Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha helps poor children by informal training and creates awareness about their rights
The Bharni Naka community, like countless slums in India, represents the flipside of ‘Incredible India’. Home to thousands of migrant labourers, the area has seen little economic or social progress. It was here that advocate Shakil Ahmed founded Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha in 1997, to educate children from his locality and create awareness about the importance of formal learning.
“I was born and brought up here,” says Mr Ahmed. “While I could complete my education and pursue a career, most children living here were not lucky enough to have any form of schooling. I decided to change the situation.” After he graduated, Mr Ahmed started giving free tuitions to a few children. As the number of students increased, he rented a room along with some friends. Gradually, more teachers were hired and resources garnered. Parivartan was formed in 1997 and registered as a trust in 2001.
The initial days were hard; there were no funds. The slum-dwellers themselves could not contribute; corporates and other organisations were not interested in funding Parivartan. But Mr Ahmed and his friends persisted in their efforts. In 2002, Mr Ahmed received the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship for his efforts in empowering the local people and educating them about their rights. “With recognition, things brightened up, and some other trusts and donors came forward to help us,” he says.
Today, Parivartan has three centres—a playschool, a balwadi centre and a computer centre where adolescents can get basic training for minimal fees. Parivartan now helps some 150 children between the ages of 6 and 14 with informal training and pre-school learning in Hindi, the mother tongue of most inhabitants. “Children enrolled in other schools also come here; we assist them in framing questions, grasping concepts and expressing themselves so that they can perform better,” says Mr Ahmed.
Apart from teaching, volunteers also help raise awareness about the need for education. “Not only poverty, but gender, caste and religious factors also prevent many parents from sending their children to school. We have to convince them about the merits of formal schooling,” says Mr Ahmed.
As an advocate, Mr Ahmed has fought many battles. He believes that the Right to Education must be enforced. Parivartan’s big victory came in 2006, when it won a seven-year-old court battle for establishing a school in the locality. The Bombay High Court directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up a school in Sangam Nagar in Wadala (central Mumbai)—the first school that the BMC built after 1978. Last year, he forced the BMC to accept 110 students from the locality, who were denied admission because they were dubbed ‘unfit’ for going to public schools. Mr Ahmed is also fighting for security of children in public schools and making schools accountable for preventing accidents and violence—a petition that’s going on for two years.
Parivartan’s students have done it proud. For two consecutive years, two girls from that locality were toppers in their night-schools in the Class X exams. There are others, like the son of a migrant helper at a carpenter shop. “His father had wanted his son to be educated and worked very hard to achieve that dream. Today, his son has graduated as a scientist and will join the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre this month,” Mr Ahmed said.
Parivartan is planning to expand its activities and strengthen its present capacity. Mr Ahmed believes that while things are changing fast and society is realising the need for education, several children, generally below 6 years of age, need to be reached. One can volunteer as a teacher, help children with learning, develop their creativity and even act as a sports coach. You can also help Parivartan financially. All donations are eligible for tax exemption under Section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.
PARIVARTAN SHIKSHAN SANSTHA
Room No-14, Babasaheb Ambedkar Telugu Sangh Bldg, Salt Pan Rd, Sangam Nagar, Wadala (East),
Mumbai 400 037
Tel: 022 2294 7309
Nifty to oscillate between 5,065 and 5,200
The market closed higher for a third consecutive day today, in volatile trading, after a positive opening by key European indices supported a sharp rise in domestic stocks in post-noon trade. Going ahead, the Nifty may move sideways in the range of 5,065 to 5,200, until a clear picture emerges.
The market opened with marginal gains, reflecting the Asian markets which were higher in morning trade. The Nifty opened 14 points up at 5,139 and the Sensex resumed at 17,118, up 53 points. IT and metal sectors led the early gains.
However, a bout of profit-booking soon led the indices into negative terrain and the market slipped to the day's low in the first 15 minutes. The Nifty touched 5,098 and the Sensex fell below the 17,000 mark to 16,987.
After range-bound trade till noon, the market witnessed a surge. Buying in select stocks lifted the benchmarks to the day's high in post-noon trade, the Nifty to 5,169 and the Sensex at 17,210.
The market came off the highs again, but closed positive. The Nifty settled 29 points up at 5,153 and the Sensex was up by 101 points to 17,166.
The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was 874:550.
Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index rose 0.26% and the BSE Small-cap index gained 0.72%.
The top sectoral gainers were BSE Consumer Durables (up 1.99%), BSE IT (up 1.52%), BSE Oil & Gas (up 1.42%), BSE TECk (up 1%) and BSE Capital Goods (up 0.88%). The major laggards were BSE Metal (down 0.69%), BSE PSU (down 0.28%), BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (down 0.27%) and BSE Power (down 0.23%).
The key performers on the Sensex were Cipla (up 2.94%), Reliance Industries (up 2.62%), Tata Motors (up 2.59%), Wipro (up 2.58%) and ICICI Bank (up 2.51%). The main losers on the index were Jindal Steel (down 1.57%), Coal India (down 1.35%), Tata Power (down 1.34%), Tata Steel (down 1.34%) and BHEL (down 0.97%).
