Saturday, July 10, 2021

Digital Discrimination

Pic: Internet

COVID-19 Pandemic has created the largest disruption of Education Systems in recent history, all places of learning from Pre-Schools to Universities were disrupted in an effort to stop the transmission of the Virus.

The Challenges of bringing Children back to School is immense, with still uncertainties on how and when the Education Process will be put back on track, the Online Classes is exposing the shocking Digital Discrimination.

The Digital Discrimination as we see it are challenges of Affordability & Access, Efficacy, Holistic Learning, Social Divide.

Affordability & Access

As Children form affluent background are taking Online Classes a large number of Children from less privileged background who go to Government, Aided or low-cost Private School are left in a lurch. Laptops or Smartphones with connectivity remains an illusion to less privileged Children and also to Teachers in many cases. Pandemic has not only disconnected a large percentage of the Children form Schools but form Learning & Education System itself. Added to the Affordability non availability of Learning Tools, Content, Bandwidth, Network etc. presents an Access challenge too.

Efficacy

Online Classes is new to Teachers, Students and Parents, most of the Learning Tools, Content and Teaching Methodology is based on School atmosphere, and there is very limited scope to replicate or replace that method. Also, School Education is an interaction only between Children and Teachers, but with Online Classes Parents are getting involved which is not only undesirable but also influences the Student-Teacher relationship.

As most Teachers are already complaining about Parents sitting along with Children or interfering during Online Classes, and the question on the Efficacy of Online Classes still remains unanswered. There are several studies that has shown harmful impact of digital addiction on Children, now with Lockdown and Online Classes it’s a forced digital addiction that will have serious repercussions on Behavior and Health of Children.

Holistic Learning

Offline Learning included Physical Interaction, Sports, Games, Extra Curricular Activities and Social Interaction between Teachers and Children and among Children that is now nonexistent in Online Classes. Social Interaction and Sports are very important for overall development of a Child and fear is that Online Classes many lead to several Physiological problems, Behavioral issues, Isolation among Children. Since Learning Tools and Teaching Methodologies currently are not designed for Online Classes, reports indicate that 45-50% of Children are unable to cope with the change thereby reducing the phase of their Learning.

Social Divide

Pandemic has caused havoc for venerable and less Privileged Children, they are deprived of not only Education but also deprived of Mid-day Meals, Healthcare, Nutrition supplements, Government Benefits and Support System. These Children are facing dislocation as Parents move back to hometowns, increase in Poverty, increase in Child Labour is now a reality.

 

In a study 1 out of 10 Children said they would not be returning to School or do not know whether they would return to School once Schools reopen, a significant number of Children reported having no contact with Teachers since the closure of Schools. Three out of every four Children reported an increase in negative feelings since the outbreak of the Pandemic.

 

The story is not pleasant in households with internet access as many parents lack digital literacy, vulnerable children have experienced severe Stress about the impending uncertainties due to the ongoing Pandemic. With over 91% migrant households having reported loss of income and 60% of households reporting lack of money to buy food, Children remain the most venerable with uncertain future.

 

Lack of access to Education, apathy or lack of awareness of Parents, large drop-outs may lead to a huge increase in Child Labour. It is unlikely that these Children would return to Schools unless there is relentless effort to Mainstream them. Also, there is no shying away from the fact that illiteracy and poverty is linked to caste in India; Pandemic may leave behind several deprived communities creating a huge Social Imbalance & Injustice and push them back into dark ages.

 

Kavitha Reddy

Trustee, Kaagaz Foundation

Friday, July 9, 2021

ಕಾರಂಜಿ - Kāran̄ji


Starting on 5th Sept 2021

ಕಾರಂಜಿ Karanji, is a Free bridge School initiative of Kaagaz Foundation specially designed for Children of Migrant Workers and other Communities who live in temporary colonies in Bengaluru who have stayed away form Schooling.

COVID19 lockdown has been a very serious blow to the Children of venerable households. Lack of - Learning opportunities, Mid-day meals, Connect to Schools has pushed these Children away form the Education System.

It is unlikely that these Children would return to Schools unless there is relentless effort to mainstream them. Karanji is one such humble effort to ensure these venerable Children are back in School.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Telecommunication Tower MESS!

