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Sunday, 14 August 2011


·        Progress towards the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is measured through 21 targets & 60 official indicators.
·       This report presents an accounting to date of how far the (developing) world has come in meeting the using data available as of June 2011.
·        Regional & sub-regional figures presented in this report are complied by member of the United Nations Inter-Agency & Expert Group on MDG Indicators (IAEG). Data are typically drawn from official statistics provided by governments to the international agencies responsible for the indicator.
·        Based on the progress in various indicators since 1990, the report places the countries in four   categories:
1)      Early achiever – Already achieved the 2015 target
2)      On-track – Expected to meet the target by 2015
3)      Off-track: slow – Expected to meet the target, but after 2015
4)      Off-track: no progress/regressing – Stagnating or slipping backwards

TARGET: Halve, between 1990 & 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.
·        In India, the change in India for population living below $ 1.25/day has changed from 49.4% in 1994 to 41.6% in2005. 
·        Undernourishment in India is moderately high (15 to 24%) & India has been slow in reducing the extent of hunger.
·        The change in the India for children under-5 who are underweight has been 53.4% in 1993 to 47.8% in 2005.
·         For this MDG India is placed in the third category.

Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys & girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
·        India has shown a change from 85% to 95% in the enrollment in primary education ratio from 2000 to 2007.
·        India is an early achiever for this MDG.
·        However the data includes only registered refugees. Factors like discrimination & inability to understand the language of instruction pose problems for refugees in getting education.
·        Ironically the dropout rates are high & from 1999 to 2005 the change in the ratio of reaching the last grade has only been from 62% to 65.8%


Eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education no later than 2015.
·        India is an early achiever for gender parity in the primary education with the percentage change from 1991 to 2007 being 0.76 & 0.97 respectively.
·        It's on-track for gender parity in secondary education with the percentage change from 1999 to 2007 being 0.70 & 0.86 respectively.
·        However the progress for gender parity in tertiary education is slow with the percentage change from 1991 to 2007 being 0.54 & 0.70 respectively.
·        In Southern Asia the participation rates in tertiary education are skewed in favour of boys.

Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 & 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
·        India is slow in the process of bringing down the under-5 & infant mortality & is placed in the third category.
·        Undernourishment & lack of proper post-natal care are sighted as reasons for the slow progress.
·        The under-5 mortality rate for per 1,000 live births has changed from 116 in1990 to 69 in 2008.
·        The infant mortality rate for per 1,000 live births for the same years has changed from 83 to 52.
·        A mother's education is the key to determine the probability of her child's survival in the first five years i.e. more the education, better the chances.
·        Recommendations to better the figures- increasing the accountability of health systems at the local level & encouraging innovations to make critical services available to the poor.


Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 & 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.
·        This is another MDG where India is placed in the third category.
·        India lags behind in skilled birth attendance (from34.2% in 1993 to 46.6% in 2006) in & proper antenatal care (from 61.9% in 1993 to 74.2% in 2006).
·        Maximum maternal deaths caused by obstetric haemorrhage- mostly just after or during the deliver, followed by sepsis, eclampsia, & complications of unsafe abortion.
·        Southern Asia as a whole saw an increase from 32% in 1990 to 50% in 2009 in the proportion of deliveries attended by skilled personnel.


Have halted by 2015 & begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
·        India is placed in the first category for reduction in HIV prevalence, which has gone down from 0.5% in 2001 to 0.3% in 2007.
·        The TB incidence rate per 100,000 has remained at a stable 170 from 1990 to 2008 in India & the country gets a place in the second category for the same.
·        The TB prevalence rate per 100,000 has gone down from 340 in 1990 to 190 in 2008 & India stands in the first category.
·        In India, the number of physicians available per 10,000 population is just 6.


Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies & programmes & reverse the loss of environmental sources.
·        From a forest cover of 21.5% in 1990, India's forest cover increased to 22.5% in 2005.
·       The protected area (% territorial area) has gone up from 4.79 in 1990 to 5.12 in 2009.
·       The percentage of population in India receiving safe drinking water has gone up from 72 to 88 from 1990 to 2008.
·       Though the percentage of population having access to basic sanitation has gone up from 18 in 1990 to 31 in 2008, but still India is places in the third category as not even half the country has basic sanitation facilities.
·       Almost two-thirds of the people who practice open sanitation reside in Southern Asia.

In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies especially information & communications.
·        By the end of 2010, 90% of the world's inhabitants were covered by a mobile cellular signal.
·        The number of Internet users continues to expand. However, penetration levels in the developing world remain relatively low, at 21% by the end of 2010.
·        Globally two out of three people are not using the Internet.

