Report exposes ugly underbelly of Gujarat

AHMEDABAD: In Gujarat, over 50 per cent of the children that start schooling drop out by the time they reach class 8! Corporate health sector may be booming but 96 per cent of the Community Health Centres (CHCs) in the state do not have an operation theatre and over 50 per cent of the CHCs do not even have a separate delivery room for pregnant women to deliver children in privacy.

All this and more was revealed in the Citizens Report on Governance and Development 2006 named 'Social Watch India'. The report was released in the city on Wednesday. The Gujarat data was collated for the year 2003-04.

The report is prepared by the National Social Watch Coalition ( N S W C ), which is a collective effort of civil society organisations, academicians and parliamentarians with the express aim of keeping a watch on the institution of governance and demand people-centric governance.

This time, the social watch report focused on issues pertaining to the parliament, judiciary, policy matters and local self-governance. "All major national and regional parties have MPs with criminal antecedents.

The MPs between 36-45 years of age have a higher percentage of criminal cases averaging 30.4 per cent. Over 14 per cent of elder politicians (66 years and above) too have criminal cases," said Yogesh Kumar, co-ordinator of NSWC.

The report also highlighted just how much time our politicians waste. "Till its third session, Lok Sabha lost 26 per cent of its total time, while Rajya Sabha lost 29 per cent of its total time," said Kumar.

On the state of judiciary in Gujarat, the report said that around 38 lakh cases were pending in the lower courts till the end of year 2004. The most alarming was the apathy reported in the education sector.

"For the year 2004-05, the central government's contribution towards the District Primary Education Project (DPEP) has reduced by almost 50 per cent.

Moreover, the number of students covered in the mid-day meal scheme has also reduced by 2 lakh in the past three years," said Binoy Acharya of Unnati, who stressed that the social watch should be held at the taluka level so that the people can react and act on the findings and effect a change in the governance.

Times of India – India
February 15, 2006