Safe Water and Sanitation – A Human Right
Water, one of the most
essential element of life, we have learnt in our school days. Learnt and
forgotten, perhaps, because access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene has
become a dream or a myth for the majority of our population living in low
income settlements, so much so that the old saying has become so true in the
real sense, “Water, Water Everywhere, but not a drop to drink”.


It has become very
pertinent that we spread the awareness and attention on the issue of water and
sanitation. It is time that we understand that access to safe water is perhaps
the root cause of society’s pressing concerns today, to such an extent that the
survival of humanity depends to a great extent on the fate of water.


It is a sign of good
times to come that the United Nations has declared that access to safe water
and sanitation is a human right that applies equally in times of peace and in
emergencies.


It is a real
unfortunate state of affairs that with the growing urban conglomerate, the
population of the low income settlements spring up like mushrooms around the
urban settings. These settlements are mostly without the proper sanitation
facilities and are prone to water related diseases the most.


It is very important
that this most vulnerable group of our population are provided the basic needs
of safe water and sanitation. Apart from the Government initiatives in this
field, many non-governmental organisations too have volunteered to lend their
support to this cause.


TERI University and
USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) has been engaged in this
noble cause for a long time. They have associated in India with TERI (The
Energy and Resources Institute) and
Coca-Cola to develop and implement this unique program in our country.

The first initiative
was launched in Kolkata yesterday in the name of “Strengthening Water and
Sanitation in Urban Settings” to be more commonly referred to as the “
WASH program” (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).

To be immediately
emulated in Chennai, this unique program is intended to reach over 50,000
beneficiaries in low income settlements in the slums of Kolkata and Chennai.


Apart from the
immediate direct benefit to the vulnerable group of the population living in
these slums, the program also intends to start the WASH governance studies
which are expected to reach over 300 professionals.

The unique initiative
will also be able to reach over 2,500 students to spread the message of the
need for safe water and sanitation through 20 municipal schools across India.


The WASH program is one
of a kind association which has never been done before that will lead to a
healthy development of low income settlements in the area where it will be
adopted.

Let us all join hands
with WASH to make the dream of safe water and sanitation as a human right, a
reality.

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Jaadu ki Jhappi – the only gift I wish from my princesses
As I write this post
with Fathers’ Day approaching, I know how much I miss my Dad not being with me
now. My professional commitments, my yearning to not just earn a livelihood but
yearning for more than that is what has taken me so far away from my Dad.

I knew my father would
have always liked me to stay with him in that tiny hamlet, the village that he
called his janmabhoomi and karmabhoomi. He wouldn’t budge from there and would
be content with the life revolving around the few households there.

But I was not destined
to be there. At least that’s not what I had studied hard for, I believed. And
when I embarked upon my journey of life leaving behind that tiny hamlet and
with it my Dad, and my Mom of course, they surely had bid me adieu with a big
heart, I know.

As the train whistled
signalling its departure, I jumped into the compartment, and had just enough
time to embrace my Dad in a big hug. I can still remember that hug, perhaps the
tightest ever for me, his hands encircling me as if reminding me that I am
leaving him and going away and perhaps carried with it a small but futile
request if I could stay back.

It was a hug that
lasted perhaps a few seconds, or just a minute but it had memories of my Dad
embedded in it. Those few seconds of embrace and I relived each and every
moment of my growing up days with my Dad.


As I stood still with
my Dad’s shivering hands trying to tighten me up as if trying never to leave
again, I could feel the warmth of his hands which held my fingers as he used to
walk me around, those fights with him when he never bought me that moped I had
always longed for, just because he was worried about my safety. I could feel
the world in my Dad’s arms. And as I stood still, I could feel my Dad feeling
the same.

Sadly but honestly,
that was the last time I ever hugged my Dad.

Today, Dad to three
beautiful and growing up princesses, I always wish I could relive the story
through them. I do not wish anything from my daughters, just that they feel
happy for whatever little I am trying to do for them in my best possible way,
come and hug me in a tight embrace and just whisper in my ears, “Accha, you are
my super-dad”.


