Friday, 8 May 2015

What exists on paper is non-existent in government health institutions

If one looks at the policy decisions taken by the Central Government regarding the health of children in rural areas, then provisions of the National Health Mission (NHM) would paint a rosy picture and show that priority attention is granted to the kids. However, the ground realities show a dismal picture and a lot needs to be done in the public health sector.
If we take just one policy of the government in consideration — the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) — it would show the entitlement of all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions to absolutely free and no expense delivery, including Caesarean section.

The JSSK initiative stipulates that free drugs, diagnostic tests, diet, free transport from home to institution, between facilities in case of a referral and drop back home, and free blood, if required, must be provided. Similar entitlements have been put in place for all sick infants accessing public health institutions for treatment till one year of age.

The abovementioned facilities, if put into practice, would not only take care of all the health and related problems that are faced by residents of rural India, but also result in a healthier population giving maximum productivity, and thereby contributing to nation building to the fullest.

However, what exists on paper is rarely there in reality. One can always raise questions as to why such facilities do not exist even though the Central Government budgets for it. The answers will, perhaps, come in the form of the likes of Uttar Pradesh Rural Health Mission scam that robbed the public exchequer of US$ 1.6 billion (roughly Rs 10,000 crore).

A visit to any of the public health institutions in rural areas would show the dilapidated state they are in. While the infrastructure is non-existent, the doctors deployed there rarely land up on duty. They stay confined to the comfort of their government accommodations and offer their services in private hospitals and clinics charging a humongous fee from patients.

The free drugs supplied to government hospitals rarely find their way in the hands of poor patients, especially if they are for serious diseases requiring a specialist's care. The free pick up and drop facility is something that patients can only dream about as the ambulances can be seen rusting in the parking lots due to lack of maintenance. While some lucky patients are able to get the “rude” care of nurses at the public health facilities, others have to turn towards delivering babies at home with the help of midwives who do not have any certification and carry out their task due to experience.

The Central Government needs to streamline the flow of funds so that they actually reach the places and facilities they are meant for rather than landing up in the pockets of unscrupulous bureaucrats and middlemen. This is the only manner in which health service can improve. The other thing would be for doctors to practice their profession in the right manner and follow the Hippocratic Oath they took in earnest.

Friday, 1 May 2015

How to contribute towards Nation Building: Quality education at cheaper rates

Even though government figures show that dropout rates are declining and women’s education is increasing steadily, a different problem stares in the faces of all those who have been able to get high school, intermediate or college certificates — students being unable to write well in English or Hindi or having knowledge about their domain despite getting good marks.
Reports have also pointed out that many students have been rendered unemployable as they do not have the requisite knowledge of the subjects that they have studied for years in government institutions in getting their degrees or certificates. Few other reports state that many girl students only go for higher studies as it would improve their marriage prospects.

The unemployability factor of students has been highlighted by many reports which state that educators themselves do not have the requisite knowledge of the subjects they teach, thereby leaving them incapable of imparting any real skills to the children they are tutoring. Added to this is the fact that students of economically disadvantaged backgrounds do not have the requisite funds to finance tuition by specialist teachers, which cost a lot these days.

In order to hide their incompetence, teachers usually give their students good marks in the examinations without actually determining whether the answers given are up to the mark and have all the facts desired.

While some may argue that such EWS students could study on their own and get the desired knowledge to be at par with their affluent counterparts studying in private schools, the time factor plays a crucial role.

A recent report about reasons given by Madhya Pradesh government asking for foreign aid from World Bank to boost its dilapidated education infrastructure gives the answers. The report submitted by the MP government clearly mentions that many students spend several hours doing housework before and after college and do not have time to study at home. The social and economically disadvantaged background of students with no support system is the primary reason.

The MP government report states that students go home and help their parents during the sowing and harvesting seasons. During each of the first, third and fifth semesters, students stay away for at least 15-20 days for agricultural work, impacting exam results. An official even stated that many girls drop out of college owing to pregnancy or could not clear exams due to household chores.
Such state of affairs are not limited to Madhya Pradesh alone. It extends to all other states with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar being on top of the list.

All institutions need more teachers and better infrastructure. JND Charitable Trust’s endeavours are channelled towards achieving this very objective — quality education which does not cost a bomb. For this, help is required from people belonging to all sections of the society.

You can also contribute by financing children, or even taking steps to strengthen the infrastructure of schools in sub-urban and rural areas which fall on the blind spot of the government. JND Charitable Trust is there to show you the way on how to go about the task and allocate the funds that would be donated by you.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

In Panchayats, women need to stop men ruling by proxy

On April 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the contribution of women in the functioning of Panchayats across the country. His remarks were made at a function in New Delhi to mark National Panchayati Raj Day. The PM touched upon one of the most sensitive topics that have been governing Panchayats ever since women were given quota to be part of the village governing body, thereby ending the rule of men and giving equal rights to their counterparts.
Modi called for ending the practice of “husbands of female Sarpanches”, also known as "Sarpanch Pati”, who exercise undue influence in the functioning of the village body. After women’s quota in Panchayats came into existence, men still continued to rule by proxy and made all decisions required to be done by women Panchs.

Considering this fact, women empowerment is by far lacking and changes need to be made in the entire set up. The primary thing that can be done is to apprise and educate women about the rights they have and how they can exercise them without any hindrance from anybody — even their husbands — with full support and cooperation of the law, the lawmakers and the law enforcers.

While the government makes all the policies regarding uplifting of women, it does not have the required manpower and means to check whether they are being enforced. This is where non-government organisations like JND Charitable Trust step in. The Trust is making it a point to apprise women and educate them about their rights, how they can exercise them and become independent decision makers, not just in their families but for the community at large.

We at JND Charitable Trust believe that it is women who shape the future generations as children spend most of their time interacting with their mothers. The level of education, the decision making capacity of women is what will influence children the most. If the children are taught, educated, and moulded by well-educated and empowered women, the future of the country will be in safer hands. If a woman is weak, then the household suffers in the future.

Just like the Prime Minister said, let us all take a pledge that if any woman in our family, or the community is given the chance to take up a governing post, then we will all support her and make sure that she is not influenced by anyone onto making bad decisions that could have an adverse impact on the community and the country at large.