Friday, 28 September 2018

Women


Improving the lives of women in ways that are meaningful to them.
"Transforming lives… Creating smiles!"
When a girl or a woman is empowered, she becomes a catalyst for positive change whose success benefits everyone around her. Social, political and economical empowerment of women is one of the core activities of PECUC. In the beginning, around 1991-92, PECUC started forming women groups in Balianta block of Khordha district. It took around two and half years to form the groups & open bank accounts of 13 women self help groups. These groups impacted the formation of more than hundred groups in few years in this area. There were a lot of issues for women like coming out of house, which was again a huge struggle for them to meet their groups, to talk to them freely and to seat in a place outside their home. We had to first interact with the male members of the family to talk to the women group members. While opening the bank account even the women group members faced many constraints. Through intervention of NABARD we were able to convince the bankers and finally opened their bank accounts. It was also difficult for women to save Rs. 5 per month. Then they started keeping handful of rice & at the end of the month they sold it that gave them a calculated savings of Rs 20-25 per head. Slowly, the movement took up. After intensive training and continuous interaction, the women came out and started forming groups & by 2001 we were able to form 118 women self help groups in Balianta block, and by the end of 2014, PECUC was successful in promotion of 348 women self-help groups in its operational areas of Khordha, Keonjhar and Balasore districts, having 4191 women members with Rs. 1,36,01,881 savings in different banks.
In the year 1991-92, when PECUC started facilitating the formation of women SHGs in Balianta block of Khordha district, it took 2 years to promote 15 groups in 13 villages. These women self help groups are not only involved in thrift and credit management but also actively engaged in supplementing the family against violence on women. Remarkable changes have been observed since then. Women have come forward to solve the problems of their families and neighbours on their own. They have been pioneer in activities like anti liquor movement, education for girls and increasing access of poor people to various poverty alleviation programmes of the Govt, stopping child marriage, stopping child labour, reproductive child health, nutrition, organic farming, etc.
Laxmipriya Sahoo, Ward Member, of Bainchua Panchayat, Balianta block, Khordha, aged around 40 years, belongs to  OBC group. She intervened into a marriage and stopped it as the bride and groom were minors. Anima (Fake Name), a 17 years old girl of Balianta block, Khordha district was studying +2 in Balakati College. A fellow student from Pipili fell in love with her. He then started bothering her in college and on social media. Frightened of this, Anima informed her parents about it. Her parents went to the boy’s house to talk to his parents regarding this. But things went ugly and they had exchange of words and threatened them. The incident shook the girl and her family. She got scared to go out. Seeing this, her parents decided to get her married to the son of one of their distant relatives from Balakati. They got engaged and the boy who used to bother her got the news of this. The boy then informed about this to the DSWO as the girl was underage. The marriage was to happen on 19th April 2018. PECUC’s team got information about this & informed CDPO of Balianta Block. Then PECUC team along with CDPO talked with  the Sarpanch and Ward members of the girl’s village to be present in the fact finding team. But Sarpanch hesitated and requested to stay away from it. The Sarpanch was scared that if this incident was disclosed to public it will bring shame to their village so he assured that he will handle it in his own way. But Laxmipriya and the Ward Members joined the team. They sat down with both the families and informed them about the laws related to child marriage. The girl’s parents informed that the girl is already traumatized because of the previous incident and has become depressed and making suicidal attempt. If the marriage breaks then she might do any harm to her own life. The team and others got shocked hearing this. So they decided to counsel the girl. They assured her that the boy will no longer bother her and also the marriage will definitely happen once she turns 18. This brought a change in her mind and she promised that she will wait to marry until she turns 18. Then the parents were made to sign a declaration that said although the families can have a usual relationship but the parents will not try or force the girl to get married before she turns 18. And she can marry the guy she got engaged with if she wants.