ANJALI GOPALAN, Executive Director of the Delhi based non-profit Naz Foundation (India) Trust says, “I think they are being over congratulatory. Though yes in some states the incidence rate has gone down but it is increasing in the other states & especially the northern belt. This is because there is not a proper mechanism to provide people with the antiretroviral treatment (ART). At one level we can pat our backs, but the picture is still not so gleeful.”
The National AIDS Control Organisation's (NACO) website says:

“In terms of geographical break-up, 118 districts have HIV prevalence more than 1 percent among mothers attending ante-natal clinics. The 2006 estimates indicate that the epidemic has stabilised or seen a drop in Tamil Nadu and other southern states with a high HIV burden. Yet, new areas have seen a rise in HIV prevalence, particularly in the northern and eastern regions. Twenty-six districts have been identified with high prevalence, largely in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan and Bihar.
HIV prevalence continues to be higher among vulnerable groups. For instance, there is a significant population living with HIV and AIDS among Injection Drug Users' in four of India’s biggest cities – Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh. Young people are at greater risk, with the under-15 category accounting for 3.8 percent of all HIV infections, as against 3 percent in 2002.
Between 2005 and 2006, prevalence has fallen in some major states – Maharashtra from 0.80 to 0.74 percent, in Tamil Nadu from 0.47 to 0.39 percent – for instance. Yet, new areas of concern have emerged. In West Bengal, prevalence has gone up from 0.21 to 0.30 percent and in Rajasthan from 0.12 to 0.17 percent.” (Figures representative of only those who are taking treatment in public hospitals & not private hospitals)
Q) The UN report says that the incidence rates are moderately high in Southern Asia & there haven't been any major changes in the trend. Is it true for India as well?
Dr. YOGESH JAIN, associated with the Chhattisgarh based non-profit Jan Swasthya Sahyog, says, “The incidence rate has not come down & even as per the country data it is increasing & this is a cause of concern. If you ask me as a person working in Chhattisgarh, it is bad & though we could give the excuse of the cities where it is not so bad, in Chhattisgarh the situation is bad.”
The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) TB India 2011 status report says:
India is the highest TB burden country accounting for one-fifth (21%) of the global incidence (Global annual incidence estimate is 9.4 million cases out of which it is estimated that 2 million cases are from India.) India is 17th among 22 high burden countries in terms of TB incidence rates.”

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


When 50-year-old Usha Vashisht received a lewd call on her cell phone she ignored it. But soon it became a regular feature. Then she decided to file a complaint with Delhi police's anti-obscene cell. “To my surprise, even after innumerable attempts no one answered the 'dedicated' helpline number 1096,” she recalls. Then she filed a complaint with police control room. “I was assured that I will be informed of any updates in the case but the officer concerned never called back,” she says.

This miserable state of security for women is also reflected in a report released by the United Nations- UN Women. The report titled “Progress of the World's Women” looks at access of women to legal systems across the world. The report offers interesting facts in context to India. While it praises the Panchayati Raj system for an active participation of women it notes that 39 per cent of both men and women feel that it is sometimes or always justified for a man to beat his wife. In addition the report data shows that 35 per cent women in India face physical violence and 10 per cent women face sexual violence at the hands of their partners.

Activists say the findings show that there is a need for stronger laws. They note the discrimination and exploitation has been going on for too long and in many cases women are denied the rights over their own bodies by their spouses leading to marital rapes and more often irrespective of the capacity of a woman’s body she is forced to either have a child or abort one. “India being a patriarchal society, not many changes have been made (to the laws),” says Nilanju Dutta, Manager of Violence Intervention Team, with a Delhi-based NGO named Jagori. Though marital rape is not a new phenomenon, the country even after 64 years of independence still awaits an exclusive law on the same. Paroma Ray, programme officer with Lawyers Collective- a public interest service providing organisation, Delhi notes, “The law against rape does not include marital rape.” In a way, this gives the men the sanction to ill-treat their spouses.

The crime against women is on the rise. As per the records with National Crime Records Bureau's (NCRB) a total of 11,009 cases of sexual harassment were reported and the conviction rate was 49.2 in 2009 & the number of sexual harassment cases reported in 2008 were 12,214 & the conviction rate was 50.5. In 2009, 89,546 cases of cruelty by husband & relatives were reported & the conviction rate was 19.8, while the cases reported in 2008 for the same were 81,344 & the conviction rate was 22.4 per cent.

But still many a times women do not come forward and complain. The UN report says the reason lies in the functioning of the judiciary. It notes that the participation of women in the Indian judiciary is a mere three per cent. “The ratio of women in the judiciary is disproportionate. Out of the 28 judges in Supreme Court only one is a woman. The High Court has barely 20 to 25 per cent female judges,” says Ray. Another reason why women are hesitant Ray says is the lack of accountability in the justice delivery system. “Not too many laws have been monitored and evaluated.”

The report also mentions, in 1996, an Indian NGO, Sakshi talked to lawyers, judges and female litigants to explore the impact of judicial perceptions and decision-making on women who come to court. More than two-thirds of the judges said that women who wore provocative attire were inviting rape.

Ray says in order to improve the access to judiciary for women the implementation system (for laws) needs to be overhauled. “Implementation mechanism is holistic in nature. Proper training is required for the people in the legal system. If the police are not trained properly, then they will not know how to deal with the women (which can in turn discourage the women to approach the police).” For example The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 calls for a female constable to accompany the woman who has complained. “The Act in itself is sufficient, but the implementation is a problem. If you want a female constable to be available at all times then she has to be provided with various provisions like basic amenities and pick and drop facility.”

As per the report, in order to ease the position of the victim, more women should be inducted in the police force and law courts.

The basis of this report is the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly. So far a total of 186 countries have ratified the Convention, committing themselves to undertake steps to put a full-stop to discrimination against women. India ratified this Convention on July 9, 1993.