The outcome of the effort was there for everyone to see. Thee intensive method helped restoring/rejuvenating 198 water bodies and 206 km of channels in the district entirely through NGOs, CSR, and thus saved huge amount to government exchequer. There was an increase in 15 feet of groundwater post monsoon, 2019, as reported by the Central Ground Water Authority.
This was 2020. I had retired but still was travelling throughout the country to deliver talks on a variety of subjects. On this occasion it was visit to Puducherry on an invite from Dr Kiran Bedi, Lt. Governor of the State. I spoke on my book, “Not Just A Civil Servant” to a select audience at the Raj Bhavan. Amidst this audience was an enthusiastic young Collector of Puducherry District, Dr T Arun. I later discovered his commitment as well. He invited me to see some of the work that was being done in the District in the context of rejuvenation of water bodies. What I saw on the following day was quite amazing.
The main source of water for Puducherry District is the North East/South West monsoon & Convectional rainfall in summer. The district is one of the waterstressed districts of India. The District Administration, under the guidance of the Lt Governor initiated NeerumOorum project (Water and Village City).The main objective of the Neerum-Oorum initiative was to rejuvenate the water bodies in the interest of recharging the ground water besides combating the menace of salt water intrusion and mass plantation drive to promote intensive green cover.
It encompassed the following components:
• Water conservation and rain water harvesting.
• Renovation of traditional/ water bodies.
• Reuse of water and recharging of structures.
• Water shed development.
• Intensive afforestation.
A multi-pronged strategy was put in place. As the first step, an inventory for water bodies was prepared. Revenue Officials along with Municipalities/Commune Panchayats, surveyors identified water bodies in the Revenue Records. Attempts were made to encourage voluntary discharge/evacuation from the site of encroachment by the people themselves. This exercise identification of many lost water bodies on ground due to siltation and encroachment. In one Panchayat there were initially just 27 waterbodies in the list but due to the intensive efforts 71 waterbodies were located on the ground. Such an effort enabled identification and retrieval of all the 684 waterbodies in the District.
Mass awareness campaign was launched through Self Help Groups/NSS/Social media/KrishiVigyan Kendra. Gram Sabha meetings were conducted in all Communes with the stake holders/farmers. The idea was to make the stake holders not only participate in the entire exercise but also to own this initiative and thereafter monitor the water bodies. Schools, colleges, NGOs and government departments were utilised for optimizing the benefits during the monsoons in 2019. Intensive awareness programmes were conducted involving local cable TV channels. Pamphlets were distributed and short films were shown in theatres.
The District Administration appealed to all the sectors in the region for adopting water bodies under Corporate Social Responsibility. Consequently, ponds and lakes were adopted by the NGOs, Hotels, Marriage Halls, Schools & Colleges and private sector Companies.
This initiative saw an engagement of the entire government machinery, around 800 SHGs and 235 schools. More than 60,000 volunteers were mobilized at various events relating to awareness, plantation drive, rejuvenation, water conservation, etc. More than 300 field visits were made to identify the present status of water body and also to follow up the rejuvenation activity.
The district administration also introduced the concept of numbering of water body through a unique ID. Each water body was given 8-digit unique number. This was done to remove the confusion over the names of the lakes and pond. Suitable display boards/signages were put up in the water bodies. These signages created awareness as they enabled local people to identify the earmarked area as a water body. The signage also displayed the local official contact number.
Jal Abhilekh/Neer-Padhivu Application was launched in collaboration with CSIRNational Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur. This Application is the first of its kind in India developed for digitization of all water bodies including 84 irrigation tanks. All the water bodies were geo tagged with unique ID numbers, GIS on ponds, lakes, tanks with coordinates i.e., latitudes and longitudes. This helped integrate locations of water bodies and the course of channels traversing through different revenue villages. The Application has inbuilt feature to get the status of the ground water level and increase in humid moisture content of the soil from time to time via remote sensing satellite.
As many as 198 water bodies were desilted and rejuvenated and a stretch of 206 kms of canals was also desilted under Corporate Social Responsibility. The task of the entity was not only to desilt the ponds but also to maintain it. Over a period of time, awareness to conserve reached such levels that schools and colleges, even women association, started approaching the district administration to assist in desilting and maintaining the ponds. Major temples were also engaged in this task. They were given 2 water bodies each to desilt. Thus, 52 water bodies belonging to temples were rejuvenated. A large number of NGOs participated in this mammoth exercise of rejuvenation. Further, to sustain the efforts made in the rejuvenation of ponds, committees, involving local NOGs, SHGs, were constituted at the village, block and district level.
Simultaneously, intensive afforestation was initiated. To begin with, bunds around water bodies were taken up for tree plantation. A many as 78,000 trees were planted around each and every water body desilted.
Orders were issued to all the major building, government offices and marriage halls, kalyana mandapams, cinema theatres, shopping complex to install rain water harvesting.
The outcome of this effort was there for everyone to see. This intensive method helped restoring/rejuvenating 198 water bodies and 206 kms of channels in the district entirely through NGOs, CSR, and thus saved huge amount to Government Exchequer. There was an increase in 15 feet of Ground Water post monsoon, 2019 as reported by the Central Ground Water Authority. The most important result of this initiative, however, is the mobilization of the community and different sections of the society. This helped locate many lost ponds and rejuvenating them. Many water bodies have become a tourist location for the general public and a good outing place. This initiative has prevented salt water intrusion and ensured regular supply of drinking water because of substantial rise in the ground water table. This initiative would also ensure that no encroachments of water body would be possible in future. This model can be easily replicated in other parts of the country. Hence, it presents a great example of Nexus of Good as it is a replicable effort based on publicprivate partnership.
Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Office. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education
Convention on rights of child: Is it time to change childhood?
International Labour Organisation was the first one to react to Convention 182, which focused on the worse form of
child labour, and bring up that the child inclusion in armed conflict is an extreme form of child exploitation. After the
ILO reaction, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted several other resolutions to condemn child labour.
“There can be no impatient utterance of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” —Nelson Mandela
Convention on Rights of Child is an international agreement or accord signed between various countries 30 years before from now which transfigures the lives of children all over the world due to which this convention is considered as one of the historic and judgmental conventions of the United Nations adopted by many other countries. The United Nations Convention on Rights of Child embarks with the transfiguring the life’s of children all over the world but this accord is not able to accomplish its agenda and some sort of children cut off from this convention.
Now the question arises why this convention on rights of Child particularly minded towards the Rights of the child not able to accomplish its agenda. The simple reason behind this is that with the changing government and passing of time, its implementation is getting weaker day by day, and youth are not much aware of the convention which is very much earlier passed on Rights of Child.