Date: 7th March 2021

To,                                                                                             
Shri Rakesh Singh, IAS
Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department
Bengaluru

To, 
Shri Manjunath Prasad, IAS
Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike
Bengaluru 

CC To, 
Shri Kamal Pant, IPS
Police Commissioner Bengaluru
Bengaluru 

              Sub: Government Order on Telecommunication Towers

Respected Sirs,                                           

Greeting! With reference to the above subject, I would like to bring to your notice that both Telecom/Mobile Companies and Telecom Tower Service providers are rapidly Installing Towers without any Permission from BBMP or relevant competent Authority. Local BBMP Officials are silent over the concerns from Public, raising doubts on their motive and intent.
 
  1. According to Government Oder (GO) from Karnataka Urban Development Department (UDD), Ref # UDD 211 GEL 2014, Bengaluru, dated 29-05-2019 there are no permission given to the Telecommunication Towers in the residential area, and also there is a very clear frame work that the UDD has put in place for the approval process. 
  1. The Telecom/Mobile Companies and Telecom Tower Service providers are claiming that they have got a Stay Order from Hon High Court on the 2019 GO and High Court in its wisdom has asked to follow the 2005 guidelines till the time the Government responds, but WP # 55030 of 2018 (LB-Res) by the Telecom Tower Service provider was dismissed by Hon High Court on 3rd July 2019 clearly stating that N3 GEL 149 2005 guidelines is vailed only for Telecom/Mobile Companies and not for the Tower Service providers and even that concession was withdrawn via circular NA AE 149 GEL 2014 dated 13-05-2014.  
  1. BBMP Act 2020 that was notified on 21st December 2020 clearly mentions and considers Telecommunication Towers as ‘Buildings’, which means like any other Building Telecommunication Towers also are subjected to an approval process and taxes also have to be paid.
It’s appalling that when the RWAs or Citizen Groups ask for BBMP Permission Copy from the Telecom/Mobile Companies and Telecom Tower Service providers they are subjected to threats, bullying and even Police complains, threats with legal action etc. Unfortunately, BBMP Officials locally are making all excuses to delay action on these companies when approached for stoppage of work or for appropriate action. 

Considering all the above points, in the larger interest of Citizens of Bengaluru I request clarity from both BBMP and UDD on the above issues and I look forward for a positive response from your end. 

Thanking you,
Warm Regards,

Kavitha Reddy
AICC Member & KPCC Spokesperson  

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

How Sustainable for Her?

 

Picture source: Internet

Menstrual Hygiene is one of the most ignored health concerns for women in India, less than 36% women in India use Sanitary Napkins rest use Cloth or Leaves according to National Family Health Survey 2015-16. Taboo, lack of Awareness, Fear, lack of access to Safer options, Cost, lack of access to clean Water are some of the reasons for a very high rate of Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs) among women in India.

When it’s about Menstrual Hygiene off late there have been different arguments by different groups related to Environment and the impact of unscientific disposal of Sanitary Napkins on Environment. Yes, being aware of the Environmental impact of everything we are doing as a civilization is not only critical to our Environment but it’s critical for the future of Planet Earth.

Given the multi-dimensional challenges creating mass Awareness about Menstrual Hygiene has to be the top priority, it cannot be an event or announcement but a project where the impact or outcome can be measured continuously.

Awareness and access to Sanitary Napkins in Urban, semi-Urban and Rural areas are imbalanced, less than 20% of Rural women use Sanitary Napkins. Several Government schemes provide free Sanitary Napkins to girls in Government Schools/Colleges, which has indeed increased the attendance of girls even during their menstrual cycle and enabled them to participate in extra circular activities too. Sanitary Napkins have not only given women/girls the freedom from unhygienic practices but helped many to overcome the painful monthly menstrual cycles.

Even when many women/girls still use Cloth without choice or access to preferred options Environmental Activists claim use of Cloth as an Eco-friendly option there by ignoring the glaring fact that it’s not only unhygienic, uncomfortable but curbs the freedom of women/girls every month forcing them to wash the Cloth to re-use without assessing if there is adequate clean water or toilets to do so. If one who has the luxury of time, water, space and chooses to use re-usable Cloth Napkin that should be fully encouraged but forcing upon option that may be impractically must be avoided in the interest of women/girl health.

Menstrual Cups are promoted as an Eco-friendly alternative but this also has serious limitations. In a country that is obsessed by ‘virginity’ young unmarried women may not be keen either and Tampons itself has less takers for the very same reason. Also, Menstrual Cups are completely an upscale market option not by cost but by process. Anyone using Menstrual Cups has to have access to clean toilets with clean running water and the ability to deal with a cup of their own blood too.

