Sindhutai Sapkal: Maharashtra has no funds for orphanages, but attempts to orphan the ‘Mother of Orphans’
Consider the rude joke played on renowned social reformer Sindhutai Sapkal, whose grand family comprises 207 sons-in-law, 36 daughters-in-law and over 1,000 grandchildren – all nurtured by her in her orphanages. Many of them are well-educated lawyers and doctors and some, including her biological daughter, are running their own independent orphanage.
 
2010: The Government of Maharashtra honours Sindhutai Sapkal with the prestigious Ahilyabai Holkar Award, which is given for outstanding work in the field of woman and child welfare. Obviously, the government could not have given it to someone who runs an illegal entity.
 
2016: The Maharashtra Department of Women and Child Development (WCD), pressures Sapkal to oust orphans residing in her Sanmati Bal Niketan and hand them over to the department to rehabilitate them to government orphanages. Reason? Because Sanmati Bal Niketan is not registered with WCD and hence, is being considered as an illegal entity. This, despite Sapkal running from pillar to post, since 2011, in order to have the institution registered. 
 
Firstly, if it is illegal, why did the state government give such a prestigious award to Sapkal? Also, to be noted is the fact that, Sapkal has been felicitated by three Presidents of India. So, aptly did she say at a function held by Moneylife Foundation this year on Women’s International Day that, “Despite all the awards (750 and more) and travelling across regions and even to the US, I am still a beggar (none of her orphanages receive any grant from the government). Earlier, my singing used to provide me with food. Today, my speeches give us our food. पहले गाना था तो खाना मिलता था, अब भाषण है तो राशन है.’’
 
Secondly, recently in the WCD committee meeting in Aurangabad, its minister, Pankaja Munde did not take any decision on the financial grant of Rs200 crore, for meals for the 150-odd government orphanages in Maharashtra, due to alleged lack of funds. This has sent nervous signals across orphanages in the state. So, does it have the right to destroy someone’s efforts in nurturing orphans by being self-sufficient?
 
Thirdly, the State Government has stringent norms regarding the capacity of orphanages. This means that there are thousands of orphans who cannot get admission into them. So, when `Mai’ Sapkal has taken up this responsibility with credibility, why has the government woken up now suddenly to destroy her work?
 
Fourthly, the WCD officials have sent her a notice, because she has not registered with it. Did WCD officials suddenly realise that an individual cannot run an orphanage as that would lead to other individuals asking for the same? Well, the government keeps making ‘exceptions’ so isn’t there a difference between Sapkal knocking at the state government’s door since 2011, seeking registration for her orphanage and some other Tom, Dick or Harry asking for the same? 
 
Fifthly, is the Women’s and Child Department of Maharashtra Government, under its minister, Pankaja Munde, so insensitive and callous that it is so disrespectful to one of the stalwart social reformers of our times, so as to treat her as a criminal, for no fault of hers but for its own criminal negligence in not attending to her plea for registration of her orphanage?
 
Vijay Kumbhar, noted Right to Information (RTI) activist and one who has closely studied the issue of orphanages in Maharashtra, says, “What right does the state government have to treat a respectful social reformer like Sindhutai in such a humiliating manner, when it cannot grant even Rs200 crore to serve food to orphans in its own 150 orphanages? There have been various instances when ‘special’ status has been granted. Isn’t Sindhutai’s work revolutionary enough to grant her not only recognition but financial aid as well? It is unfortunate that the Department for Women and Child has always had insensitive ministers and officials. It is a real tragedy and a shame on the present government.”
 
Sindhutai's story is one of incredible grit and determination to fight adversity. At the age of 20, when she was nine months pregnant, she was kicked, beaten and left to die in a cowshed. Her daughter was born in that semi-conscious stage and she cut the umbilical cord herself and went away with her daughter to try and stay alive. The beauty of Sindhutai Sapkal's life story is that she went on to build multiple orphanages and nurture over 1,000 children and give shelter to innumerable women, who are destitute and abandoned.
 
At the Moneylife Foundation function in Pune, Sindhutai also shared her experience of giving up her own daughter to an orphanage so that she could remain fair to all the other orphans she adopted over the years. What is clear in her talk is her indomitable spirit, extraordinary courage and high intelligence, combined with street-smartness.  
 