Sabita Bhoi, Ward member of village Saleswar, Balianta Gram Panchayat of Balianta Block, Khordha Districts of Odisha is also a member of Alibha Federation. Earlier she didn’t know anything about Gram Panchayat. In 2017 Panchayat election villagers asked her to stand in the Election. She is a poor lady and only daughter of her parents. Her father passed away when she was a child. She and her mother were living in a difficult situation. Her mother arranged a marriage for her at Berhampur. After 2 years of the marriage she had a daughter. They named her Rashmi because she thought that her daughter would bring light in her life. After the birth of her daughter, her husband left her. Until now she has not received any information about him. Her mother and she worked as daily wage workers in different household and gave her daughter a formal education. Today she is doing +3 arts. She then diverted her attention towards the responsibility of Panchayat. In her village a 16 years old girl named Anu Das (Fake Name)  fled away with a ST boy of snake charmer community (Kela). Sabita along with the villagers searched for her, failing which they lodged a FIR in the Police Station. Police searched for them and found them in an objectionable position. They were brought to Balianta PS. There was a compromise. In front of the authority an undertaking was signed by both the parents of the boy and girl. It was decided that the girl will remain with her parents house till she attains the age of 18. And will marry the boy after she attains the age of maturity. She will not be subjected to any kind of mental torture from both sides during the intervening period. The marriage of the girl with boy was postponed for appropriate time. She got full-fledged help and cooperation from PECUC and the ward member  in this endeavour of her.  
Jhuna Mallick, belonging to SC community, is working as the Ward Member at Kothapatana, Balianta block, Khordha. She has studied upto 5th class. Her father died when she was a child. Jhuna’s mother got her married early at the age of 15 and was a housewife for 13 years. Her husband is a daily wager; some days he gets work and some days he doesn’t. Thus, it gets difficult to manage the livelihood of their family. So, she became a member of SHG and took a loan to open a grocery store in front of her house. The money that comes from the store is spent on her kids’ education. When her husband has no work, he helps her with the store and household chores. Even though Jhuna is not very educated, she manages everything. She loves helping her community for which the community loves her a lot. Jhuna has been involved with PECUC’s activities since 2015. In 2017, Panchayat Election, the ward no. 16 had a woman reserved seat, so the Women Rights Committee decided to enrol Jhuna Mallick to stand in the election from that ward. Although her family was a bit sceptical about the decision, she agreed to contest the election. Two other women were also contesting against her. On moral grounds, she didn’t want to go against the women of her community, she decided to withdraw from the election. However, the people persuaded her not to withdraw her candidacy. Many rumours were spread about her but she kept calm and won the election by 130 votes. On March 10th, 2017, she took her oath to see her village as her family and promised development, but she didn’t know how and where to start from. PECUC lend out a helping hand. She took part in the 3-day leadership development training. She would attend all the panchayat meetings but she hesitated to voice her thoughts. She would come to PECUC’s coordinator and discuss her problems. Now, she speaks her mind in meeting confidently. She conducted Palli Sabha Meeting and assessed all the issues and presented them in the Gram Sabha Meeting. PECUC, then gave training on finance management, which she attended. With time, her enthusiasm to work for the community increased. She walks 5 km from her home to the panchayat office every day. She took up a lot of work in 2017-18. The school had in their village had only one tube-well and it wasn’t working properly. She provided water supply to the school. She also helped Manju Das get the widow pension scheme and also helped Subhalaxmi Mallick to get the PMAY house. She also provided toilets to 2 families and enrolled 4 families under the BPL scheme. She helped 4 families of the deceased get Rs. 2000 each under the Harishchandra Yojana. She did all this with the help of the Panchayat Fund. Apart from this, she’s also a member of GKS and holds meeting every month. She also used the Panchayat Fund to construct a dustbin. She’s also a member in Kanchilo School SMC. She visits the school and AWC twice or thrice every week. She monitors the education and the MDM food provided in the school. We are proud of her and the accomplishments that she has achieved in this short term.
Apart from social issues, many income generation activities has also been carried out by the women group members that includes turmeric processing, petty shops, goatery, fishery, pisciculture, vegetable cultivation, pig rearing, poultry, badi and papad making, tailoring, essence stick, leaf plate making, rice processing, band party, floriculture, cane work, diary farming, minor forest product collection, dry fish, sheep rearing, bamboo work, pickle, ginger cultivation, duck rearing, popped rice, etc. PECUC’s effort to build the capacity of women on different areas has resulted in building their self confidence, increasing their participation in decision making process in family and community, pallisava & gram sava, as well as Panchayati Raj Institutions. PECUC is working with women panchayat functionaries of Balianta, Bolgarh block of Khordha district with The Hunger Project to enhance their capacity, continuous training, federation building of women PRIs at cluster level & Block Level, Need based training on various issues, Gramsava & pallisava mobilization, monitoring scheme programmes /ICDS /MDM/School programme/Sanitation, etc, environment protection activities like planting trees, campaign on end violence against women, public hearing on DV cases with women commission, interface with Govt officials, changing seating arrangement at panchayat level, etc. PECUC has opened Gender panchayat resource centre at all panchayats of Balianta block & also at Bolgarh. This centre is managed by women PRIs of that area.
Gender Equality will only be reached if we are able to empower women”