Violence against child and the violation of child rights
These two both concept or terms are somehow interrelated with each other as if there will be violence against the child then it must be there that there is some violation or infringement of child rights which were provided by the Constitution of India and also with the proper care and attention, the child rights were been safeguarded. Government and many national and international organizations were much more concerned about the protection of child rights and if there is a violation of the child rights then also mention or include a strict and severe punishment for that act which leads to the violation of the child rights.
If we look globally the common violence that majorly takes place with the child is corporal punishment and Psychological violence. And also if we look at the data on the sexual abuse of children is very difficult to capture and this situation occurs only due to the non-reportable of the offense which takes place with the children and also one reason is that some offenses can’t be even identified by the children or didn’t recognize by the children as an offense which is also the main reason for the absence of proper data on child sexual abuse.
As, mentioned above about the two common violent disciplines that are (1) Corporal punishment and (2) Psychological violence. But, first, we need to understand the meaning of violent disciplines. Violent disciplines are the violation of a child’s right to protection from all forms of violence while in the care of their parents or other caregivers, as set forth in the United Nations Convention takes place on the Rights of the child. Violent psychological disciplines involve “the use of verbal aggression, threats, intimidation, denigration, humiliation to control children”. According to UNICEF, Physical discipline, also known as ‘corporal punishment’ refers to any punishment in which physical force used to cause any degree of pain or discomfort. It includes pinching, hitting, spanking children with a hand.
Convention on Rights of Child:
A Brief Overview Convention on Rights of Child known by the name of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Children which is a children treaty focused on political, civil, economic, social, health, and cultural aspects of children. The UN Convention on Rights of Child came into force on 2nd September 1990 after the endorsement by the number of states required for the convention. First, before finalizing this convention on the rights of the child, the United Nations propounded the definition of child and set the ambit of child rights.
Before this convention, a plethora of definitions was propounded by different Nations. According to the UN Convention on Rights of Child, “Any human who is under or below the age of 18 years and didn’t attend the majority as per National legislation” considered as a child. All the Nations who approved or ratified the convention were bound by the International law and act as per the provisions of International law.
A committee of the United Nations on Rights of Child supervises the convention and submits the report to the third committee of the UN General Assembly. Currently, 196 states are a member of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child that includes all the states of the United Nations except only one i.e. The United States of America. After some years, the UN General Assembly adopted a total of 3 optional protocols in order to strengthen the convention on the rights of the child i.e. (1) involvement of children in the area of armed conflict, (2) Sale of children for their own benefit, (3) the involvement of child into pornography and forceful entry in prostitution.
Children in the area of armed conflict
This optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict adopted on 25th May 2020 to prohibit the recruitment or entry of children in armed forces and armed conflict and it is the duty to implement and preclude the entry of children in war or armed conflict who are below the age of 18 years as per the National legislation. This Protocol is also considered paramount because it jogs people’s memory that children’s physical and mental condition is not mature enough to set foot in armed conflict and unable to understand the seriousness of war and its consequences. International Labor Organization is the first one to react, in the 182 conventions which focus on the worse form of child labor and bring up that the child inclusion in armed conflict is an extreme form of child exploitation. After the ILO reaction, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted several other resolutions to condemn child labor. Children in cases of armed conflict are continuously facing or at risk of being exploited in the form of separation from their parents, sexually exploited, raped, and tortured. School children are more targeted towards the area of armed conflict which eventually leads to disruption of their studies and denied access to the right to get an education. If we notice on Article 38 of the Convention on Rights of Child then this Article constrains state parties to ensure the safety of children who were targeted for armed conflict and to respect the rules laid down in Humanitarian law. State parties should make all efforts in order to bring effective administration and lay down all measures for preventing children from involving in armed conflict or in the military. The Committee established for the convention on rights of the child that recalls Article 30 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people which undertake possible solutions and measures to avoid the military activities and interference in the Indigenous territories.
Sale Of Children For Their Own Benefit
Ambit and meaning of Sale of Children are first clarified in Article 2 of the Optional Protocol which says that “Transaction or any trade that involves the transfer of children from one person or from one group of people to another person or group in lieu of remuneration or some amount equal to that. Many states came up with new legislation for the prohibition of Human trafficking but lack in bringing legislation for the sale of children and this is because many states believe that both are identical and laws for human trafficking will also solve the issue of sale of a child.
Afterward, Article 35 of the Convention on Rights of Child constrains the government to take necessary measures to tackle both the issue i.e. sale of children and human trafficking. Many people get confused between child trafficking and the sale of the child but the on-ground reality is totally different. In the case of Child trafficking, there is the movement of a child from one place to another but in the case of sale of the child, there is no movement and it is not compulsory to be moved from one place to another.
Article 3 of the Optional Protocol on the sale of Children mentioned that the state parties should ban or forbid all transfer of children which are for the purpose of child labor. It also laid down that state parties should forbid or prohibit any type of order, transfer, or purchase of children which are for the purpose of organ transfer and selling of their organs for profit. Sale of Children transpires not only for the purpose of sexual exploitation but also for some more reason which was covered under the sale of child and all other reasons were mentioned below.
• Transfer of organs of the child for profit or for commercial purposes.
• To Grab Children with the intent of engaging them in forced labor.
• The sale of Children takes place with the intent of adopting the child.
Involvement of Child in Pornography and Forceful entry in Prostitution
Optional Protocol on Involvement of Child into Pornography and forceful entry in Child Prostitution was triggered by the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR). In the year 1994, Cuba is the sole country which indicated that the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) developed an optional protocol on the involvement of child into pornography and child prostitution. Article 34 and 35 of the Convention on Rights of Child that instruct state parties to take several measures in order to avert children’s involvement in pornography and forceful entry in prostitution and also enjoined state parties to take bilateral and multilateral measures in respect of Child involvement into pornography and prostitution.
The OPSC holds out that according to Article 1 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, child inclusion into pornography and entry in prostitution should be banned and according to Article 3 of the same consider out some of the specific actions that must be criminalized in minimum form. The OPSC (Optional Protocol on sale of Children) admonish state parties to protect the child rights which were getting victimized or rights of the victim and to provide all possible measures for the rehabilitation of child victims and remedies for the act they suffer as per Article 8 and 9 of Convention on Rights of Child. Also, they call out International cooperation in the field of investigation, detection, and punishment for these offenses.
Inclusion of Rights under the Convention on Rights of Child
United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) through its drafted document a total of 40 rights were included under the Convention on Rights of Child and all the specific 40 rights were categorized into different categories and also UNCRC avers that all the governments must initiate to safeguard the interest, rights of children.
