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Food Security in Jharkhand: Moving, But Not Fast Enough

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Food Security

Though the National Food Security Act has increased coverage of the public distribution system, a survey in six eastern states finds that there are still gaps to be filled.

A woman holding her ration card. Credit: Adithyan P.C.

Gumla, Jharkhand: Akida Bano works in an anganwaadi in Parsa village, Bharno block, Gumla, Jharkhand. The anganwaadi is supposed to get 124 kg of grain every month from the local public distribution system (PDS) dealer, used to make nutritious food for local children, and pregnant and lactating mothers.

But for the last two moths, Akida told The Wire, the anganwaadi hasn’t received any supply at all. Gaps in the supply of ration is common. When the supply of rice doesn’t come, the children are fed halwa. Akida and other anganwaadi workers supplement this with khichdi from their own salaries – Rs 3,000 a month– whenever they can afford it.

Akida Bano (R) with children at the anganwaadi in Parsa village, Jharkhand. Credit: Jahnavi Sen

Residents of the Muslim-majority Parsa village echoed Akida’s disappointment with the system. According to them, only about 35% of the people in the village have ration cards under the National Food Security Act, while the others are still missing from the lists. Even for those who are covered, ration is extremely irregular.

“We have seven members in our family, but only two are listed on our ration card. Add that to the irregular supply and it means that we have no option but to buy grain from the market,” said Pammi. “A lot of families have this problem, very few household members’ names are on the list.”

People in the village blamed their PDS dealer Sunil Kesri for this state of affairs. “Earlier the ration was managed by the village mahila mandal,” said Mir Anwar Hussain. “Things were a lot better then. My family wasn’t registered then either, but since my parents would regularly get the complete ration they could share some with us. Now they don’t even get enough to feed themselves.”

“The PDS lists are public, I’ve seen them,” said Nasim Khan. “Our names aren’t there, but somehow the dealer’s son and other relatives are on the list. They don’t even live here! I’m sure he must have put their names on other village lists too, the ones that come under his dealership.”

A man holding PDS rice at Parsa village, Jharkhand. Credit: Adithyan P.C.

In months when ration is distributed, another problem emerges. “The dealer cuts 2 kg of rice from what he is supposed to give us. My household is supposed to get 30 kg, but he will give us 28 kg. The slip will have the entire amount though, so we will be charged even for what we didn’t get. This way he gets 2 kg rice and Rs 2 at the same time. He does this with every household, imagine how much he is getting out of this,” Sagir Khan told The Wire.

“And when we complain about this to the dealer or ask why we aren’t getting our ration regularly, he says he is only following ‘orders from above’,” added Changez Khan. “What does that mean, that the government wants him to cheat us? We don’t know if anyone will take our complaints against him seriously.”

The problems in Pandarni village, just a few kilometres from Parsa, are slightly different. Almost the entire village is covered by the PDS, barring a few households. However, no household in the village received any ration at all in the last four to six months, a time when the entire state of Jhakhand has declared a drought. In June, households finally had access to ration again.

“We got no ration at all for the last six months,” Baho Mants told The Wire. “Finally when I went yesterday I got grain, kerosene and salt again. I have a six-member family, it becomes very difficult when there is no ration.” Baho Mants belongs to a scheduled tribe and has an Antyodaya card (meant for the poorest households).

Baho Mants with his wife and daughter outside their home in Pandarna, Jharkhand. Credit: Jahnavi Sen

NFSA survey and public hearing

In an attempt to demand their rights and what is owed to them by the state, residents from Parsa, Pandarni and other surrounding villages gathered at the Bharno block headquarters for a public hearing on food security and the public distribution system on June 14.

The hearing was organised by a team of researchers who have conducted sample surveys on the implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 in six states: Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. Led by Ranchi University professor Jean Dreze and IIT Delhi professor Reetika Khera, student volunteers interviewed approximately 1,600 households in total, choosing sample villages from two districts in each survey state.

A student volunteer interviewing a household in Madhya Pradesh. Credit: Adithyan P.C.

In Jharkhand, though the implementation of the NFSA last year has made a difference to the access of households to the public distribution system, certain issues still remain. After the NFSA was in place, 74% of survey households had a new ration card, as opposed to 48% before the act was implemented. However, a regional difference remains, as is evident from the story in Parsa. Survey results also found that excluded households are concentrated in certain areas: in the Ramgarh block of Dumka district, for instance, coverage has gone up from 43% to 84% after the NFSA was implemented, while in the Bharno block of Gumla district the increase was only from 53% to 66%.

Shweta Ved, block development officer of Bharno, accepted that the there was still work to be done. “We know there are several households still without ration cards. The process has begun and we hope to distribute them as soon as possible,” she said, speaking at the public hearing.

