Social Worker – Ashwini Lakhmale

35 year old Ashwini Lakhmale is associated with MAULI BAHHIDESHIYA SEWABHAWI SANSTHA, PAITHAN, DIST AURANGABAD in Maharashtra. Inspired by his Grandfather, a Freedom Fighter; Ashwini has taken to his footsteps as his Ideal. The MAULI BAHHIDESHIYA SEWABHAWI SANSTHA is engaged in education, Health and Women Empowerment.

Ashwini Lakhmale was awarded with the Women day Award, for his work.

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New Role for NGOs – E Waste Management

Delhi Public School (DPS)-Patna, Foundation School-Buxar and Shri Ram Centennial School (SRCS)-Patna were rewarded at a workshop here on Tuesday for their commitment towards working for a sustainable environment. It was organized under Karo Sambhav school programme, which aims at building awareness and inspiring students to act on recycling of e-waste (waste from old and unused electronic equipment).

Dps was rewarded for maximum collection of e-waste, Foundation School-Buxar for best execution of toolkits and SRCS-Patna got the best sustainable school award. Senior scientist of Bihar State Pollution Control Board Naveen Kumar honoured the representatives of the schools and appreciated their endeavours. “Such programmes encourage the students to lead a sustainable life and inspire them to become the catalysts of change,” Kumar said.

Around 75 schools from across the state participated in the three-phase awareness programme over a period of four months. In the initial phase, teachers were given training on the specially designed toolkit, consisting of six exercises based on circular economy, understanding waste, design for environment, e-waste introduction and collection, petitions and potential career options in the field of environment.
Organisers said the e-waste awareness initiatives, first of its kind in the country, comprise strategies like circular economy and inspiring the students and teachers alike to take actions in their daily lives. “We have designed a curriculum which enables development of teacher’s competence and empowers them to achieve the goals. We target students as it would cover many households in the city and make recyclable chain more environment-friendly.”

The teachers and students explained how the programme helped them to become responsible citizens to make the cleaner, greener and smarter city.

NGO – Citizen Circle for Social Welfare and Education files P.I.L against cancerous use of pesticides in Fruits and Veggie.

File picture of the Bombay high court.

 

Mumbai: A NGO has filed a PIL in the Bombay high court, raising several issues such as alleged use of hazardous chemicals in fruits and vegetables by traders and vendors, excessive use of pesticides by farmers, death of 20 farmers in September this year due to excessive use of pesticides in the state, and use of antibiotics on hens in poultry farms. The petitioner has requested the court to direct the state government and concerned departments to frame a policy to control these problems.

NGO, Citizen Circle for Social Welfare and Education, through its president, Arshad Ali, has filed the PIL based on information gathered from news reports published from time to time. The petitioner’s lawyer, Syed ShehzadNaqvi, has claimed in the petition that the health of the public at large is at risk due to use of chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and genetically-treated substances in fruits and vegetables and in poultry farms.

Advocate Naqvi pointed out in the petition that in October this year, due to excessive use of pesticides, 20 farmers lost their lives in Maharashtra. The petition further claimed that according to a December, 2016, news report, out of the total fruits and vegetables exported to Switzerland, 34 per cent contained pesticides beyond the standards set by the European Union (EU). It also claimed that in 2014, Saudi Arabia banned import of chilli peppers from India after tests in the country’s laboratories revealed that the vegetables contained pesticides in proportions enough to cause cancer. According to the petition, the consignment of chilli that was sent back was sold in the Indian market. Later in 2015, UAE authorities also revealed that they found pesticides beyond permissible limits in fruits and vegetables imported from India.

The petition said that the director general of health services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Jagdish Prasad, had called for big and small fast food chains in India to stop using antibiotics in chicken and other food products.

A Tribute to Neerja Bhanot – The National Hero.

Neerja Bhanot, the purser on Pan Am flight 73 which was hi jacked to Karachi; laid down her life saving the passengers on the flight, helping them escape through the Emergency Door. She was shot by the terrorists.  She was honored with Ashoka chakara Posthumously her brother Aneesh Bhanot, now a Rotarian in Chandigarh has undertaken to help the Visually Impaired students in Chandigarh; as a tribute to Neerja Bhanot – the National Hero. The Times of India has covered his latest tribute.

