Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Permanent Fire Cracker Ban

This post was published on Women's Web on 19th October, 2017.

The  Supreme Court has banned sale of fire crackers in Delhi NCR .

The news item then narrates  that  many will lose jobs as they are employed by the fire cracker industry. 85 % of fire crackers are manufactured at  Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.More than 3 lakhs employees are employed in making fire crackers & nearly 5 lakhs in ancillary industries like packaging, transport etc. 

report by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights ( NCPCR ) in 2013 stated that kids as young as 5 years old are employed for nearly 12 hours for making fire crackers. And for all this labour , the kids are paid measly amounts of Rs 30-50/-per day.The children work in most dangerous conditions in tiny sheds with no safety gear .They are filling flower pots, fuses, paper pipes etc. The clothes of children are covered with chemicals as they make the fire crackers. These chemicals cause asthma, eye infections, tuberculosis, etc in 90 % of the child labour. And as children work unsupervised, with dangerous chemicals like potassium &  sodium nitrates, zinc, magnesium, iron, steel, aluminum, etc.there are many accidents which maim  & or kill children. 

The manufacturers state, that of late , child labour is non existent in manufacture of fire crackers.Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi says that atleast 1 lakh kids are employed in fire cracker industry spread across   Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chattisgarh,  Jaipur, Orissa & Tamil Nadu.So, there is an equality of treatment towards children on nearly a Pan Indian basis. Because, in other industries in the remaining states, child labour is employed as well.To name a few,  silk, glass bangles, carpet weaving etal.

The effect of all this, is that adults don't get employed & even if, they get employed, their wages are less than the minimum prescribed for that industry.Fire Cracker employers say that profits are eroding because of the SC ban.They are right, because how can such stupendous  profits be let off where employees who are children, can be paid peanuts & who will not unionise themselves, no matter, what dangerous working conditions prevail! 

Manufacturers would have us believe, that children who are employed were worse off than when non employed .If that is true, then why employ kids which is illegal.In fact, the laws prohibit employment of children below age 14-18 years in any industry .And in fire cracker industry by default, children below the age of 14-18 years are employed. The simple reason being, by the time, they turn 14-18, the children have become unemployable because of having suffered some accident / s  which has  either crippled them for life and or cost them their lives ! 

 This is how the population growth can be kept under check.And with it, poverty as well. Because, poor children only are employed in such hazardous industry/ s.In effect, employment of child labour serves  so many social causes ! 

Fire crackers cause pollution. Noise as also air pollution.After the crackers have been burst, the debris remains all over the places, This affects  all of us. Those favouring fire crackers are arguing that vehicles cause annual pollution whereas crackers cause a week's pollution at the most, especially during festivals, weddings, etal. Next, vehicle manufacturers & manufacturers of fire crackers will unite and fight any bans put up for improving quality of life of general public. Because, the manufacturers are up against what they see as a downsizing to their upward mobility in life !  

And then there are those. who say that bursting fire crackers is a Hindu tradition.Bursting fire crackers during Deepavali started  after fire crackers were invented in China. Patriots  could do well to go with the ban on fire crackers as this would mean that the ban is in line with anything and everything associated with China.And money spent on fire crackers is money going up in smoke... literally & in fact .

Moreover,culture flourishes  if we embrace better practices & give up those which are dangerous to humanity .When we discard  outmoded traditions & customs, will we all grow & prosper. 

SC should take suo moto cognizance of the facts that air & noise pollutions are hazards all over Bharat, not just in Delhi NCR.An outright Pan Indian ban for ever ,on fire crackers would make the future shine brighter   for our children ensuring safety ( from being employed in fire cracker industry ) & bereft of air & noise pollution. After all ," We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children "

This post was published on Counter Currents.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

"Zero Tolerance To Violence Against Women "

The Family Planning Association of India or FPA India as popularly known is a registered charity .It was established in our county in 1949. It has 40 branches all over India. It is associated with International Planned Parenthood Federation. FPA India encourages choices in reproduction, lawlful & safe abortions, sexual & reproductive health.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation ( AHF is the biggest AIDS organisation worldwide serving healthcare to more than eight lakhs in 39 countries. These include countries in  USA,Latin America,Eastern  Europe, Africa, Asia etal.

To commemorate the International  Day of the Girl Child on October, 11, FPA  India & AHF India took out a silent rally in Mumbai. The main idea was "Zero Tolerance To Violence Against Women ".More than a hundred participants participated in the rally to speak against issues like child marriage, forced sex,gender inequality, human trafficking among others. They therefore took a pledge for "Zero Tolerance To Violence Against Women ".

Silent protests were held in 10 places  all over India including  Delhi, Pune, Solapur, Madurai, Dharwad, Bangalore, Gwalior, Yamuna Nagar & Nagaland.

Rape is becoming a common daily occurrence in India.Gang rape survivors are not given Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV, STI screening or a pregnancy test .But things are changing now. Girls & women are demanding, that, they be protected against all types of violence.

There was panel discussion on “Say No to Abuse, Rape & Violence”. The participating experts  were Dr.V.Sam Prasad, Country Manager, AHF India, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, Brand
Ambassadors, AHF India,Dr. Kalpana Apte, Secretary General, FPAI, Amita Dhanu, Asst. SecretaryGeneral, FPAI and Zainab Patel,Transgender Activist, Policy Analyst Human Rights at UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub.

Dr.V.Sam Prasad, Country Manager, AHF India opined that gender equity needs to be inculcated right in school curricula from primary level till the child finishes University education. Even the family should show support for daughters as also sons & not discriminate . Dr . Prasad said that rape victims & abuse survivors may be suffering from HIV, STI infections. Hence it is imperative that such victims & survivors are provided with PEP (Post exposure prophylaxis) so that their trauma can become bearable.

Dr. Kalpana Apte, Secretary General, FPA India said that violence of any kind including sexual, physical, emotional, etc weakens women & girls.Society should share the blame for this . Women & girls need to be protected against violence of all kinds.,By encouraging women & girls to talk about violence, can this attitude towards women &  girls change.And this is what is being done by FPA India.  This will help in changing the attitudes in a  positive way in support of women & girls.

Girls have been discriminated against right from the beginning.And that's the reason, they suffer from gross inequalities  This results in high drop rates of girls from school , early marriages of girls resulting in early pregnancies.  And yet, if girls are given opportunities, there can be positive changes.

The millions of girls in crisis as also the 1.1 billion girls in the world are the epitome of  creativity energy & power .That's why, AHF India & FPA India are working towards empowerment of girls.This will help to deal with  gender based violence. Society will change positively by understanding that  issues facing women & girls are significant .

The International Year of the Girl, this year, marks the start of an year long  effort to direct  global attention towards difficulties & circumstances faced by girls before , during & after emergencies .
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