“Khap, Shariat and Kangaroo courts defying illegal entities in the State jurisdiction”

A report published in a local newspaper of Rajasthan
A report published in a local newspaper of Rajasthan

In the sexual molestation case of a six year old girl in Keshavpura, Gujarati basti near Kota, the victim was summoned by the local panchayat to be married off to the son of the accused. The accused Kailash Gujrati (44) had earlier molested the girl by touching her private parts and was caught subsequently by the people. It was then that the panchayat brought up this bizarre verdict and ordered that the victim should be married to the eight year old son of the accused. Apparently, Kailash did not subside to the decision taken by the panchayat body. But before the verdict could be enacted, the police intertwined and arrested Kailash under POSCO act with charges of abduction, molestation and physical assault. The self-styled kangaroo court instead of punishing the guilty made the victim marry in the family of the very person who had committed the heinous crime.

 Imrana's house at Kukra village in Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh.
Imrana’s house at Kukra village in Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh.

I kept on looking for a follow up on the story in the local newspapers of Rajasthan. But to my disappointment there was no other news regarding this case. This story reminded me of Imrana case where the victim was raped by her father-in-law and the shariat court issued a fatwa to Imrana stating that she should treat her husband as her son and declared their marriage null and void. Imrana defied the panchayat and continued to live with her husband. This case secured the attention of national media due its complexity. Many shariat groups came up with different counter views regarding the case. Even Mulayam Singh Yadav, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh endorsed the view of many Muslim law boards that she should not stay with her husband. This news was covered extensively by the media and the latest follow up on the famous case appeared in an English daily on 13th July of last year.

Khap Mahapanchayat
Khap Mahapanchayat

Social institutions such as caste panchayat and the shariat rule thrive under the disguise of moral policing and culture, defying the basic tenets of Indian constitution and oversee the judiciary behaving in an outrageously autocratic manner. Such organisations have become powerful and brutal thereby impeding lives of hundreds of individuals on the basis of caste. They are stark examples of establishments formed on the basis of caste and gender distinction backed by political parties for their vote banks. In the last few years, there have been many incidences where the decisions taken by these forms of caste elected panchayats have ostracised many people on irrational reasoning and killed hundreds. Also this regressive, patriarchal system limits and forbids the individual as well as community rights of women.  Such bodies wield more power and authority than the statutory panchayats as they have been historicised referring them to vedas and quran which generally shuns the poor or a particular caste or religion. The faith of the people has kept them on the pedestal as a local ruling body. The elected panchayats cannot oversee without support of the social institutions as they enjoy favouritism among people. They are the respected lot of their society and have immense power to ostracise people or pronounce death sentences (honour killing).  Many a times when the elected bodies fail to deliver on the issues related to society at large, it paves way to the kangaroo courts to chip in as the legal entity of the society and function in full throttle.  The semi-literate society and the poor still vouch for these bodies as they are more accessible and pocket friendly. They usually tend to neglect the feudal factor which openly outplays in the villages.

Manoj and Babli case of honour killing
Manoj and Babli case of honour killing

What can be observed in both the cases is that media often fails to recognise the complexity, socio-economic situation and political aspects of such illegal institutions regarding judicial matters.  These Khaps and shariats violate the fundamental rights of an individual and behave in a dictatorial manner. They work as apex courts and aren’t monitored by any legal entity. Last year Supreme Court clearly declared that such courts have no sanction of law as they breach the basic fundamental rights guaranteed in a constitution. In spite of the verdict, these institutions continue to exist and rule over fates in the rural belts of India.

Even the Punjab and Haryana High Court have come down heavily against the actions of the Khaps and honour killings. The court has even given directions that couples who are hounded by the Khaps and their families be given protection by the police and the administration. Though protection homes have been set up in the last one year, many couples still fear for their lives.

