Monday, January 28, 2008

Bihar ranked 35th in education

ELEMENTARY EDUCATION REPORT

60% schools lack Toilets

Statesman News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan. 27: In about 60 per cent of primary and upper primary schools of the country, girl students have to share a common toilet with boys.

According to the latest statistics on "Elementary Education in India", prepared by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, the percentage of schools with provision for separate girls toilets is less than 25 in 10 states.

These include Arunachal Pradesh (12.16) Assam (10.02), Bihar (16.21), Chhattisgarh (13.33), Jammu and Kashmir (20.03), Jharkhand (15.46), Manipur (17.86), Meghalaya (8.76), Mizoram (21.32) and Tripura (21.12). The states where the percentage of schools with separate toilets for girls is more than 75 per cent include Delhi (89.01), Haryana (76.19), Kerala (76.89), Puducherri (84.88), Punjab (80.88) and Uttar Pradesh (78.20).
The percentage of such schools is 31 in West Bengal.

According to data received from about 1.20 million schools spread across 609 districts of 35 states and Union Territories, about 30 per cent of schools in the country are still without pucca buildings and about 14 per cent schools have no drinking water facility. The overall percentage of schools having computers is 13.43 per cent.

Students in aided and unaided private schools have a greater number of teachers, compared to those studying in government schools. While the average number of teachers per government school is 3.7, it is 8.5 and 6.5 in private aided and private un-aided schools, respectively.

The number of teachers who are untrained professionally is close to 22 per cent.

But 44.88 per cent of para-teachers, who form about 7.86 per cent of the total teachers at primary and upper primary schools in the country, are professionally untrained.

According to the document titled "Flash Statistics: Elementary Education in India: Progress towards Universal Elementary Education (UEE) 2006-07," Delhi tops the educational developmental index (EDI) for primary level and is ranked first.

Puducherri is second, Kerala is at No. 3, Bihar at 35, Jharkhand at 34, Uttar Pradesh at 24, West Bengal at 30 and Arunachal Pradesh at 33.

At the upper primary level, however, Kerala is on top, followed by Puducherri, Tamil Nadu and Chandigarh.

Like the primary level, Bihar and Jharkhand are respectively ranked 35th and 34th at the upper primary levels of education also.

For composite primary and upper primary education, Kerala is ranked first followed by Puducherri, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

Bihar and Jharkhand are ranked 35th and 34th, respectively.

In 2005-06, Kerala was also ranked first for composite primary and upper primary levels of education. Delhi, however, which ranked second in 2005-06 moved to third position in 2006-07.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Koilwar railway bridge pregnant with disastrous possibility

Koilwar bridge in the Bhojpur district of Bihar was built by the British in 1900, on river Sone growing weaker because of loss of strength of its foundation pillars due to unabated illegal sand mining in the vicinity of bridge.



The Railways have put this bridge on Sone, the only direct link between Patna and Delhi and the mainline's Howrah end, under the scanner and put a speed restriction on the movement of trains on the bridge.

In February 2002, the Mines Department had moved a file to the Chief Secretary pointing out that a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) cabinet minister was engaged in illegal mining of sand near koilwar.

Secretary of the department had seized a truck loaded with Sone-sand collected from the sone river.

The surveyor of the state directorate of mines had pleaded that the truck belonged to a minister and, therefore, it should be allowed to pass through the check posts. The RJD minister had claimed that Khandiya Ghat sand mine belonged to him. The surveyor was suspended and case him was recommended.

The secretary had also written about the role of "powerful politicians involved in the illegal mining of sand" in the Sone river belt, which can create law and order problems.

This has led to huge loss of revenue in Bhojpur, Chapra and Patna districts due to illegal mining. The revenue collection target has not been met and there has been steep fall in revenue that is attributed to failure of the government to tender sand mining and pave way for legal mining.

State Mines and Minerals Development Corporation did not venture to participate in the bid for sand mining. The state Mines Ministry had referred the matter to the Finance Department. Ideally, District Magistrates should have invited the tender since DMs are empowered to call the tender under rules framed in 1972.

After bifurcation, sand is the only material left in the mining department through which it can hope to raise the collection but "powerful politicians" have been deemed a hurdle.

The illegal mining in Sone over here threatens the bridge and seems to be waiting for disaster.

Has the state of affairs changed under the Janata Dal United (JD)[U]led alliance government?

