Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
Scripted by children, ‘Got You!’ or ‘Aemanthutingala!’ is a World Vision India – Nalandaway co-production of a script created by children.
One day in the life of a perky young girl who is HIV positive. The girl, though mischievous is smart and independent. In one of the normal physical education classes she has a small accident, gets hurt and starts to bleed. The physical education teacher comes to her help, but she refuses his help and tells him that she is HIV positive. The teacher though initially rubbishes it as one of her many, pranks is shattered when she shows her medical records. The film shows how the teacher’s ignorance takes him through a torturous time, till the child teaches the “teacher” a lesson for life.
Leonardo di Caprio may well be nominated for the Oscar for his role as the South African diamond smuggler in ‘Blood Diamond’, a film attempting to lay bare the thriving international trade in conflict diamonds that fuels wars and conflicts in several part of Africa. The movie, supported by Global Witness and Amnesty International, opened in India a few weeks ago and is showing in glittering multiplexes in the heart of Mumbai, just around the corner from the diamond markets of this bustling ‘financiapolis’ of India.
Over 90% of the world’s rough diamonds pass through these markets on their journey to Surat, the biggest small-diamond processing centre in the world 326 kms by road from the city. A Guardian Observer investigation alleges that ‘blood diamonds’ from Ivory Coast and Liberia are being illegally processed here.
According to the article, “The stones brought in by dhows and fishing boats through the shallow waters of Gujarat’s ungovernable west coast make a laughing stock of attempts to stem the global flow of blood diamonds.” The Kimberly Process, set up by diamond merchants, NGOs, governments and the UN in 2003 governs, albeit loosely the trade in diamonds and should help prevent the use of diamonds to fuel conflicts.
But the Kimberly process does not make any mention of child labour that is reported to be so prevalent in Surat, adding more blood the already tainted stones. Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Children Foundation) alleges that over 30,000 children are stuck in this trade in Dickensian conditions. These claims are stoutly denied by the industry.
And why not? Reports [1, 2] allege that over the years the diamond cutting industry has resisted unionisation or bringing itself under the purview of the Indian Factory Act that promised minimum wages and benefits for its workers. This is done by keeping the number of workers in each unit under nine (the legal limit requiring registration under the Act) and registering hundreds of small units. And it is in these units that the children are lost without a trace.
Diamond cutting is on the top of the list of ‘hazardous work’ that the law prohibits children from work in. And these are the children who sweat and toil, losing out on their childhood to add small value the ‘bling, bling’ that is the fad. The Kimberly process is meeting at this time to review the working of the ban.
Would they stop to consider for a moment the children in Surat, who are churning out these diamonds, paying with their own blood?
The year 2006 was an interesting one as far as the Indian policy environment relating to children was concerned. This was the year that the much appreciated and equally maligned ‘child labour ban’ that punished those who employed children below 14 in domestic labour or in hotels and eateries around the country was put in place. The child marriage act made it possible for children to step out of the forced alliance with legal remedy. Children with HIV in six states would get free antiretroviral treatment through a programme rolled out by the National AIDS Control Society – a much needed measure that needs to be made universal. On December 13, 2006 the Supreme Court reiterated an order that pulled up the government for lax implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme, calling for the top bureaucrats in several states to explain why the scheme was not implemented satisfactorily.
But then, all of this was brushed aside by the ‘Horror of Nithari’. Almost at the fag end of the year the country watched horrified as skeletons of children were dug up from a drain separating a posh Bungalow in one of the high value suburbs of the capital of India from the village of Nithari.
As I watched this the first thought that I had was a poll by the Reuters group in August 2006; the one that reported that India was the sixth most dangerous place for children. As news reports showed that the number of children who could have been murdered edge slowly towards the 34 they are stuck at now, I was reminded of the passionate denials of this status by several media as well as the general public.
A Hindu editorial that appeared a week after this poll went public was almost tongue in cheek in saying, “Exaggeration and over-the-top assertions will prove counter-productive.” Well, the reports and pictures of rage from the villagers were not exaggerations but counter productive they may well be.
And the question being asked again and again is what did the villagers, the police and the neighbours do as 34 (and the number keeps growing) children went missing. While the debate rages around this with all and sundry (present company included) I have a sneaky feeling that a scene like this will be played back again…and again…and again.
