it could not add to its readership figures.

The Times of India is at No. 6, the position it has maintained since the last quarter. The English daily has a total readership of 1.70 lakh – a gain of 37,000 readers in the last two rounds, out of which it recorded a gain of 36,000 readers in Q2, 2010.

Hindustan Times takes the No. 7 position in the state and is only 2,000 readers short of The Times of India. It recorded a total readership of 1.68 lakh, as opposed to last quarter’s 1.32 lakh – showing an increase of 36,000 (similar to that of TOI) in the state.

The Bengali newspaper, Anandabazar Patrika, is at No. 8, with a total readership of 1.41 lakh – registering a marginal increase of 8,000 readers this time. The daily had gained only 1,000 readers in the last quarter.

The No. 9 and No. 10 spots are taken up by the Bengali daily, Bartaman, and The Economic Times respectively. Bartaman has a total readership of 70,000, whereas The Economic Times has a total readership of 51,000.

[Source: ]

Posted in Jharkhand, Mainstream Media, Reports | Leave a Comment »

Police upgrade plan in Jharkhand faulty: CAG

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 6, 2010

Tapan Chakravorti | 2010-09-03 02:00:00 BUSINESS_STANDARD

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its latest report said that implementation of police modernisation scheme in Jharkhand had suffered due to deficient planning and inadequate monitoring.

The perspective plan was not prepared and Annual Action Plans were delayed. There were large scale deficiencies in all sectors viz., housing, mobility, weaponry, communication, manpower management and so on, the report said.

The CAG pointed out that there was large scale shortage of main strike weapons with the police force. The CAG said that Deoghar, a Naxal-free district was adequately equipped with main strike weapons whereas five Naxal-affected districts (Palamau, Ranchi, East Singhbhum, Hazaribag and West Singhbhum) had shortfalls of main strike weapons ranging between 29 to 64 per cent.

Two units of Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP-1 and 5) were found to be over-armed by 77 and 81 per cent respectively the report added.

[Source: ]

Posted in Governmentality, Jharkhand, Mindsets | Leave a Comment »

Congress urges governor to ask Jharkhand to update below poverty line list

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 6, 2010

Published: Thursday, Sep 2, 2010, 21:30 IST
Place: Ranchi | Agency: PTI

Senior Congress leader PN Singh today urged governor MOH Farooq to direct the departments concerned to immediately update the list of the people living below the poverty level in the face of severe drought in Jharkhand.

“Cards of different categories earmarked for the BPL people have not yet been issued. The governor should immediately initiate steps in this regard in the drought-hit state,” AICC leader PN Singh said in a press release here.


Posted in Drought 2010, Jharkhand | Leave a Comment »

PM expected to visit Jharkhand in third week of September

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 2, 2010

Ranchi, Sep 1 (PTI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may visit Jharkhand this month to participate in a tribal conference.

Rajya Sabha member and Congress leader Ramdayal Munda yesterday met the Prime Minister in Delhi and extended the invitation, requesting him to attend a ”Conference of Gram Pradhans” to be held here in the third week of September.

“The conference will be organised by the Tribal Advisory Council and the Prime Minister has accepted the invitation to attend,” Munda said in a press release here today.

[Source:  ]

Posted in Governmentality, Jharkhand, Tribals | Leave a Comment »

Vastu to the aid of ‘jinxed’ House

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 2, 2010

B. Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times

Ranchi, September 02, 2010

The Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha — an assembly of 81 legislators — is jinxed! That’s what the assembly officials under Governor’s rule think. So, in order to rid it of evil spirits, which don’t allow any government to last a full five-year term, architects specialising in vastu have been called in to supervise renovation and reconstruction of the building.

“Nothing is in the proper place in Jharkhand. The Vidhan Sabha, the lakes, officials buildings – all have vastu dosh (defects),” said eminent astrologer Pandit Sunil Burman.

Burman has time and again warned that unless changes are made in the building and its interiors, political uncertainty would continue to haunt the state and plague the common man.

The assembly, which is under suspended animation since June 1, has seen as many as seven governments come and go within a span of 10 years.

Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh said some changes were being made in the seating arrangements, including his own office in Lenin Hall and in the visitors’ gallery.

Chief architect D. Dey who is supervising the renovation work said, “It does make lot of difference if you follow vastu while constructing or renovating a building.”

He hopes that with the changes being carried out in the House, the next government would last a full term.

Astrologers said many chief ministers had taken oaths at inauspicious times despite warnings from learned interpreters of planetary movements.

“It’s good to hear that good sense has prevailed on the Vidhan Sabha authorities and that they have consulted vastu experts for changes,” said Burman. “Vastu is not superstition but science,” he underlined.

Previously a property of the public sector Heavy Engineering Corporation, the assembly building was used as a hostel for Soviet and Czech engineers, with whose expertise HEC was built in 1958.

[Source:  ]

Posted in Governmentality, Humour, Jharkhand | Leave a Comment »

Drought-hit villagers in Jharkhand survive on wild groundnuts

Posted by arshadamanullah on September 2, 2010

2010-09-01 18:30:00

Several villages in Jharkhand’s Palamu district are hit by drought, forcing people to survive on wild nuts and roots in the absence of rations.

The Baadi Jharia village has been declared as drought- affected by the provincial government, but villagers have not received any help so far.

The villagers are surviving on wild groundnuts, known locally as ‘Kanda Gaithi’ and some other herbs, which they get from the forests near their village.

Though groundnuts are not considered edible, villagers say they have no other option.

“To make this wild groundnut eatable, I have to go through a long process of cleaning it. Firstly, I clean the Kanda Gaithi (wild groundnut) then wash it and roast it to reduce its poisonous effect, then keep it in the river for a whole night and later, early in the morning I boil it and then eat it,” said Lalua Devi, a villager.

Other villagers said the government has not provided them any ration cards so far.

“The situation of our villagers is the worst. There is no road in our area, the houses are also damaged, and the government is not even providing us rations. The government officials come and take pictures of our village but never take an initiative for our plight,” said Bigan Oraon, another villager. By Girijha Shankar Ojha (ANI)

[Source:  ]

Posted in Drought 2010, Governmentality, Health, Jharkhand | Leave a Comment »