Anuradha  Mohanty
Executive Director ,PECUC
pecuc@hotmail.com , www.pecuc.org

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Ending Child Marriage in India: Moving from Law to Justice


The expression-child marriage is a compendious one. For some it is fun and excitement and for some it is end of parental liability. Again, some relate Child Marriage either with culture  or religion. But, it seems nobody understand the plight of the children who live under the bondage of forced or obtuse matrimony. Since 1929 both the British and the Government of India have been trying to eradicate Child marriage in India but the fact and figures present disappointing picture. As per the 205th Report of the Law Commission of India, February 2008, child marriages continue to be a fairly widespread social evil in India and in a study carried out between the years 1998 to 1999 on women aged 15-19 it was found that 33.8% were currently married or in a union. In 2000 the UN Population Division recorded that 9.5% of boys and 35.7 % of girls aged between 15-19 were married. However, while regional disparities exist, child marriage has significantly decreased from 47 per cent (2006) to 27 per cent (2016). Despite this drop, nearly 1.5 million girls under 18 year of age enter into premature matrimony. Therefore, the salient issue is how to minimized the frequency of Child Marriage in India. Sociologists argue that for variety of reasons, child marriages are prevalent in many parts of our country but the reality is more complex than what it seems to be.        Can alone law do it? I know many are skeptic about this but if we look at the provisions of Section 16 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 it provides the statutory duties of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers. As I understand these duties are not explanatory and need to be crafted properly. Many might have observed two forms of Child marriage ie, Minor’s Marriage with the consent of the parents and guardians and Minor’s Marriage without the consent of their parents and guardians. In both the cases the legitimacy of marriage often presented before the honourable court.
The legal principle that a marriage in contravention of clause (iii) of section 5 of the HMA was-neither void nor voidable, was established prior to the enactment and enforcement of the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, 2006. The principle which is now applicable is that a marriage in contravention of clause (iii) of section 5 of the HMA is not ipso facto void but could be void if any of the circumstances enumerated in section 12 of the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, 2006 is triggered and that, in any event, all such marriages would be voidable at the option of the ‘child' spouse in terms of section 3 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir; and it applies also to all citizens of India without and beyond India: Provided that nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the Re-noncants of the Union territory of Pondicherry. The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint; and different dates may be appointed for different States and any reference in any provision to the commencement of this Act shall be construed in relation to any State as a reference to the coming into force of that provision in that State.
Sometimes parents refuse undertake the responsibility of minor bride and bride groom.(especially after kidnapping and rape) Section 5 of the enactment provides Custody and maintenance of children of child marriages and Section 6. of the Act provides Legitimacy of children born of child marriages and it has been done in the best interest of the Child. The District enjoys the power to pass appropriate order for the custody of the Children (Section 7). Therefore, should JJ Act 2015, Domestic Violence Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 be engaged to tackle the situation? Or the Parent legislation should specifically make provisions to that effect?
Section 9. Punishment for male adult marrying a child.(2 Yrs and fine up to 2lakh or both)  Section10. Punishment for solemnising a child marriage and Section 11. Punishment for promoting or permitting solemnisation of child marriages. Sometimes social activist and hardliner argue for stringent punishment to minimize offences. The quantum of sentence has been a contesting subject and the learned house should debate. In Shankar Kisanrao Khade vs. State of Maharashtra[(2013) 5 SCC 546], referring to the recent decisions (of about fifteen years), the Supreme Court has summarized the mitigating factors and aggravating factors. In State of Rajasthan v. Jamil Khan, (2013) 10 SCC 721 the apex court observed that “A balance-sheet of aggravating and mitigating circumstances has to be drawn up and in doing so the mitigating circumstances have to be accorded full weightage and a just balance has to be struck between the aggravating and the mitigating circumstances before the option of sentence is exercised”.
Last but not the least, Section 13 provides Power of court to issue injunction prohibiting child marriages and under the provision the District Magistrate who is deemed to be the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer  enjoys wide power to prohibit child marriage under his jurisdiction. As I have seen District Magistrates are overburdened with their normal administrative work. Should State Government appoint specifically appoint Child Marriage Prohibition Officers vested with Magisterial powers other than District Magistrates?
Child marriage is a social evil which has the potentialities of dangers to the life and health of a female child and can play multi-dimensional havoc in their lives, who cannot withstand the stress and strains of married life and it leads to early deaths of such minor mothers. It also reflects the chauvinistic attribute of the Indian society. Time has come stop child marriage  for good as it violates the Rights of Child and the basic tenets  of Human Rights.