Many supporters of khap panchayats have tried to historicise them as they have been functioning since the 7th century and perhaps even earlier. According to an article published in The Hindu, Khaps have aided Razia Sultan in 13th century to fight against her enemies Turkish nobles. In return for their help they were rewarded with 60,000 buffaloes. Even her tomb lies on the outskirts of Kaithal, deep in Haryana’s khap lands. It is also believed that Khaps helped the Marathas against Ahmed Shah Abdali, during the third battle of Panipat by providing ammunition. But originally such bodies functioned to resolve disputes, dispense quick and cheap justice regarding matters related to debts, contracts, adultery and inheritance of property. They were considered as eminent bodies for delivering justice before the British displaced them by establishing statutory, local, self-governing bodies at the village level and judicial courts for legal relief.

In earlier times, Khaps were more inclusive and ‘Sarvkhaps’ comprised people of all castes and communities. Today, their realm is restricted to specific Jat community. They have succumbed to validating marriage practices on the basis of caste and religion in Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. To be in the run they have opted more regressive measures which are highly undemocratic, oppressive and in conflict with the governing law.

Khaps are responsible for gender based inequality as the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 was strongly opposed by them that ensured equal inheritance rights to women. Their reason behind such diktats is that the new law will empower other girls to oppose their patriarchy and demand share in ancestral property. Even marriages in same gotra are opposed due to this factor.

After measure statements and dictation on various issues regarding marriages and their outreaching support to honour killings has smashed their image. To clean the wounds, they have worn mask of socially responsible group by starting programmes against female foeticide and extravagant marriages. But it is unclear to me as whether these steps taken to lessen the male female ratio difference has shades of patriarchal greed as then men would not have to go out of the state in search for a bride or to increase chances of marriage for their middle aged sons?

Media role in raising gender issues
Media role in raising gender issues

Media’s coverage of such cases tends to be partial as it highlights only certain aspects or cases which suit their appetite for sensationalism. There is also a growing trend of joining the bandwagon in the media regarding selective cases of moral diktats whereas remaining blindfolded for the rest. Media tends to grasp only sensationalist and outrageous elements in cases as sensitive as rape, for example the entire ruckus over the Haryana Khap’s statement that eating chowmein and using cell phones are the major reasons for increasing number of rapes. Especially in broadcast media, the trend is much more stark and apparent as we the passive consumer of news are served with dramatic elements in the platter without even scratching the upper layer of patriarchy and castesim which is deeply prevalent in the society and is perhaps the reason why such bodies function smoothly despite warnings from the supreme court. We as consumers of media are deliberately given fences to choose between ‘us and ‘them’, where ‘them’ are the hilariously regressive panchayats and ‘us’ are the sensible lot. But in reality what media fails to highlight is the fact that roots of sexism, patriarchy and moral policing are found within ‘us’ as well. What media also resists showing is how these kangaroo courts exist in today’s 21st century despite tall claims made by all the major political parties regarding women safety and abolishment of such bodies. That how vote bank is the major reason popular figures such as Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal too had to accept the existence of Khap as the ‘culture and heritage’ of Haryana.

Whereas, they deliberately avoid covering other such institutions which do not have any vested legal power and still function in a tyrannical manner. But there is another aspect to this as people fear social boycott and that is one of the primary reasons they vouch for their support. The basic idea of decentralisation and empowering people at ground level seems to be evading. Presently media hasn’t gone much underneath the surface to understand the concept and formation of social institutions and its implications.


Protection of right to speedy Justice

Aparna Singh

Chennai, July 17: Madras high court to take decision regarding litigation filed to constitute a special bench for speedy justice for all the Habeas Corpus Petitioners (HCPs).

The writ petition filed in public interest by P. Pugalenthi director of the Prisioners Right Forum demands speedy disposal of the cases. The attack on 500 prisoners in Central Prison Puzhal on 24.3.2014 left 20 injured. These prisoners detained under the Goondas Act were on a hunger strike protesting against the delay in court hearing.

Central Prison Puzhal
Central Prison Puzhal

According to Senior Council Dr. Radhakrishna, the prisoners cannot be forced to complete the entire detention period of 12 months.