Even though coverage has increased significantly, other issues like the ones highlighted by the residents of Parsa and Pandarni were reflected in the survey results and at the public hearing. The problems included family members being excluded from ration cards and people not getting the complete amount they were entitled to. “Making a complaint is also useless,” Mohan from Raikeri village, attending the public hearing, told The Wire. “Whoever you complain to just goes to the person you complained about and asks them for money to make the problem go away. Not only does the issue not get resolved, the official or dealer then knows that you complained and makes things difficult for you; it creates tensions.”

Another problem that came up was the insistence of authorities on people having Aadhaar cards before ration cards were issued, going against the Supreme Court order that Aadhaar cards are optional and cannot be made a requirement for ration cards or any other government entitlements. When the district supply officer claimed to have a written order linking Aadhaar and rations cards was mandatory, Khera said that this was illegal and would be taken up with higher authorities if proven true.

Government officials at the public hearing promised to look into all the issues raised, and even said that they would start surprise visits at distribution sites from the very next day. Whether they follow up on this as well as the provision of ration cards to households that are eligible, but so far uncovered, remains to be seen.

People gathered at the public hearing in Bharno, Jharkhand. Credit: Adithyan P.C.

State-wise preliminary findings

In all the six states surveyed by the team, it was found that the NFSA has made a difference to the coverage and quality of the public distribution system. Chhattisgarh is the best performing state, with 95% of the surveyed population holding ration cards. In addition, 99% of those surveyed said the quality of grain they received was ‘good’ or ‘fair’. Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal have also made substantial progress since the NFSA was implemented. In Odisha, the proportion of the surveyed population holding a ration card went from 62% to 88% after the act was implemented. In Madhya Pradesh this number went from 55% to 85% and in West Bengal from 51% to 86%.

Even in these states, problems do exist. Quality of the grain was an issue in West Bengal, with only 57% being satisfied with the grain they received. In addition, problems like missing names in ration cards, pricing discrepancies and the insistence on Aadhaar cards existed in these states as well. In Madhya Pradesh, the student volunteers said, they also found cases of caste-based discrimination: Dalits were given grain from separate sacks, often of lower quality and were made to wait longer for their ration as “upper” castes were given the priority. There were also problems with malfunctioning ‘point of sales’ machines, recently introduced to digitalise the process.

Bihar and Jharkhand still have a long way to go, according to the preliminary findings of the survey. In Bihar, for instance, though coverage increased substantially after the NFSA was implemented, corruption remained extremely high, with some families reporting that their entire month’s ration was often siphoned off by dealers. In addition, some households reported that the quality of grain was so bad that they fed it to cattle instead of eating it themselves.

But even in these states, a statement from the team led by Dreze and Khera says, progress can be seen. Leakages have reduced significantly and coverage has increased. As long as things continue to improve, they said, they can fast achieve the same standard as the other sample states.

source : http://thewire.in/ (BY )

Cities

Women fatally shot in head during robbery in Patna

“An FIR has been registered against unidentified persons and effort are on to arrest them,” Patna SSP Upendra Sharma said.

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Patna Firing

Patna, Nov 29: A woman was fatally shot in her head by robbers after she resisted their move to loot passengers of an aut-rickshaw in state capital Patna, police said on Sunday.

Saiqa Parveen was travelling with her husband Imran Alam in the auto-rickshaw when she was shot dead late Saturday night.

Police said that when the auto-rickshaw reached Chiraiyatadh flyover near Patna railway station, two men riding it asked the driver to stop. Two more persons riding two motorcycles reached the spot and looted all the passengers at gunpoint.

While Alam handed over his belongings, Parveen resisted the robbers. One of them shot her in the head, killing her on the spot.

Alam, a private bank employee in Siwan, was on way to his native Dehri-on-Sone town in Bihar along with his wife. As they had reached Patna at night, they were on way to the railway station for overnight stay in a nearby hotel, he told the police.

“An FIR has been registered against unidentified persons and effort are on to arrest them,” Patna SSP Upendra Sharma said.

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Blog

SFJ annouces $1M aid for agitating farmers, agencies vigilant

The SFJ had announced anti-India campaign, ‘Referendum-2020’, in November this year to seek secession of Punjab from India.

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Farmers Delegation

New Delhi: As thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are rallying at Delhi’s three interstate border points, banned secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) is trying to fish in troubled waters by announcing $1 million aid for farmers who suffered injuries or damage to their vehicles while facing police action in Haryana.

The information has sent security agencies into a tizzy, with many deployed on protest spots in plainclothes to keep a close tab on SFJ supporters who may mingle with protesters as part of their “ill-intention” to lure innocent farmers and take undue advantage of the situation in the name of helping them.