Prof (Dr.) P.K.Pattnaik
Dean, SOA National Institute of Law

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Current Environmental Scenario of the World

The world environment has been facing the worst phase of climatic turmoil since its evolution. It is deteriorating day by day and is also affecting the million flora and fauna’s lives, including the humans. Yet we have no concerns for saving our planet.

A recent report developed by a group of researchers showed that the glacier that used to be huge as mountains are now shrinking faster at an alarming rate. And by few years ahead, they believe that the human race will be able to see land in the extreme northern continent. This is going to create havoc by raising the ocean level and flooding many megacities, as most of them are located near the coast. 

Since few years, the phenomenon of global warming has slowed down, which has led to mend in the mind of many layman that we are no more polluting the environment to that extent as we did before. But alas! Here’s an eye-opener for them. The earth’s surface is mostly covered with water. The ocean acts as an excellent carbon sink as carbon dioxide has higher affinity towards water molecules, hence gets trapped by the water and gets converted to carbonic acid. May be due to this reason, the global warming effect is less observed, but nowhere we have reduced the intensity of the pollution. Due to higher concentration of CO2 in water, this has resulted in low oxygen availability in ocean water causing death of aquatic animals as well as plants. This will not only affect these living organisms, but also the livelihood of those individuals who depend on fishing. This has also resulted in increased algal bloom in many reasons of the world. Recently, this problem has become prominent in the Mediterranean ocean, where the algal bloom can also be seen from the satellite images and is rapidly spreading towards Indian Ocean.

Every individual has a role to play in saving his/her planet. No govt. or organization can do this on their own. Environmental protection needs to be a collaborative effort.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Environment


Effect of climate change.

Sushree Shailani Suman


 1- Perishing green plants: Is global warming the cause?
Global warming is a growing concern worldwide with climate change being the most talked subject. Its effects are well known on plants and the photosynthetic process. The increased concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) has accelerated global warming in manifold and led to extreme events such as cyclonic storms, typhoons, drought, unseasonal rainfall, and heat waves.
2- How do plants deal with global warming?
The most surprising fact about CO2 is its ability to increase the rate of photosynthesis in green plants, particularly the C3 plants. Through photosynthesis, green plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and subsequently convert it into organic products (like carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, etc.) and byproducts (like oxygen). This process has been considered as a source of carbon dioxide sequestration. 
Elevated atmospheric CO2 levels lead to temperature rise with a concomitant increase in the rate of transpiration by the green plants. However, if the plant responds by stomatal closure, the rate of transpiration may decrease. This does not allow excess CO2 to enter the plant and results in an increased survival rate during water scarcity. The advantages are time bound. This also has several adverse effects on the photosynthetic process as absorption of less CO2 means stunted growth. Closed stomata for a longer duration may lead to starvation in plants. Due to less partial pressure of CO2, the stomata will be left open, resulting in rapid water loss along with CO2 intake. Subsequently, the plants wither, wilt and die, which may have huge social implications.
The decomposition of organic matter in the soil is also stimulated by the increased CO2 levels to be easily made available for the plants’ absorption, which in turn increases the rate of photosynthesis and carbon fixation.
Apart from the above-mentioned facts, the enhanced level of CO2 is also marked by increased plant growth that might sound good to the farmers. Conversely, the weeds surrounding the vegetation tend to grow at a faster rate in such environmental conditions.
But such responses by the photosynthetic plants are dependent on diverse environmental factors such as availability of water, moisture content of the soil, nutrient content, atmospheric temperature, and variable CO2 concentration, etc. Responses may be negative or positive depending on the exact nature of changes and the factors that initially limited the growth and rate of photosynthesis.