Under the categorization of General Principles, numerous rights were embraced to make children entitled to these rights. Some of the specific rights of children included were mentioned below.
• Right to life, survival, and development.
• No discrimination should exist in between.
• Right to put forward their views without any coercion.
• In any circumstances, child rights safeguards should be the primary motive.
Civil Rights and Freedoms
Everyone has the right to a name and a proper nationality of any nation. Freedom to speak as well as express thought. The right to access any information which he is entitled to.
Right to be treated properly and with utmost respect without any ill-treatment.
Violence against the Children
This categorization is considered most impactful and prime among all the categorization of rights and the simple rationale is that this prevents children from all peril and acts as a buffer for children from all sorts of violence.
Protection of children from any sort of danger and vulnerability. It gives protection to children from any sexual abuse and exploitation.
Rights to abolish the traditional practices that act as detrimental to children’s health.
Core Principles spelled out of the Convention
The United Nations Convention on Child Rights laid down 4 core principles which are contemplated in the interest of children. All four conventions are mentioned below to specifically analyze its relation with children’s life.
1. Non-discrimination: According to Article 2of the Convention on Rights of Child, every child is entitled to rights irrespective of gender, race, colour, sex, language, religion, or any ascribed status.
2. Devotion toward best interests of Child: According to Article 3of the Convention on the Rights of Child, the interest of child or child rights safeguard must be primary deliberation in all the decisions affecting them.
3. Survival and Development: As per Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of Child, all children have the right to life, survive and develop physically, mentally, morally, and psychologically up to their full potential.
4.Views of Child should be respected: As stated in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, children can convey or express their views without any coercion, and views of the child should be treated with the utmost respect.
UNICEF: A Chief Contributor and influencer
UNICEF is one of the UN organizations whose target is to protect the rights and safeguard the children from any risk or imperil and also to anticipate the future unavoidable circumstances. UNICEF is the one that is considered to be the sole organization mentioned under the Convention on the Rights of Child as an expert and assistance provider. “Child Rights are the epicenter of every action of UNICEF” UNICEF works for almost 70 years for the children’s welfare and safeguarding children’s rights and support children to achieve their dream without any ill-treatment and without being exposed to any danger or harm.
UNICEF helps state parties to act and bring up policies in respect of children’s safety and act as a buffer for the children. It also assists and promotes the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child and its optional protocol. Some of the contributions and roles of UNICEF mentioned below.
• UNICEF Supports state parties in carrying out the convention through different policies and laws enforcement.
• UNICEF assists the government in the consultation process prior to the drafting of reports and also provides aid in monitoring the different policies in accordance with convention. • Supports the different committees drafted for the rights of the child.
• UNICEF through its wider reach helps the government to put forward different implementation strategies so that the convention rules should be imposed effectively and efficiently.
Let us conclude it, Child right means providing any person who is below the age of 18 with some special rights which is provided with the special care and for the safeguard of the rights various laws mere wade. This article clearly shows the linkage of the Convention on Rights of Child and its optional protocol with violation of child rights that how the UN Convention on Rights of Child proves effective in dealing with the violation of child rights.
Child right is something which is seen as very due diligence and is handled with a proper way. Instead of so many laws of the government and also the support of the many national and international organizations, violation of child rights rate is not decreasing which is a major concern for all either it at a national level or at a global level.
The government should handle it with more precisely and with more concern and establishing a secret body which keeps a look over and it and also collects the data related to the violation of child rights and finds the main reason why is it increasing day to day and not decreasing instead of a lot of effort of the government and the organizations.
Convention on the Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at: https://www.ohchr. org/en/professionalinterest/ pages/crc.aspx [Accessed on 19th May].
What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child? [Online], Available at https:// www.unicef.org/child-rightsconvention/what-is-theconvention [Accessed on 18th May].
UN Convention On The Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/whatwe-do/childrens-rights/ united-nations-conventionof-the-rights-of-the-child [Accessed on 20th May].
The convention on the Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at https://www. acyp.nsw.gov.au/about/theconvention-on-the-rights-ofthe-child [Accessed on 20th May].
Convention on the Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at http://wikiprogress. org/articles/children-youth/ convention-on-the-rights-ofthe-child/ [Accessed on 21st May].
Making things happen: Scarcity management, the Solapur way
Tukaram Mundhe and his team proved that it-can-happen because they made-it-happen, setting an example for others to follow.
The Solapur approach can be extremely useful in the implementation of recently announced Jal Jeevan Mission by Government of India.
The district administration focused on the issue of development and strengthening of existing water sources. The main strategy being recharging of wells/ borewells. Of the 6,400 drinking water sources, recharging was undertaken before the monsoon of 2015-16.
Solapur has been a perennially water-scarce district. It lies in the rain shadow region of western Maharashtra. Ironically, despite being in the semi-arid zone, Solapur has the dubious reputation of having the largest number of sugar factories in Maharashtra. Sugarcane and sugar mills have created a vicious circle of unscientific farming practices that have led to disastrous consequences.
The rainfall pattern and its utilization has led to depletion of water resources. What was lost sight of was the correlation between rainfall, runoff, recharge and usage of water. Scarcity of water had been a recurrent phenomenon throughout the state and especially in Solapur. A holistic view of scarcity was taken by Tukaram Mundhe who took over as Collector of the District in 2014. He and his team analyzed the reasons behind it. Non-availability of water in the sources and data relating to water resources, transportation of water and its improper distribution, and quality of water were identified as primary causes of this perennial problem.
After the most devastating droughts in the year 1971, the Government had come out with number of legislations and rules thereunder to counter the impact of the drought. The provisions mandated water management through a two-pronged approach:
• Immediate measures to make water available to the people through requisition of private wells/borewells, pipelines, digging new borewells, special repairs, tankers etc (Proforma A measures)
• Measures to prevent recurrence of scarcity condition such as well/borewell recharging, desilting of water bodies to increase storage capacity etc. (Proforma B measures) Over a period of time, the focus had been on immediate measures while the preventive and promotive measures had been totally ignored. This had aggravated the scarcity rather than preventing it. Tukaram Mundhe got an action plan prepared.
The plan focused on implementation of long-term measures as in Proforma B vigorously. It was felt that unless the Gram Panchayat took up the development of sources (through recharging water sources, recharging ground water etc), the problem would not be taken care of. The regulation and development of sources were taken simultaneously. Government Rules mandated following steps to be taken in times of scarcity before making tankers operational, which is a last resort.