Rotary Chandigarh Shivalik (RCS) presented scholarships worth Rs 1.80 lakh to nine visually-challenged college and university students. The funds had been raised through a unique fundraiser, “Rotary Dinner in the Dark”, held in September and October. Part of the funds came through a number of people pledging additional support to RCS for ensuring that visually impaired students were able to complete their education and achieve success in life.

A jury headed by J S Jyara, headmaster, Institute for the Blind, decided to confer the scholarships of Rs 20,000 each. The nine students include Manpreet Kaur (Late Col Harsharan Sandhu Scholarship), Labh Singh (Late H S Malik Scholarship), Yogita (Late Sarabjit Singh Scholarship), Sadanand (Late Santosh Mehra Scholarship), Hussna (Late Bimla Devi Laroia Scholarship), Princy Rani (Late Bimla Devi Scholarship), Prince Wadhwa (Adhiraj and Nandini Scholarship), Sajan Singh (Late Veena Gill Scholarship) and Ravi Paswan (Rama Bhanot Scholarship).

Jyara said while cheques of Rs 10,000 each were handed over to each awardee, the balance Rs 10,000 would be given in the next semester provided the student performed well in academics in the current semester.

Manjit Kaur, president, Rotary Chandigarh Shivalik, said, “We achieved our basic objectives, to ensure that ‘sighted’ people respect the blind by understanding how they smilingly face the problems they face in their daily lives as well as raise funds for providing scholarships. We are making this an annual event and there will be two Rotary dinners in the Dark in the New Year on January 4, which is Louis Braille Day, and on October 15, which is White Cane Day.”

Giving details of the January 4, event, Rotarian Aneesh Bhanot said this would also be a fundraiser for scholarships for the next academic session and would be limited to 50 people on a first-come, first-served basis. As RCS wants to spread the message of ‘Respect the Visually Impaired’ among the youth, there is a special discounted offer for students in the age group of 13-18 years.

The team of visually impaired youth who have selflessly volunteered to be part of RDID included Shiv, Amarinder, Kuljeet, Mohit, Meeta and Soni. They are being assisted by a number of volunteers.

Law on adultery punishing only men – Under SC Scanner

 

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the constitutional validity of a colonial-era law on adultery which punishes only the man even though the woman, with whom he has had consensual sex, may be an equal partner.

The top court also said if the husband gives consent for sexual intercourse between his wife and another man, then it nullifies the offence of adultery and turns the woman into a commodity, which goes against the principle of gender justice and the constitutional mandate of right to equality.

Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code states that “whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery”.

The offence of adultery entails punishment of up to five years in jain or fine or with both. However, in such cases, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud termed the provision a “prima facie archaic” and said this “tantamounts to subordination of a woman where the Constitution confers equal status”.

“A time has come when the society must realise that a woman is equal to a man in every field. This provision, prima facie, appears to be quite archaic. When the society progresses and the rights are conferred, the new generation of thoughts spring, and that is why, we are inclined to issue notice,” the bench said.

It said it would examine the constitutional validity of the 157-year-old provision and issued notice to the Centre, seeking its response in four weeks.

The court said it needs to examine why a married woman, who may have been an equal partner to the offence of adultery with a married man who is not her husband, should not be punished along with the man.

Secondly, the bench said it will examine if the husband of a woman gives his consent or connives for sexual intercourse with another married man, then does it not turn her into a commodity.

“Prima facie, on a perusal of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, we find that it grants relief to the wife by treating her as a victim. It is also worthy to note that when an offence is committed by both of them, one is liable for criminal offence but the other is absolved,” it said.

The top court said the provision seems to be based on a “societal presumption” and ordinarily, the criminal law proceeds on gender neutrality but in this case, “as we perceive, the said concept is absent”.

“That apart, it is to be seen when there is conferment of any affirmative right on women, can it go to the extent of treating them as the victim, in all circumstances, to the peril of the husband,” the bench said.

It said when the provision is perceived from the language employed in the section, then the “fulcrum of the offence is destroyed once the consent or the connivance of the husband is established”.

“Viewed from the said scenario, the provision really creates a dent on the individual, independent identity of a woman when the emphasis is laid on the connivance or the consent of the husband”, it said.

During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud observed that at present, the law assumes a “patronising attitude” towards the woman and treats her as a victim which amounts to violation of a fundamental right and gender discrimination.

Advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and Suvidutt M S, appearing for petitioner Joseph Shine, an Indian citizen but residing in Italy, said section 497 was “prima facie unconstitutional on the ground that it discriminates against men and violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of”.