In the case of disaster, do we know who is responsible and who will be held accountable. Or after the disater once again, Ministry of Railways will anounce ex-gratia with setting matters right in consultation with the state government. For a change, this dereliction of duty would involve both RJD and JD(U).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Birth Anniversary

Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur was born on 24th January, 1924 in a village in Samastipur District of Bihar in a downtrodden wage earner family. From the days of his student life, he was interested in social upliftment of the weak and the poor. While doing his graduation, he left college to join Quit India Movement on the call of Mahatma Gandhi. As an ardent activist of freedom movement, he had to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 26 months. Even after independence he courted imprisonment several times in pursuance of various public causes relating particularly to upliftment and social equality of weaker segments of the society.

Karpoori Thakur was the first non-Congress CM of Bihar and, after Jayaprakash Narayan, he is considered the real champion of the cause of the dalits and the poor. He had opted to marry off his daughter at his native village. Karpoori Thakur had warned all his officials that if any of them was even found near the marriage site or engaged in making preparations for the ceremony, action would be taken against them. He had not even informed his Cabinet colleagues about the marriage. When some of them, getting wind of the marriage, offered help, he said, "It is the marriage of the daughter of Karpoori Thakur and not the daughter of a CM." A close assistant of the late Thakur says that he had incurred a total expenditure of Rs 10,000-11,000 on the wedding in the mid-seventies, while rough estimates put the entire expenditure on Laloo’s daughter’s marriage at Rs 3/4 crore.

Interestingly, when the then DM of Karpoori Thakur’s home district rushed to the CM’s side a day before the marriage, he was told to go back and attend to his official duties.

As political lobbying for Bhara Ratna hots up, there are demands being made to bestow posthumously the highest civilian honour on former Bihar Chief Minister Karpuri Thakur. Thakur was twice chief minister of the state -- first from December 1970 to June 1971 and then later from June 1977 to April 1979.

In the early years after independence he served as a Teacher in the Middle School of his village. From 1952 till his demise, he was a member of Bihar Vidhan Sabha except for a short span in 1977 when he was a member of Lok Sabha. From a school teacher, he rose to become a Minister, a Deputy Chief Minister and ultimately the Chief Minister of Bihar State, a portfolio he held twice. He was also National President of Samyukta Socialist Party.

A staunch socialist, the spirit of socialism was the sheet anchor of his political career.He imparted a multidimensional character to the labour and peasant movement. He was arrested while leading hundreds of P & T employees during the historical general strike of the Central Government in 1960. He was on fast unto death for 28 days to press for the cause of Telco labourers in 1970.During the emergency period he led the movement of' Total Revolution' fearlessly and faithfully from underground hideouts. He was a dedicated votary of Hindi. He did away with the compulsive learning of English as a subject from matriculation curriculum. As Chief Minister, he enforced total prohibition in Bihar State. He also introduced reservation in Government jobs for backward classes in 1978.

He established a number of schools and colleges in backward and neglected areas of Bihar with public cooperation. A shining symbol of simplicity humility, integrity and duty, he devoted his life to the cause of social transformation. He fought against exploitation and injustice in society. As a luminary of socialist movement, he occupied a distinguished place in the country's politics. His premature death on 18th February, 1988 has created a void in public and political life which is felt even today by all sections of the society.