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Green revolution and its loopholes


Sushree Shailani Suman



1- Green Revolution for Mass: The advanced Mexican agricultural technology introduced by Norman Borlaug made a way out for the evolutionary technology in India, which was initiated as a trial project by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan in the northern states of India, especially Punjab and Haryana. The technology received various approbations from the scientific circles: “Green revolution describes the spectacular increase that took place during 1967–1978, and is continuing in the production of food grains in India”- was cited by J.G. Harrar.




2- Advancements: Green revolution proved to be a track changer in the traditional farming techniques (introduction of tractors, thrashers, harvesters; use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, for instant increase in the yield, etc.) as well as replacing the traditional seeds with high yielding varieties or seeds with genetic superiority.




3- Prolonged Loopholes: Apart from the advantages, green revolution proved to be a bane in disguise for the farmers. It has over burdened them with the increasing costs of chemical fertilizers, pesticides as well as other chemicals. The technology aimed at increasing the production of only the staple cereal crops, like rice and wheat, that too only in the north Indian states. The technology was not well implemented or did not give a proceeding result in many parts of the country.




The genetically superior seeds demanded more water, fertilizers and other accessory chemicals, for their growth and development. The overuse of these chemical ingredients has led to the detoriation and deformation in the chemistry and structure of the soil. The natural soil microbiotas are kept aloof of the soil organic carbon content, which is their nutrition source. The unavailability of the soil carbon leads to a decrease in the concentration of the beneficial soil microbiota that plays an important role in maintaining the structure of the soil. Due to this, the soil particles are left apart and they become compact and lose the water holding capacity.




The depletion in the soil organic carbon leads to the decrease in the soil’s buffering capacity that in turn affects the pH level of the soil. Lowering in the pH level affects various parameters like the unavailability of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, which in turn affects the physiology of the plants; stunted growth of the plants, decreased root biomass and length, etc. whereas high pH level leads to a decrease in the availability of micronutrients like copper, zinc, boron, etc., which also affects the overall growth and developmental process of the plant. Decrease in the buffering capacity also leads to an increase in the thatch layer, which in turn aggravates the pathogenic population in the soil. In order to kill these pathogens, it is needed to use chemicals that, on the contrary, kill the beneficial organisms in the soil too.




Apart from these drawbacks, the technology of green revolution has neither proved to be a long-term solution, nor has it ensured food security for the rising population of our country.


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Thursday, 14 January 2016

Female Foeticide a matter of shame


Female foeticide is the elimination of girl child after sex determination test from the womb. Girl child is killed before birth just to fulfill the wishes of old members in the family of getting boy baby first. All the process gone under familial pressure especially by husband or in-laws. General reason behind abortion becomes unplanned pregnancy however female foeticide becomes planned by the families. People believe that boys are the key to continue their family lineage however they do not understand the most simple thing that girls are reasons to give birth to new entity in the world not boys. People in the Indian society are used to of giving birth to the child continuously until they get boy baby by killing all the girl baby earlier to the boy. Daughters are given less respect and priority than sons in Indian society from the ancient time. They did not have same access like boys in the areas of education, healthcare, nutrition, play, etc.