1. Completion of piped water supply schemes (WSS)
2. Special Repairs of piped water supply schemes
3. Special repairs of Borewell
4. Digging of new Borewell
5. Temporary piped WSS
6. Digging small wells in river beds/dams
7. Desilting and Deepening of existing wells
8. Private well requisition
9. Water supply through Tankers/Tractors/bullock carts The first major step was identification of public drinking water sources. Once sources were declared as public sources, regulatory provisions of Groundwater Act came into play. In December 2014 about 3000 sources were declared as public drinking water sources. This number increased to 15533 by March 2016. These sources were being exclusively used for drinking water purposes like wells, jack-wells, borewell, hand pumps etc.
It was soon discovered that non-availability of sources was far from the truth. Solapur had 1144 revenue village s a n d around 15500 drinking water sources. Thus, per village availability was in sufficient. However, the policy and its implementation had been focused on provision of more public drinking water sources. Hence, the strategy of providing more water sources was incorrect. Instead, the focus should have been on development and strengthening of existing drinking water sources so that the drinking water sources became functional.
The District administration focused on the issue of development and strengthening of existing water sources. The main strategy being recharging of wells/ borewells. Of the 6400 drinking water sources, recharging was undertaken before the monsoon of 2015-16. Almost 5000 of these sources were recharged leading to water availability in these sources.
The results were there for all to see. Had these water sources not been recharged, 127 tankers would have been required for each village and hamlets. Identification and recharging of drinking water sources in itself did not help in doing away with scarcity. It had to be in tandem with implementation of Ground water Act and its rules. The transportation infrastructure for water supply either did not exist or was dysfunctional. 13 of the 29 Regional Water Supply Schemes (RWSS) were dysfunctional in the District on account of nonpayment of electricity bills and non-maintenance of pipeline system. However, the real issue was not payment of electricity bill or non-maintenance of pipelines but the entire approach to the issue.
These schemes were made operational only during scarcity situation for 2-3 months. Electricity bills were paid by government under scarcity head and were used as tanker feeding points to the villages, for which the RWSS was meant to supply the water. A decision was taken to make water available permanently through the RWSS to these villages. This was done as reforms and not as a dole. The villages covered under RWSS which had assured drinking water source were told that the scarcity measures would be provided if the scheme was accepted for the entire year for which electricity bills have to be paid. There was a lot of initial resistance. Ultimately the gram panchayats had to pay outstanding bills as the saw the benefit in doing so. These funds were utilized for special repairs of the pipelines and made the RWSS functional. No additional financial assistance was taken from the government.
The transformation of non-functional to functional water supply schemes helped in reduction of tankers from 165 villages and hamlets. Reform of extension of distribution network was undertaken in the uncovered areas through extension of water supply schemes and commissioning of either the borewells or handpumps where piped water supply did not exist. Consequently, 35 villages and 92 hamlets were made tanker free. Finally, the water quality issue had to be addressed. Water was polluted primarily on account of industries or because of depletion of water source. Provisions of the Groundwater Act were implemented firmly to take care of errant industry. Gram Panchayat funds were utilised for water purification. The focus in the District was on revival of existing RWSS and that was found to be feasible and economical as against starting new schemes.
The revival required just Rs 64.75 lakhs per village which was equivalent to the cost of supply of water by tankers every year and it provided a long-term solution. Tukaram Mundhe and his team proved that itcan-happen because they made-it-happen, setting an example for others to follow. The Solapur approach can be extremely useful in the implementation of recently announced Jal Jeevan Mission by Government of India.
Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Office. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.
Why can’t Indian politicians and police contain crime?
Organised crime is rising. It is very essential to make our country’s police force smart and hi-tech.
The new IPL cricket season is currently underway. People are glued to their television sets anticipating the fours and sixes from their favourite batsmen, but my eyes have been on a booming betting racket with transaction values in thousands of crores during the IPL this season. The Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar dropped a bombshell by conducting a surgical strike on bookies and hawala traders which have statewide ramifications from Nagpur to Mumbai. In my early days of journalism, during 1968-69, I worked as a crime reporter in Mumbai. I used to meet and interact with underworld dons right from Haji Mastan to the then biggies of the crime world.
I also used to visit the hideouts of many dreaded criminals. I still keep an eye on crime news. Apart from my state, I have also seen brave and honest officers in uniform in other states of the country who have brought glory to the police force by their hard and honest work. Certainly Maharashtra has led the others in this respect. Didn’t we capture Ajmal Kasab of 26/11 fame? No doubt, the brave police officers can manage their respective states. However, the system cannot be transformed without changing the entire culture of policing. This responsibility rests with the state governments alone. The Chief Minister, Home Minister, DGP and CP of a state should decide that every type of crime that spreads in society, whether it is overground or underground, whether it is in water or in air, is a crime and needs to be eliminated! Do they not know where arms or gold is being smuggled?
Where the dance bars are operating, where the drugs are being peddled? All that is required is political will. When politicians and police join hands to achieve some noble social mission, everything is possible. The tentacles of the criminal world cannot be unentangled as long as there is misuse of money in politics and there is no transparency in the postings and transfers of government officials. The wave of crime is moving from village to metropolis and acquiring a formidable shape. As long as you don’t improve the status of police, including at the mental, social and economic levels, you cannot expect them to do better. Is the cop not a human being? They are being made to work for 18 hours nonstop. They are seldom able to celebrate Diwali, Christmas and Eid with their family members. Despite being provided with quarters, they lack their own home. In such a situation, how will they be able to fulfil their duty? And yes, I do not know what is true and what is false, but when people say that there are many officials in Mumbai who have amassed illgotten wealth worth thousands of crores, then does not such a thing merit a discussion?
When I compare the police here with their counterparts abroad, the comparison seems pointless. They are way ahead of our police because of the kind of physical training they get, modern weapons they are equipped with, an impressive uniform they are provided with and they have no domestic worries. We cannot even dream of such a blissful situation here! The police forces abroad are free of political interference. I would like to point out that whether it’s London’s ‘Bobby’ or the cops of Israel, Europe, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong or the US, they are free of corruption. No one can even think of bribing them the teeniest-weeniest bit! Those who indulge in corrupt practices are severely punished.
London’s ‘Bobbies’ have acquired such an iconic reputation that tourists vie with each other to be photographed with them. Their statues are also found in souvenir shops. Let me narrate an anecdote from Singapore. A friend once came to the airport to receive me. When the flight was delayed, he decided to while away the time drinking beer at the airport. It was night and when we got out of the airport, the car stopped at an intersection and the constable waved a stick from afar and said, “You are drunk. Park the car on the side.”