Sr No Chief minister's name and party Became CM in


1 Sri Krishna Sinha Jan 1946 Jan 1961 Congress

2 Deep Narayan Singh Feb 1961 Feb 1961 Congress

3 Binodanand Jha Feb 1961 Oct 1963 Congress

4 Krishana Vallabh Sahay Oct 1963 March 1967 Congress

5 Mahamaya Pd Sinha March 1967 Jan 1968 Jan Kranti Dal

6 Satish Prasad Singh Jan 1968 Feb 1968 Congress

7 B. P. Mandal Feb. 1st 1968 Feb. 22nd 1968 Congress

8 Bhola Paswan Shashtri Feb 1968 June 1968 Congress(O)

9 Harihar Singh Feb 1969 June 1969 Congress

10 Bhola Paswan Shashtri [2] June 1969 July 1969 Congress (O)

11 Daroga Prasad Rai Feb 1970 Dec 1970 Congress

12 Karpuri Thakur Dec 1970 June 1971 Socialist Party

13 Bhola Paswan Shashtri [3] June 1971 Jan 1972 Congress

14 Kedar Pandey March 1972 Jan 1973 Congress

15 Abdul Gafoor July 1973 April 1975 Congress

16 Dr.Jagannath Mishra April 1975 April 1977 Congress

17 Karpuri Thakur [2] June 1977 April 1979 Janta Party

18 Ram Sunder Das April 1979 Feb 1980 Janta party

19 Dr.Jagannath Mishra [2] June 1980 April 1983 Congress (I)

20 Chandrashekhar Singh Aug 1983 March 1985 Congress (I)

21 Bindeshwari Dubey March 1985 Feb 1988 Congress (I)

22 Bhagwat Jha Azad Feb 1988 March 1989 Congress (I)

23 Satyendra Narayan Sinha March 1989 Dec 1989 Congress (I)

24 Dr.Jagannath Mishra [3] Dec 1989 March 1990 Congress (I)

25 Laloo Prasad Yadav March 1990 March 1995 Janata Dal

26 Laloo Prasad Yadav [2] April 1995 July 1997 Rashtriya Janta Dal

27 Rabri Devi July 1997 Feb 1999 Rashtriya Janta Dal

28 Rabri Devi [2] March 1999 March 2000 Rashtriya Janata Dal

29 Nitish Kumar March 3rd 2000 March 10th 2000 Janata Dal (United)

30 Rabri Devi [3] March 2000 Feb 2005 Rashtriya Janata Dal

31 Nitish Kumar [2] Nov 24th 2005 Present Janata Dal (United)

Friday, January 18, 2008

CDPO ACCUSED OF DEMANDIING COMMISSION FROM ANGANWADI WORKERS

In Bihar, there are 60, 587 Anganwadi Centres under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) project. In Bhojpur and Buxar there are 1,658 and 1,139 Anganwadi Centres respectively.

In a 2006 study by the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development commissioned by the Ministry for Women and Child Development, it is observed that the ICDS scheme has performed considerably well. Nearly 76.2 per cent of the pregnant mothers had received tetatnus toxoid immunisation and the records of all vaccinations were maintained properly by the anganwadi centres, says the study. The institute had conducted a similar study in 1992.

Following an agitation of Anganwadi workers and helpers for recognition as government staff.

In reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on July 31, 2006 the Minister stated that the ICDS scheme envisaged anganwadi workers and helpers as honorary workers, who volunteered to render services on a part-time basis at the anganwadi centres; that they were grassroots functionaries in view of their honorary status; and that it would not be possible to treat them as government employees. In sum, the government believes that they are `social workers'.

The role of these workers is important in a state like Bihar 65 lakh (6.5 million) families have been declared BPL.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) was launched initially in 33 blocks, on October 2, 1975, that is, 30 years ago. Today, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is on of the world's largest and most unique outreach programmes for early children. It is widely acknowledged that the young child is most vulnerable to malnutrition, morbidity, resultant disability and mortality.

The Early years are the most crucial period in life., when the foundations for cognitive, social, emotional, language, physical/motor development and life long learning are laid, recognizing that early childhood development constitutes the foundation of human development, ICDS is designed to promote holistic development of children under six years, through the strengthened capacity of caregivers and communities and improved access to basic services, at the community level.

The programme is specifically designed to reach effective disparity reduction. The programme provides an integrated approach for converging basic services for improved childcare, early stimulation and learning, health and nutrition, water and environmental sanitation targeting young children, expectant and nursing mothers and women's a/ adolescent girls' groups. They are reached through nearly 60,000 trained community-based Anganwadi Workers and an equal number of helpers, supportive community structures/women's groups- through the Anganwadi centre, the groups system and in the community.

ICDS is powerful outreach programme to help achieve major national nutrition and health goals. Embodied in the National Plan of Action for Children. It also contributed to the national goal of universal primary education. ICDS provides increased opportunities for promoting early development, associated with primary stage and by releasing girls from the burden of sibling care, to enable them to participate in primary education. Poised for universal coverage by the turn of the century, ICDS today reaches out to roughly on million expectant and nursing mothers and roughly 5 Million children (under six years of age), of disadvantaged groups in Bihar. Of these, 2.5 million children (three to six years of age) participate in centre-based pre-school education activities.