The frequency of female foeticide in India is assumed to be an estimation derived from its high birth sex ratio, that is the ratio of boys to girls at birth. The natural ratio is assumed to be between 103 to 107, and any number above it is considered as suggestive of female foeticide. According to the decennial Indian census, the sex ratio in the 0 to 6 age group in India has risen from 102.4 males per 100 females in 1961, to 104.2 in 1980, to 107.5 in 2001, to 108.9 in 2011.
Over the past decade, Odisha has witnessed a drastic reduction in the sex ratio of children within the age-group 0-6 years, according to the Population Foundation of India. The  child sex ratio, according to the 2001 census, stands at 950 girls to 1,000 boys in Orissa. This is a significant decline from 1991, when the ratio was 967 girls per 1,000 boys.In 2011 941 in 1000 boys.
 The Indian government has passed Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) in 1994 to ban and punish prenatal sex screening and female foeticide. It is currently illegal in India to determine or disclose sex of the foetus to anyone. However, there are concerns that PCPNDT Act has been poorly enforced by authorities.

Females not only face inequality in this culture, they are even denied the right to be born. Why do so many families selectively abort baby daughters? In a word: economics. Aborting female fetuses is both practical and socially acceptable in India. Female foeticide is driven by many factors, but primarily by the prospect of having to pay a dowry to the future bridegroom of a daughter. While sons offer security to their families in old age and can perform the rites for the souls of deceased parents and ancestors, daughters are perceived as a social and economic burden. Prenatal sex detection technologies have been misused, allowing the selective abortions of female offspring to proliferate. Legally, however, female feticide is a penal offence. Although female infanticide has long been committed in India, foeticide is a relatively new practice, emerging concurrently with the advent of technological advancements in prenatal sex determination on a large scale in the 1990s. While abortion is legal in India, it is a crime to abort a pregnancy solely because the fetus is female. Strict laws and penalties are in place for violators. These laws, however, have not stemmed the tide of this abhorrent practice.

The advancement of ultrasound technology in India came in 1979 however its spread was slow. But became widespread in 2000s. It is estimated that since 1990s, more than 10 million of female foetuses have been aborted because of being girl. We can see that female foeticide has been practiced through the history and cultural background. Earlier, people believed that male babies are superior as they would provide manual labor as well as lead the family lineage in future. Son is considered as family asset however a daughter is a liability.

In order to control the population and stop female foeticide, Government of India made various rules and regulations against female foeticide and trend of abortions after sex determination tests. Killing of a baby girl through abortion has been an offense all through the country. Doctors found performing sex determination tests and abortions especially for killing girl baby would be guilty and lose their license. Awareness about the importance of girl child in the society is major weapon to get relief from the female foeticide.Recent awareness programmes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, or Save girls campaign, etc have been made regarding girl’s rights.

Anuradha Mohanty
ExecutiveDirector ,PECUC 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Others


In the context of the market culture, and the interest management lifestyle, the very purpose of marriage as an institution, has been decoded. It is also supported by many progressive judgments by the apex court. Time has come to put every unregistered marriage under lens. Trafficking of women and children has been projected with multifaceted dimensions. In order to combat with it, every individual irrespective of their role and capacity should be extra alert towards the manifestations of human emotions and should analyze the reality from the legal point of view for effective protection. No custom is mandatory. No ritual is unbeatable. No violence is tolerable. A victim is vulnerable not because he or she is poor, uneducated or illiterate, but because he or she is not alert, sensitive, and realistic at a certain point of time or under certain circumstances. So he or she is cheated and is trapped in the whirlpool of trafficking. He or she is either missed or is returned to home from where there are multiple possibilities of being re-trafficked or lands up in a rehabilitation center where he or she is simply reduced to living lass. Every case of trafficking is a matter of concern for each of us. Who knows tomorrow either you or your children or any of your relatives will not be a victim of it?
                 Trafficking is the second largest profitable trade and is next to drugs. What is most important to think about is whether we need individuals at the cost of money or vice-versa? How long we can afford the latter?

Awaiting comments

Minakshi Panda.

(The writer is One of the Directors in the Board of Management of PECUC)