This surmise is not without reason. Almost universally (and more pronouncedly in India), children are more valued for what they can do for us than for what they are – the value we place on them is dependent on what they can do for us, rather than for the . They are often called ‘resources of the future’ and things like that and hence any child has value only if he or she is in school, has rich parents or has a chance at making something out of their lives. The ‘Nithari 34’ did not fall into any of these categories and hence ‘do not count’. Whose children were they?
Well, nothing’s gonna change….and i am sure we will be having this discussion once again when the horror is repeated.
The Medical Council of India lists 262 accredited colleges that train and create 29172 doctors every year. And still the state of the healthcare in our rural areas is dismal at best. Outlook describe India’s rural medical scenario as “a state healthcare machinery that’s cynical, corrupt, non-accountable and non-functional, forcing patients to opt for rapacious private practitioners, quacks—or no medical care at all.”
And this is the industry that is expected to bring in more than $100 million as additional revenue for the medical sector through ‘medical tourism’ according to a 2004 McKinsey – Confederation of Indian Industries study. Several articles have been written about this phenomenon by Time and the Washington Post, to name just a few.
But not many stories tell the plight of the rural poor’s battle for health.
“Seventy per cent of our population lives outside the cities but eight out of ten doctors and a shocking eighty percent of all hospital beds are urban,” according to Kavery Nambisan, a surgeon and novelist in her article titled ‘Rural Gangrene’ in a recent issue of the Outlook. The same issue goes on to talk about the movement created by a courageous group of doctors who have been ‘true to their oath’ to reach out and help people living in remote areas such as Baingangaon in Bihar, Sittingli in Tamilnadu, rural Gujarat, or Uttaranchal. On their own.
Four doctor-couples in Ganiyari, Chattisgarh helped make healthcare a reality for the villagers in the area. Drs. Regi and Lalitha Thomas are helping make healthcare sustainable and reach more people by making community health workers of adivasis in the villages of Sittingli, Tamilnadu. There are several others that are profiled as part of the series.
They toil on without much recompense, other than “two juicy cucumbers or a plump river fish for having operated … a bull gore injury, a ruptured intestine or a motorcycle accident?” They innovate and ‘make do’ using sterilised mosquito netting as a cheap alternative to expensive prolene mesh for hernia repair. They are the pioneers and the unsung heroes of India’s medical fraternity that stays true to their oath.
While the call is for increased spending on the rural medical system and infrastructure, what good is that without the doctors to provide the care. The hope is that as the Government gets its act together around this, the lives and sacrifices of these doctors would serve as an example for the 29,172 doctors that step out of medical colleges this year.
Cross posted at bloggernewsnetwork
Does anybody remember the infamous blogblocks that happened around July this year? It seems to have generated a lot of heat at that time, but is not on ‘anti-censorship’ radars any more, i think. One of the most interesting and thoughtful discussions that I read on this topic is on Ethan Zuckerman’s blog.
I say this because the Reporters without Borders released its Internet Enemies list on 7 November 2006 and India does not even get a ‘honourable’ mention. So much so that neither their press release archives nor their annual report mention the ‘blogblocks’. They have a release on the mediaah ‘cease and desist’ by the Times Group though.
Why so, i ask myself?
The Reporters without Borders list is stomach churning to read and details the censorship that even a hint of ‘free speech’ brings. The most hair-raising quote from the release is the one for me;
Just five years ago, many people thought Chinese society and politics would be revolutionised by the Internet, a supposedly uncontrollable medium. Now, with China enjoying increasing geopolitical influence, people are wondering the opposite, whether perhaps China’s Internet model, based on censorship and surveillance, may one day be imposed on the rest of the world.
I am sure the blogging community in India will rest till ‘Blogblock 2’ happens and scream bloody murder and leave it there. So long till blogblock 2 then….
With all the debates about frivolous reporting and ‘Page 3’ culture, here is a lesson on the pover of television. And where else but across the LoC, in Pakistan.
a quote from the article;
“We have already started reviewing the Hudood Ordinances and our legal committee has held several meetings,” says Mohammad Khalid Masood, chairman of the Islamic Ideology Council.
An inspiration to our channels, the RTI debate notwithstanding?