The network consists of 393 projects, covering nearly, 72 percent of the state community development blocks and the services are being provided through 60587 Anganwadi Centers are as follows:

· Improve the nutritional and health status of children below the age of six years.
· Lay the foundation for the proper psychological, physical and social development of the child.
· Reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropouts.
· Achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation among various departments to promote child development.
· Enhance the capability of the mother to took after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child, through proper health and nutrition education.

Health

· Immunization
· Health check-ups
· Referral services
· Treatment of minor illnesses

Nutrition

· Supplementary feeding
· Growth monitoring and promotion
· Nutrition and Health Education (NHED) Early Childhood Care And Pre-School

Education

· To children in the age groups of three to six years.

Convergence

· Of other supportive services, such as safe drinking water, environmental sanitation, women's empowerment programmes, non-formal education and adult literacy.

In the three-decade-old Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), anganwadi workers and helpers play the key role in its implementation.

Anganwadi workers are involved in various government schemes such as pre-school and health education, maintenance of records of births and deaths, administration of pulse-polio drops, and provision of supplementary nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers and children up to the age of six. Their services are used to achieve family planning targets. They constitute the backbone of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), completed 32 years. The ICDS is a major Central government programme administered by the Women and Child Development Departments in the States.
On November 28, 2001, the Supreme Court directed the Central and State governments to ensure that there was a functional anganwadi (child-care centre) in every settlement. In April 2004, the court reaffirmed that the ICDS should be universalised without delay to cover all habitations.

On September 22, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in keeping with its to "universalise the ICDS scheme to provide a functional anganwadi in every settlement and ensure full coverage for all children", sanctioned 467 additional ICDS projects and 1,88,168 anganwadi centres.

Anganwadi centres are required to impart pre-school education, the prime objectives of which are to motivate children to attend school and to improve retention. According to All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, there are six lakh anganwadis in the country as against an estimated 17 lakhs required for universal coverage.
Supplementary nutrition is provided to 3.4 crore children, as opposed to 16 crore children (half of whom are undernourished) in the zero to six age group.

In the Health and Family Welfare Department, the anganwadi worker's job is to create awareness about oral rehydration therapy, upper respiratory tract infections, and directly observed treatment system for tuberculosis and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and provide education on birth control methods.

The responsibilities of these workers vary from State to State. In some States, they are required to conduct surveys to identify below-poverty-line families and diseases such as leprosy and filariasis, and even help in cattle census. Under the ICDS, they are required to work for four hours a day but usually put in eight to nine hours given these extra responsibilities.

ICDS itself needs to be institutionalised and converted into a regular department and integrated with the Department of Women and Child Development. Lack of funds is often cited as a reason for the non-regularisation of anganwadi employees.

At present the centres cater to meeting the supplementary nutrition demands of infants.

The Child Development Project Officers [CDPO] demands commissions from these women to release the honorarium. Anganwadi workers have to make appeals at various levels repeatedly, from the sarpanch to the CDPO, to get their due. The Federation also received complaints from its members in several States.

Barring anganwadi workers, others employed under the ICDS either hold a regular job or are on contract.
They are not regular government employees and yet people see them as government representatives. Still it is the anganwadi workers that have to face the music, not the sarpanch or the CDPO.

Anganwadi workers suffer all forms of exploitation. They are expected to reach the block headquarters at any cost, whenever meetings are held. In the process, they are exposed to several risks. In several States, in the name of empowering the panchayats, the sarpanchs are authorised to sign the attendance certificates of anganwadi workers. Often these women would be told to come in the evening or in the night to collect the certificates.

An anganwadi worker gets an honorarium of Rs.1,000 a month and a helper Rs.500. The Federation has collected 10 million signatures from the beneficiaries of anganwadi services and submitted them to the Women and Child Development Department at the Centre.

Only the Left parties have supported the demand for the regularisation of anganwadi workers. After all, the demand is in the interest of child and maternal mortality. The NAC has stated that the best means of providing immediate protection to vulnerable children is to universalise and improve the ICDS. According to the National Family Health Survey 1998-99, nearly half of all Indian children are undernourished and the country has the highest level of child under-nutrition in the world, along with Bangladesh and Nepal.

The allocation for the ICDS is itself low. It is barely Rs.1,600 crores (as per the 2004-05 Budget) and the combined expenditure is less than one-tenth of 1 per cent of India's gross domestic product. The reach of the ICDS has to be tripled in order to provide essential health and nutrition services to 16 crore children.