“I have experienced what it feels like to have no one with you, no place to go, no shelter and no food to eat for days. My small work makes me feel like someone is helping me heal my own wounds. So all wounds heal with time, but you must live, stay alive for others” she had said.
Stung by this move by the WCD, Vinay Sapkal, who has been with Mai since he was two months old and now manages all her work, pens down the pain caused to them, due to the insensitivity of the state government. He writes:
 
“The real tragedy is that when a person, following a certain principle, powered by immense confidence and grit, creates a world for orphans; takes utmost care of them, nourishing them by continuously asking for alms; that motherly figure is (leave alone being given a government grant) being denied recognition, by the government. 
 
Mrs Sindhutai Sapkal (Mai), who, today, is known as mother to thousands of children, is being pressurised to admit the children in her institution into the government orphanages. This action is being taken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, which is supposed to ensure care and protection of children. The sole reason being, the institution doesn’t have the official recognition.
 
Our Mai is tired of sending proposals to this department to get recognition since last five years, i.e., year 2011. The government, that is, the officers and members of the department of women and child development, have constantly denied us recognition, under one pretext or the other, referring to irrelevant points as mistakes in an unreasonable manner. 
 
It means the government, in the first place, is making all excuses to issue recognition to the institution, and to top it, gravely humiliating Mai by behaving in such a manner. It is really unfortunate that Mai, who was honoured, felicitated and awarded by three Presidents of India, should be treated thus. 
 
It is an unpalatable fact that the lady who in the last 40 years wandered from village to village, appealed for donations through speeches till her throat was parched, asked for alms to let live, raise and help thousands of orphans stand on their own feet, is being reprimanded severely by the government. 
 
Today, there are thousands of ashrams in Maharashtra, some are recognised, and some are not. If any institution does not fit into the rules and regulations pertaining to the running of institutions, then it may be denied recognition. But, why harass those institutions which provide all the facilities and education to the children, and work in a selfless manner? Looking at all the facilities, food provided to the children, at Mai’s four-storey building at Manjari, it should have got the grant without any hitch. 
 
Considering the future of the children, Mai has built such a grand building, raising money through asking for alms. Still, since 2011, it hasn’t received the grant despite it being close to essentials such as school and college and so on. Just the other day, there was a news story in a daily about two officers of the women and child development department getting arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. What does it mean for the ordinary citizens and those who are doing good work? And to top it, there are threats by them that they will take away the children. Therefore, if the top officials in the government look into this matter and treat those who are doing good work for the community with due respect, the respect for the government amongst the people will definitely increase.  
— Vinay Sindhutai Sapkal”
 
 
Some of the many awards received by Mai Sindhutai Sapkal
 
• 2015 - Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize for the year 2014
• 2014 - BASAVA BHUSANA PURASKAR-2014,Awarded from Basava Seva Sangh Pune.
• 2013 - Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice.
• 2013 - The National Award for Iconic Mother ---- (first recipient)
• 2012 - Real Heroes Awards, given by CNN-IBN and Reliance Foundation.
• 2012 - COEP Gaurav Purskar, given by College of Engineering, Pune.
• 2010 - Ahilyabai Holkar Award, given by the Government of Maharashtra to social workers in the field of woman and child welfare
• 2008 - Woman of the Year Award, given by daily Marathi newspaper Loksatta
• 1996 - Dattak Mata Purskar,Given by Non-Profit Organization – By Sunita Kalaniketan Trust (In the memories of – Late Sunita Trimbak Kulkarni ), Tal – Shrirampur Dist Ahmednagar. Maharashtra Pune.
• 1992 - Leading Social Contributor Award.
Sahyadri Hirkani Award (Marathi: सह्याद्रीची हिरकणी पुरस्कार)
Rajai Award (Marathi: राजाई पुरस्कार)
Shivlila Mahila Gourav Award (Marathi: शिवलीला महिला गौरव पुरस्कार)
• The 2010 Marathi film Mee Sindhutai Sapkal by Anant Mahadevan is a bio-pic inspired by the true story of Sindhutai Sapkal. The film was selected for world premiere at the 54th London Film Festival.[11]
 
 
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COMMENTS

Shekhar Mandrekar

1 year ago

Sindhutai ...rather Sindhuaai is a woman is like an exemplary person who despite being treated badly by society created an institution to take care of destitute women & children .
It is unfortunate instead supporing her efforts , government officials are Harresing her ....while mother Teresa is revered. Sindhutai who is doing path breaking work is being persecuted. I compliment Moneylife foundation for supporting her

Geeta Mehta

3 years ago

Such dedicated people are soo rare, to make things difficult is v upsetting. ..