My friend tried to convince him that he had only drank one glass of beer, but the constable was in no mood to show leniency! Meanwhile, a female police officer stepped out of the car and came to us. She immediately recognized us, yet she got our challan deducted and asked us to hop into her car. That female officer was none other than my friend’s elder brother’s daughter. She dropped me at the hotel. On the way, I asked her why she hadn’t spared us. She said that the rule is uniform for one and all. “I would have lost my job and would not have been able to drive a car for the rest of my life,” she explained. “Now he will be produced in the court and the licence will be suspended for one year,” she said. I always wonder why politicians do not introduce this type of system in our country. We hardly come across such an instance of highest professional probity.
For example, when the US President came to India and his security personnel did not follow the protocol, a Mumbai Police officer stopped their car. But this kind of thing is rather an exception here, whereas the need of the hour is that every state should have this type of smart, dynamic and law-abiding police officer. For this, it is necessary that the government takes necessary steps. Human rights organisations and the judicial system should help them. And at the same time, it is most important that there should be some effective coordination between the states because the network of criminals is spread all over the country. Especially in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab, the network of organised crime has deep roots. Strict coordination is necessary to eliminate it.
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.
Impact of National Education Policy 2020 on legal learning
There have been a lot of talks around the educational sector concerning the New Education Policy, released by the Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’. With all the barriers in the education sector in view, the policy was introduced with the objective of progressive reform. A long-awaited discussion on the integrity of the education sector was knowingly triggered by the policy. The policy proposal has been seen as a review of the country’s current education landscape, including the legal education sector, along the path of its objectives.
In addition to promoting the intelligent legal profession, legal education also serves as a link to legal education and is directly linked to the quality of the country’s rule of law. Where society trusts the law, the rule of law prevails and legal education acts as a medium to inculcate the values of law in the young generation. Concerning the importance of legal education for the country’s safety, peace and welfare, emphasis should be put on ensuring the quality of legal education. Several improvements and reforms have been made to the 2020 policy, which could have a large impact on legal education.
The NEP 2020 is a very ambitious and relatively progressive guideline set out by the government of Modi, which will replace the policy of 1986. The 1986 National Education Policy concentrated on access to education for everyone, while the 2020 new policy focuses on flexibility while delivering quality education. The new strategy reflects on the values of multidisciplinary, innovative, critical thinking in order to promote this. The emphasis on life skills, ethics, and constitutional values has also been placed. Public education is promoted in order to minimize the complete privatization of the education sector. One of the most appreciated proposals in this policy is the introduction of the Right to Education until the age of 18. All these sweeping changes by the Indian Government will change the future of legal education significantly.
Impact on Legal Education
• Inclusion of ethics and constitutional values: Ethics, morality, and principles are based on legal education. Morality, justice, and principles are some of the most significant keywords in the life of any law student. These values were also the most key components of our ancient Hindu education system. In traditional legal education, emphasis has been placed on maintaining the importance of justice in a format. But the gravity for such values has been depreciating with the changing time and change in the legal profession. We have several cases of immoral, unethical professional behavior in the recent past, one of which is the recent case of Prashant Bhushan, where famous lawyers were charged by the supreme court for the offence of Contempt of Court. All these offences arise from the vacuum created by the lack of ethical and moral values in the profession, such as contempt of court. In the case of legal work, the lack of inclusion of ethical principles in legal education may be one of the key reasons for losing the integrity of the profession. There is a famous saying that education moulds the future of that profession. The current legal education system, however, emphasized access to education for all, but ignored the quality assurance aspect by inscribing ethical and moral values. One of the primary aims of this new draft of NEP is “to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st Century education while remaining consistent with India’s traditions and value systems.” The policy also aims to provide legal education that is guided and informed by the constitutional ideals of social , economic and political justice. The importance of democracy, the rule of law and justice in the country will grow with the introduction of these values.
The legal profession is considered to be one of the most prestigious professions of all; it is the responsibility of legal education to maintain the same. To fulfill that responsibility, it is important to state that ethical and constitutional values should be an integral part of legal education. A commendable reform was made in the 2020 NEP to include these values in the curriculum while recognizing the long-term objectives of legal education.
• Multilingual education: Indian Constitution acknowledges 22 languages. India has even more languages than the number of states the country has, despite having just 22 languages in the Constitution. India’s multilingual existence provides the country with a distinctive character. Because of the variety of cultures and languages in the country, India has become popular throughout the world. A system of education at the foundation of any society. Society thrives on the educational sector’s development and growth. The drafted NEP 2020 is the prominent document in consideration of the same, when deciding the country’s future. The changes in the inclusion of various languages in the process of improving society. The policy stated that education in English and the language of the state in which the law school is located should be considered by the state institutions providing legal education. It has been speculated that by ensuring the ease of legal education at the comfort of law students, it will reform the education sector. It should be noted, witnessing the response to this initiative, that it will help to reduce the delay in legal outcomes due to the need for translation.
• For global common good: Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian thinker, once stated on “learning in a non-competitive and non-hierarchical ecosystem and discovering one’s true passion without any sense of fear.” She emphasized the element of critical thinking to make education as a means of achieving education as a public good. The ability for critical thinking derives from the ability for cultural differences to stand out. The ability would ultimately create the common good of the nation. In order to ensure nation-building, community development, education is a necessary public good. We have a rather exclusive society, which is witnessed by incidents such as the exclusion of the transgender community based on their sex. Legal education may be a major factor in making this society inclusive. As a public good, education will work in the fresh air to make communities alive. Ensuring access to education to every section of the public will produce sensitive, creative, and upright citizens, on whom the society could rely on the aim of an inclusive society.
The NEP policy draft can be seen as a medium to achieve this goal. The policy discourages the concept of stand-alone institutions, in the way of making the education a public good. In furtherance of the same, it states that “All institutions offering professional or general education will aim to evolve into institutions/ clusters offering both seamlessly organically, and in an integrated manner by 2030.” Through this initiative, multidisciplinary institutions will develop a holistic educational environment which, as a public good, will suffice for the purpose of education.
• Globally competitive and quality assessment: The policy ensures the inclusion of global education outreach in the education sector, which is a positive step towards India’s international recognition. The proposal for the establishment of a national assessment center, the PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), as a standard-setting body within the Ministry of Education indicates that the Government is keen to regularly monitor the education system. The set-up would assist states to ensure standardized assessments of quality. It is considered that legal education requires global competition. In order to achieve various social-economic responsibilities, legal education is required, such as creating future lawyers to establish justice globally. In the same way, in the most desirable move for educational policy, they are adopting global competition to ensure best practices and embracing new technologies for wider access to and timely delivery of justice.
