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Is #Sterilization the solution to #India #Population?

This article was posted in Reuters yesterday, and it talks about how sterilization is the major means of India population control.

It’s really sad to hear that even in the days of Information Technology, social networks, smart phones, cloud, and reach-ability to the masses, to the rural masses in particular through startup apps., these kind of measures are required.

India technology evangelists and entrepreneurs should invest in making awareness creation solutions to not to have babies.  Most of the work will be done mentally, when we plant these ideas of other options available rather than to have babies, and physical measures like sterilization will come down.

If you look at India broadly, 70% is rural and 30% is urban/semi-urban.  Solutions like ‘Make In India’ which are destined to boost the Indian economy, should focus on the rural areas where the unemployment is the most, and generate job opportunities, such that people don’t generate babies for labour.

And the urban folks have the adoption option.  The Ministry of Women and Child Development, India under the able leadership of Mrs. Menaka Gandhi, is streamlining the CARA process and making adoption easy and hassle-free.  If only people can reject the stigma surrounding ‘It’s not MY child!’, things will be a lot better.

So, good work is being done, but we need to invest in data gathering, sharing and awareness creation.  Will the India tech. entrepreneurs take note?

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#Gift an #Education, Make a #Life ! – #Isha Vidhya

5 months ago, #IshaVidhya applied for accreditation with #GlobalGiving, a respected online fundraising platform which partners with corporates, employees and individual donors around the world.

Isha Vidhya crossed the fundraising requirements of $5,000 from 40 donors in just 23 days to become a permanent online member partner of GlobalGiving, thanks to many general public, supporters & wellwishers worldwide. They recognize Isha Vidhya’s work in transforming the rural education landscape of #India, and especially in #Tamilnadu. With its high quality education through carefully crafted methodology to the most economically backward children, Isha Vidhya is making a signficant difference in the lives of many rural families – many of them are first generation school-goers.

The fundraising was started to fund the critical infrastructure needs of the rural school near #Dharmapuri in Tamilnadu, needs like academic material, furniture for classroom and staff, compound wall, water facilities, digital class room, etc.

IshaVidhya has obtained $10,175 in donations from 104 donors. It’s heartening to see that 13 of those donations are from #corporate employees through employee gift cards, whose companies are partners with GlobalGiving, and be able to donate to Isha Vidhya through the GlobalGiving portal.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the fundraising target of $97,750, so awareness about this good work need be made to spread the word far and wide so that many more can support this building of rural India through education.

And the good news for the existing donors is that your project Isha Vidhya is in a very good standing at GlobalGiving, in many categories including donations, no. of donors, number and quality of project reports, and frequency of donations. It is expected that IshaVidhya will soon be in the ‘Leader’ category at GlobalGiving, at which time it will be introduced to more corporates, employees, and offered more exposure opportunities.

On February 12th, 2014, between 9:00 AM USA Eastern Standard Time and 23:59 PM USA Eastern Standard Time (between Feb 12, 2014 19:30 PM Indian Standard Time and Feb 13 10:29 AM Indian Standard Time) (what would be the time at my place? : http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html), donations made to Isha Vidhya at the Global Giving portal will be matched 30% by Global Giving, upto a maximum of $1000 per donor, till the Global Giving matching funds of $75,000 run out.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to donate and show their support for Isha Vidhya’s work. The link is:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ishavidhya

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Muhammad Yunus – the inspirator!

My friend, who works for RangDe had invited me to watch a video that was to be screened on the event of RangDe’s 6th birthday, on January 26th.

I was a bit familiar with RangDe’s work, and I have had the opportunity to interact with their people a couple of times. I was thinking probably it’s about the work that RangDe is doing in the areas of microcredit to needy people in India.

What I saw was totally incredible – it was a documentary video called ‘Bonsoi People’ by Holly Mosher, which talked about how Muhammad Yunus transformed the lives of millions of people in poverty-stricken Bangladesh. The model is ‘Teach a man to fish’ instead of giving them the fish. It totally made sense to me, as I think – enabling them with the little capital that they need to stand on their own legs will make them take their lives in their own hands and thrive.