Anganwadi workers have waited for 32 years for a policy to regularise their services. The entire ICDS infrastructure has to be strengthened, financially and administratively.

Rights Group unveils SC guidelines in Bihar

According to the report given by the Bihar Police headquarter under the RTI petitions; the D.K. Basu guidelines on lawful arrest and detention have been displayed merely in 21 police stations of Bhojpur district in Bihar. Bhojpur has 28 Police Stations.

One of the most important Judgments of the Supreme Court on ‘lawful arrest and detention’ was displayed on signboards in Bihar on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day on 10th December 2007 by a Human Rights Group ‘People’s Watch’ under the European Union and FNST supported ‘National Project on Preventing Torture in India”. The judgment widely known as the “D.K. Basu guidelines”, which is a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court on lawful arrest and detention, came into being in 1996, allowed the development of practical mechanisms for preventing torture during arrest and detention and has had a significant impact on the manner in which individuals can be arrested and detained.

According to the provisions, the 11 points guidelines given under the judgment should be posted in a conspicuous place in every police station so that people would know and check it during their arrest and detention. The human rights group has noted down the guidelines in signboards and fixed these in front of the Collectorate, Town Police Station and the Civil Court, Nawada of Bihar. The group has also distributed 10 thousands pamphlets and organized many awareness programmes in the state for creating awareness on D.K. Basu guidelines. The Ex-district Judge A S Prasad says that it was a historic moment for Bihar as the first time; D.K. Basu guidelines were brought into public domain in last 12 years from its inception. He says that the Police department was intentionally hiding it because when people would come to know about it they will start raising the questions against illegal arrest, ill-treatment and unlawful detention.

The SC Judgment clearly says that the police arresting and interrogating suspects should wear “accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags, and details of interrogating police officers should be recorded in a register. A memo of arrest should be made and signed by a witness and countersigned by the arrested person, giving the time and date of arrest. The arrestees should be entitled to inform their friends or relatives of their arrest and place of detention ‘as soon as practicable. If such a friend or relative lives outside the district, the time and place of arrest and place of detention should be notified to them by police through the Legal Aid Organization within 8 to 12 hours. The arrestees should be informed of their right to inform someone of their arrest and detention as soon as they are arrested. The information about the arrest and the details of the person informed of the arrest should be kept in a diary at the place of detention along with names of police officers supervising custody.

Further more the guidelines say that the arrestees should be examined at the time of arrest and ‘inspection memo’ should be signed by the arrested person and the arresting police officer, and a copy given to the arrested person. Arrestees should be medically examined by a doctor in every 48 hours during detention. The copies of all the documents should be sent to the magistrate and detainees should be produced before the Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. The arrestees should be permitted to meet their lawyers during interrogation. Finally a police control room should be established in all the districts and state headquarters, and the information of arrestees with the place of custody should be displayed on a notice board in the control room soon after the arrest.

Shalin, the IPS officer and Superintendent of Police, Bhagalpur says, “Without the D.K. Basu Judgment, the Police Department would become an illegal organization”. He says that people should not be tortured and their human rights must be protected at any cost as we live in a civilized society where there is no place for heinous crime like torture and ill-treatment. But irony is that such concerns for D.K. Basu Judgment and human rights are not converted into realities in Bihar by the Law Enforcement Agencies.

The report also says that the guidelines are kept in book form in all the police stations of Patna, Nawada and Nalanda districts. The remarkable point is that the Police headquarter has not circulated any letter for posting of the guidelines in police stations so far. The physical verification of the report brings out the hardcore truth about the ground realities. The irony is that the guidelines have been displayed only in 7 police stations of Bhojpur district in A4 size papers in English. Human Rights Activist Jamalludin Ansari says that it’s funny that the guidelines are displayed in the police stations of Bhojpur district in small papers in English that nobody can read. It is obvious that the Police have done such job just to fulfil the quorum because numbers of petitions are being filed under the Right to Information Act and they have no way rather then responding it.

The judgment also has provisions for the departmental action against the police officers that fail to implement it. At the same time non-compliance of the judgment would be the contempt of the court and police officers should be punished accordingly but the Bihar government does not even bother about it; not a single police officer faced any departmental action or punished for their inaction and non-compliance. The judgment also recommended that the requirements be broadcast on radio and television and distributed in pamphlets in local languages “creating awareness, transparency and accountability but unfortunately nothing has been done in Bihar by the government so far.