• Social relevance and acceptability: The law as a profession has been losing its relevance with the increase in the unethical actions of legal professionals. The profession has lacked social acceptability and trust, ultimately influencing the trust of the masses in the judiciary. To cover these lacunas, the NEP policy stressed the importance of social relevance and acceptability. The draft stated that the policy relies on the culture and tradition of people, including legal history, literature, and mythology, to accomplish these elements. It states that universities should include in the curriculum the history of jurisprudence, principles of justice, the practice of jurisprudence, and other fundamental values. The initial aim of legal education for budding lawyers would be sufficient to enforce.
To conclude, it is pertinent to mention that the new National educational policy drafted by the Ministry of Human Resource development possesses some of the desired reforms for the sector. It is the complete restructuring of the higher education system through the introduction of a multidisciplinary undergraduate programs. The policy itself tackles various aspects of the education system and if this policy is implemented with full potential, then the country might witness major growth in the educational sector. Talking about legal education, specifically, the above mentions provisions in the policy give an overview that the policy has focused on maintaining and retaining the esteem of legal education with long term goals. The educational programs for lawful examinations must reflect socio-social settings alongside, in a proof based way, the historical backdrop of legitimate speculation, standards of equity, the act of statute, and other related substance properly and enough. It cannot be denied that legal education needed this reform for the longest time, and now that we have a progressive policy, the proper implementation should be emphasized. By and large the NEP strategy on legal education, as the majority of its different arrangements is very similar to a castle in the sky- pleasing to fathom yet unrealistic to be figured out. It changes things scholastically and hypothetically, however to actualize them, in actuality, will be an extremely cumbersome undertaking. This system ought to be proceeded in its spirit to comprehend its points of interest.
Automated Facial Recognition System: Dawn of a new era in policing
Recently on 11st August,2020, the hon’ble UK Court of Appeal (Civil Division) in a case titled ‘R. (Bridges) V. The Chief Constable of South Wales Police’, bearing Case No: C1/2019/2670 rendered a landmark judgement dealing with the interrelation of policing, right of privacy, data protection regime, human rights, public sector equality duty visà-vis the Automated Facial Recognition System (AFR). The hon’ble Court has made pertinent observations which would, undoubtedly, set the tone for its future development in India and worldwide.
The case relates to two events on 21st December, 2017 and 27th March, 2018 at Queen’s street and Defence Exhibition at Motorpoint Arena respectively wherein the South Wales Police (SWP) had deployed AFR for the purpose of surveillance of the visitors/protestors. It was the case of the Appellant i.e. Mr. Edward Bridges that the Police Force had not taken sufficient steps to inform general public about the use of AFR at the area in question thus the same resulted in violation of provisions of different statues viz. section 43 of the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010 (EA Act), noncompliance of Surveillance Camera Code of Practices etc. thus resultantly it was an disproportionate and excessive invasion on the right of privacy of the concerned individuals. He further contended lack of legislative framework regulating the usage of AFR.
The Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division (Lower Court) had dismissed the Appellant’s claim for judicial review challenging the legality of the use of AFR on the two events, however the Appellate Court i.e. Court of Appeal, after extensively discussing the international law on this subject, allowed the appeal and observed that the afore-said two events did in fact in violate the DPA, EA Act and the European Convention on Human Rights. The hon’ble Court observed in Para 152 of the judgement that ‘AFR Locate fails to satisfy the requirements of Article 8(2), and in particular the “in accordance with the law” requirement, because it involves two impermissibly wide areas of discretion: the selection of those on watchlists, especially the “persons where intelligence is required” category, and the locations where AFR may be deployed.’ Further, the Court went on to opine in Para 164 that ‘It is said that there is scientific evidence that facial recognition software can be biased and create a greater risk of false identifications in the case of people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic (“BAME”) backgrounds, and also in the case of women.’
Likewise, in America also the use of AFR has drawn strong flak from various sectors for it being a tool of mass surveillance, lack of adequate statutory framework regulating the use of AFR, encouraging racial profiling etc. So much so that it has compelled several companies to temporarily put a moratorium on its use in America for some time until adequate law in this regard is enacted.
India has also approved the implementation of AFR with the objective of having ‘A robust system for identifying criminals, missing children / persons, unidentified dead bodies and unknown Traced children/persons all over the country…Enhanced ability to detect crime patterns and modus operandi across the states and communicate to the State police departments for aiding in crime prevention’. The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), under aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), is the nodal agency overseeing its implementation and is posed to be the world’s largest database of Auto Facial Recognition System in 2021.
Use of AFR: A double-edged sword
Although, the AFR would result in more efficient and productive policing considering that its ability to screen mass gathering of people in matter of few seconds which would be very useful considering that India’s huge population, aid in early and timely identification of any miscreants/history shetters etc. It may be pointed out that the use of cameras for the purpose of surveillance is not something out of the blue; and it has been used and continues to be used in India and abroad at various public places such as Museums, Stadiums, Courts, offices and even at schools and colleges. The advocators of the AFR have often supported their use citing proof of documentary evidence in case of any untoward incident. The hon’ble High Court of Delhi in case titled ‘Daniel George V. Government of Nct of Delhi’, bearing W.P. (C) 7083/2018, is currently hearing a plea seeking removal/ban of CCTVs in Delhi schools and as of now to the best of author’s knowledge no stay has been granted by the Court.
It is very likely that in India also AFR would have to withstand strict judicial scrutiny on several account of several legal, regulatory and policy issues accounts such as its apparent invasion on the right of privacy of an individual which has been time and again been recognized as a fundamental right under the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution (See for example Justice K. S. Puttaswamy V. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1 aka the Privacy case), its interrelation with the yet to be enacted Date Protection Bill, 2019, purported violation of Articles 14, 19, 21 of the Indian Constitution etc. In addition to this, several other pertinent legal questions would also arise as to whether surveillance by AFR/State would satisfy the triple test of legitimate state purpose, existence of corresponding law, proportionality as propounded by the hon’ble apex court in the privacy case, further, whether the use of AFR has the potentiality of turning India into ‘Orwellian State’ is also one of several factors which has to be looked into. Perhaps, one could in this regard take a cue from the recent hon’ble Supreme Court judgement in K. S. Puttaswamy v Union of India (Aadhaar case), (2019) 1 SCC 1, to understand some of the myriad legal and factual aspects which could be an obstruction in the successful deployment of the AFR in Indian sub-context.
The Way Forward
Enactment of a specific legislation on AFR would be correct way foreword which would inter-alia establish a central and a state authority to oversee its nationwide and state-wise implementation in a phased and controlled manner, detailed guidelines on the storage, preservation and security of data etc.