A typical example was shown in the video – an enterprising mother, who started with a small loan – how she expanded her economic wellbeing by slowly – educating her child and making him to dream to become a fashion businessman, constructing a house, helping her neighbors by giving them work, etc.

This particular case in Bangladesh – The Grameen bank – for which Muhammad Yunus got the Nobel Price for Peace (Note: not for economics) – strongly displays the point that microcredit is not sucking money from people, but enabling them at grass roots. Muhammad believes that peace can be achieved only if there’s economic wellbeing among the masses – and it shows. His Grameen bank has touched the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh to take their lives in their own hands. 97% of them are women!

It was also interesting to note that Grameen Bank didn’t just stop by giving loans and then collecting them- they have a bank representative who becomes like a family member and cares for what’s happening on a day-to-day basis with their clients. If they have a problem, they try to address it. They give directives to the people on how to live – for example, they stress that having a strong house and roof is important for people – because if they get wet or infected, their health is affected and sometimes they even die.

They have 16 such directives. The one that touched me the most was ‘Limit the no. of babies that you have, so that you can care for them’. How true! How much I wish this message is passed on to the central Indian states where people are having babies just for labour! How are we going to spread the message of having less children, so that they can care enough for them, and also thus not contribute to the country’s burgeoning population! Yes, I feel, an attempt should be made.

India might be a different story from Bangladesh. The dynamics might be different, and the approach could be different to eradicate poverty, bring economic wellbeing, and then bring sense into them to make them not have more and more babies. But, the concept is the same. How it needs be made aware, communicated to the most economically backward rural, is what needs be worked on.

If you are interested in this area of work, please leave a comment with your contact information in the comments section, and I will get in touch with you!


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The #HopeProject #IndiBlogger meet – #Bangalore – December 15, 2013

I got the email intimation about the #HopeProject #IndiBlogger meet at #Bangalore that was going to happen at Bangalore on December 15th a week back. I was always looking forward to participate in a blogger meet for a while, and I was excited that there’s an opportunity to attend one in Bangalore itself.

Came December 15th, and off I went to the #Microsoft R&D campus in Lavelle Road. The venue was decorated pretty nice, and the IndiBlogger folks have been taking care of all aspects starting from registration to ushering to photographs in a very professional way. I liked the part about people entering their Indiblogger-registered email id., and then their Twitter ID showing in the live event feed along with the time when they walked in. That was cool.

There was a whiteboard in which many keywords were written, and each blogger was asked to write a keyword that they looking forward to in 2014. Swati took the pictures of the bloggers along with those individual sheets showing against the background of the whiteboard.

The event started with Anoop Johnson welcoming everyone, followed by Nihal taking all of us through step-to-step towards “We will…We will.. Rock you!” to get us all out of the so-called ‘corporate’ mode, and help us relax and have fun!

After this, we had introductions from each blogger who is coming for the Bangalore meet for the first time, and everyone was given a minute’s time to introduce themselves, the topics that they blog about, and the theme of hope that they have in mind for 2014.

I thought a lot about my theme. I have been volunteering for fund-raising for rural education for underprivileged children, but at the same time, on the big picture perspective, I am always concerned about how as Indians we are going to help ourselves when we have so many people. So, even though I would be working a lot on the rural education front in 2014, my focus would be to create awareness about India population perils and how we need to control it – among various forums, channels, organisations, policy-makers and individuals, and so, I chose my theme as ‘Population’.

