Survey Also Highlights Increasing Drop-Out In Schools, Widening Teacher-Student Ratio

Rajsamand: The marble town Rajsamand which produces 90% of India's white marble has registered lowest basic learning levels among students in Rajasthan in the last five years. The percentage of students of classes III to V who can do subtraction has reduced from 41.3% in 2009 to 27.8% in 2013. The percentage of students who are out of schools has increased from 2.6% in 2009 to 5.2% in 2013.

As per the Annual Status of Education Report, widening pupil-teacher ratio, poor quality of mid-day meals and no water facility are prevalent in majority of schools. But so far no political party has shown concern to make these issues their poll plank. 

Both BJP and Congress candidates are riding on issues like Pakistan, terrorism, Gujarat model, inflation, jobs, opening of new schools and hospitals. Manju Khatik, a social activists based in Rajsamand, said, “Three schools in two gram panchayats Bhatoli and Maduri were closed by the government this year. This decision caused 200 students to forcibly drop out. We have adopted 40 students and are teaching them at our NGO Jatan sansthan. The rest of the students are either working or have left the city in search of work,” said Khatik. She added that ignoring these issues has highlighted the indifference of political parties towards the city. 

TOI asked the BJP national vice president and MLA Rajsamand Kiran Maheshwari to explain the reasons behind the decline in learning levels. She passed the buck on the Gehlot government for ignoring the education sector leaving a gross imbalance in the pupil-teacher ratio. “The district had faced government indifference for last five years. Here 130 schools don't have a single teacher leading to drastic fall in the learning levels,” said Maheshwari. 

She assured that once the code of conduct is over, BJP government will begin the hiring of teachers to put the education system on track. Sitting Congress MP Gopal Singh Shekawat is promising complete implementation of Right to Education Act here. “Our party enacted this act and we are serious about providing free and compulsory education,” said Shekawat.


Rema Nagarajan
15th April 2014

Politicians Call It A ‘Shame’, But Do Little To Cure Ills That Plague System

In January 2012, PM Manmohan Singh declared half of India’s children were malnourished and that was a national shame. Yet since then, not a single comprehensive national survey was conducted to determine the acuteness of the problem or measure progress, if any, of steps initiated to address malnutrition. Worse, the issue figures in a token manner in the election discourse of political parties and candidates.
The 2005-06 National Family Health Survey was the last one conducted and it found 48% of children suffered chronic malnourishment — of them, 20% acute malnourishment. The survey concluded that over half the women were anaemic and 36% underweight. The Global Hunger Index, released in October 2013, placed India among a group of countries with ‘alarming’ levels of hunger, figuring at the bottom of the heap, below China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and several in sub-Saharan Africa.
Key interventions to boost nutrition levels include the targeted public distribution system (TPDS), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the school midday meal scheme (MDMS).
Despite increased food production and procurement for TDPS, food insecurity persists and is a chronic problem linked to poor delivery. The large number of ineligible or fake ration cards issued — a serious problem in some states, usually those that need TPDS the most — has caused huge leakages. The TPDS has glaring exclusion errors. About 20% of the estimated 90 crore eligible beneficiaries are denied subsidized grain as they have no ration card, while 20% of the not-poor do. TPDS remains restricted to wheat and rice that would alleviate hunger, but not address malnutrition. No recommendation to include pulses, oil and nutritious millets has been implemented. Even the food security Act — that UPA counts among its mega achievements — focuses on rice and wheat. Had the Act included higher procurement of millets, pulses, fruits and vegetables, it would have incentivised production of these, instead of just rice and wheat that are water-intensive crops.
ICDS was meant to counter malnutrition in children between 0 and 6 years and pregnant women. Government allocation, including states’ share, increased from over Rs 5,200 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 13,700 crore in 2013-14 and the number of anganwadi centres (AWCs) has increased from 10.1 lakh to 13.1 lakh in 2012-13.
Though almost 90% anganwadis are operational, the ICDS scheme reaches about 47% of eligible children, reported a CAG audit. Coverage in states varies from about 75% in Odisha to 18% in Bihar. Most AWCs lack infrastructure. In 2011-12, only 57% had drinking water on the premises, 47% had toilets and only 25% had a kitchen.
ICDS is meant to provide supplementary nutrition 300 days a year, or 25 days a month. But the number of days the programme worked ranged from 180-250, a CAG audit found. The audit revealed irregularities such as insufficient monitoring, suspected misappropriation of supplies, badly-trained anganwadi workers and shortfall in expenditure on supplementary nutrition, which meant lower per beneficiary expenditure. For a flagship programme that addresses a “national shame” the ICDS programme leaves much to be desired.
Allocation for the midday meal scheme is up from Rs 6,700 cr to over Rs 10,300 cr between 2007-08 and 2011-12. But many states aren’t meeting yearly targets of number of meals served. The scheme’s plagued by reports of children falling ill from eating poor quality or spoiled food. Many states are yet to achieve standards set to run it: constructing a kitchen shed, timely lifting of grains, proper food storage. Women employed as midday meal cooks remain underpaid.
While proportion of malnourished children has fallen since 2005-06, not only has the decline been slow, from 46% malnourished to about 33% by 2013, it’s been uneven with a few states and districts getting worse. But with poor tracking of the schemes’ implementation, or of the population’s nutritional status, no one seems sure if the situation has become any better or worse. And that’s the national shame.
HUNGER POLITICS | Aug 2012 | Modi quoted in interview blaming malnutrition in Gujarat on its “by and large vegetarian diet”. Because it’s a middle-class state, Gujarat is “more beauty conscious than health conscious”
Media reports laid bare the bluff: His contentions didn’t square with data whichever way it was spliced. Haryana, even more vegetarian than Gujarat, has better nutritional figures
NSSO data (2009-2010) showed poverty behind state’s poor nutritional indices .
SERVED DEATH | Scams plague the mid-day meal scheme. Last July 27 village children died in Bihar’s Chapra after having the meal. Nitish Kumar cried conspiracy – that they were poisoned. Fact was, there was no monitoring, and the principal ran a racket, serving kids substandard fare.