He said “when the sexual intercourse takes place with the consent of both the parties, there is no good reason for excluding one party from the liability”.

 

The lawyer said the provision also indirectly discriminates against women by holding an erroneous presumption that they are the property of men.

“This is further evidenced by the fact that if adultery is engaged with the consent of the husband of the woman, then such act seizes to be an offence punishable under the code,” he told the bench.

He said the said provisions have been treated to be constitutionally valid in three verdicts of the apex court in 1954, 1985 and in 1988.

Raj said that petitioner has also challenged the Section 198(2) of CrPC, which deals with prosecution for offences against marriages.

School asks parents to pick and drop girls! Psychologists must come forward to curb this sexual perversion in the society!!

Representational image

 

 

The La Martiniere For Girls school in Kolkata has banned pool cars for the students and has asked the parents to pick and drop their kids from next month. The development came a few days after a kindergarten student at a top school in Ranikuthi in Kolkata was sexually assaulted by a teacher inside a toilet. The teacher allegedly lured the 4-year-old and took her to the toilet where he reportedly physically abused her.

Even as the CISCE board asked all the schools to install CCTV cameras within two weeks, some of the schools have installed their own safety measures. La Martiniere For Girls is one of them.

The school has issued a notice to all the parents urging them to personally pick and drop their children. Although the school has banned pool cars, it said that even if the parents arrange pool cars for their children, they have to make sure that each child is accompanied by a family member.

“Either the mother or father of the child will drop her and pick her up from January 16, next year,” Rupkatha Sarkar, Principal, La Martiniere for Girls, was quoted as saying by PTI.

Not just pool cars, the escort must also carry an authorization letter with a picture and signature as identity proof.

A 4-year-old student was sexually and physically abused on December 1 by a male teacher in a top Kolkata school’s toilet. When the child returned home, her mother noticed blood stains all over her school uniform. Th kid was also found bleeding from her private parts.

NGOs & Care Givers resolve to enable the Disabled

 

The Prominent NGOs of the City working for the Empowerment of the Disabled along with the care givers of the disabled, under different categories; called on the Government and the Society to create the Eco System for upholding the dignity, respect and Honor of the Disabled Persons in the Society by enabling them with facilities and assistive technologies, to bring them at par with their able bodied equals.

 

The NGOs, care givers and the Disabled were celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the Health Centre, Panjab University Chandigarh organized by Disha NGO – The Harbinger of Social Change & Development and The National Rehabilitation Institute.

 

Doctor Monica Singh, Centre for Social work and Prof. Renu Gandhi – Centre for Life Long Learning & Extension, PU; Maj. Gen Rajender Nath – President, Institute for the Blind; Sh. Harmesh Kumar – President, Physically Handicapped Welfare Association; Smt. Anu Malhotra – Saksham Trust; Sh. Vinod Chadha – President, National Association for the Blind; Sh. Ajay Sondhi – From Abhimanyu IAS Circle; Sh. Jayara – Principle, Institute for the Blind; Dr. Neena Mehta from Rayat Bahra University; Sh. Charanjeet Bains, ENT Surgeon from Amritsar, Dr. Jaywanti Bakshi and several students of the Equal Opportunities Cell addressed the more than 200 participants.

 

Dr. Dharmveer and Dr. Sarswati Gupta from the National Rehabilitation Institute and Smt. Jatinder Kaur – Vice Chairman and Lata Dua – Secretary from Disha NGO gave the outlines of the new Rights of Persons with Disabilities act 2016 and the new provisions for the 21 Disabilities covered in the act.

 

Several office bearers of different NGOs, care givers connected with the disabled and student volunteers participated to lend a helping hand.

Crowd funding for Acid Victims by NGOs

 

Having completed treatment, Lalita is now happily married

 

mid-day exclusive Zakira Shaikh is not the only acid attack victim who feels exploited by the NGO Make Love Not Scars. After mid-day’s report on the matter, yet another victim has come forward with allegations that the NGO used his patient’s picture and story to raise funds without consent. What’s more, neither the patient nor the hospital got a single penny from the money raised by the NGO.

Five years ago, Lalita Benbansi, 25, suffered nearly 80 per cent burns after her 15-year-old cousin threw acid on her after a petty argument. The Asangaon resident’s father supported the entire family on a salary of Rs 3,000, and the family could not afford to pay for treatment. At the time, Dr Ashok Gupta had provided full treatment to her free of charge at Bombay Hospital. This included 65 reconstructive surgeries.