The major Nifty gainers were Cairn India (up 4.20%), Ranbaxy (up 4.03%), ICICI Bank (up 3.42%), Cipla (up 3.23%) and Reliance Industries (up 2.88%). SAIL (down 2.84%), Jindal Steel (down 1.61%), Tata Steel (down 1.50%), BHEL (down 1.22%) and NTPC (down 1.07%) were at the bottom of the index.
Markets in Asia, with the exception of China and Hong Kong, settled mostly higher, although the gains were marginal. Chinese stocks ended lower ahead of the release of inflation data on Friday, setting off speculation that the central bank might hike interest rates further. Uncertainty about a fresh stimulus package by the US Federal Reserve also added to the woes.
The Jakarta Composite rose 0.10%, the KLSE Composite gained 0.36%, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.34%, the Straits Times climbed 0.87%, the Seoul Composite surged 0.72% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.26% higher. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite declined 0.68% and the Hang Seng fell by 0.67%.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs262.43 crore on Wednesday, while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities worth Rs80.81 crore.
The government's statistical department announced today that food inflation declined marginally to 9.55% for the week ended 27th August, from 10.05% in the previous week. The fall in food inflation could be attributed to a moderation in the rate of price rise of some of the items on a week-on-week basis, even though they continued to go up. Despite half a percentage point reduction in food inflation numbers, the Reserve Bank of India is not likely to give up its tough stance in dealing with high costs.
State-run SAIL's massive expansion drive to increase its steel production capacity to 21.40 million tonne per annum (MTPA) on an investment of Rs61,870 crore is expected to be completed by 2012-2013. Following the expansion, the company's crude steel production capacity will increase from 12.84 MTPA to 21.40 MTPA, while its hot metal production capacity will increase from 13.82 MTPA to 23.46 MTPA. The stock declined by 2.84% to Rs118 on the NSE today.
Nectar Lifesciences has received the approval of the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) manufacturing plant Unit-II in Dera Bassi, Punjab. This facility has also been approved by Japan's ministry of health, Medical Control Council of South Africa and Korean FDA. The stock soared 20.10% to close at Rs23 on the NSE.
Suzlon Energy-owned REpower Systems has concluded contracts with seven communities in Germany's Northern Friesland region to deliver 47 wind turbines. The turbines will have a combined output of 114.83MW and are expected to begin production from 2013 onwards. Suzlon was up 1.33% at Rs41.90 on the NSE.
Money invested under NPS is locked in till the age of 60 under the NPS Tier-I account. Will this change now? The Standing Committee suggests some flexibility, but there is a positive and a negative side to it
The New Pension System (NPS) has not worked very well. While for central government employees, contribution to the scheme is mandatory, the voluntary part of the NPS has not taken off at all. One of the main deterrents is that Tier-I of the NPS does not offer a facility to subscribers to withdraw their funds till they reach 60. Also, the NPS does offer a voluntary Tier-II account where withdrawals can be made.
The Tier-I account is compulsory for government employees and the bulk of the money is kept here, but it is almost impossible for them to withdraw the money in case of emergency expenses for an unforeseen event. This is what deters non-government subscribers from investing in the NPS Tier-I account, where savings would be locked up for about 25-40 years, till retirement.
This issue was taken up by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance which reviewed the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2011. In its report presented to the Lok Sabha last week, it mentioned that NPS is aimed at providing income security in old age and not to meet periodic or occasional fund requirements during the working life of a person. However, such emergencies cannot be ignored either.
Therefore, the Committee has suggested that in the case of Tier I account, an element of flexibility should be provided to enable subscribers to withdraw money to meet unforeseen, urgent expenses, like a critical illness. For instance, a subscriber can be allowed to take one repayable advance from the accounts after completion of 15 years of service, and permanently withdraw up to 50% of the contribution after completion of a minimum 25 years of service to meet exigencies that should be appropriately listed in the regulations.
This will have two implications. A withdrawal clause would immediately make NPS more attractive for non-government employees. But would it also introduce an element of arbitrariness? India is known for red-tape and corruption. And this could lead to subscribers being forced to run around to secure permission to withdraw from the fund, causing frustration that may compel them to resort to other means to get their claims passed.
The Committee should have suggested a minimum percentage of withdrawal from the fund after a particular period, as is the case for ULIPs, which allow partial withdrawals after 3-5 years. This would have been easier to understand and non-discretionary.
Currently, one can invest through a Tier-II account, from which withdrawals are permitted. But the procedure for this is cumbersome.(Read: The New Pension System needs a comprehensive online facility) The network of Points of Presence (POP) agencies, where a subscriber can make a request for withdrawal, is not very widespread. There is no online facility and the subscriber would have to travel long distances to visit a POP, causing a lot of inconvenience.
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) unlike the NPS, allows withdrawals in case a member requires to buy a house, repay a loan, fund children's marriage, or pay for medical expenses.