'Hindustan Zinc' has been honored with Top 100 CISO-2014 Award for using information security technology in innovative way.

The ‘Top 100 CISO Award', the first of its kind award felicitates the finest CISO's who are using information security technology in innovative ways to secure their business and mission critical information in the most effective manner and deliver business value, by creating competitive advantage, optimizing business processes, enabling growth or improving relationships with customers. 

These prestigious awards are for the few who makes the biggest impact in the industry. These awards are given in the same format at India, America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.

The awards were declared and given away by Don Lee, Managing Director n Runs,  Germany in a glittering award ceremony held at Hotel Radisson Blu at Agra on  5th April, 2014.  

Mr. P K Nijhawan, VP-IT received this award on behalf of Hindustan Zinc.

Before this, HZL is recipient of  "SAP ACE Award 2011" for “Best run IT Organization" in November, 2011, “NASSCOM IT User Award  2012” in March, 2012, "CIO100 Award 2012" and "CIO100 Award 2013".


Hindustan Zinc takes the lead

Responsible corporates, who have established their businesses in rural areas, engage with local community to understand their needs and requirements. Assessment studies are carried out in association with villagers and Sarpanchs and accordingly community service plans are drawn. Few corporates want to connect through specific programs and few go by the company policies and visions.

But there are few, who adopt a 360 degree approach while connecting with the local community.  Hindustan Zinc, a Vedanta group company in Zinc, Lead, Silver and Green Power business is one amongst the few such corporates, and in fact has taken a decisive lead from others.

Hindustan Zinc, driven through the vision of Vedanta's group Chairman, Mr. Anil Agarwal, in about a decade of sustainable interventions, has been able to connect and build a 360 degree community development programs.

The intervention begins with the child which is about 0-6 years through engagement in Vedanta Child Care Centres. These Centres are located in every village that is connected with the business locations. These Vedanta Child Care Centres have been developed in such a way that besides nutritious food, children are also given books, toys, and taught through play-way method. There are designated supervisors who have been kept to ensure smooth running of these centres.  Regular medical check-up of these children, immunization, and a record is kept towards their height, weight and other growth.  Hindustan Zinc in Rajasthan has such 1500 child care centres and 18 Vedanta "Khushi" centres.

Once the child attains the age of 6 and is ready to take up formal education, he/she is enrolled in formal government schools. The government has provision for providing free books and other education material to these children.  Here in formal schools, children are provided daily hot mid-day meal by the company.  Thus company's intervention takes care of the health of these children.  Besides, recently Hindustan Zinc has decided to completely renovate about 112 schools falling in the villages which are near the business locations, for their total repairs of structure, change of table and chairs, and providing other teaching aids and materials.

Once these children complete their formal education and want to learn vocational traits, Hindustan Zinc has made provision for providing free training to the youth under its youth training program in association with credible NGOs. There has been a large participation of girls and boys in these training programs and they are also placed accordingly.  Currently, 500 youths are being trained in different vocations.

Important parts of the family are the adults – the father, mother or elderly people. To engage females of the house, Hindustan Zinc has developed the self-help-groups program, which encourages 10-15 women of similar minds to form a group and the company provides them training in the areas they can be successful.  Though most of the women prefer training in sewing and stitching, some also prefer to adopt other different trainings where they develop house-hold products. The company’s engagement starts from the level of reaching out to individual houses and convincing them for adopting self-help-groups. Once the SHG is formed and the training is completed, these women are linked with markets and banks for the needful selling of products and acquiring loans from the banks, respectively.  This initiative has significantly improved the economic condition of their houses and also brought them awareness about sanitation, education, self-dignity, water & electricity conservation, etc. Hindustan Zinc is running about 500 such self-help-groups reaching out to over 6000 rural women.

Parellelly, the male members who are engaged in agriculture are provided training in multi-cropping, seed selection, water harvesting, collective farming, cattle protection and their immunization and different methods towards increasing the agriculture production.  These farmers are also linked with markets and banks for facilitating better returns and arrangements of loans, respectively.

Besides, taking forward the above 360 degree approach, where the company engages with the youngest and the eldest member of a village family, due care is also taken towards upliftment of infrastructure in the villages.

Few areas that company has prominently worked include providing drinking water through installation of RO Plants and constructing water tanks, building community halls and libraries for the students, construction of connecting roads and small bridges, construction of schools, sports stadiums, tree plantation, to name a few.

Currently, Hindustan Zinc is engaged in construction of 30,000 house-hold toilets in villages for the BPL families in Rajasthan, in the districts of Chittorgarh, Udaipur and Bhilwara.

The company also provides employment opportunities to the youths, particularly the unskilled. As per the Hindustan Zinc engagement policy with villagers, there is a provision of 100% hiring from nearby villages for the requirement of unskilled labour.

As most of the mines and smelters are located in village areas, away from the city, it becomes important to develop the community residing nearby in such 360 degree approach. At the end of the day, the entire family should benefit and the socio-economic condition of these families should improve with advent of the industries.

Hindustan Zinc has been engaging with about 500,000 people residing in about 200 villages in Rajasthan.

The vision is only one, as the company grows, the community residing nearby should also improve their socio-economic condition and sustainable livelihood.