The people are being tortured because they are unknown about their rights and laws therefore they don’t raise questions against torture, unlawful arrest and illegal detention. The Human Rights Group has shown a noble way of making the Judgments and laws public, which is supposed to be done by the Law Enforcement Agency of Bihar. This may be a milestone, leading towards the prevention of torture in Bihar but it will not serve the purposes till the Law Enforcement Agencies of Bihar become transparent and accountable.

Gladson Dungdung

The author is a Human Rights Activist working against Police Torture in Bihar

Monday, January 7, 2008

Green Signal to Delimitation Commission's Report

The delimitation exercise is being done after 30 years. All constituencies have undergone changes, some major and some minor, and that no politician will like any change in his/her constituency. It is being hoped that the next Lok Sabha elections as also Assembly polls in several states would be held as per redrawn constituencies with the green light from the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA).

Delimitation Commission has convened a meeting of the Associate Members on January 12. The Commission, headed by Justice Kuldip Singh, has submitted its report in respect of 25 states covering over 513 Lok Sabha constituencies out of 543.

The CCPA has decided to implement the report of the Delimitation Commission, which was submitted, to Parliament last month.

Parties like RJD and the JMM have been unhappy with the report. A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by senior minister Pranab Mukherjee also gave it a go ahead. The Commission, which was constituted in 2001 and began its work in the middle of 2004, had completed work in all the states barring the four in the North-East.

The Commission had recently written to the Centre to have the Presidential order issued for the implementation of the readjustment in respect of the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies where the redrawing exercise has been completed.

The GoM has recommended that the notification be sent to the President for final notification. The government is also expected to recommend a date from which the presidential notification will come into effect throughout the country.

The delay in implementation of the orders of the Commission has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Work has also been completed in redrawing 3,726 Assembly constituencies in 25 states. The BJP as well as the Left parties are in favour of an early notification to implement the Commission's report.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Purvanchal demand on the anvil?

Note: In the wake of upcoming 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Purvanchal demand is likely to emerge as an election issue.

In August 2007, Lalu Prasad Yadav had raised the bogey of a separate Purvanchal state with Varanasi as its capital at his party's Convention in Sarnath.

Later, in the Lok Sabha when Prabunath Singh, JD(U) MP from Maharajganj argued for Purvanchal, Lalu spoke on behalf of the UPA Government in support of the same.

The people in this area comprising of some twenty-five districts of eastern UP and neighboring Bihar have sought inclusion of Bhojpuri language in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian constitution.

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Purvanchal is a geographic region of north-central India, which comprises the eastern end of Uttar Pradesh state. It is bounded by Nepal to the north, Bihar state to the east, Bagelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh state to the south, the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh to the west.

There is a political demand to make it into a separate state, See Aspirant states of India. Purvanchal area is represented by 23 Members of Parliament to the Lok Sabha and 117 legislators in the 403 member Uttar Pradesh state assebly or Vidhan Sabha.

Purvanchal comprises chiefly of three divisions -- the eastern-Awadhi region in the west, the western-Bhojpuri region in the east and the northern-Baghelkhand region in the south. It lies on the Indo-Gangetic plain, and together with western Bihar is the most densely populated area in the world. The rich quality of soil and the high earthworm density in the soil than adjoining districts of U.P. is favourable for agriculture. Most of the countryside is given to intensive agriculture. Bhojpuri is the predominant language or dialect in the region in addition to Hindi although Awadhi and Baghelkhandi are also spoken in the western and southern areas. Like Bihar state to the east, a large population, s low economic growth, agricultural mechanization, and the closure of sugar mills have led to increased unemployment, social and political discontent, and some unrest in the region.

Baba Raghavdas was the father of the Independence Struggle in this region following the principles of Gandhi. He was called the 'Purvanchal Gandhi'.

In 1991 the government of Uttar Pradesh established the Purvanchal Vikas Nidhi, to fund regional development projects that advance balanced development, meet local needs, and redress regional disparities.

Purvanchal includes the districts of Varanasi, Chandoli, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Azamgarh, Mau, Maharajganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddharth Nagar, Ballia.