“Under Article 21, Fundamental right to speedy justice, any litigant can fight and dispose his case immediately” he added.

In response to the affidavit Registrar General P. Kalaiyarasan dismissing the petition stated, “The writ petition is false, frivolous and not maintainable either in law or on facts”.

Madras High Court
Madras High Court

In the next court hearing the issue whether the chief Justice can be directed by the petitioner or other High court judges to set up special bench will be contemplated.

Unabated urbanization degrading Pallikaranai marshland

Aparna Singh

Chennai, July 15: Pallikaranai wetland located in south Chennai is one of India’s unique marshlands and has been facing serious environmental issues.

Hazardous plastic waste disposal in Pallakaranai
Hazardous plastic waste disposal in Pallakaranai

This marshland, once spread over 5500 ha,houses 330 species of flora and fauna and has been reduced to 600 ha over the years. It is being used as a dump yard by the Chennai cooperation which was granted 25 acres of land but it has increased to 330 acres. This unauthorized dumping in the marshland is affecting surrounding vegetation and habitation.

Out of two dumping grounds in Chennai, Perungudi is deteriorating the health of people in the nearby locality. V. Srinivasan an activist of Save Pallakaranai Marshland (SPM) who has been campaigning since 2003 said,

“A survey revealed high levels of dioxin were found in the milk of lactating mothers living within a one km radius of the Pallikaranai marshland”.

Pallakaranai Marshland
Pallakaranai Marshland

Srinivasan who has been a part of SPM since 2003 said, “Recent budget allocation of Rs 8 crore towards waste management is futile. The policy level only looks at privatization and there is hardly any importance placed on primary level initiatives”.

Although the new government has scrapped plans of building a financial city in Perumbakam to protect bio diversity, it needs to take more measures to keep the marshland from getting polluted.

Pallikaranai Wetland Authority was set up and endowed with the task of management of the marshland in 2012.

According to Srinivasan, remediation efforts could be taken up by the government which includes a botanical garden and an interpretation centre for bird watchers. He also suggests raising awareness among citizens about waste segregation at primary level.

Efforts by SPM are still on to put a complete stop to dumping by 2015.

Think before you get Inked!

In a recent report issued by Chief Health Officer of New South Wales in 2014, many branded ink products such as Intenze, Colourking, Kuro Sumi were recalled by EU RAPEX system (a rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products). This major decision was taken when phenylenediamines particles were found in the colour bottles which can cause adverse effects on the human health.

These days tattoo making is a popular art form among youth owing to star celebs such as David Beckham, Harry Styles, model Cara Delevingne, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Cheryl Cole who are often seen flaunting their tattoos.As a result, many Indian celebs have joined the bandwagon ranging from sports stars such as Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan to Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and the list goes on.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

This star power has increased the number of youth going under the needle to get engraved designs same as their favourite celebrities. A tattoo can also symbolise love and affection of a person towards the other and at times it can also be a fashion statement.

But they fail to understand the repercussions it can have on their health. They underestimate the trivialities which come along with the inscriptions on their body.

In a survey conducted by our investigative team, it was found that numerous tattoo studios in Chennai are not using indemnity forms i.e. ‘Consent to the Procedure’ which helps customers to make an informed decision. It is an essential part of the process as it informs the customer about possible infections and medical conditions in which a person should not get a tattoo. The form also mentions the age limit. On further investigation,  our team did not find any studio that uses any specific form informing its customers. One of the tattoo studio owners tried to download the indemnity form when we demanded. They did not even bother to inform their customers verbally about medical conditions in which a person should refrain from getting a tattoo. The customers were assured time and again that these tattoos have no side effects on the skin for a longer duration of time. Even the NSW report says that long duration side effects have not yet been proved. It is because of this lack of clarity on the usage of such chemicals that tattoo studio deliberately avoid briefing their customers regarding the health effect. Moreover, the owners and tattoo artists did not even try to find out any medical history of their customers whether they are allergic to any certain condition or not. Perhaps the lure of lucrative business overrides the health concerns of the customers in this market.

