Beyond Money
Giving Them a Better Start
Tanuja Deshrajan helps street children learn basic skills so that they get admission into the best government schools
As a young mother, Tanuja Deshrajan was moved by the plight of a group of young children, who were the age of her own toddler son and whose life was about playing on the streets and begging for a living. She began to reflect on the futility of their existence and their grim future and decided that she must make the effort to give their lives the same chance as that of her own son. The way forward was education. 
“I started a school under the shade of a tree with a small number of children. It has now turned into a movement and we have 200 children in our school that has classes up to 5th standard. We also run women empowerment programmes like a sewing centre, a centre to make dry nashtas and adult education programmes.”
Tanuja, with an MSc degree in organic chemistry and an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University), is also involved in a struggle to change mindsets even at home. “The first difficulty I faced was to convince those closest to me—my family. They couldn’t understand why their daughter-in-law wanted to help children of ‘lesser’ families go to school, or why women, in general, should do work of their choice. I believed that if the women and children who needed education understood, everyone else would follow.”
Her perseverance worked and she now provides free education to children at Baliraja Sunrise School, Mainath village (Aligarh district, Uttar Pradesh). Her passion emanates from her strong belief that children must be able to learn, free of cost, and that her own educational qualifications would be of value only if they serve a useful social purpose. “Each of us, who is proud of our teachers and our educational qualifications, should pass on the benefit of education on to children,” she says.
With justifiable pride, she says, “Most people have stories to tell of the education they received in their first 22 years. My story isn’t about that luxury; it is one of providing it. My story is about how I gave the latter 22 years of my life to create and continuously improve the education system in a village called Mainath, and how that still continues to be a privilege.” 
Children at her school are taught with the objective that they should get admission into the best government schools for higher education. This means a focus on quality as well as bringing more children into the fold. The latter is possible by involving their mothers as well. Tanuja explains it best when she says, “We, as a community of people, tend to discriminate on the basis of caste and gender; domestic violence and lack of education for women are a part of life. Our children must also grow out of such mindsets and our women, especially mothers, should move away from this. Our boys, as adults, should be trained to give up such discriminatory attitudes and behaviour.”
Tanuja’s effort to expand her work received support from Vaibhav Lall, chief editor of Rise for India, who has created an online crowd funding platform to raise Rs1.5 lakh for her school to get furniture, stationery, books, computers, sports equipment and library facilities and to pay salaries for the teachers. He says, “Tanuja’s story is not only an inspiration for her village, but for the entire nation. You can also become a part of her story by contributing in the fund raising campaign going on to help her in sustaining the noble initiative.” You can contribute by clicking on  and help change the lives of some children.