Vaishali Sawant

3 years ago

I have signed the petition too.

Silloo Marker

3 years ago

The above story about the ill-treatment meted out to Sindhutai Sakpal, is really disgusting. It shows the crab mentality of officials who will do their best to pull down anyone rising after great efforts and doing something without any official help. This lady needs the help of the media to show the disrespect shown by Pankaja Munde to a person well known for the good that she has done to so many orphans. It's only bad press which puts pressure on any government body to act more responsibly. Moneylife may consider helping out by organising a press meeting.

Prasad Nageshkar

3 years ago

I have signed the petition and have high admiration for Sindhu tai . However was it necessary to start the petition with Devendra Fadnavis' name ?

Jyoti Dua

3 years ago

This matter must be reported on the blog of CM Maharashtra and PM Shri Modi. It is clearly a case of harassment to secure favours. The case may also be taken up through a reputed MP.

Sucheta Dalal

3 years ago

Friends. Please sign my change.org petition on this issue and support Sindhutai Sapkal!

ttps://www.change.org/p/devendra-fadnavis-stop-harassing-sindhutai-sapkal-don-t-close-down-her-orphanages?recruiter=9991754&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

REPLY

Shyamsunder Nambiar

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 3 years ago

Besides the change.org petition would a PIL help to stop this harassment and disrespect to a divine soul Sindhutai and the innocent children ? I agree we need to appeal to PM Modi as well.

Om Prakash Arora

3 years ago

We salute the noble deeds of Sindhutai.It is few people like her that restore our faith in humanity. State Govt must take proactive measures to register her orphanage Sanmati Bal Niketan at the earliest.
We appeal to Ms Munde to do the act which is expected of her.This will not only make the condition of inmates of orphanage better but also their future as well because without recognition the inmates are not eligible for adoption as per the CARA rules 2015.
We need to appeal to PM also.

REPLY

Ganesh Iyer

In Reply to Om Prakash Arora 3 years ago

Maharashtra is for money no sympathy no mercy otherwise who would behave this way. Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena used Sindhutai's photo for elections as a great maharashtrian but did not contribute to her cause. MNS also monitored all Toll nakas in mumbai n later settled down allegedly for a secret price. Sympathy is dead here so also law. Many poor lost their lands to criminals, politicians and gangsters what happened they perished with No Justice. If anyone wants to see the real ashramshala at Chikale village, Panvel one can learn the actual quality of maharashtra govt. Gujarathis do build lots of charitable institutions maharashtrians have not learnt that way. Sindhutais children are enough to teach those opposing her a good lesson. Its more shameful that no action is initiated in the Rs 400 crores chikki n biscuit scam, scandal of Pankaja Munde.

Vaishali Sawant

3 years ago

Very correct write a mail to mr. Modi immediately and let him know the concerns. believe it will get permanently sorted. Also mention that anyways the government is not helping the organisation then at least don't harras them.

p t suresh

3 years ago

She should write to the PM of India stating all the facts and pointing out who were all those in the Government to whom she had discussions and also written. Disclose full details and see what happens.

suneel kumar gupta

3 years ago

I always feel that govt. dept gets Scot free and accused are prosecuted. I believe that in this all the concerned govt. machinery from 2010 to date should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty for not doing anything for such a long time. Let them come & explain.

Parimal Shah

3 years ago

Mr Phadke
Are you listening?
Tell govt officers and babus to be sensitive and use law with some common sense instead of harassing people who are actually doing what your government should be doing, and in so doing, helping you to reduce your burden. Be human and behave like one, not like insensitive robot.

Parimal Shah

3 years ago

Mr Phadke
Are you listening?
Tell govt officers and babus to be sensitive and use law with some common sense instead of harassing people who are actually doing what your government should be doing, and in so doing, helping you to reduce your burden. Be human and behave like one, not like insensitive robot.

P L Despande pawar

3 years ago

Horrible is the word to describe the plight of Sindhutai.This is an appropriate case for Hon'ble High Court to take a suo motto notice of the plight of Sindhutai & do justice yo her.

Landlords Must Lord it Over their Properties
The rights and duties of a landlord were the subject of a recent conference. One of the owners discussed the probability of leasing out his property in a building. In his rush for earning a goodly sum, he insisted that he could not be held liable for any activities that his lessee indulged in. Most of the conferees agreed with him. This author did not.
 
As with all idioms, parables and sayings, each one has an equal and opposite version. Equally emphatic. Is not a man’s home his castle? Can he not do whatever he likes with it? Including that final and supreme right of ownership; destruction? 
 