The Yantra tattoos owner said, “The indemnity form scares our customers which we cannot afford”.

To get an estimate of the awareness level among the students, we conducted a small survey. We received a mixed response from them regarding their experience and what all information were they provided before getting a tattoo.

Tattoos can be dated back to pre-Christian Germanic, Celtic and other central and northern European tribes which were often heavily tattooed. The practice of tattooing can also be found in 2nd millennium BC as mummies bearing tattoos have been discovered. In an 18th century article, a medical doctor from Cairo wrote about usage of tattoo making as an ancient medicine to treat patients.

Maori gang
Maori gang

At one point of time, tattoos became a symbol for gangs such as Yakuza in Japan (it is known for organised crime and tattoos are considered as a sign of initiation into the mafia), Maori gang in New Zealand and Mexican drug gangs. The members of these outlaw gangs inject the needle in their skins and are identified by the inscribed tattoos.

In India around 19th century Ramnami community rebelled and challenged the orthodoxy of upper caste Hindus who denied them entry in temples.They got Ram engraved all over their bodies as an act of rebellion. Even today the art exists in its traditional form in South India it is termed as pachakutharathu, whereas in parts of North India it is popularly known as godna.

But these days tattoo is no longer a religious statement among the urban lot. We interviewed and compiled responses from a few students of Asian College of Journalism who got tattooed and also who desire to get one to find out the craze behind this phenomenon.

Presently, the tattoo industry is on the rise in India. From the ‘free love-hippie’ era of the 70’s to the urbanized India of post 90’s, tattoos are fast gaining their ground in the youth dominion. But with this mass popularity many illegal activities and malpractices are flourishing. These have raised alarming issues and concerns regarding the functionary bodies all around the country. In a country where there is no proper regulatory body for pharmaceutical stores, it is unlikely to imagine one on tattoo studios.

Maybe that is the reason New South Wales government has advised their citizens to avoid getting tattoos in other countries particularly in Asia.

The NSW report mentions that the recalled products contain chemical compounds such as phenylenediamines and high levels of metal contaminants. According to source article, European authorities have classified the recalled products as containing higher risk- “it is illegal to obtain, supply, possess or use products containing phenylenediamines in preparations for skin colouration (tattooing) unless authorised under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008.”

This strong action has been triggered by several other articles on tattoo ink. In 2013, a blog by Andrew Penman was published in UK Mirror, asserting that cancer-causing tattoo inks were easily available in the market. It testified that the products with new batch numbers had the same PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) level as the batch that was banned.

“The EU has set a maximum legal PAH concentration in tattoo inks at 0.5 mg per kg.” The ink which was tested and verified by a specialist had a concentration of just over 20 mg per kg, almost 40 times the permitted level.

The same branded bottles which have been banned in other countries are available in India. The biggest supplier Tattoo Gizmo supplies those bottles at large scale.

Though,we are not sure that the inks with specific batch numbers are being supplied here or not.  But there are high chances of intoxicants present in the other supplies as proved in UK.

In India, many local products are available and used by small tattoo studios which can be highly toxic for the body. They usually rely on cheap inks because one oz. bottle of a particular brand can cost from INR 600-3000.

A tattoo artist, in the condition of anonymity said that many studios may refill the branded bottles with local products as the ink is very costly. He has been in the industry for the past 5 years.

Regarding the hygiene level maintained by the studio he further informed us that none of the studios at present is maintaining proper cleanness in India whereas, salons with tattoo studio are worse. Whereas Dr. V Nambi, a physician by profession said,“Even if studios maintain 100% hygiene still there are chances of infection”.

A tattoo
A tattoo

Many types of malpractices are prevalent in the tattoo industry. The tattoo artists are ignorant about the fact that hair removal is essential as it lowers the risk of infection. A Dermatologist in condition of anonymity explained, “the method of tattooing is like a small surgery where the body part needs to be cleaned properly by removing hair and using antiseptics.”