Prohibition: Reviving an idea whose time may have long expired

Apart from bootlegging, spurious liquor too takes its toll on consumers


Bihar's Nitish Kumar government should have been more pragmatic before announcing prohibition as this cost Nagaland dearly in terms of revenue and only helped "bootleggers of neighbouring Assam", a former minister from the north-eastern state has said.
"I think the Bihar chief minister should have been more careful and done a more in-depth study. This prohibition idea is a folly. Prohibition has either failed as in Nagaland or Manipur or had to be withdrawn as in Mizoram," Thomas Ngullie, an Independent legislator and former information minister, told IANS here.
"We brought in the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act in 1989. I was part of the Congress party that brought the law. But that was a mistake. We only helped the bootleggers of Assam and cash-starved Nagaland lost huge revenue," he added.
Apart from bootlegging, spurious liquor too takes its toll on consumers.
The Naga politician's lament, though, is not in isolation.
Within minutes of the announcement that prohibition had been enforced in governance-starved Bihar, microblogging site Twitter and social networking Facebook were on fire.
This striking oneliner went viral: Breaking news: Bihar announces massive investments in bootlegging industry.
This has generally been the outcome of prohibition laws wherever they have been imposed or tried.
An IANS report from Kathmandu said that at a recent meeting in Forbesganj in Bihar, Indian authorities sought help from their Nepali counterparts to curb the movement of people seeking alcohol from Nepal.
"Mizoram was reeling under Prohibition for 18 years and one of our governors said: 'Mizoram is the wettest dry state in the country.' Not a comment to be proud of. Let's not indulge in hypocrisy," wrote Hmar C. Vanlalruata from Mizoram capital Aizawl on Facebook on the day prohibition was enforced in Bihar.
Christian-majority Mizoram declared prohibition under the influence of church bodies but lifted this in July 2014 after 18 years of struggling with its failure.
In another northeastern state, Manipur, prohibition was brought in 1991 and for more reasons than one everyone seemed to believe in its limitations.
There have been reports of bootlegging and also increase in drug abuse.
In July 2014, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh stated in the Manipur assembly that his government favoured exploring options of lifting prohibition. He also had suggested that the country liquor produced in Manipur by scheduled castes and tribes be sold in other states "for revenue".
While the state was declared dry, scheduled castes and tribes were permitted to brew liquor for traditional purposes.
This situation continues till today.
Prohibition had beeen in force in what is now Tamil Nadu since pre-Independence days and was lifted in 1971. It was again briefly imposed in 1974 before being lifted. Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha has promised to turn the state dry if she is voted back to power in the assembly elections later this year.
Prohibition was imposed in Haryana in July 1996 by the government headed by then chief minister Bansi Lal, who had ridden to power on the promise of a dry state. However, it remained in force only till March 31, 1998. One of the reasons is that neighbouring Punjab has one of the highest per capita consumption rates of liquor, so it was always easily available.
Rajasthan briefly flirted with prohibition in 1977-79.
Bombay State - now Maharashtra and parts of Gujarat - briefly imposed prohibition from 1948 to 1950 and again from 1958 to 1960.
With Maharashtra and Gujarat created on May 1, 1960, today there is prohibition in only three of Maharashtra's 36 districts - Wardha, Chandrapur and Ghadchiroli.
Gujarat is quite a different story. Prohibition is as old as Independence and the fact that it is violated openly is also as old.
Just like home-delivered pizza, illicit liquor is just a phone call away and the industry has grown exponentially. There are scooter-borne small bootleggers in thousands delivering one and two bottles of your choice. Then there are the sophisticated ones by who come dressed like a guest to your home to ensure nobody notices their purpose and deliver stuff nearly packed in grocery bags and flower bouquets.
Some bigger suppliers have got tech-savvy: They keep lap-top computers and employ GPS to keep track of where the supplies have reached. The police is well aware of this, and so are ministers and bureaucrats.
Gujarat looses Rs.5,000 crore ($750 million) in excise income to implement the dry law. The government tries to recover this from its 52 Permit Shops, where liquor is officially sold to 70,300 permit-holders.
Revenue loss is also what Kerala will have to deal with by deciding to impose total prohibtion by 2023 when all the 730 bars will shut down and liquor will only be served in 29 five-star hotels.
Kerala may be shooting its cash cow.
"Alcohol helps in giving Kerala's economy a good high - shockingly, more than 40 percent of revenues for its annual budget come from booze," a posting on the BBC website said.
In all these states, experience shows demand for prohibition is mostly guided by populism and surrendering to the pressure tactics of influential groups.
Little wonder then, that celebrity Rishi Kapoor retorted in the context of Bihar: "Any law which tries to stop the people from doing something is bound to fail."
But for the moment, more politicians are falling for prohibition policy's double-edged sword.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.


Infosys, Coca-Cola agree to make sign language official

A first ever Braille edition of the Limca Book of Records was also launched on the occasion


Infosys co-founder N.R.Narayana Murthy and Coca-Cola India president Venkatesh Kini on Thursday co-signed a petition to make sign language an official language of India.
The petitioners also urged the prime minister and the union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to include sign language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
The petition read that the prime minister's dream of "accessible India" could only be fulfilled if sign language became the official language of the country.
"This will bring millions of people to the mainstream and further enable our society to become an inclusive society," the joint petition said.
Speaking at the annual event to felicitate "Special People of the Year", organised by the Limca Book of Awards in India, Murthy said that the government and corporates must come together to accomplish the vision of an accessible India.
"It is difficult to imagine India becoming a strong economy without becoming an inclusive economy, which is inclusive in gender, ability, ethnicity, and all other social parameters," he said.
This year, the Limca Book of Records team felicitated 15 specially-abled persons from various spheres of life.
A first ever Braille edition of the Limca Book of Records was also launched on the occasion. 
"It will enable the visually challenged to browse through the existing records and challenge themselves to create new records," Venkatesh Kini said.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.




1 year ago

just because NRN signs a petition, it does not mean Infosys as a company has signed this. can we please keep the distinction between individual & organization in this case?

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