I was given a golden chance to present my 5-slide presentation on population & control approach during the introduction session, thanks to Anoop. The reason I am saying it’s a golden chance was because – we were yet to get into the thick of things about the agenda of the meet; we just had started the meeting, and the attendees were still very attentive on what was being said by everyone, and so I had the attention of the entire audience with an open mind so that I can put across my views. And good enough it was received well and understood by many. They could appreciate the seriousness of the situation as I had projected the gloomy picture with the help of supporting data collected from the India Census 2010, sincere thanks to data collected by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

After the introductions, all the bloggers got into groups of 5 and played a Milaap theme picture-puzzle solving game. Three groups won the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes, which had gift codes for donations made at the Milaap web-site. It was good fun and a nice team-work exercise.

This was followed by high tea which included samosas, biscuits, and coffee-tea. We had an opportunity to mingle with fellow bloggers. I had the chance to introduce myself with Raghav, Jey, Sangeeta and Knitha.

We then got into the main agenda of the meeting – the #HopeProject by #Milaap, which is trying to eradicate the DevaDaasi system from the many districts along the Maharashtra-Karnataka border through micro-financing. Anoj Viswanathan, and Aditi, the founders of Milaap presented about their work, which was followed by a real-life sharing by a person from Belgaum district who got out of the DevaDaasi system and explained the challenges and how she managed to form a group to help people like her. There was a video which showed a sad story before Milaap intervention, and how the person’s life changed after the intervention.

It was enlightening to see how there are still many portions in India which are under the clutches of blind beliefs, people who would trade other people for money in the disguise of religious beliefs, etc. It almost looked like there was no doctrine of law and enforcements in these places. Kudos to Milaap which is doing a fantastic job in rehabilitating these people are making them enterpreneurs so that they can take their life in their own hands!  This was followed by a photograph session.

After the video and the talk, the forum was split into three or four groups for discussions, during which time I had to leave.

It was a wonderful energetic meet!  I wish I had taken pictures for sharing, but unfortunately I didn’t. I hope this blog itself has the meet visualized in words!

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In honour of International Women’s Day (08/03/2013)

First things first. The very fact that we dedicate a specific day to voice on behalf of women makes me put my head down in shame. Before you conclude on that statement, let me explain. So much of injustice has happened to women, and continue to happen, and thus it has become important to voice out, and that’s a shame. And hopefully, it won’t continue. May the next year be without a women’s day, because we started treating women as our integral part.

Dreams aside, its a serious problem. This happened in a ceremony in one of my relatives’ place. We were some 20 people sitting and talking. I told about my daughter, what she does, and how she is doing. And another relative explained what his daughter is doing. We both have no male children. One more relative suddenly raised his voice and said ‘Aamaamaa, pottai pasanga apdidhaan irukum’ (which means in Tamil language – “Yes Yes, girls (in a derogatory way) will be like that”. The point is he has two grown-up sons. He thinks that having male children adds to his status and prestige. May be because, he thinks only male children can go to jobs, earn, and support him during his old age.  So, you see, the problem is deep-rooted, and attitude based.

This is not just in India. There are horror stories from all over the world.  In Africa, in many countries, NGOs are working to make women aware of contraceptive methods. The landlords are using the women who come for work for sex, and these women get pregnant at the age of 14 or 15. They couldn’t stop the menace of women being used for sex, so they thought at least they could educate the women about contraceptives so that the pregnancy does not happen.

There are a couple of things that we could personally, at our homes, offices, and the society to change this.

1) Respect. Treat women with respect. There lies the secret to all the other good things – education, job, health and well-being.  If you treat a woman with respect as thyself, will you demean her in any way?

2) Self-defense: This is the need of the day, and should be done. All women should learn self-defense techniques till our attitudes change completely for good. It could be eastern or western martial arts. No advocacy is going to help you when that auto-driver or a co-passenger is misbehaving with you. You have to protect yourself. So, take your safety in your own hands. There are self-defense workshops being conducted for free in various cities, so take heart to attend them.

So, is this like Happy Pongal, Happy Diwali, Happy Christmas, or Happy Buddha Poornima? No. We have lot of work to do on the ground in our homes, workplaces, and society.

I am not an expert in woman rights nor I have the statistics to talk about it further. But whatever I said above comes from my heart and experience.