 

However, Dr Gupta says he was surprised when he came across a crowdfunding campaign by Make Love Not Scars, claiming to raise funds for Lalita’s treatment. Neither he nor Lalita had been informed about this, nor had they received the $1,718 (approximately Rs 1.1 lakh) collected by the NGO.

‘Didn’t get any money’
“Ria Sharma’s NGO, Make Love Not Scars, did not give a single rupee to the hospital that provided quality treatment to the victim free of cost. It is their regular practice to collect money in the name of acid attack victims and not to transfer the full amount to the hospital carrying out the treatment,” said Dr Gupta.

After multiple surgeries, Lalita’s face was reconstructed and she got back on her feet. She is now happily married. She told mid-day, “I was not aware that money was raised in my name. I did not get any money. People should not play with the emotions of victims.”

Investigate the NGO
The matter is currently being investigated by the Byculla police, after Zakira’s family submitted a written complaint to them. Dr Gupta, who is a Padmashri awardee, said he is ready to provide details of Lalita’s case to the cops as well, demanding that the culprits be booked.

In June, Dr Gupta had also written to the charity commissioner in New Delhi, seeking his intervention in the matter. He wrote: “While surfing the Internet, I came across the NGO Make Love Not Scars, claiming to have collected a huge sum of money in US dollars towards the treatment of these patients. I was surprised to read the names of two patients who were treated by me at Bombay Hospital, for whom the NGO had raised $9,000 and $1,500.”

He suggested that there should be strict monitoring of such donations under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Dr Gupta also wrote to Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson of the state women’s rights commission on the matter.

‘Dr Gupta is credit-hungry’
Ria Sharma, founder of Make Love Not Scars, rubbished the allegations levelled by Dr Ashok Gupta, saying he is hungry for credit. She said, “Dr Gupta had told me that he was looking for financial aid for Lalita. He sent me her details and photographs, which were later used to raise money through crowdfunding. I have email evidence to show Dr Gupta is lying. That money is still with Indiegogo (the crowdfunding platform) and we have not used it for our own purpose.”

Asked why the funds were not transferred to Lalita, Sharma said, “A few things went wrong between me and Dr Gupta; he did not take my phone call, and hence, the money was never transferred.” Sharma added, “Dr Gupta is a credit-hungry person. He is targeting me for no reason.”

Sharma hit back at Dr Gupta, stating that he has withheld funds they raised for another victim, Reshma Qureshi. Qureshi told mid-day, “Dr Gupta is not polite with his patients and he has not released the Rs 2 lakh that was raised for my treatment. I need the funds for an eye operation.”

Not all experiences are bad
Who: Sushmita Murthy, 30, writer
Funds for: Heart surgery
Platform: Ketto
The process of making an account on Ketto was easy. Once I submitted the necessary documents, my campaign was live in two days. I raised Rs 1.04 lakh in five days. Since the patient needed the funds urgently, I shut down the campaign prematurely. The donations that came in rupees got transferred to my account in a couple of weeks. The foreign currency came by cheque and took a lot longer to process. I got a notification every time someone donated, so I could keep tabs on how much money was being raised. In the end, Ketto took a cut of 8-10 per cent as mentioned on the site. – As told to Aastha Atray Banan

Rs 3 lakh
The compensation awarded by the state government for acid attack survivors

55%
Portion of the total donations raised that Ketto had withheld from Shabbo Shaikh

Kamal Haasan lauds NGO for exposing Chennai Corporation’s Scam

Unearthing a scam to the tune of crores of rupees by the Chennai Corporation, NGO Arappor Iyakkam has exposed corruption in the laying of roads along bus routes in Chennai.

In a first in a series of promised “exposés”, the anti-corruption group has alleged a scam in the laying of ‘Devanathan Street’ in Mandaveli.

The Chennai Corporation had allocated Rs 345 crore for the re-laying of roads along the bus routes most frequented in 2015.

The RTI states Santhanam was issued the contract to relay Devanathan street.

The task of re-laying Devanathan Street was given to a contractor named J Santhanam and RTIs show it was completed on 30 May 2016 at the cost of Rs 36,97,776.

In a month’s time, the road was closed to the public and ‘patch work’ costing Rs 2,00,092 was carried out. The contract for this ‘patch work’ had been given to another company, MPK Enterprises. The height of the road had been increased and the RTI clearly states that no quality check was done before the added work was done on the road.