Further, Standard of Procedure (SOP) on the use of AFR could also be prepared after taking into consultations the views of various stakeholders which could inter-alia enlists the manner and extent of publicity of usage of cameras at the proposed site, password protected access to data that too after written consent from a designated authority, automatic deletion of data after a specific period of time etc. The afore-said steps could to a certain extent ally the concerns of infringement of privacy bearing in mind that no fundamental right be it the right of privacy or any other is an absolute right and, if the situation so warrants, it must yield to compelling public and societal interest, thus what is required is a balance of two competing interest i.e. uses of AFR for better Policing vis-à-vis the fundamental rights of an individual.
New Education Policy & gender: It’s time to have the ‘talk’
The Right to Education Act has brought some very positive changes especially in terms of gender
disparity in schooling. But critics have always pointed out the fact that Right to Education as a
Fundamental Right exists till primary schooling years, which is also one of the reasons for children
dropping out drastically after finishing their basic level of education. Therefore, secondary level
education should also be brought under the purview of Right to Education as a Fundamental Right.
The New Education Policy (2020) is the much needed change for our education system.The policy not only aims at doing away with the current practice of rote learning, but also promotes a holistic development of the child. Giving the child a balanced exposure to academics, experimenting and learning as well as co curricular activities. The policy follows a developmental psychology perspective, which means introduction of certain concepts at a certain age will entail a better reciprocity and understanding from the child. It is based on the principles of equity, access, quality and affordability. The aim of the new policy is to put India at par with leading education systems across the world.
The Right to Education, Constitutional mandate and India’s Educational Policies
In Unni Krishnan’s case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court recognized the fundamental right of every child for free and compulsory elementary education up to the age of 14 years. This was later followed by an amendment in our Constitution, with insertion of Article 21-A, making elementary education a Fundamental Right. The Parliament also enacted the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2009 keeping in mind the Constitutional mandate as well as the social construct of our country. Education is a fundamental right and holds the power to give a structure to an individual, therefore, this Act made provisions to make education accessible for all stratas of society, especially at the grassroots level.
Speaking on the aspect of gender, the prime focus of majority of education policies has always been the “girl child”. It is evident because women, especially girls were in a worse position 50 years prior than today. It is not something to celebrate that we are in a less dire state, but it’s a beginning. If we view through a comparative lens, many households today don’t see girls as a burden, they want them to have a career, educate themselves although gender stereotypes still exist about women being only “homemakers” and caretakers of families, this change is indeed in a positive direction.
The Act has played a pivotal role in increasing girl child enrollment in schools. According to the data collected by the World Bank from 1971- 2013 for primary school enrollment for girl child, the statistics show that there has been an improvement since the Act was implemented. For instance, the entitlement percentage was 47. 538% in 1971 and 91.599. And looking at the statistics from 2009 to 2013 it increased to 93.027%, which is a good sign.
However, the Government policies have been focused towards retaining girl children in schools with schemes like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”, which is a policy with dual goals. Improving India’s child sex ratio and improving girl’s enrollment in schools. In short, the policy aims at celebrating girl child in the country, given the cruel practice of female foeticide that is still prevalent in some parts of our country.
Questions of the “third gender” were considered too stigmatized to be discussed publicly, hence we see a lack of any policy framework at an educational level then. Today, with international awareness, social media platforms, people are initiating a discussion which has led to drafting of laws, various judicial precedents, recognition and dignity they deserve. The New Education Policy, 2020 is one of the pieces of legislation that has formally recognized gender dynamics at an elementary level, which is commendable.
New Education Policy and the pertinent question of diversity and inclusion
Coming to the aspect of gender and the new policy, I feel it will bring in more inclusivity especially for the third gender. Most importantly, it will help in debunking the prevalent gender stereotypes in the society. For instance, the policy lays down that skills like carpentry, coding will be taught from the 6th grade itself. Although it may seem like a normal course to many, but “girls” have never been associated with the art of carpentry, it has always been considered as a manly profession. By including it in the curriculum, girls will also be encouraged to take it up.
Secondly, there is a wide scope for introduction to concepts like gender at a very young age itself. Because, in Para 2.5 of the policy there is a mention of trained volunteers from different social backgrounds and parts of the society. Gender activists from all communities have a huge scope to play a role in allowing the child to understand the difference between gender and biological sex at the earliest. The child is made aware of the spectrum of gender, will not have to deal with “gender dysphoria” or conflict of gender identity, at a later and crucial stage of their life.
For instance, Ms. Kalki Subramaniam , a world renowned transgender activist , authored a book titled, “Teachers’ Guide to Gender non-conforming children.” in a regional language, for promoting better understanding of the concept of gender and how teachers can make a change in the lives of such students by being a source of support and comfort, rather than having an ignorant attitude. Many such activists can play a role in gender education. Another plus point here is that the policy also aims at reviving local languages and culture. Activists from a local region can come together, make textbooks in the local language and impart this essential knowledge, because it is the need of the hour. We as a society cannot shy away from the spectrum of gender, it is as diverse and beautiful as the rainbow. Therefore, we should aim at imparting quality gender education.
Apart from imparting gender education, we also have immense scope for introducing sex education at a young age. Education is the right key to cure any curiosity that may arise when a child enters adolescence.
Thirdly, I feel the policy focuses more on girl child and women. Given the dropout rates of girls from school in India, it aims to provide more support and comfort to girl children. The state of post pandemic education is a question of the near future, however, the pandemic has shown its effect on gender differently. In a recent study conducted by Young Lives, an organization based in the United Kingdom, found that girls from poor households were excluded from access to the Internet (a sample study conducted in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana).
In point three, the policy talks about curtailing the dropout rates at higher education levels. The statistics provided are not gender specific, but still worrisome. The retaining rates keep on decreasing with increase in educational level. The policy mentions that GER for Grades 6-8 was 90.7%, while for Grades 9-10 and 11-12 it was only 79.3% and 51.3%, respectively. A report by Times of India states that 57% of the girls drop out from schools upto Standard XI.
Why is the issue so pertinent for females? The answer lies in our socio -cultural construct itself. Even today, in many parts of India it is not deemed fit for a girl to educate herself. The stereotypes and stigmas are too many, especially at the grassroots levels. Menstruation is one of the main reasons that leads to girls dropping out. A survey conducted by Swachh India, brought to light that 23 million Indian women drop out of school every year when they start menstruating. These statistics are alarming and should act as a wake up call for the society to talk openly about pertinent issues like menstrual health. The policy further talks about the safety of children in context of drug abuse, harassment with special emphasis on girl children.
In furtherance of the above mentioned discussion, the policy also outlines the steps that the Government has to take, one of which is gender balance in admission to Higher Educational Institutions. This will allow for inclusivity at a higher educational level with lesser discrimination.