On the other hand, can the castle owner, by his actions, blithely disturb the peace of others? Especially that of his neighbours’? A right, in conflict with a duty, becomes the topic of the day.
 
In a classic case, Lawrence vs Coventry, the Supreme Court in the UK held that, to be liable for a nuisance committed by its tenant, a landlord a) must have authorised the nuisance through active involvement, or b) while knowing of the probability of a nuisance (being caused). 
 
The howling dog and the abusive licensee, in Cocking vs Eacott, is a more recent case. It, too, was judged in England, in appeal. It decided whether a licensor was liable for a nuisance committed by her daughter, a licensee. Especially when the mother was put on notice.
 
You be the judge. 
 
Would you hold either owner responsible, or not? Also, ask what would make the difference; knowledge, complaints or reasonable doubt, or the lack of these.
In both judgements, the courts were clear on one thing. Nuisance must be stopped. Liability rests with the nuisance creator, for sure. But it also rests with the owner, if he has knowledge of the nuisance, if he should have foreseen the possibility, or if he were actively involved. In other words, it is the owner’s vicarious responsibility to ensure civil and legal use of his property. If a man’s home is his castle, so is the neighbour’s home the latter’s castle. 
 
Much as it may disturb many readers who feel that they are entitled to income from their property, no matter what, no man is an island. Each of us owes a duty, and a duty of care, to others in society. Therefore, liability may arise out of connivance, encouragement, by consideration, misplaced ideology, Nelson’s eye, negligence, carelessness, spite, aiding, abetting or any other excuse. But the sins of the tenant must visit upon the owner and pay he must, if possible with the former in tow.
 
The simple test for this would be thus. Primary responsibility lies with the person whose name appears on the 7/12 extract or any other title paper.
Could this apply to cooperative housing societies (CHSs)? Would the management be a party to the suit? In our opinion, yes. No matter what one means by ‘ownership flat’, the property belongs to the CHS. The members are shareholders, enjoying the fruits thereof. It is then the CHS’s duty to maintain peace and harmony, deter and stop illegal activities, and hold the ‘owner’ of the flat to answer.
 
One could well ask why it is so. Take a case in a state that bans liquor. A secluded house may make a nice speakeasy. The owner lets it out. Good returns; therefore, he asks no questions. Even if he did inquire, he may pretend not to know. The place is raided. As is common, the bootlegger escapes. What are the authorities supposed to do? Close the case? Say that the occupants could not be apprehended? The same story every time? We come back to our favourite maxim; ‘If there is a malady, there has to be a remedy’. The law was broken; so all, including the owner, have to pay.
 
The case laws on nuisance form an interesting body of judgements in what is called ‘The Law on Torts’. It was finely developed in the UK, over generations and now the American lawyers have made it into their own Las Vegas. India is catching up and rightfully so. So, if you own property, remember that with great ownership comes greater responsibility. 
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COMMENTS

Ralph Rau

3 years ago

It is unfortunate though that we have this new Nationalist government which makes the Hindutva racial supremacy its official hallmark. Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs - we are all plagued by same HUMAN frailties - hunger, jealousy, greed, lust, fear of death.
We have so much in common, other than a tribal belief that we are racially or religiously superior.
Its a survival instinct where we live in growing circles of selfishness. Look after yourself first, then your family, then your community-state-country...in that order.

PRAKASH D. BASRUR

3 years ago

The mute point is not the law of the land but the people born and brought up over there ! One thing that strikes me when I holiday abroad is the inherent respect for and adherence to it that the westerners have ! We "Bharatwasi" have to learn a lot from them. Even the most educated as well as rich "Bharatiyas" take pride in flouting the laws in India that is Bharat !

REPLY

Bapoo Malcolm

In Reply to PRAKASH D. BASRUR 3 years ago

Am sure you must have heard of our "Sanskruti". How we are born and put on this earth just to teach morals and morality to the rest of humanity. We, the chosen people, selected to point fingers at others, denounce everything 'forin', tell the world how we invented the aeroplane; initiated plastic surgery, in fact everything that the other countries wrongly take credit for. We do not break laws, all laws. We are individual saints, displaying our democratic independence, where lying is no longer an art form. It is our way of life. Haven't you heard of our "Sanskruti"?