This piece of news was alarming for us, as on our field visit we witnessed an artist engraving a name on a man’s chest without removing the hair.

He further explained the consequences that how a popular art form to express one’s feelings becomes nuisance for the adolescents from 17-20 years, as they do not think or ponder before getting a tattoo/ engraving name of their lovers. He says, “these young ones do not realise the value of a tattoo or the culture where our society lives in. They are hardly sixteen or seventeen when they get a tattoo and then hardly a year or two later end up visiting clinic to get them removed. Not only the cost of getting a tattoo removed is ten times higher than getting one it also traumatizes their psychology and puts their families into jeopardy”. The peer pressure among the urban teenagers is also prevalent as tattoos today have become synonymous to the ‘hip’ culture. But the laser is not a solution as the marks of the tattoo remain throughout life.

Newly engraved tattoo
Newly engraved tattoo

In India, tattoo industry is expanding at a large scale. This needs to be regulated with strict laws by a governing body to ensure ethical practice while tattooing. Moreover, the youth needs to be aware about the consequences before and aftermath getting a tattoo. The onus lies on both the seller and consumer. A single entity cannot be blamed as many times people do not follow the given instructions after getting a tattoo. The tattoo artists are blamed and forced to redo the tattoo without pay as told by one of the artist. “Sometimes they are in such a hurry to show off their tattoos to their friends that they click pictures and upload it on facebook and twitter keeping the given instructions at bay.”

He further added, “The art of tattoo making is not a rocket science, if done with proper equipments and precautions”.

Cyber bullying among children – A territory unknown

Aparna Singh

We often read jeering comments and insulting remarks on social media sites such as twitter and Facebook. On social media it is easy to make a person butt of the joke and laugh at his/her expense. Recent example of on-going bullying is Deepika Padukone’s Vogue ad. People have taken on her and the rest of the artists who were part of the video and mocked at them publically.

According to a survey conducted by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one out of every four Indian teenager has been cyber bullied. This data has raised alarming issues for a developing country like India. Whereas, in the west two out of four children fall prey to cyber bullying depicting the rise of this phenomenon.

As a result today India ranks third when it comes to cyber bullying among 8-17 age group children. In the Global Youth Online Behaviour Survey conducted by Microsoft it was found that 53% of Indian children have been bullied online. The primary source of cyber law in India is the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) which came into force on 17 October 2000. The IT Act penalizes various cybercrimes and provides strict punishments (imprisonment terms up to 10 years and compensation up to Rs 1 crore). But when it comes to cyber bullying, the laws are not that stringent with absolutely no punishment or provision for cases related to minors.

Children these days are involved in hate mails, online gang wars etc. Most of these abusers have fake profiles and blackmail their victims by using digitally altered pictures. According to a student who goes by the internet pseudonym ‘RiderX’, “it is easy to bash someone online or hunt him/her down as nobody can trace you. Cyber field is the new goldmine and everyone is a potential gold digger.” Internet today has made things easier and much possible. The power of anonymity is so vast and vivid that we today are able to speak our mind to the level that we cannot think of doing in real life.

Cyber Bullying is the ‘hep’ thing for users, there are ‘trolls’ who come up with fake email i.ds on facebook and twitter and continuously harass people. They corner and abuse isolated accounts with real names with unlimited access to ‘hurtful vocabulary’ and no remorse at all for the act.  As for the bullied, they cannot hide away from their enemies. It is unlike school bullying. ‘RiderX’ explain, “there is no room for pussies. fight back or log out.”

Firstly, there is a need to understand the act of cyber bullying which means harassing or threatening someone by sending or posting messages and pictures. One can even go to the extent of forming chat groups on WhatsApp or Snapchat against a person or group of people. The traditional bullying in schools has taken a global format where there is no place for victim to hide. This new level of bullying can torture a child psychologically and break his/her self-confidence.  A child counsellor Nandini Raman says, “The importance children give to cyber world is massive, it is no longer the case of logging out and burying the issue with it. They tend to carry the insults back in their regular life in fact the line between cyber world and real world for them has become blurred and they are unable to delineate themselves from the harassment. It becomes difficult for us to win their confidence at first and to construct it back takes months or years.”