But that wasn’t all.

In December, another bill was raised for Rs 26,50,104 by J Santhanam, the original contractor for the road, citing ‘Metrowater road cut repair’.

That is, a bill which was 70% of the cost of the original road was raised in just over 6 months.

How bad should the quality of the road be that it is being repaired thrice in 6 months?

Arappor Iyakkam, however, alleges no road was even laid in December.

When The Quint cross-checked with Corporation records, it confirmed the NGO’s claims that work was done for ‘restoration of road cut made by Chennai Metro Water.’

According to the Bus Routes Roads Department, roads are to be re-laid every 3 years. So how does that explain Rs 65 lakh spent in 6 months? A first re-laying usually costs around Rs 25 lakh. What does it say about the quality of the road repair if only six months later, Rs 65 lakh must be spent again?

And after all that expenditure, is Devanathan Street a model road? The answer is no. Times of India did a spot check on this key bus route road and found that a bus stop had been left dug up for more than a month, making it unsafe for both motorists and pedestrians.

All the lakhs spent on relaying hasn’t translated to fantastic results.

Arappor lyakkam is planning to file a formal complaint with the Ombudsman of Local bodies immediately and follow-up the case legally until the corrupt are brought to book.

Actor Kamal Haasan, who has been fearless in calling out the state government’s corrupt practices, tweeted lauding the NGO for their exposé .

The Quint reached out to the Corporation Commissioner and SP Velumani, Minister for Municipal Administration, Rural Development and Implementation of Special Programme, but they were unavailable for comment.

Also Read: Illegal Roads Are Choking Chennai’s Coastline

Corrupt Contractors Continue Damage

In February 2014, the Corporation conducted a series of tests on the quality of 1,300-odd roads, and one third of them failed. The then architect of the quality control initiative, Joint Commissioner Vijay Pingale, was held responsible for employing corrupt contractors.

From March 2015, the Chennai Corporation has listed the names of all the road contractors along with details of the roads, nature of repair, commencement and completion dates of the projects.

The Corporation has now listed the names of contractors along with their various projects.
The Corporation has now listed the names of contractors along with their various projects.
(Photo Courtesy: Chennai Corporation)

But these individual contractors almost never figure in any debate about the state of Chennai’s roads. They are never named or rated.

They have never been held up for potholed roads, except for once when the Corporation drew up a list of blacklisted contractors.

Will Better Roads Remain a Mirage?

It has become a standing joke in Chennai for students to tune into the news everyday during November and December and expect a holiday. Not always because of the rains, but the bad roads!

The images of the entire city submerged in water during the disastrous 2015 floods gives nightmares to residents even today. Because the problem is still unresolved. The floods, then followed by Vardah cyclone in 2016, exposed the archaic British laid sewage and stormwater drain system and poor urban planning.

Even the shortest spell of rains renders roads ridden with potholes, that a smooth ride during monsoon has become a rarity.

Also Read: Chennai Rains: Boats on Roads, Buses Under Water, It’s That Bad

Did the Droughts Help Reduce Damage?

The monsoon of 2017 was a much awaited one after a long summer of drought. The city’s four reservoirs had dried out completely and the monsoon helped fill up only one thirds. But when it came to the roads, they just got more battered and water-logged because after all they have been laid without abiding by the specified norms and so are bound to give in to pressure.

According to initial estimates by the Chennai Corporation, at least 15% of the 471 bus route roads were damaged.

Unfinished metro work has added to the difficulties. And sinkholes are so frequent as to no longer be news. Prominent roads like Anna Salai are caving in and there is very little that is being done to prevent such an incident.

State Just Doesn’t Get ‘Prevention Is Better Than Cure’

According to Deccan Chronicle, after this year’s monsoon, the restoration work was taken up in 32 roads by Public Works Department (PWD) and Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board. The inability of the departments to pay Rs 34 crore delayed the re-laying work. Corporation officials also claim that 80 percent of the roads that are now listed as ‘severely battered’ and ‘unusable’ have been delayed for the last five years because of non-payment.

But the solution is not re-laying. The roads needs to be desilted six months before the onset of the monsoon. Once the roads have been scraped of the layers of silt deposited, water is more able to percolate and flow to the sides. But this needs to be done well in advance of the rains, and constant maintenance must be performed throughout the monsoon season.

Re-laying roads is only a quick and temporary measure.

When will Chennai learn to be prepared, rather than sorry?