Ralph Rau

In Reply to Bapoo Malcolm 3 years ago

But Mr Malcolm we all have our deficiencies. Of course it is not ideal that our homes are clean while our streets are filthy.
At a deeper level we have our prejudices against our fellow man as evidenced by the caste system. But the most powerful democracy has extreme racism against Blacks and now thanks to Trump, against Latinos.
Our slums are a good indication of our Sanskruti. In the midst of extreme poverty. They experience such low levels of crime compared to equivalent slums in Johannesburg, Rio De Janeiro or "inner-city" areas in the USofA. Thank goodness for gun-control.
We do need to figure out how to end the endemic monetary (if not moral) corruption at all levels starting from the lowest level clerk and lowest level policeman. The minimum salary of Rs 18000 per latest pay commission is a hopeful start.

CO2 levels breach 400 ppm, to remain for our lifetime
CO2 concentration levels in the atmosphere have risen above 400 parts per million (ppm) for the second year in succession, but this time they will endure for our lifetimes, according to scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, global record-keeper of carbon emissions since the 1950s.
 
“Our forecast supports the suggestion that Mauna Loa record will never again show CO2 concentrations below the symbolic 400 ppm within our lifetime,” said a recently-published study conducted by scientists from UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre and Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and published in Nature Climate Change.
 
CO2 levels breached the 400 ppm level last year as well, but when scientists last studied the data during September and October 2015, CO2 at Mauna Loa was below 400 ppm (latest reading for week ending June 26, 2016 was 406.23).
 
“Knowing that CO2 levels have passed this threshold feels quite profound, showing again that humans have made their mark on the Earth’s climate,” Professor Richard Betts of the Met’s Hadley Centre and Exeter University and the lead author of the study told IndiaSpend. “My first reaction was a small sense of nostalgia and even sadness, realising that this was probably the last time those numbers would be measured there.”
 
The paper predicts increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. High levels of CO2 and other gases-methane, nitrous oxide, ozone-and water vapour turn the atmosphere into a greenhouse, which lets in sunlight and traps heat that would otherwise escape into space.
 
This greenhouse effect has driven up the earth’s average surface temperature from 0.6 to 0.9 degrees C between 1906 and 2005, the rate of temperature increase nearly doubling over the last 50 years, according to the Earth Observatory of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
 
The 400-ppm level does not have immediate implications. “We did feel that it was a small but significant moment, realising that we had just passed through that threshold,” said Betts.
 
2016’s record CO2 rise has natural and human origins
 
The record CO2 rise - 3.1 ppm against the annual average of 2.1 ppm - this year has both natural and human origins, the study said.
 
The extra one ppm is largely attributed to the impact of El Nino, the warming of the Equatorial Pacific that affects rainfall, dries out tropical land and ignites forest fires, which release CO2.
 
Even the recent normal 2.1 ppm per year increase is higher than it used to be, a consequence of human activity.
 
The overall trend of CO2 concentration is upward-once it is in the atmosphere, CO2 remains there for hundreds of years.
 
This is not the first time CO2 levels breached 400ppm. Last year, they crossed that level briefly and came down again. What the paper suggests is that CO2 will not come down below 400 ppm again because of the strong El Nino during 2015-16.
 
A foretaste of things to come
 
While the recent El Nino made this year’s CO2 rise faster than recent years, it is also faster than the last time the world experienced a strong El Nino in 1997-98 because emissions have increased 25 per ceent since then, Betts explained.
 
“The datum point is 280 ppm. It has crossed 400 ppm. We are in the process of the whole thing building up,” said Sagar Dhara, an independent environmental engineer and energy expert based in Hyderabad, who is not involved with the current study. “If we go down this road, obviously, the impact will be very visible.”
 
Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases released by human activities, such as burning coal, oil and natural gas and deforestation, is warming the Earth every decade, with natural ups-and-downs intra-year within that trend.
 
The impact has been visible in rising global sea levels (ice melts and water expanding as it warms), shifts in the locations and seasonal behaviour of many species and growing instances of extreme weather.
 
For instance, extreme rainfall events in central India, the core of the monsoon system, are increasing and moderate rainfall is decreasing - as a part of complex changes in local and world weather - according to a clutch of Indian and global studies reviewed by IndiaSpend in April 2015.
 
“Although this one single year’s extra CO2 rise will not have an impact in itself, it is a reminder of ongoing changes in climate which would be expected to increase the risks of floods, droughts and disease, which often hit people living in poverty harder as they tend to be more vulnerable,” said Betts, referring to vulnerable countries, such as India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and others.
 
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.
 

 

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