Recently, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) recognised cyber bullying and ragging as serious offence and laid down few suggestions for the schools to deal with cyber bullying. For the first time CBSE has taken a serious note of this ‘menace’. The board, usually known to deal with soft hands, said schools may withhold or even cancel results of guilty students as punitive action. While the CBSE has mentioned minor punishments as well, such as oral and written warning, the overall intent and tone of the letter leaves no doubt that it means business.

One look at the cyber world gives us an acute idea of its norms and practices. Majority of the kids join social media due to peer pressure and the pressure to be accepted as ‘normal’ intensifies with the presence of bullies. Obese kids are usually the softest targets for name calling, a noted example of this case could be that of Mukesh Ambani’s son who became butt of jokes on social media due to a health problem which aggravated his weight. Kids who are perceived to be even slightly different from the herd are cornered and mocked at. Often there are ‘confession’ pages on Facebook dedicated to schools and colleges where anybody can use the url and post whatever he/she feels like. These pages have more visibility on Facebook than personal accounts and thus the chances of getting publically harassed increases.  Councillor Nandini recalls a case where a 12 year old girl was bullied on twitter as she posted some images with her friends. Her developed body gave an impression of a 16 year old teenager. The social media people took on her posting nasty comments by calling her ‘gay’ and ‘tranny’. The girl wasn’t old enough to understand or handle the situation which resulted in depression. It took several sittings with the councillor to win her confidence so that she could open up.

Even adults are not spared in cyber space as there are various instances of them getting mocked at. Be it Smriti Irani, the Human Resource Development Minister who was jeered at her lack of higher education or Deepika Padukone for her recent Vogue empower video, internet space and its freedom of speech has spared none. Such is the extent of social media and internet in the urban life that even adults spend around two to three hours a day on web. Obviously, children get included in this phenomenon due to pressure.

Schools today vigorously encourage usage of internet for a child’s learning. Early access to the cyber world is considered vital for a child’s overall knowledge and development. Parents tend to understand the fine thread on which children walk in cyber world but only partially as through safe search they ensure that their kids do not use or visit websites such as xxx or download porn. Prateek Jain, a silk businessman and a father of two kids based in Jodhpur says, “I ensure that my kids do not venture very deep in the internet world as there are certain websites which they are not supposed to visit. Parental lock comes very handy in these matters”.  But popular networking sites and aps go unnoticed from the parents radar. He adds further, “it’s impossible and near autocratic for me to top my kids from using Facebook as the entire world is on it. Even I use it. The maximum I could do is to ensure that they don’t spend too much time on it. ”

Also, access to smartphones and gadgets among children has increased the chances of them getting bullied. Today, even small children are tech savvy with the onset of multitude of smartphones in the market .This has also ascertained their increased presence in cyber world and thus the chances of them getting bullied.

According to a report, at least 21% cases of suicidal tendencies among students are directed towards cyber bullying. It proves the fact that this is not a trivial phenomenon and has pretty much invaded the personal space of today’s kids. Nandini explains, “cyber bullying is a very serious concern for today’s councillors and parents who have seen the adverse effects of it. Often it leads to extreme forms of depression and increased suicidal tendencies. Further it leads to withdrawal tendencies where the victim slowly refuses to take part in extracurricular activities in school or social life and tends to be isolated.” But is cyber bullying only a virtual phenomenon? How and what is the role of family and society in tackling it? Nandini says, “The kids in a joint family can be checked or kept a tab on with internet or mobile phones. There are people to guide them. But single kids whose parents are working become more used or prone to social media. They do not get enough time from parents or emotional support which makes them addicted to social media and results in cyber bullying as victim or convict.”