In the year 2000, the Mayawati government, at the time of reorganisation of the Uttar Pradesh state, formed the Purvanchal Ecomonic Zone and rather arbitrarily included the following non-Purvanchal districts into the zone:

Allahabad, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Fatehpur, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Sultanpur, Gonda, Bahraich, Shravasti and Balrampur.

This has created some confusion as the people of the above districts do not relate with the Purvanchal or Bhojpuri identity and have traditionally not been associated with the 'Purabia' identity. Indeed most are unaware of this inclusion in the newly formed economic zone. But other administrative departments in these districts are slowly being aligned with Purvanchal, which amounts to reorganisation of an entire area from west to east.

Source:Wikipedia

P.S: The MPs of Purvanchal areas of Uttar Pradesh used to get funds till 1998.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Balliia elects Chandra Shekhar's son

Riding on the sympathy wave over the death of his father and Chandra Shekhar, former prime minister, Neeraj Shekhar, the Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate won the Ballia Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 1,31,286 votes. In the 2004 general elections, Chandra Shekhar had won by a margin of 80,951 votes.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Vinay Shankar Tiwari, who was being packaged and promoted as an influential Brahmin leader. Vinay Shankar Tiwari is the son of strongman and former minister Hari Shankar Tiwari, regarded by many as having sizeable influence among the Brahmin community of eastern UP. The BSP had hoped of bagging the Ballia by-polls with the combination of the Dalit-Brahmin votes. The BJP and the Congress could only manage 4.20% and 1.99% votes respectively.

The polls to Ballia were fought in the backdrop of the demise of former PM Chandra Shekhar.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) supported the Samajwadi Party candidate. Over 40 per cent electorate today cast their votes in the the Ballia Lok Sabha by-poll without any untoward incident.

BSP had won three of the five assembly seats in the district barely seven months back.

Bikramganj Diasppoints Lalu

Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] candidate Meena Singh, wife of late Ajit Singh won the by-election to Bihar's Bikramganj Lok Sabha constituency, defeating her nearest Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) rival Ashok Kumar Kushwaha by 31,258 votes.

While Mrs Singh secured 1,65,664 votes, Kushwaha polled 1,34,406 votes, Rohtas district magistrate and returning officer for the by poll Vishwanath Singh informed.

Bahujan Samaj Party's Baliram Mishra finished third with 39,647 votes and Arun Kumar Singh, the candidate of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI-ML] secured 37,607 votes.

Barring the winner and RJD nominee, all ten others in the fray, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and CPI-ML candidates forfeited their security deposits.

JD-U state president Rajiv Ranjan Singh is reported to have said that the result was on expected lines. Lalu Prasad had described the by-poll as a “referendum” on the performance of the Nitish Kumar's two-year-old Government. RJD had been banking on a Yadav-Kushwaha-Muslim alignment. It was also banking on resentment among upper castes over Kumar's 50% quota for Etremely Backward Castes (EBCs) limiting their political opportunities in panchayats and local bodies.

The EBCs in Bihar include the Kahars, Dhanuks, Kumhars, Lohars, Telis, Tatmas, Mallahs, Nais, Noniyas, Kevats and Paneris about 108 castes in all, without any overwhelming presence like the upper backwards such as Yadavs, Kurmis and Koeris although they make up almost 32 per cent of the state’s population.

There was no EBC representative in the 1962 Bihar Vidhan Sabha. In 1967, of the 82 backward caste representatives, only 5 were EBC. Between 1967 and 1985, there were a maximum of 7. There were 6 EBCs in the 1990 Vidhan Sabha; that number rose to 16 in the 1995 Vidhan Sabha. In the current Vidhan Sabha, there are 19 EBC MLAs.

With just one-and-a-half years to go before the next round of Lok Sabha polls to be held, the RJD’s disappointing show has set alarm bells ringing. The process of adverse change in Lalu’s hold began in the panchayat elections held in Bihar after 23 years in 2001.

Meena Singh who will now represent Bikramganj in the Lok Sabha said that the good work initiated by her late husband and the development plank of the Nitish government ensured her victory. Ajit Singh, who was also the chairman of NAFED.

JD(U) has managed to win all by-elections since it came to power two years ago, including Manihari and Islam assembly and Nalanda Lok Sabha, while ally BJP won Bhagalpur Lok Sabha.