That tight hug would
make me relive those moments with my daughters. I would like to relive those
moments when even after coming back from office, tired, I would be eager and
excited to see my youngest daughter rush to me and narrate stories of her
school. I would like to relive those moments when I used to wait outside my
second daughter’s college gate so long after she had entered inside, just
worrying that she would realise that she missed carrying something and would
come rushing out searching for me. I would like to relive those moments when I
used to stay awake whole night with my eldest daughter while she was preparing
for her professional exams or insisted on picking her up always from her late
night parties.

I just wish my
daughters appreciate that their Accha’s love is like that dash of salt in their
food, insignificant but so much necessary.


I do not wish for any
expensive on inexpensive gifts, I just wish they come and wrap their arms
around me and give me the best gift ever, a tight hug, a Jaadu ki Jhappi. I
just wish their conscience and their feelings guide them and tell them, Hey! Go
and #HugYourDad.

This Father’s Day, I am
expressing my love towards my Dad by participating in the #HugYourDad activity
at BlogAdda in association with Vicks

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A tiny effort to row the Boat, a big impact on Literacy
Literacy is the
foundation stone for economic progress and this fact has been recognized
throughout the world.
Although there
has been massive improvement in the literacy level in India since the end of
the British Rule and our country gaining Independence, the average level is
still far below the global averages.
The growth
surely has been commendable from a meager 12% in 1947 to 48% in 1991, 63% in
2006 and around 74% as per the last census in 2011. The growth surely is good,
but the growth rate certainly isn’t. The current average is still hovering far
below the global average of 84%. Developed countries like Japan, South Korea,
USA, UK, Germany, France etc. have been quick to realize the importance of
literacy in economic development and have shown a literacy rate of around 99%.
A few states
like Kerala having been exceptions achieving cent percent literacy rate, some
other states like Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh,
Uttarakhand etc. have literacy rates far below the national average.
While we
contribute the alarming rise in population as the major obstacle to literacy, I
feel that poverty is one of the major reasons for this debacle. The poor are
not only unaware of the importance of education, but in their quest to fulfill
their immediate need to fill their stomachs, are also unconcerned and unwilling
to improve and adapt.
 It is imperative that the fortunately literate
among us should take up the initiative to spread the awareness among the less
privileged class and give them an opportunity and medium for improvement. A few
selfless individuals and social activists and social organizations have been
instrumental in spreading the awareness and educating children belonging to the
weaker strata of the society, but the conscious effort from the majority is
still found lacking.
We cannot depend
upon the Government alone to spread this awareness and take steps to
immediately set up thousands of primary schools all across the country. We, as
responsible citizens should be equally pro-active and contribute our best, in
whichever manner possible, whether by way of money or our time to this social
cause.
Surely, apart
from the lack of proper school facilities, the sheer shortage and inefficiency
of the teaching faculty is a major deciding factor for the dwindling figures.
It is here that we as responsible citizens have a major role to play.
A major initiative
in this field which is beyond any accolades is the selfless effort being
carried out by NGO Guria under the leadership of Ajeet Singh, the Mr. Do Right, which started this
novel and innovative idea of “boat school” in Varanasi on the shores of the
river Ganga in his journey of
doing right
.
This NGO has
been working tirelessly to transform an old boat into world of learning where
the children spend just two hours of their day to study, play or revise without
any pressure or tension, by creating a stimulating environment for children in
this Varanasi Boat School.
Why can’t we,
the fortunate few, who have the right to education, the right to good food and
shelter, take out a little from our overflowing pockets to contribute to the
transformation of these boats into a hub of learning for the less fortunate
children where they are provided the basic needed books, CDs, furniture and
toys and ensure that these children get the most ideal environment for learning.
Believe me, it
would not cost much on your pockets, but it would have a massive impact on your
happiness quotient. Just check out at www.doright.in for this amazing service to mankind and God and
see the magical transformation unfolding by itself.
Still not
convinced, please do go to http://bit.ly/1GHcXot
to read “Learning On Board”, this entire story of inspiration and loosen your
purse strings a wee bit and earn the happiness of your lifetime that you were
one of the contributors, providing a tiny spec of #Sholarship to a target of
achieving 100% literacy in our country by way of ideal learning, where each and every citizen of our country
has the knowledge and information with him to participate in all programs of
economic development.

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