Today, internet has invaded our lives to a great extent. Be it work, business, learning or recreation, cyber world is the hub of all. As adults even we end up spending hours on social media. We lack self-control many a times and therefore children are seen getting addicted to it. Need of the hour is to recognise the harmful effects of cyber bullying among children and to not to treat it as a trivial issue. Parents should encourage children to be more vocal about their internet interaction to them and to recognise instances of abuse and bullying and register their protest against it. Also, it is just not the victim but the perpetrator as well who needs to be counselled and made to realize that it is not at all ‘cool’ to humiliate anyone on cyber space.

Chennai leads per capita CO2 emission among metros

Aparna Singh

Chennai: Children constitute about 9 percent of the total population of Chennai city and they are much more vulnerable to air-borne diseases and various skin and respiratory problems caused by pollutants. Chennai is the highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases among the seven major cities of Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.

According to a survey conducted by T V Ramachandra of Centre for Ecological Sciences, the city emits around 4.79 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per capita. The report said that domestic and industrial sectors’ contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is the highest. Even electricity consumption can be counted as one of the main sources for GHG emissions.

This emission poses a greater risk of carrying air pollution in the environment and it is children who are more susceptible to it. The gaseous pollutants in urban settings include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. These are emitted directly into the air from fossil fuels and natural gas.

Dr. Rajakumar, associate professor of paediatrics and senior consultant of Shri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, said, “There is an increase in the number of respiratory diseases such as hyper-airway disease and asthma among children.”

Children, because of their low immunity, are particularly susceptible. “If there are reports indicating high level GHG emission, children obviously come into the picture as their immunity is weaker than others. Chennai has very poor green cover and that is why it cannot absorb most of the GHG emissions. The corporation has to see that more areas come under the green belt and ensure that there is a greaterawareness of ill effects of greenhouse gases,” said Mr. Srinivasan, a social activist and an environmentalist.

The rising cases of asthma and skin allergies could be linked to the emission of greenhouse gases, both by the households and industrial sector. Climate change which is directly caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions can lead to thousands of heat-related deaths which might disproportionately affect children and elderly. According to a report by Aaron Bernstein in a Harvard paper, there are three major consequences of climatic change—rising sea levels, rising temperatures and increased precipitation, and all three of them stand to have the greatest impact on human – and child – health.

M S Swaminathan on malnutrition and food security

Aparna Singh

Chennai: Despite the popular belief that green revolution led to over use of resources such as water, soil etc. it was the self-sustainable model which the country seemed to seek at that moment of time, said Dr. M S Swaminathan, addressing audience in a conference organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII on nutrition and food security on 17th March, 2015.

Dr. M S Swaminathan discussed three forms of hunger that are calorie, protein and micronutrients deficiency related. He explained that under nourishment affects cognitive ability of a child and if a child is born handicapped or sub normal, it is owing to the fact that mother is malnourished. “The ratio of such children is 22 percent all over India and the situation in Tamil Nadu is little better with 17 percent,” he said.

Further in the conference, it was also explained that how in the year 1960, a new step was undertaken to eradicate malnutrition by introducing new plant architecture. Plants were designed genetically to give high yield. This created a symphony of food products such as basmati rice which is still being developed and its newest form is Pusa basmati 1509. This quality of rice gave a profit of 35 million to farmers of Punjab last year.  But the government needs to avail more funds for such scientific discoveries.

He emphasized on the need of time to educate nutrition values to women about naturally bio fortified plants such as millets, sweet potato etc. The addition of millet in some states in the Public Distribution system has widened the food basket along with wheat and rice. Thus the consumption of millets has increased and it could play a huge role in tackling malnutrition.

Finally, he ended his discourse by the statement that the state needs to design sustainable development for 1000 days’ programme where nutrition for a child for thousand days since conception is stressed upon. Any compromise can lead to irreversible damage to child’s mental and physical development. Food nutrition is often been related to adequacy of food but nutrition has a wider connotation which means balanced diet including micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and so on.

The conference was an attempt to bridge the dichotomy between millions of hungry people and the tons of food which is produced every year; and how wastage of resources due to poor planning and allocation has led to continuous malnourishment.