The Right to Education Act, has brought some very positive changes especially in terms of gender disparity in schooling. But critics have always pointed out the fact that Right to Education as a fundamental right exists till primary schooling years, which is also one of the reasons for children dropping out drastically after finishing their basic level of education. Therefore, secondary level education should also be brought under the purview of Right to Education as a Fundamental Right.
In terms of employment, the policy states special attention will be given to employment of female teachers. It also aims at getting equitable representation of various groups in hiring if faculty, at the higher educational level as well. India has one of the lowest Women Labor Force Participation Rates, only 23.4 % as of 2019. Therefore, the special emphasis on female employment is a given.
Fourthly, the policy specifically states that gender sensitization should be one of the topics that needs to be integrated in the curriculum. This will allow the children to develop a better understanding of the concept. Apart from this, the formation of topical clubs and groups can also be instituted for gender.
For instance ,Gender Champions is an initiative at a higher educational level, by the University Grants Commission. The aim of establishing this committee is to make educational institutions more inclusive and open to having discussions about gender and societal expectations, stereotypes attached with each gender.
Since the policy outlines the point of equitable and inclusive education at the school level, teachers can form small groups with an aim engage students in healthy discussions about issues like gender identity, menstrual health, sex education and the like. This will encourage children to become more self aware. As the teachers play a crucial role in shaping values, it is important to also integrate a training program for teachers that aims at gender sensitization and how they can aid students in understanding their gender identity better.
Although, this may seem utopian at this point of time, given India’s social construct, it is not something that is impossible to achieve. It is a difficult change to bring about, but change can occur with time and Social activists, NGOs, and a driven population can play a big role in bringing about this change.
The policy also aims to set up a Gender Inclusion Fund, which is a rather welcoming move. It aims for providing support to students from all genders and encouraging education for all. An important highlight is that the policy states that all authorities of the school should encourage inclusivity and dignity for all. Acceptance to all genders from authorities at the school level, will pave the way for a healthy educational experience for kids.
The role of social counselors or school counselors shouldn’t be undermined. With proper mechanisms in place, they can be the guiding force in terms of gender awareness and also addressing and resolving issues that stem from lack of inclusivity. This has to be complimented with intensive gender sensitization training and sessions. Some children may identify as a non binary gender after becoming aware that such a phenomenon does exist, however this shouldn’t lead to polarization of attitudes towards these children, especially in a school setting. Which is why, school counselors or psychologists can pave the way for inclusion right at the school level by providing proper counseling, not only to the child, but the peers, parents and teachers as well.
To conclude, the New Education Policy can become the change India needs at present. The implementation of the policy is awaited, but it should be done ideally to achieve all the gias outlined therein. The policy reflects a holistic approach towards development through education, which is different from the model of education India is accustomed to.
The analysis of the policy from a gender lens gives a hopeful image for an inclusive India. The policy rightly aims at bringing change from the elementary level, which will reflect positively in the society. The author understands that it is not easy to do away with gender stereotypes, especially in the Indian context as they have been prevalent since time immemorial. However, with changing trends and increasing awareness, the Indian landscape and societal construct is evolving each day. These stereotypes play different roles in different settings. It is easy for a writer like me and a reader like you to sit in an urban setup and term these practices or thought processes stereotypical, but at the grassroots level they have affected lives in a much more negative manner. This doesn’t imply that urban settings do not have any gender stereotyping. Each struggle needs to be acknowledged and education can become a leveler in this field. Only with right education and better implementation can we bridge this gap. Critically speaking, the policy doesn’t say much about boys or male gender. This isn’t an ideal situation either. Although boys have been at a fairly advantaged position in our social pyramid, they still deserve an equal recognition and policy consideration. Society has spared no one from its stereotyping tendencies. There have been unrealistic expectations set in our society from boys and men. They are made to believe that in baseless stereotypes like “Boys/ Men don’t cry” we are making our future men more devoid of emotions and understanding them. These stereotypes in turn nurture an insensitive attitude. Therefore, the solution also lies in the gender sensitization that the policy envisages. The policy also states that the Gender Inclusion Fund has been set up for girls and transgender students, though boys have a better retaining rate in school, this is no intelligible dofferentia to not include boys to be benefiting from the fund. If the fund says Gender inclusion, it shouldn’t exclude any gender, financial problems can exist for anyone despite their gender.
In Para 6.8 of the policy, there is a mention of how women shape society not only for the present generation but also for future generations, is also a stereotypical thought on the part of policy framers. It is not only women who shape society, as privileged it may sound for women, it is every person of the society that shapes the societal construct. Even though the policy makers don’t want the policy to seem gender biased, it seems so in certain provisions by insertion of the words like “especially the girl child.” It is rather sad that the word transgender appears only once in the entire policy, although the policy is aiming at being gender inclusive. But, when we compare the appearance of other gender terms, the transgender seems rather underrepresented. For instance, The policy outlines provision for taking care of sexual harassment, but again lays emphasis on girl child. What about the remaining genders?
The policy is silent on that aspect. It is no hidden fact that sexual crimes against women have been increasing rapidly, this doesn’t mean the other genders have never faced it. Therefore, if we have a platform which is inviting inclusivity, the wording of this provision could also have been more inclusive as it is a matter of utmost sensitivity.
There are drawbacks to every policy, but it is truly commendable that such level of inclusivity has been enviros ones at the ground level itself. If implemented correctly, the future looks nothing but bright. The children have an opportunity to learn and understand themselves and their peers, which will also increase their emotional intelligence quotient and help them have an open mind to newer spectrums of the world at large.
NGOs, Social activists have a huge scope to bring about change by impairing gender education. Various schools should keep this point in mind and invite various activists and NGOs working extensively in the field of gender for children to understand this concept in the best manner possible.
The dropout rates at higher educational level can also be curtailed by two ways, one is through the legislative process, by making secondary education a Fundamental right as well.
Secondly, the schools should compulsorily along counselors and keep track of students by their attendance rates. If they feel a need for an intervention, they can do so by counseling the child and their parents and understanding their problem. Bi annual gender sensitization programs for teachers, school administrators, caretakers have to be made mandatory for ensuring that no child is mistreated because of revealing his/ her/ their gender identity.
People can conduct awareness drives at local level and educate the community about gender. This will be a form of social priming for the parents who feel that their child is different, or even in cases where they feel their child shouldn’t be educated further. Street plays, door to door awareness drives can help bring a change in societal perception towards education itself.
The new policy comes with a lot of employment opportunities, be it in the form of counselors, special trainers, educators, this should be utilized in the best way possible for a successful implementation of the policy.
The local/ state governments can play a bigger role than the Central Government by appointing volunteers who will keep check whether the policy is being implemented properly. Surprise visit to schools, stricter penalties for non compliance to the policy will aid in creating an inclusive experience at school.
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