8 out of 10 women/girls suffer for some kind of discomfort, stomach or body ache during their menstrual cycle, they work few times harder than their male counterparts in every field and a monthly biological process should not add on to already existing discrimination. Hence, choice of using Sanitary Napkin, Cloth Napkin, Tampons, Menstrual Cups should be left to the women/girls based on their Comfort & Sustainability, and blaming women/girls for their choice should not be a choice for others.

Forcing Environment responsibility without considering health aspect of women/girls is definitely nothing less than Gender Bias. Also burden of being Eco-friendly cannot be sole responsibility of women/girls because of their biological make, its high time companies that are making Sanitary Napkins or Tampons develop Eco-friendly and Biodegradable products. Governments across the country has to take up massive Menstrual Hygiene Awareness programs and work towards an effective treatment for Sanitary Waste.


Kavitha Reddy
Lake Activist & Congress Spokesperson
www.KavithaReddy.in

Sunday, January 3, 2021

BBMP Elections: Planned Delay or Legal Mess?

 


1992, it’s been over 28 years since the 73rd & 74th Constitutional Amendments were made to empower every Village/Local body and strengthen Democracy from Panchyat to Parliament, and the Promised Land is still elusive.

Government of Karnataka hurriedly passed the New BBMP Act which many experts red flagged as a missed opportunity, what could have been a Landmark Act ended up as a copy & paste of KMC Act with fewer changes. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) term ended in September 2020, even though the new delimitation and reservations was ready for 198 Wards and the Honorable High Court asked the Government of Karnataka to conduct BBMP Elections, the Government of Karnataka used its Legislative powers to pass the New BBMP Bill without debate and deliberation forcing a further delay in conducting the BBMP Elections.

Even as Government of Karnataka misused its Legislative powers to delay the BBMP Elections what it is not saying or seeing is the Legal Mess it has put the BBMP into. As per the New BBMP Act all the Grama Panchayats (GP) that are in some of the Constituencies of Bengaluru will become part of the Greater Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (GBMP), which means these Grama Panchayats will be part of the 243 Wards of the GBMP.

But the real twist is in the recently held Grama Panchyat Elections and the upcoming Taluk Panchyat (TP) and Zilla Parshad (ZP) Elections, if Karnataka Government had the right intentions it should have stopped the Grama Panchyat Elections in the Constituencies that are slated to comes under the GBMP.

So, by allowing the Grama Panchyat Elections a Legal Mess is in the making, as and when Government of Karnataka is ready with the 243 Wards it cannot force out the already Elected Grama Panchyat Members, TP and ZP Members and hold Elections to the newly formed 243 Wards.

This curious case of BBMP is similar to the situation Tirupati Municipal Corporation had faced few years ago, when Elected Members of the Grama Panchyat that were to be merged into Tirupati Municipal Corporation when to Court demanding completion of their term, and Tirupati Municipal Corporation could not hold elections till the completion of the term of those Grama Panchayats. Similar case occurred in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and the Government delayed the inclusion of the Grama Panchayats that were still in term to avoid a possible Legal issues, reference of GHMC case was published in Times of India dated 17 July 2013 & Indian Express dated 18 July 2013.  

Serious questions indeed arise, was Government of Karnataka not aware of Legal situation at all, or was it all a deliberate plan to stall the BBMP Election further? What ever may be the City of Bengaluru is going to suffer, without a fully Elected Council and State Government is running BBMP through an Administrator with Zonal Joint Commissioners and Ward Nodal Officers who are literally Powerless.

It’s time that Honorable High Court of Karnataka to step in and pulls up Government of Karnataka for this treason, and order the Government of Karnataka to hold the elections in 198 Wards at the earliest. Government of Karnataka should also set the process rolling for the delimitation to form the 243 Wards at the end of 3 years so that as the term of BBMP and GP/TP/ZP ends in 2025/2026 the New BBMP Act can be fully adopted and implemented.

74th Constitutional Amendments was for devolution of Power and to make Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) like BBMP more independent and promote Local Governance, far from promoting Local Governance the ULBs are just paper Tigers with the remote control in the hands of Legislators and State Government.

Unless the Constitutionally promised power, de-centralization is not made a reality the Gandhian Vision of strengthening grassroot Democracy and self-rule will remain in the Acts and not in Deeds

- Kavitha Reddy, www.KavithaReddy.in
  Activist, AICC Member & KPCC Spokesperson
  (views expressed are personal)

Published in Residents Watch