In its recent announcement through a social media platform, the SFJ said it will provide $1 million aid to farmers from “Punjab and Haryana who have suffered bodily injuries or damage to their vehicles while facing police action during their hard-fought journey to Delhi”.

The SFJ’s message mentions its plan for opening a 24-hour call centre on November 30 in the US, Canada, the UK, France and Germany to accept online applications from farmers of Punjab and Haryana to reimburse for their losses and also to register votes for its “Khalistan Referendum”.

“SFJ is kick-starting the Khalistan Referendum voting from London on August 15, 2021 for the independence of Punjab,” mentions the message circulated by SFJ’s US-based General Counsel and group’s key leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun — designated a terrorist by the Indian government.

Assuring farmers of Punjab and Haryana that the SFJ will bear all the losses they have suffered, Pannun stated that “once Punjab is liberated from Indian occupation, the loans of the farmers will be waived and free power supply granted”.

The group has also threatened to take up the matter at the international level if the Indian government did not repeal its three contentious farm laws enacted in September.

“If the Modi government does not scrap the farm bills, as demanded by the farmers, SFJ will initiate legal action against India at the international level with the backing of various kisan organisations,” Pannun said in the message.

Security establishment, including anti-terror agencies, have since intensified efforts against the group banned by the MHA via a notification dated July 10 last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) following its “anti-India activities” to disrupt law and order in the country.

However, the security officials maintained, no suspicious activity of the group has been noticed in the national capital or in the interstate border areas so far, even as central agencies are keeping a strict vigil to avoid any untoward activity.

It is the third such message circulated by the SFJ in the past one week. The SFJ earlier this week had called upon farmers of Punjab and Haryana to raise Khalistan flag at the India Gate here on the 12th anniversary of a terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, following which the national capital was put on high alert.

The SFJ had announced anti-India campaign, ‘Referendum-2020’, in November this year to seek secession of Punjab from India.

The move followed inputs that the Sikh community across India has rejected the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sponsored propaganda of ‘Referendum-2020’. Pakistani intelligence agency ISI has been backing the malicious campaign launched by the SFJ as a large number of Pakistani Twitter handles have started tweeting in favour of the so-called ‘Referendum’.

Dubbing Sikhs in Kashmir as “freedom fighters and Sikh soldiers”, the US-based Khalistani radical outfit has urged them to support its most infamous agenda, ‘Referendum-2020’.

The group is already on the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has been taking action against its key leaders such as Pannun and many others. In the beginning of September, based on NIA’s inputs, the MHA had issued an order to attach the properties of Pannun and SFJ’s Canada coordinator Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

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India

Guru Nanak Jayanti: Inspirational quotes and teachings by Guru Nanak Dev

This is why the Guru Nanak Jayanti 2020 is mentioned as Guru Nanak Gurpurab 551.

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Guru Nanak Jayanti

Guru Nanak Jayanti 2020: To mark Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary, people across the country celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti also known as Gurpuarb on Karthik Purnima. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and the first of ten Sikh Gurus, was born on the day of the full moon during the Hindu month of Kartik.

This year, the Sikh community across the globe will be celebrating his 551st birth anniversary. This is why the Guru Nanak Jayanti 2020 is mentioned as Guru Nanak Gurpurab 551.

Read on to know the motivational and inspirational teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji:

There is but one God. True is His Name, creative His personality and immortal His form. He is without fear sans enmity, unborn and self-illumined. By the Guru’s grace, he is obtained.

He who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God.

The production of children, the nurture of those born, and the daily life of men, of these matters woman is visibly the cause.

What should the yogi have to fear? Trees, plants, and all that is inside and outside is He Himself.

Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore.

If the people use the wealth bestowed on them by God for themselves alone or for treasuring it, it is like a corpse. But if they decide to share it with others, it becomes sacred food.

Even kings and emperors, with mountains of property and oceans of wealth – these are not even equal to an ant, who does not forget God.

Whatever be the qualities of the man with whom a woman is united according to the law, such qualities even she assumes, like a river, united with the ocean.

Only fools argue whether to eat meat or not. They don’t understand the truth, nor do they meditate on it. Who can define what is meat and what is a plant? Who knows where the sin lies, being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian?

Quotes by Guru Nanak Dev Ji

The world is a drama, staged in a dream. – Guru Nanak Dev

Those who have loved are those that have found God. – Guru Nanak Dev

Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru, none can cross over to the other shore. – Guru Nanak Dev

Speak only that which will bring you honour. – Guru Nanak Dev

He who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God. – Guru Nanak Dev

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